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Christmas in Appalachia

Christmas in Appalachia

As the temperature drops in Western North Carolina, the fun only heats up. The holiday season here is filled with events and activities aimed to celebrate the best way we know how — with friends, family and visitors alike.

Families can partake in wagon rides, craft sales and art demonstrations, all the while enjoying authentic mountain music, clogging and parades through several downtowns. These are just some of the innumerable activities to be had. 

Within every date, time and place found amid this section, the communities around the region once again open their arms to share in the winter festivities.

It’s a winter wonderland out there. It’s yours for the taking — so reach out and enjoy all Southern Appalachia has to offer.

Bryson City

• The 46th annual Bryson City Christmas Parade will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, on Everett Street in downtown Bryson City. Floats, marching bands, fire trucks, Santa & Mrs. Claus, and much more. 828.488.3681 or greatsmokies.com.

• The popular “Polar Express” train ride is now running from the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad depot in downtown Bryson City. For a complete listing of departure dates and times, call 800.872.4681 or click on gsmr.com. 

• “Christmas Cookie Walk” will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at 76 Main Street in Bryson City. Presented by the United Methodist Women’s Group. Proceeds benefit its outreach efforts. 828.488.8970. 

• “Christmas Hayrides Through The Lights” will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturdays until Dec. 18 at Darnell Farms in Bryson City. Ride is 20 minutes. Admission is $12 per person, which includes a holiday beverage. Tickets available at darnellfarms.com.

• “Holiday Market” with local artisans will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Dec. 18 at 117 Island Street in Bryson City. Outdoor event. Leashed pets are welcome. 828.488.7857 or greatsmokies.com.

• A special holiday concert with the Glory String Players will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, at the Marianna Black Library in Bryson City. The Glory String Players is a small Appalachian string ensemble that loves giving back to its community. And during the holidays, it seems like a perfect time to give back to it. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call the library at 828.488.3030.


• Cashiers Christmas Parade will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Cashiers Crossroads. The theme is “Santa’s Favorite Christmas Characters.” Live broadcast at live.thehighsouth.com. Hosted by Cashiers Cares, the Post Parade Party will be held at the Village Green’s Commons Hall. There, youngsters will have an opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy refreshments and receive individual treat bags. Sponsored by the Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce. cashiers411.com. 


• Innovation Station will host a holiday celebration and market at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3. Free and open to the public. innovation-brewing.com.


• “Cowee Christmas” will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Historic Cowee School Arts & Heritage Center in Franklin. Holiday music, activities, and much more. For a schedule of events, click on coweeschool.org. 

• Beloved singer-songwriter David Phelps will host a special Christmas performance at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9, at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin. Phelps has performed inspiring Christian music all over the world for the greater part of two decades. He is a vocalist, songwriter, and vocal arranger who is also known for singing tenor in the Gaither Vocal Band. In 2009, Phelps joined the Gaither Vocal Band and has been featured in more than 30 Gaither Homecoming videos. While touring with the Gaither Vocal Band, Phelps continued to focus on his solo work and in 2017, Phelps stepped away from Gaither projects so he could focus primarily on his solo career. Phelps has won 12 Dove Awards, is a four-time Grammy Award nominee, and has had several platinum-selling projects. He has also had several videos earn the number one spot on Billboards’ Music Video Charts. Tickets start at $25 each, and priority seating is available. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, go to smokymountainarts.com or call 866.273.4615.


• Sylva Christmas Parade will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5, on Main Street. discoverjacksonnc.com.

• Sylva Christmas Tree Lighting will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, in front of the Historic Jackson County Courthouse on West Main Street. discoverjacksonnc.com.


• Waynesville Christmas Parade will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6, on Main Street. Parade starts at First Presbyterian Church and proceeds down Main Street to Bogart’s Restaurant. downtownwaynesville.com.

• Waynesville Christmas Tree Lighting will be held during the evening of Friday, Dec. 3, in front of the Oak Park Inn on Main Street. downtownwaynesville.com.

• “All Through The Town” holiday celebration will run Dec. 1-31 in downtown Waynesville. Participating local businesses, restaurants, galleries and breweries will take extra care in decorating for the holidays, staying open later for shopping, and much more. downtownwaynesville.com.

• The inaugural drive-thru “Christmas Light Show” will be held Dec. 1 through Jan. 2 at the Smoky Mountain Event Center (formerly the Haywood County Fairgrounds). Tickets for the nightly show are available online at 38main.com, with only 100 cars per one-hour time slot. This helps reduce wait time and traffic congestion for a more enjoyable experience. “The Strand of Lights Drive-Thru Christmas and Beyond Light Show has been created in partnership with a professional light-installation company that specializes in large-scale, outdoor light shows.” said Lorraine Conard, co-owner of The Strand at 38 Main. Admission is $20 per vehicle. The drive-thru winds around the Smoky Mountain Event Center campus for nearly one mile. Play your favorite carols (and sing-along) as the route takes you past numerous 2D displays, mixed with lighted buildings and holiday experiences throughout.

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