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9+ Amazing Things to Do in Asheville NC in December 2023

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When visiting Asheville, NC, in December, you will find numerous things to do, including holiday events and more! There are so many amazing things to do in Asheville NC in December, and we wanted to create a list to focus on the month and the winter activities.

Tourism is slower in the colder months, so it’s a great time to visit if you’re looking for more budget-friendly or want to avoid larger crowds.

Asheville in Winter

In December, the weather in Asheville, NC, has lows in the 30s to highs in the 50s. We would definitely recommend wearing layers, and bring a jacket, gloves, and a hat! Asheville doesn’t get a ton of snow in December, but on occasion, it will happen! Asheville’s average snowfall is about 12 inches per year.

9 Things to do in Asheville NC in December

1. Christmas at Biltmore

Dates: November 3, 2023 – January 7, 2024
America’s Largest Home celebrates every year with a different theme and color scheme for Christmas at the Biltmore, which makes each holiday season unique!

They have miles of lights in their 250 rooms, including decorating the 8,000-acre estate. They have a very large 35-foot tree in the banquet hall, and it takes 40 people to bring the tree into the home. The banquet hall is 70 ft high, which is seven stories high.

Biltmore Estate Christmas Library
Library

This year, they will have at least 67 trees throughout the property. You have two options to view the Biltmore home; the first option is the daytime ticket, where you can see how the home is beautifully decorated with Christmas trees, garlands, and thousands of lights.

Biltmore Estate Christmas Dining Area

In the evening, the second option is a special Candlelight Christmas, where you will find glowing fireplaces, live music, and flickering candlelight. As you approach the Biltmore home, you will be greeted by a 55 ft spruce tree glimmering in the front lawn surrounded by even more illuminated evergreens.

In the Biltmore Antler Hill Village, the celebration continues. Make sure you stop by the Village for a free tasting of wine at the Winery.

Biltmore Estate Christmas Outside with lights

Admission

Christmas at the Biltmore Daytime
Tickets start at $99 and can go up to $409 for a guided tour.

Candlelight Christmas Evenings
You will find the candlelight available most evenings during their holiday season except November 24, December 24, or December 25. Estate entry for candlelight evenings starts at 4:30 p.m. Candlelight tickets book up quickly.

Tickets start at $109 and can go up to $414 for a guided tour. Please visit their website.

Gardens & Grounds Tickets
If you want access to just the 8,000 acres of gardens and the grounds of Biltmore. Please note this will not allow you access to the house. You can purchase admission that starts at $95.

Address: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803

Read More: Visiting the Biltmore Estate during Christmas

gingerbread

2) Visit the Omni Grove Park Inn
National Gingerbread House Competition

Dates: November 27, 2023 – January 2, 2024
The Omni Grove Park Inn has the National Gingerbread House Competition every year, which has been a holiday tradition for the last 30+ years. Contestants come from all over the country to compete for more than $40K in prizes. They have different categories: adult, teen, youth, and child.

National Gingerbread House Competition at Omni Grove Park Inn

When it comes to the rules for the building of the gingerbread house, they must be built from a minimum of 75% gingerbread. You will find all shapes, sizes, and themes! They will announce the winner on November 20th at the resort.

National Gingerbread House Competition at Omni Grove Park Inn

If you are not staying at the resort, you are invited to view the display after 6 p.m. on Sundays or anytime Monday through Thursday. Excluded are the dates of December 23, 24, 25, 30, 31, and January 1. Availability all comes down to parking availability, and every Friday and Saturday is reserved for hotel guests only or those with a confirmed dining reservation.

There is no complimentary parking available. If you would like, you can drive to the main entrance and be assisted by valet; it’s $35 for day guests and overnight guests. Self-parking is also available for $25 for day guests and overnight guests. During the holiday season, a portion of the parking proceeds support a local non-profit organization.

Omni Grove Park Inn

If you cannot travel to The Omni Grove Inn this year, they will be continuing the “The 12 Days of Gingerbread.” You can follow them on either Facebook or Instagram, and each day between December 1 and 12, they will narrow down the top 12 finalists.

Admission: Free

Address: 290 Macon Ave, Asheville, NC 28804

3) The North Carolina Arboretum

Dates: November 17 – December 31, 2023

Winter Lights, come experience the arboretum all lit up! This year, they will have over a million lights and new displays combined with old favorites like the 50 ft tree and the Quilt Garden. This year, you can enjoy live music, the Rocky Cove Railroad, a G-scale model train, story time at Woodland Cove, s’mores and fires, stop by the wishing trees, and shop in the gift shops.

Need to warm up while you walk? They will have hot cocoa, beer, and wine available at their Cocoa Shack and Bent Creek Bistro. The Winter Lights is the Arboretum’s largest annual fundraiser and helps support many parts of its programming.

