Are you dreaming of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, “Jingle Bell Rock”, twinkling Christmas trees, reindeer, Santa, nativities and apple cider? Come and celebrate Christmas in Western North Carolina and the Smoky Mountains. Western North Carolina offers some of the most picturesque, charming towns that specialize in Christmas lights, Christmas cheer and even the beautiful snow that makes a “White Christmas” white. During the Christmas season, these mountain towns spring to life, bursting with all the charm of a Hallmark Christmas story.

Our Top 10 List of Best North Carolina Places to Visit at Christmas

Plan your own dream Christmas using ideas from our Top 10 list of best North Carolina places to visit at Christmas. Whether you are looking for large crowds and music, or a quiet getaway, you are sure to find it in western North Carolina.

  1. Maggie Valley – On November 24th, the town of Maggie Valley lights its town Christmas tree and has a sing-a-long around the tree. Lights begin to go up in this charming mountain town in Haywood County at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Maggie Valley is also home to the Cataloochee Ski Area. You might take in a cup of hot chocolate and a show by professional mountain dancers at The Stompin’ Grounds. Head over to one of the local restaurants for holiday fare. View the elk in the snow down in Cataloochee Valley. It’s easy to imagine Christmas carolers and Santa’s reindeer in this picture-perfect Hallmark Christmas kind of town.
  2. Forest City – Celebrate Christmas night like those in the Hallmark movies at Forest City. If you think of light falling snow, small town charm, the general store and the joy of Christmas in the air, then you’re thinking of somewhere like Forest City. The town’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony is November 22nd and the Christmas parade will be held on November 25th in 2018. Romantic has voted Forest City the #1 “Top Christmas Town Near Asheville” and the #2 “Top Place for Christmas Lights in Asheville”. On Fridays in December, they have hay rides, ice skating and Santa at the “Santa House”. On Saturdays in December, carriage rides are offered. See a live nativity on the lawn of the First Baptist Church, December 8th.
  3. Bryson City – In Bryson City, you’ll discover one of the “Top 10 Train Rides in the USA” (as voted by USA Today). The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad transforms into the Polar Express for the holidays. In 2017, over 88,000 rode the Polar Express, so it is quite popular. Elsewhere in Bryson City, you’ll discover everything makes Christmas so joyful, from twinkling lights and decorations to great food, Santa and his elves in “Santa’s Barn”, hay rides and a Christmas parade.
  4. Hendersonville – Enjoy Christmas lights and small-town charm in Hendersonville. The town offers an array of holiday activities and attractions. Be sure to see the awesome annual Christmas display at Carolina Ace Hardware. Take in free music, carriage rides, the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and a visit with Santa on November 24th. On Sundays, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through the decorated town.
  5. Beech Mountain – Celebrate a White Christmas in Beech Mountain. Known as the “snowiest” town in North Carolina, Beech Mountain features Santa, sledding, hayrides and bonfires to celebrate the holidays.
  6. Saluda – Saluda’s slogan is “Where the foothills end and the Blue Ridge begins.” This quaint mountain town offers general stores and shops that are reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting of Main Street America. Their annual “Hometown Christmas” will be held on December 14th in 2018 and features live music and refreshments.
  7. Waynesville – Waynesville is the county seat of Haywood County. The town lights up December 1st through the 31st with many events throughout the month, from the Christmas parade to its December 8th “A Night Before Christmas” featuring wagon rides, a live nativity, live music and Santa. On December 13th – 24th, the town hosts The Twelve Days of Christmas.  Don’t miss a tour of the Smoky Mountain Christmas Tree Farm in Waynesville.
  8. Rutherfordton – This town has made history with the largest living Christmas tree in North Carolina that sits in its town square. The first Saturday in December, the town welcomes guests to its annual Christmas parade, Santa, a live band and the Tree Lighting Ceremony.
  9. Biltmore Estate, Asheville – Biltmore Estate is extraordinary any time of the year, but at Christmas the estate is lit up with thousands of twinkling lights and holiday decorations, dozens of decorated Christmas trees, carolers, live events and much more.
  10. Morganton – This town was named one of the “Top Places to Raise a Family” by Reader’s Digest. The annual Christmas Parade kicks off the holiday festivities, followed by concerts and performances under beautiful Christmas lights.

More Christmas Attractions in Western North Carolina

  • Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin is offering a whole month of Christmas specials, including “A Bluegrass Christmas with Sierra Hull” on Dec. 21st.
  • Holiday Homecoming is held annually in Cherokee, within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In 2018, it will be held on December 15th and features traditional music, treats, cider and holiday crafts.

Where to Stay Near Our Best North Carolina Places to Visit

Located on Soco Road in Maggie Valley, in the center of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Meadowlark Motel is perfectly positioned as a home base to explore everything on our list of Best North Carolina places to visit at Christmas. In addition to spacious accommodations with complimentary Wi-Fi and continental breakfast, the creek-side property features special events for its guests, such as family nights, cookouts, wine tastings, live music by local musicians, and more. Enjoy a generous 20% discount with their “Christmas in the Smokies” hotel package.


Photo by Roberto Nickson (@g) on Unsplash