The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina have long been a getaway for visitors looking to escape the hustle and bustle and reconnect as a family. The holidays are a particularly appropriate time to retreat to higher ground, soak in the crisp air and make memories.
Hendersonville invites you to do just that this winter with Home for the Holidays. Two months of events — from shopping and hayrides to skating and music — are designed to fill you with the spirit of the season. This small town just south of busy Asheville sets the scene with wide sidewalks lined with decorated storefronts and trees adorned with twinkling lights.
The festivities begin in early November via a variety of events, and things really kick into gear on Nov. 29, the Friday after Thanksgiving, with the Downtown Street Lighting & Santa’s Arrival.
Everyone gathers on the Historic Courthouse Plaza to sing Christmas carols, sip hot cocoa and watch for the man in red. Once Santa arrives at dusk, he flips the switch to illuminate the tree on the plaza and the lights along Main Street. The next day, shoppers frequent the boutiques, galleries and specialty shops throughout downtown for Small Business Saturday. Many storekeepers offer deals and special treats.
“We have such a great downtown, and Home for the Holidays is another to showcase it,” says Beth Carden, executive director of the Henderson County TDA. “With all the lights and activities and decorations, it really is something special.”
Saturday, Nov. 30, also brings Christmas at Connemara. Taking place at the former home of Carl Sandburg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, the free event honors the family traditions of the Sandburgs. The home is decorated in a simple style with poinsettias and a traditional Christmas tree. Children enjoy storytelling, crafts and sing-alongs.
Dec. 18-Jan. 1, the parking lot of the Visitor Center transforms into a winter wonderland. The centerpiece is the holiday skating rink. The synthetic “ice” creates a smooth surface ideal for beginners, yet authentic enough for seasoned skaters, and it allows for skating in any weather. Skaters can also try their hand at the Olympic sport of curling.
Surrounding the rink are games, a fire pit for roasting marshmallows, Christmas-themed cutouts for photos, and refreshments such as hot chocolate and cider. Dec. 20-22, hayrides board at the Visitor Center and take passengers on a magical tour of downtown.
“Most everything we do for the holidays is family oriented,” Carden says. “We want families to come to Hendersonville and spend time doing things they’ll remember for a lifetime.”
Flat Rock Playhouse, the official state theater of North Carolina, presents “A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas,” Nov. 29-Dec. 22. The musical revue has become a family tradition. Enjoy familiar classics and unexpected surprises. Meanwhile, the Hendersonville Symphony’s concert, “Holidays Around the World” on Dec. 14, provides a glimpse of how different countries celebrate this special time of year.
On Dec. 8, spend the afternoon exploring Hendersonville’s beautiful bed-and-breakfasts during the Holiday Tour of Historic Inns & Cookie Caper. Learn the history behind these prestigious properties and receive a sweet treat at each one.
With so much to do in Hendersonville, you’ll want to make plans to stay. Whether looking for a convenient hotel, romantic inn or homey vacation rental, Hendersonville offers a variety of lodging options.
Don’t leave town without visiting one of the fresh greenery markets or Christmas tree farms. Fraser firs, the Cadillac of Christmas trees, thrive in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visitors select their own trees fresh from the farm and round out their decor with wreaths and garland made from greenery clippings.
For a full schedule of Home for the Holidays events and a list of lodging options, go to www.VisitHendersonvilleNC.org/Home-for-the-Holidays or call (800) 828-4244.