NC Arboretum

Timed Ticketing: Entry times are 6 pm, 7 pm, or 8 pm. You cannot arrive before your entry time.
Flex Tickets: Must be purchased in advance and allow you to change dates if a night is sold out. Entry for flex tickets is 6 pm, and you can arrive anytime between 6 pm and 9 pm on your date.

Admission: Winter Lights tickets are sold per vehicle and size.

Advance Purchased Tickets:
Personal Vehicle (up to 20′ in length) starts at $35 for members and up to $80 for flex.
Large Vehicle (21′ to 29′ in length), starting at $70 for members and up to $150 for flex.
XL Vehicles (30′ + in length) – need to have a reservation ($395+)
If you purchase at the gate, the ticket price will increase.

Address: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806

Santa holding a present

4) Jingle Bell Trolley Train Run

Dates: Starts December 1, 2023

All aboard the Craggy Mountain Train Line, join them for a 25-minute, 2-mile roundtrip ride down the mountain and back in their open-air trolley. All while enjoying cookies, hot chocolate, and the twinkling lights.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be waiting to greet you at the depot area. Each child will receive a gift from them. As you walk into the depot, you will be transported back in time with their 1940s traditional Christmas theme. After the train ride, you can get an opportunity to take a photo with Santa and also look around at all the restored cars that are decorated with lights.

Admission: You can purchase your tickets on the day of the event on-site, but we recommend reservations since seating is limited. Tickets are $19 per person, and children under 3 are free.

Hours: Various times during the day but they are open Dec 1, 2, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, & 23.

Address: 111 N. Woodfin Avenue, Asheville, NC

Craggy Mountain Line Train

5) Elf The Musical

Dates: December 1 – December 23, 2023
Based on the holiday film, come enjoy this comedy following Buddy the Elf’s search for the true meaning of Christmas. You will enjoy a show full of cheer, dancing, songs, and bright costumes. Great for all ages!

Admission: Tickets start at $18 and go up to $35 per seat.

Hours: Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm.
Last year, they also had two different performances, Asl-interpreted and descriptive Audio for the Sight Impaired (DASI) performance. Dates haven’t been announced yet for 2023.

Address: 35 E. Walnut St., Asheville, NC 28801

Green Elf Belt

6) Snow Skiing, Snowboarding, and Tubing

Want to get some time in the great outdoors? Check out the local ski resorts.
Here is our article on Snow Skiing and one on Snow Tubing near Asheville NC. Another fun activity to get out and explore is to try some snowshoeing!

Downhill Skiing

7) Visit Historic Montford

The neighborhood is just a short drive from downtown Asheville. It’s a great way to see beautiful holiday lights in the historic neighborhood.

Park your car and get out to walk in the oldest neighborhood in Asheville. There is no cost.

Christmas Tree

8) Holly Jolly Christmas Trolley Tour

Dates: Mid-November through December on Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Time: The trolley departs at 7 p.m.

Hop aboard the Holly Jolly Christmas Trolley for some fun! You will enjoy live music and caroling. The tour is about 75 minutes long and departs from the Olde World Christmas Shoppe at 5 Boston Way in Asheville’s historic Biltmore Village.

Along the way, you will see Christmas lights, but the storytelling and caroling take center stage. Songbooks will be provided during the tour. You will go past downtown Asheville, Biltmore Village, and the Montford and Grove Park neighborhoods.

One nice thing about these trolleys is they are heated and enclosed with glass windows, so you’ll stay nice and warm on your tour.

Tickets: Adult tickets are $31 and $13 for children over 4.
Children 4 and under are free if they sit in your lap. Reservations are required.

9) Visit Frozen Waterfalls near Asheville

Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will find numerous waterfalls. Some of the most popular waterfalls near Asheville include Crabtree Falls, Looking Glass Falls, Hooker Falls, Triple Falls, High Falls, Pearson’s Falls, Linville Falls and so many more! One great way is to take a guided tour.

Hike the best of the Blue Ridge Parkway on this guided day trip to three scenic waterfalls from Asheville. Take in views of the mountains as you tour the classic road in a comfortable van and hear stories about the area’s natural history and culture from your local guide.

Enjoy light refreshments along the way, with plenty of time to relax by the falls before returning to Asheville.

Read more about the Blue Ridge Parkway Waterfalls Hiking Tour from Asheville

10) Have Fun at the Asheville Pinball Museum

The Asheville Pinball Museum offers a unique and entertaining experience for visitors of all ages. With a remarkable collection of 35 pinball machines and 35 classic arcade games, this museum is a paradise for gaming enthusiasts. Read our full article on the Asheville Pinball Museum here.

taking a picture of food

Top Foodie favorites

Yelp named Asheville one of the top food destinations in the United States on its 2022 “Small Town, Big Flavor” list. Here is just a small list of favorites!

