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Holiday Festivities are Starting Now

 
ANightBeforeChristmas
It’s hard to believe that it’s time to begin thinking about serving up the turkey and trimming the tree, but it is. Holiday celebrations begin this weekend. We’ve pulled together a quick list of parades in each of our communities along with other events you and your family may want to put on your holiday itinerary. Let’s get started.

Asheville begins with “A,” but that’s not why we put it in the lead off slot. It’s where the first holiday parade is on the calendar. Make your plans to be downtown on November 18 at 11 a.m. to catch all of the floats, marching bands, and dance teams. The parade route starts on Biltmore Avenue at Charlotte Street and concludes on Patton Avenue at S. French Broad.

If you are looking for another event in the Asheville area, try Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum (now through December 31). Almost 500,000 LED lights will sparkle throughout the landscaped gardens. Your favorite holiday songs provide a soundtrack for your evening stroll, and you can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, cider, or beer as the magic of the season surrounds you. You’ll need to purchase tickets, and they are date specific. Follow this LINK for more information. 

BooneParadeHead on up to the High Country – Boone and Valle Crucis – for several small-town gatherings starting with the Christmas Parade in Downtown Blowing Rock. The parade steps off on Saturday, November 25 at 2 p.m. and is just one of the weekend’s events to get your holiday adventure started. You can also enjoy the Lights at Chetola (through January 28, 2018), Christmas at Tweetsie, and the Kiln Opening at Bolick and Traditions Potteries (face jugs, Rebekah pitchers, candlesticks and other wood-fired pottery treasures along food and fellowship) on November 25 at 10 a.m.. 

ChooseandCutStop over in Downtown Boone on December 1 starting at 4 p.m. for Festive First Friday – a little something extra added to the monthly First Friday celebration. Caroling, visits with Santa, performances by The WHO (the Watauga High Orchestra, of course), along with art openings and other surprises, like a snowball fight with a snowman! The hillsides are dotted with trees just waiting to be tied atop your car. Choose and Cut season starts this coming weekend and there’s no tree fresher than the one you cut in the field yourself. Many farms offer hayrides, handmade gifts, and other experiences. The annual Boone Christmas Parade is scheduled for Saturday, December 9 at 11 a.m. It’s the perfect appetizer leading into the annual Studio K Nutcracker Ballet at the Schaefer Center on December 9 at 2 p.m. 

TourdeLightsKnoxville’s parade on December 1 at 7 p.m. is filled with tiny points of light as it heads down the city’s main artery, Gay Street. But you don’t need to wait until December to get in the Christmas spirit. Knoxville’s Christmas in the City is a more than a month-long celebration of the season. Kick off the celebration with the Regal Celebration of Lights on Market Square/Krutch Park/Market Street. It’s the lighting of the Downtown Christmas Tree and includes hands-on activities for kids, the WDVX Ho Ho Ho Down, and more. Decorate your bike for a fun night-time ride through Knoxville with hundreds of your friends. The Tour de Lights is in its eleventh year and is a great family-friendly activity. Mast Store will have some hot cocoa waiting for you at the end. 

The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is a great place to visit no matter what time of year you’re in Columbia, but at Christmastime, it’s really something special. The Lights Before Christmas event starts on November 18 and runs through December 30. Nearly 1 million lights twinkle throughout the zoo where you can see the Holly Jolly Christmas Parade, meet animal characters, and visit with Santa. For a walk through Christmas in years past, take a tour with Historic Columbia. The Holiday Tours start on November 17 and continue through December 31. While touring the Robert Mills House and the Hampton-Preston Mansion, you’ll learn about how people decorated and entertained during the holidays in the 1800s and early 1900s. 

Carolina Carillon Parade is not only Columbia’s premier parade, it’s also the Official Holiday Parade of South Carolina. Marching bands, dance and drill teams, and floats from all over the state gather on December 2 to welcome the holidays. The parade steps off at 9:45 a.m. 

Conservatively estimating, Santa Claus must go down 466,666,660 chimneys on Christmas Eve to leave gifts for all the good boys and girls. How does he do it? By adhering to a strict training regime. Santa gets in a few extra days of training on a BIG chimney at Chimney Rock State Park, near Hendersonville,  on December 9. Enjoy holiday music, hot cocoa, and cookies and meet some of the Park’s animal educators during your visit. 

The hometown Christmas parade in Downtown Hendersonville heads down Main Street on December 2 at 10:30 a.m. Afterward, head over to the Historic Hendersonville Depot where members of the Apple Valley Railroad Club are hosting a Polar Express Story Party. The story will be read at 12:30, 1:30, and 2:30. There are many holiday events to welcome you Home for the Holidays in Hendersonville

The streets of Old Salem are filled with the simple pleasures of the holiday season – freshly-baked traditional Moravian cookies, music, and even a visit with St. Nicholas. Candlelight Tours often sell out, but they are a treat special enough to mark your calendars and purchase your tickets ahead of time. This year, your tour will explore the story of a tiny clay lamb found during an archeological dig. 

Fast forward about 100 years to a century ago when the Reynolds family left its Victorian House in downtown Winston-Salem to live in their country bungalow. The Holidays at Reynolda runs from November 21 through December 31. Decorated according to Katharine Reynold’s instructions, your tour will feature festive stories related by a party-goer, a butler, and more. Purchase tickets HERE. The Winston-Salem parade steps off at 5 p.m. on December 2 and leads everyone to the official tree lighting in Downtown.

RoperMtnIf you just can’t possibly get enough of holiday lights and you’re in Greenville, head out to the Roper Mountain Science Center. This holiday display (November 23-December 30) raises funds for education in the Upstate and for local non-profits. Park your car and head out for a stroll through Winter Wonderland where you can enjoy a visit with a visitor from the North Pole, encounter a balloon artist, and enjoy concessions. As you continue your journey in your car, you’ll drive through several large displays including Candy Cane Lane. 

Greenville’s Poinsettia Parade signals the beginning of the holiday season as it marches down Main Street beginning at 6 p.m. on December 2. Bands, dance troupes, and about 90 floats are great entertainment for all ages. While you’re in downtown, wander on over to the Hyatt Regency to see the St. Francis Festival of Trees. You’ll certainly get some ideas for your Christmas tree from the dozens of trees festooned by professional decorators, student groups, and retailers. This event is a fund raiser for the St. Francis Foundation of the Bon Secours St. Francis Health System in Greenville. 

WVParadeAs dusk falls in Downtown Waynesville, you might have thoughts of Bedford Falls, the town in It’s a Wonderful Life. White lights twinkle in storefront windows and luminarias line the sidewalks on Main Street. The scene is set for a special Night Before Christmas (December 9, 6 p.m.-9 p.m.). Restaurants and shops stay open late and the street is closed for easy travel. Visitors and residents mingle and enjoy wagon rides up and down the street. Musical performances are at every turn, and you might even run into a very special visitor who is checking his list one last time. There’s even a live nativity and visit to the streets of Bethlehem – be sure to try the flatbread and honey and don’t forget to sign in for the census.

Waynesville’s Christmas Parade is slated for December 4 at 6 p.m. Be sure to arrive early and park in the parking deck at the courthouse or in surface parking lots off Main Street. All parked cars are cleared for the best parade viewing of lighted floats…and marchers.

For more holiday happenings, visit the Mast Store Calendar of Events and choose your community.