By Dasha Morgan- The North Carolina Arboretum continues the amazing Winter Lights Holiday Light Show through Monday, December 31, 2018. This is the 5th year the event has taken place and is the Arboretum’s largest fundraising event. The Arboretum and botanical garden is located southwest of Asheville near the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Opening nightly from 6 PM to 10 PM visitors can enjoy a walk though an outdoor winter wonderland with stunning panoramas and twinkling lights. Hundreds visit every night to enjoy the awe-inspiring sight as part of the holiday season. The proceeds of Winter Lights help support the Arboretum’s many educational programs, exhibits and facilities year-round.
However thanks to a partnership between the Arboretum, the City of Asheville, the Asheville Downtown Association, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority and the Historic Biltmore Village Association, the holiday light display has been expended to the City of Asheville and Biltmore Village. An artistic light display now dazzles the eye in Pack Square Park near the Vance Monument and the Hoss Haley Fountain.
A giant snowflake centerpiece is centerstage surrounded by many colorfully lit trees. In addition, as Biltmore Village hosted its 30th annual Dickens Festival, a new lighting display down Boston Way from All Souls to Kitchen Place welcomes visitors.
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.
For visitors seeking transportation from Asheville, The Trolley Company will offer its Winter Lights Holiday Tour Thursday through Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. 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.
“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.”
All tickets are date-specific and must be purchased in advance ($5 convenience charge applied when purchased at door on non-sell out nights). Adults (ages 12 or older are $18, Children (ages 5-11) are $12, Child (4 and under) are free. Guests must select an entry time (6:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m., or 8:00 p.m.) when purchasing tickets. Ticket holders may enter any time between their selected entry time and 9 p.m. (Note, if you are using a transportation service such as a taxi, Uber or Lyft, your ride must pick you up no later than 9 p.m. before the entrance gates close.)
All tickets sales are final; no refunds/exchanges permitted. Dogs and outside food and beverages are strictly prohibited at Winter Lights. For further information, call 828-665-2492, Monday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., or e-mail WinterLights@ncarboretum.org.
The Arboretum was established as an affiliate of the University of North Carolina System by the State General Assembly in 1986, nearly a century after Frederick Law Olmsted, the Father of American Landscape Architecture, first envisioned a research arboretum as part of his legacy and plan for George Vanderbilt at Biltmore Estate.
Located on land within the Pisgah National Forest, the Arboretum is operated under a special use permit issued by the National Forests in North Carolina. For more than 30 years, The North Carolina Arboretum has been cultivating connections between people and plants on the 434-acre property. The North Carolina Arboretum offers year-round educational programs and learning experiences for adults, families, youth, school groups, and trade professionals. From formal classes, to self-guided programs, to lectures and symposia, the Arboretum serves more than 18,000 children and 6,000 adults annually. To become a member, to volunteer, or for more information, go to ncarboretum.org