✅ Chai Pani

One restaurant on the map in Asheville is Chai Pani which was named “America’s Most Outstanding Restaurant” at the James Beard Foundation Awards. The dishes are inspired by Indian street food from chef Meherwan Irani’s upbringing in India. Be ready for some flavor explosions!

Mr. Irani opened his restaurant in downtown Asheville in 2009. Some fan favorites include the Okra Fries, Vada Pav, Paneer Tikka Roll, and Sloppy Jai. They do have dairy-free and vegan options too!

Address: 22 Battery Park Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Chai Pani Dish

✅ Cúrate

Looking for some authentic Spanish cuisine? Cúrate was listed as one of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants in 2018. Chef Katie Button has created a collection of restaurants, including Cúrate Bar de Tapas, La Bodega by Cúrate, Cúrate at Home, and Cúrate Spanish Wine Club.

Make a reservation at Cúrate Bar de Tapas, where you can enjoy some amazing Spanish cuisine; fan favorites include Fried Eggplant, Brussels sprouts, Lamb Skewers, and Squid Ink Paella.

Cúrate Bar de Tapas Address: 13 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

✅ Sunny Point Cafe

Sunny Point Cafe is a small cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you ever drive by in the morning during the weekend, you will see a line out the door; get there early when they open at 8:30 a.m.

The parking is very limited near the cafe as well, so plan accordingly. They do have indoor and outdoor tables. They focus on comfort food with fresh ingredients; they even have a garden adjacent to their restaurant.

Fan favorites include Shrimp and Grits, Huevos Rancheros, and Carrot Cake Pancakes. They also have vegetarian options too. Check out their menu here.

Address: 626 Haywood Road, West Asheville, NC

Sunny Point Cafe Shrimp and Grits

✅ Tupelo Honey

Focuses on scratch-made Southern food where you can come to enjoy brunch, lunch, and supper. They use local ingredients as much as possible and focus on farm-to-table. They have many locations around the country now, so this is not just local to Asheville.

They, however, did open their first location in downtown Asheville back in 2000. Fan favorites include Mac-n-cheese Waffles, Fried Green Tomatoes, Sweet Potato Pancakes, and Sriracha Honey Chicken and Waffles. Make a reservation here at the Downtown Asheville, NC location.

Address: 12 College St, Asheville, NC 28801

✅ Good Hot Fish

Chef Ashleigh Shanti appeared on the 19th season of Top Chef on Bravo TV. Her cuisine pays homage to her coastal upbringing in Virginia. Currently, she is doing restaurant pop-ups; check out Instagram for updates!

✅ Coffee Tours

Check out the local coffee tour! Asheville is known for beer, but I know that’s not for everyone! You will explore areas of Downtown Asheville, including the Grove Arcade, Pack Square, and Asheville Bee Charmer. Book your Coffee Tour here.

Mural outside Burial Brewing

Asheville breweries

Asheville is one of the top cities in the Southeast for breweries, and it can be overwhelming with so many options to choose from.

Some Breweries you will find include Sierra Nevada Brewery, Wicked Weed Brewing, Highland Brewing, Burial Beer Co., Zillicoah Beer Co., Bhramari Brewing Company, Archetype Brewing, New Origin Brewing Company, Hi-Wire Brewing, New Belgium Brewing Company, Wedge, Catawba Brewing, Twin Leaf Brewing, The Funkatorium, and so many more!

enjoy Beer Flights for Things to do in Asheville NC in December

Discover which breweries are worth the hype on this Asheville brewery tour, which takes you to craft breweries with behind-the-scene access and ample pours at each. Unlike other Asheville brewery tours, this one is led by a certified cicerone, a recognized expert when it comes to beer. This Asheville brewery tour is with a certified cicerone.

Read more about the
Downtown Asheville Guided Brewery Walking Tour here

Hotel and Lodging in Asheville

Downtown Asheville, you will find the AC Hotel Asheville Downtown, Kimpton Hotel Arras, Aloft Asheville Downtown, and Hotel Indigo Asheville Downtown.

Near The Biltmore, you will find the Grand Bohemia Asheville, Home2 Suites, and GLō Best Western Asheville-Blue Ridge Parkway.

Kimpton Hotel in Downtown Asheville NC

Traveling to Asheville, NC

From Charlotte, NC to Asheville, NC it will take you just over 2 hrs to drive.
From Atlanta, GA to Asheville, NC is just over 3 1/2 hrs to drive.
From Nashville, TN to Asheville it’s over a 4 1/2 hrs drive.

Final Thoughts

There are things for everyone to do around Asheville in the month of December. We hope you enjoyed our list. Time to get out there and explore! Have fun with family and friends, get out, and celebrate an amazing end to 2023!

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