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Lake Julian Festival of Lights

Time spent with family creating lasting memories is what the holiday season is all about. Lake Julian’s 17th annual Festival of Lights is a local favorite with games, crafts, s’mores, and an impressive collections of 50 animated light displays. Drive through tickets are $10 per passenger vehicle at the gate, but stop in any Diamond Brand Outdoors location or Frugal Backpacker to purchase advance tickets for just $7 per vehicle (excludes large vans, motor coaches, and buses). The park is open nightly from 6:00-9:00 p.m. through December 23.

Your ticket purchase also helps the community. 20% of proceeds are donated to Buncombe County Special Olympics, while the remaining income is reinvested by Buncombe County Recreation Services to enhance the Festival of Lights for the following year. Be sure to add this magical journey to your holiday bucket list. Watch the lights twinkle over the lake and turn on your favorite yuletide tunes!

More about Lake Julian (from Romantic Asheville)
Lake Julian Park is a family recreational facility located on the banks of 300 acre Lake Julian in Arden. The park offers picnicking, boating, fishing, a playground, outdoor games, and special events. Lake Julian has an abundance of bass, catfish, brim, crappie, and imported Tilapia. Because Lake Julian is used as a cooling agent for Progress Energy the lake is “thermal.” Some of the best fishing occurs from October through March. Six picnic shelters are available for rent at Lake Julian Park. In addition to the shelters, many tables and grills are available at no charge on a first-come first-served basis.

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Feature image provided by Buncombe County Recreation Services

Ways to Explore the Outdoors in Asheville in December

Even though summer hung around longer than usual, we’re lucky to enjoy four distinct seasons in our little corner of the world. Every season is a great season to live in Asheville, but holidays in the mountains carry a special charm all their own. From sharing a fire pit with friends in your backyard to getting in one last camping weekend with the family, there are plenty of traditions—casual or official—to fill up the month of December.

Here are some picks for getting outside during the last month of the year. Visit the experts at Diamond Brand Outdoors to make sure you’ve got the right hiking shoes and gear before heading out!

Frozen Waterfalls
While the power of rushing water is a spectacular site during any waterfall hike, winter brings magical icy scenes that are on display for just a short time each year. Leafless trees offer clearer views and the absence of crowds make for a very personal experience. Daniel Ridge Falls, Cove Creek Falls, Soco Falls, or one of many others are just a short drive from Asheville. Visit RomanticAsheville.com for some great suggestions.

Lake Julian Festival of Lights
6pm-9pm nightly through December 22
$5 per car, $10 per van
Transforming the road circling Lake Julian Park involves thousands of lights and more than 50 displays, growing each year! The lake’s reflection can even make it appear that the dazzling wonderland goes on forever. A fundraiser for Buncombe County Special Olympics, the annual event is a great value since you pay by the vehicle and not per person. December 1 offers the option to walk through the festival at your own pace rather than driving in the car.

Choose ‘n’ Cut Christmas Tree Farms
The North Carolina Fraser fir is the second most popular Christmas tree in the nation. Christmas tree farms are a great holiday outing, allowing you and your family to make memories while picking the perfect yuletide centerpiece. Cut it yourself or have the professionals bale and tie to your vehicle while you enjoy refreshments and (in some cases) hay rides. A good resource is NCChristmastrees.com.

Santa on the Rock
11am-2pm on December 3 & 10
$13 adults, $6 ages 5-15 (includes park admission)
Jolly Old Saint Nick practices his chimney shimmy with multiple rappels down Chimney Rock. Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy live holiday music, hot cocoa and cookies, and meet live critters that call Chimney Rock Park their home.

Winter Lights at The North Carolina Arboretum
6pm-9pm nightly through January 1
$18 adults, $16 ages 5-11
Shorter days mean more time to enjoy the nighttime wonderland of light displays throughout the region. The North Carolina Arboretum’s elaborate Winter Lights show transforms the gardens into a magical experience. Grab some layers and enjoy the experience of roasting marshmallows and making s’mores!

Asheville Downtown Holiday Windows
Map available at ashevilledowntown.org
Finish your holiday shopping or just get in the holiday spirit as you window-shop about 30 businesses that make up the Holiday Windows walking tour sponsored by the Asheville Downtown Association. Seasonal interpretations range from the traditional to the neo-traditional to the only-in-Asheville, a delightful experience that reinforces that we may celebrate in different ways, but we all love the experience of winter magic.

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