Holiday Roundup: Christmas comes to Appalachia

art frAs the temperatures drop in Western North Carolina, the fun only heats up. The holiday season here is filled with events and activities aimed at celebrating the best way we know how — with friends, family and visitors alike.

Families can partake in wagon rides, iceless skating, craft sales and art demonstrations, all the while enjoying authentic mountain music, clogging and parades throughout several downtowns. These are just some of the activities happening around the region, with each and every date, time and place found within this section.


From the Dillboro “Lights and Luminaries” to “A Christmas Carol” in Waynesville, “A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas” hitting the stage in Bryson City to special performances in Franklin, each community around the region is opening its arms to share in the winter festivities.

It’s a winter wonderland out there, and it’s yours for the taking.


‘A Christmas Carol’ in Waynesville

The classic “A Christmas Carol” will stage at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6-7, 13-14 and at 3 p.m. Dec. 8 and 15, at the Haywood Arts Regional Theater in Waynesville.

HART commissioned an original script and score in 2011 from Director Mark Jones and Music Director Ann Rhymer Schwabland. 

In HART’s production, Jacob Marley appears like a floating octopus of chains and money boxes, the ghost of Christmas past appears clothed in twinkling lights, a Christmas present leads a mass of carolers from scene to scene, and the ghost of Christmas yet to come emerges over nine feet tall to fill the entire stage. 

Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and $8 for students. Discounted tickets to matinees are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and $6 for students. Reservations can be made by calling the HART Box Office, 828.456.6322, from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.


‘Dillsboro Lights and Luminaries’ celebrates 30 years

The Dillsboro “Lights and Luminaries” festival will celebrate its 30th year in shimmering style from 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 6-7, 13-14. Adorned in more than 2,500 luminaries and white lights, Dillsboro will glow with excitement as it offers festival-goers four nights of extended holiday shopping hours, musicians, singers, activities and lots of refreshments. Started in 1983 by merchants as a way to thank its customers, the “Lights and Luminaries” festival is now one of the region’s longest-running holiday celebrations. 

The festival opens with Western Carolina University Night from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, during which time a one-day-only iceless ice-skating rink will be open to visitors free of charge; skates will be provided. The rink is sponsored by WCU’s A.K. Hinds University Center and will be in front of Dogwood Wellness. 

The WCU Holiday Dancers will kick off the entertainment portion of the festival that night at 5:30 p.m. with a performance at Front Street. The dancers are led by Karyn Tomczak, a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette and director of WCU’s dance program.

Entertainment for WCU Night also will include Voices in the Laurel at 6 p.m., a nonprofit youth choir, which will carol at Dillsboro businesses on Front Street; a “Sing-A-Long with Susan Belcher” and Cullowhee Valley elementary students at 6:30 p.m.; the Broadway Cat Singers at 7 p.m. performing Christmas songs in a classical musical theater style; and the WCU Horn Choir at 7:30 p.m. All shows will be performed at the Front Street Courtyard. 

The Trantham Family Band will perform that evening at 8 p.m. at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad depot, followed by the WCU Inspirational Choir at 8:30 p.m. 

And Claymates will offer visitors a chance to paint their own ornaments from 6 to 8 p.m. 

Other events include the Pick and Play Dulcimer Group performing holiday music from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 6 and 13, at Riverwood Shops, Santa and Mrs. Claus at Town hall each day of the festival, horse and buggy rides and other Southern Appalachian activities.

The festival will end with fireworks at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 14, provided by the Jackson County Parks and Recreation. 

Free festival parking will be available at Monteith Park. The Cullowhee United Methodist Church will provide a free shuttle from Monteith Park to downtown Dillsboro opening night, Dec. 6. or


‘A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas’ comes to Bryson City

“A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas” will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 6-7, 9, 13-14 and at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 8 and 15, at the Smoky Mountain Community Theatre in Bryson City.

The original play presents the poignant story of the missing two years in the life of the Ingalls family — the only substantial period that Laura chose not to write about in her Little House books. In their poorest winter, when the crops have been devastated by locusts and the family must deal with the death of baby Freddie, the Ingalls family backtracks to Iowa to take over the running of a hotel. And if things weren’t bad enough, Ma tells Laura that she must be nice to Johnny Steadman, the worst boy in Iowa.

When wealthy Mrs. Starr asks for Laura as a companion to read to her in the afternoons, Laura is overjoyed to be invited into such a fine house. But when she overhears Mrs. Starr offer to adopt Laura as her own daughter to ease Ma and Pa’s burden of so many children, Laura is certain that her parents will give her up. As Christmas morning approaches, Laura is faced with a decision: Will she choose what she believes is best for the family or will she find a way to stay with Pa, Ma, Mary and Carrie?

Ticket are $8 for adults, $5 for students ages 6 to 18 and free to those under age six. Tickets can be purchased at the box office before each show.

828.488.8227 or 828.488.8103 or


O’Conner, Ray and The Nutcracker Ballet in Franklin

Mark O’Conner & Friends: An Appalachian Christmas, Robert Ray’s “Home for the Holidays,” and The Nutcracker Ballet will perform at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin.

Mark O’Conner & Friends: An Appalachian Christmas will perform at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6. O’Connor is a multi-Grammy winning musician and composer, most known for his million-selling composition “Appalachia Waltz.” For “An Appalachian Christmas” O’Connor features some of his favorite musicians and songs from the country/bluegrass, pop, classical and jazz worlds of his musical journey. Tickets are $21 and $26.

Robert Ray’s “Home for the Holidays” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14. The production is an eclectic mix of the world’s best-loved Christmas music, presented in both familiar and imaginary ways. Tickets are $10.

The Nutcracker Ballet will be Dec. 20-21. On a very special Christmas Eve, a young girl named Natasha receives a gift in the form of a nutcracker. Through dreams and magic, Natasha is rescued from the evil Rat King by the nutcracker and taken on an exciting adventure to the Snowflake Forest and Land of Sweets. Set to the music of Tchaikovsky, this holiday classic is perfect for the entire family. Tickets are $7 for students, $11 for adults.

866.273.4615 or


Christmas parades in WNC

Bryson City

The Bryson City Christmas Parade will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in downtown, featuring floats, marching bands, homecoming queens and more. 800.867.9246 or


With the theme “Candy Cane Christmas,” the Canton Christmas Parade will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, in downtown. 828.235.2760.


Cashiers Christmas Parade, “A Storybook Christmas,” will be from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Village Green. As an incentive to make imaginative parade floats, The Christmas Star Award winner for the overall best entry will receive an award-winning barbecue dinner for 20 people, compliments of event benefactor Tom Crawford.


The Cherokee Christmas Parade will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in downtown. 828.554.6491 or


The Highlands Christmas Parade will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, in downtown. 828.526.2112.


“Memories of a Hometown Christmas,” Sylva’s Christmas Parade, will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, in downtown. Parade applications are available at Sylva Town Hall, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, or at Photos with Santa will be taken at City Lights Café from 1 to 3 p.m. Pictures are $10, with proceeds to benefit the Main Street Sylva Association. 828.586.2719 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 


With a theme of “Shine The Light,” the Waynesville Christmas Parade will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9, in downtown.

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