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November 8, 2021 6 minute READ

Holiday Planning Guide

tags Travel | Mast Family Favorites
locations All

It’s the most wonderful time of the year … and it’s the most hectic time of the year, too. Gifts to buy, boxes to wrap, meals to cook, rooms to decorate, cards to write – the list could go on and on. Outside the general lists are the special occasions and events not to miss. We’ve collected several of them in one spot to make it easier to add them to your calendars.

Christmas & Holiday Parades

Christmas ParadeAsheville – November 20, 11 a.m. - The parade route winds up Charlotte Street to Biltmore Avenue toward Pack Square then heads down Patton Avenue and ends on French Broad Street. More than 100 entries, including bands, floats, and dance teams, march the 1-mile route. There is one performance area on Pack Square. 

Knoxville – December 3, 7 p.m. – Gay Street in Downtown Knoxville is the place to be to welcome Santa and enjoy music, floats, and dancers. The route takes the parade from Church Street to Gay toward Summit Hill Drive. 

Columbia – December 4, 9:45 a.m. – The Carolina Carillon Parade steps off at Sumter Street and Laurel and heads down Sumter to the historic horseshoe and ends on Senate Street. This is the official Holiday Parade of South Carolina and features performers from throughout the region. 

Greenville – December 4, 6 p.m. – For more than 75 years, Greenville’s Poinsettia Parade has signaled the start of the holiday season. Gather along Main Street to watch beautifully-illuminated floats and enjoy marching bands, dance teams, and more. 

Hendersonville – December 4, 10:30 a.m. – The community comes together to welcome the holiday season with music, high-stepping performances, and, of course, Santa! The parade route winds down Main Street from Five Points to Caswell Street. 

Winston-Salem – December 4, 5 p.m. – Scouts in well-pressed uniforms, costume characters of every kind, high school bands, and elected officials all come together to celebrate the coming holidays in the Winston-Salem Jaycees Holiday Parade. The parade starts at Poplar and heads down 4th Street, turns right on Liberty, and concludes at Corpening Plaza. 

Waynesville – December 6, 6 p.m. – As darkness falls on Waynesville, the lights go on on floats, costumes, bands, tractors, and even a magical sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. The parade makes its way down Main Street. 

Roanoke – December 10, 6:30 p.m. – The Roanoke Christmas Parade is part of Dickens of a Christmas, a 39-year tradition. The route takes marchers down Jefferson Street onto Campbell Avenue past Market Square to Williamson Road. Don your Victorian finery and join in. 

Boone – December 11, 2 p.m. – Decorated tractors, antique cars, floats, cloggers, and costumed characters lead the way to Santa’s arrival. The route takes the parade down King Street. 

Christmas Trees

Christmas Trees in the FieldGet the centerpiece for your holiday get-togethers straight from the field! Did you know that since 1971 13 trees from North Carolina have been a part of the White House Christmas celebration? That includes this year’s tree from Peak Farms in Jefferson, NC. Your family can choose a freshly-cut Fraser Fir or White Pine in the field of a local grower, along with wreaths and garland. Many farms offer other amenities like hayrides, hot chocolate, and crafts. There are farms throughout the mountains – check the Watauga Nurseryman’s Association listing for farms near Boone and Valle Crucis and the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association for locations throughout the state. We recommend picking your tree early – many choose and cut farms are sold out before early December.

Christmas Pageants & Performances

Funny, heartwarming, traditional, new-fangled, on-stage, on-screen – there’s usually something that you do EVERY Christmas. From watching It’s a Wonderful Life to showing up at the carol sing-a-long, it’s a family tradition. Our communities are filled with events and ideas to add to your family’s compendium of holiday activities.

A Night Before ChristmasValle Crucis/Boone – November 20-December 21 - The newly-renovated Appalachian Theatre has a full slate of holiday offerings – from the Carolina Snowbelles performing tap, jazz, ballet, and contemporary dance routines to showings of It’s a Wonderful Life and Elf, there’s something for everyone! 

Asheville – Now-January 9, 2022 - Nothing compares to a visit to the Biltmore at Christmastime. More than 100 decorated trees, thousands of twinkling lights, and holiday displays will fill your eyes with wonder. 

Columbia – November 20-December 30 – The Lights Before Christmas at the Riverbanks Zoo is one of Columbia’s longest-running holiday traditions. While most of the Zoo’s animals are catching some Zzzs, whimsical animals made of lights put on a show for the young and the young at heart.    

Greenville – December 11-12 – Kringle Holiday Village at Fluor Field is sponsored by the Greenville Rotary Club and has something for the whole family – crafts and unique gifts in the Old World Village Market, jugglers and other live performers in the Village Square, bounce houses on Kinder Lane, fireworks on Saturday night, and, of course, visits with Santa. 

Hendersonville – Now-January 1 – Hendersonville’s Home for the Holidays is a collection of events that is sure to help you catch the Christmas spirit. From the holiday tree lighting and Peppermint Bear Scavenger Hunt to the Ugly Christmas Sweater Run and live performances of A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas, you and your family will enjoy having Hendersonville as your “holiday hometown.” 

Knoxville – November 26-January 2 – Knoxville’s city-wide celebration, Christmas in the City, is filled with magical lights, opportunities to find unique gifts, holiday art, and family fun. Whether you’re a bicyclist or not, head downtown for the Tour de Lights on December 11 to see fun (and crazy) decorations on two wheels.  

Roanoke – December 3, 10, and 17 – It’s a Dickens of a Christmas in Downtown Roanoke! The first three Friday nights in December are noteworthy happenings! The first Friday is the annual Tree Lighting followed by live, on-stage performances. The second Friday has the Christmas parade taking center stage, and on the third Friday, your pets get to show off their holiday finery. 

Waynesville – December 11 – A Night Before Christmas is a festive night of music, wagon rides, and visits with Ol’ St. Nick. Main Street in Downtown Waynesville is closed to vehicle traffic to make it easier for strolling carolers to wander from place to place and for you to make it from face painting to the Bethlehem Marketplace. 

Winston-Salem – Now-January 1, 2022 – The Tanglewood Park Festival of Lights is in its 30th season of lighting up the holidays. There are more than 80 displays and some of the music you’ll hear is composed by students at the UNC School of the Arts. Weekends are the busiest times to drive through the display, so midweek is less crowded. Discount nights are November 15, 16, 22, and 23 (about ½ price for family cars). 

We hope you might find a few events to add to your family's list of "not-to-miss" activities that will make for holiday traditions in the years to come. 

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