N.C. Arboretum Celebrates Five Years of Winter Lights

A winter lights exhibit at the NC Arboretum.
NC Arboretum

Western North Carolina will shine brighter this holiday season as the North Carolina Arboretum celebrates the fifth anniversary of its Winter Lights holiday light show.

On display nightly, Friday, Nov. 16, through Monday, Dec. 31, 2018, from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm, Winter Lights is an outdoor walking tour of the Arboretum’s nationally known gardens dressed in more than half-a-million holiday lights. Designed with an artistic aesthetic, this family-friendly event includes beautifully lit displays and glowing landscapes that emphasize the beauty of Western North Carolina during the winter season. Considered Asheville’s brightest holiday tradition, Winter Lights is the Arboretum’s largest fundraising event of the year, and proceeds help support the Arboretum’s educational programs, exhibits and facilities year-round.

New this year, Winter Lights will have a variety of vibrant new displays and themes, including “fire and ice!” Many fan favorites will also return, including the Arboretum’s signature 50-foot animated tree and lighted Quilt Garden, Rocky Cove Railroad G-scale model train, including a new North Pole Express train, as well as its animatronic children’s program, “Storytime at Woodland Cove,” and a variety of interactive motion-sensored games. Festive food and beverages, including hot cocoa, s’mores, wine and beer, will be available for purchase throughout the gardens and inside the Education Center.

“We’re proud to celebrate five successful years of hosting this wonderful holiday event for Asheville and the entire region,” said George Briggs, executive director of The North Carolina Arboretum. “Since Winter Lights’ inception, we have welcomed more than 115,000 guests hailing from all 50 United States and Washington, D.C., as well as several foreign countries. We are thankful for the support from our community, business partners, volunteers and staff to make this event Asheville’s brightest holiday tradition.”

In addition to Winter Lights’ “Friends and Family” Tuesday night promotion, the Arboretum will host “Arboretum Week,” November 26-29, which includes discounted pricing for adults and children. To help reduce traffic congestion and crowding, visitors will now be required to select an entry time of 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm, or 8:00 pm with their ticket purchase. Ticket holders can enter anytime between their selected entry time and 9:00 pm. Many nights, including weekends and holidays, are likely to sell out, and visitors are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance. Tickets for Winter Lights can be purchased online at ncwinterlights.com.

For visitors seeking transportation from Asheville, The Trolley Company will offer its Winter Lights Holiday Tour Thursday through Saturday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. This chartered package includes a complimentary cup of hot cocoa, admission to Winter Lights and a scenic ride filled with music and merriment to and from the Arboretum. Pick-up locations for the tour will be at the Renaissance hotel in downtown Asheville and the DoubleTree hotel in Biltmore Village. Tickets for The Trolley Company’s Winter Lights Holiday Tour are $29.50 per person and must be purchased in advance through The Trolley Company’s website, www.thetrolleycompany.com.

The Arboretum is also excited to announce the expansion of the City of Asheville’s holiday light display. Thanks to a partnership between the Arboretum, the City of Asheville, the Asheville Downtown Association, ExploreAsheville.com and the Historic Biltmore Village Association, the new Local Lights holiday display produced by the Arboretum will be placed in Pack Square Park, as well as new locations in Prichard Park and Biltmore Village. A special lighting ceremony to kick off Local Lights will take place at Pack Square Park on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 6:00 pm with Santa and Mrs. Claus as part of the evening festivities following the Asheville Holiday Parade. On Friday, November 30, Biltmore Village will celebrate its Local Lights display as part of the tree lighting ceremony for its 30th annual Dickens Festival.

“We are thrilled to see this light display expand to other parts of Asheville and to connect the local community with our light show,” Briggs continued. “We are grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the City of Asheville, the Asheville Downtown Association, ExploreAsheville.com and Biltmore Village, and help ‘Light Up Asheville’ this holiday season.”

For more information about the Arboretum and Winter Lights, please visit ncarboretum.org.