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Biltmore Village Celebrates “Dickens in the Village” This Weekend


People who are familiar with Asheville already know about Biltmore Village and its beautiful shops, pleasant sidewalks and one-way streets, and warm, comfy nooks and crannies. Built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800’s as housing for the many master craftsmen who spent years in town while working on his estate, Biltmore Village exists today as a smart but sweet neighborhood of unique jewelry, clothing, art and gift shops, along with some of Asheville’s most intimate restaurants. A popular spot any time of year, Biltmore Village truly takes on the appearance of another era during its annual “Dickens in the Village” celebration, scheduled this year for this weekend, December 1-3.

The fun begins on Friday evening at 5 PM, with the tree lighting and a musical performance, complete with traditional caroling. The Montford Players will be on hand to perform excerpts from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Strolling entertainers, dressed in Victorian-era costumes, will be seen throughout the Village, while street vendors will have hot chestnuts to sell on the sidewalks. A horse-drawn carriage, outfitted with lights that will permit after-sunset rides, will be available to Village visitors and shoppers, and their presence will only add to the slower and more enjoyable Victorian pace of the weekend. The popular carriage rides are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Entertainment at this year’s event will include roving jugglers, bagpipers, choral groups, elementary and high school choruses and many musicians, such as violinists, hammer dulcimer players, and saxophonists. Some of the shopkeepers and their employees enjoy getting into the “Dickens spirit” and greet their visitors in Victorian dress, offering hot cider and cookies for refreshments.

In addition to the old-fashioned feel that is part of daily life in Biltmore Village is the wondrous (yet very tastefully done) light display, as the more than 250,000 tiny white lights that outline each building in the Village come aglow each night, creating Asheville’s own sparkling winter wonderland.

To orchestrate such an event each year is quite an undertaking, and, with the busy lives that retail merchants lead, it is interesting to discover just how the Biltmore Village merchants managed to streamline the logistics of coordinating the many details and many hours of work and planning that are involved in such a project. The problem was solved some fourteen years ago with the creation of a business partnership with Phi Beta Lambda, the award-winning business club at Asheville-Buncombe Technical College. Under the direction of Marketing instructor Kathy Toler, business majors at AB Tech handle all arrangements, down to the last detail. They do such a fine job, in fact, that the club has won First Place honors in statewide and national Phi Beta Lambda competitions for more than a decade. Club members benefit from the experience gained in the planning, organization and execution of the weekend as well as the opportunity to present their work in the form of a 30-page report and 10-minute oral presentation at state and national competitions. So, this weekend, visitors to “Dickens in the Village” will not only be taking part in one of the most enjoyable holiday events that Asheville has to offer, they will also be helping the next generation of business leaders prepare for the future.

Hours of the “Dickens in the Village” weekend are Friday, December 1, from 5-7PM, Saturday, December 2, from 11AMn-7PM, and Sunday, December 3, from 1-5PM.

(Top image provided by The Charles Dickens Page)



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