Dillsboro lights up December nights

One of the more traditional holiday experiences in Western North Carolina takes place in Dillsboro the first two weekends of December.

Each year, this small mountain village is awash in the glow of white paper bag luminaries during the Dillsboro Festival of Lights & Luminaries.

This year’s festival is Dec. 3-4 and Dec. 10-11. On these special Friday and Saturday evenings, the town’s merchant “elves” illuminate the streets and sidewalks with more than 2,500 luminaries. The merchants also flip the switches on strands of small white lights trimming the town’s buildings, many of which date to the 1800s.

Once Dillsboro is aglow, carolers fill the streets, musicians stroll through town playing Christmas favorites, and Santa visits with children at Town Hall. Shopkeepers add to the merriment by staying open late and serving holiday treats with hot cider and cocoa.

New in 2010 are horse-drawn carriage rides on both weekends, and performances by the Smoky Mountain High School Show Choir on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4.

“Folks tell us every year how genuine this event is, and how much they enjoy it,” said Julie Spiro, tourism director for Jackson County. “It’s a nice combination of cool winter weather and warm holiday spirit.”

The Festival of Lights & Luminaries begins each evening at dusk and runs until 9 p.m. There is no admission charge and lodging is plentiful with more than half of Jackson’s County guest rooms located in Dillsboro or within a 15-minute drive.

For information, go to www.visitdillsboro.org, or call the Jackson County Visitors Center at 800.962.1911.

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