The New Year's arrival in Asheville is so much fun with lots of do. Here are our Top 10 things to do, including the best New Year's Eve parties and celebrations.
1. Celebrate the Arrival of 2014: Check out these fun options to celebrate on New Year's Eve.
- Asheville Restaurants: Many are open late on New Year's Eve and feature a lively bar to celebrate the New Year. Make reservations ASAP!
- Downtown Asheville: While there is no public outdoor event to welcome the new year, there will be plenty of indoor venues to celebrate - including many restaurants, clubs, pubs, live music venues, etc. If the weather is nice, the streets will be buzzing with lots of activity and fun street entertainers.
- Grove Park Inn: Closing out their Centennial Celebration, the New Year arrives with parties, dancing, champagne, and party favors throughout the resort. Celebrate in the Great Hall, the Grand Ballroom, or at one of the more intimate venues. Other activities include guided history tours, the National Gingerbread House Competition™ Display and live music throughout the resort.
- Inn on Biltmore Estate: New Year's Eve Gala is high style! Their hotel package (Dec 30-Jan 1) includes your guest room, breakfast buffet, black-tie five-course gala, midnight fireworks and toast, admission tickets to the estate, and more. SOLD OUT
- Harrah's Cherokee Casino will have live entertainment at multiple locations. At Essence Lounge is the New Year's Eve Roaring 20s Countdown. Reserve a table for 2 for $200 and receive VIP Wristbands, a bottle of Möet & Chandon, keepsake champagne flutes and more. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres from 8-9 PM, live band entertainment from Spoken 4 and $25 Food Court voucher included.
- Great Smoky Mountains Railroad: Spend the evening on the train, rolling along the tracks while dancing the night away! Includes a three-course gourmet dinner, live music and midnight toast. The train departs from Bryson City at 9 PM.
- Mountain Magnolia Inn: This historic inn in Hot Springs has a great New Year's Package that includes one, two nights or three nights with a special dinner for two, live entertainment, dancing and sing-along, appetizers, party favor and a sparkling toast.
- Beer Pubs: Plenty of pubs and bars to celebrate with local brews! Many are within walking distance in downtown Asheville.
- Orange Peel: An Evening with Railroad Earth, 9 PM, $50/person. More info.
- Social Lounge & Tapas Bar: New Year's Eve Celebration. Click here to visit their Web site
- Strada: Celebrate An Authentic Italian Tradition with The Feast of the Seven Fishes on New Year's Eve, 1 PM until late. $35 per person or $65 per couple. Click here to visit their Web site
- The Market Place Restaurant: New Year’s Eve bash with an amazing a la carte menu by Chef William Dissen, and live music from 6:30 PM-2 AM by DJ Ra Mak. Click here to visit their Web site.
- Rhubarb:Pastry chef and bartender team up for “Sugar and Ice,” the restaurant’s take on dessert and cocktail pairings, starting at 10 PM. Click here to visit their Web site.
- Tressa's Jazz & Blues: Great jazz club with live music, party favors, midnight toast & balloon drop. Dance all night to the soulful groove of Asheville’s wildly popular band Lyric with special guest Ruby Mayfield on saxophone. Complimentary soul food buffet, champagne fountains and midnight toast. $25/person. Open 7 PM-3 AM. 28 Broadway in downtown. More info.
- Fur Ball Gala: A black-tie benefit for Brother Wolfe Animal Rescue, DJ, live entertainment, open bar, heavy hors d'oeuvres and silent auction. At "On Broadway" downtown. Tickets at www.bwar.org.
- Wine & Cocktails: Hang out with your sweetie at a downtown Asheville wine or cocktail bar.
- Grey Eagle: Blacklight themed NYE Party with Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band w/ The Broadcast, 9 PM, standing room only. $25/person. More info.
- Possum Drop: The controversial Lowering of the Opossum is a true hillbilly event in Brasstown, NC, about a two-hour drive west of Asheville (near Murphy). It's a non-alcoholic family event that begins at 10 PM (music starts at 8:45 PM) with the countdown to midnight marked by the lowering of a possum in a cage. Festivities include crowning cross-dressing men as "queens."11005 Old Highway 64, Brasstown
2. Vacation Packages: See our holiday vacation packages page for the latest deals and specials.
3. New Year’s Polar Plunge: Take the plunge into Lake Lure and freeze for a reason – to support local charities. Read more about the Polar Plunge.
4. Pampering in Style: Get pampered in one of the fabulous bed and breakfast inns in and around Asheville. Find the perfect one for you: Asheville Large Bed & Breakfasts | Asheville Small Bed & Breakfasts
5. Hibernate: Recover from holiday stress with a tranquil stay in a cozy cabin, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. See our Cabins Guide for many options.
6. Biltmore Estate: Biltmore Estate is open on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. See America's largest home decked out in festive finery! Restaurants are open (make dining reservations in advance). See our Christmas at Biltmore Guide.
7. Get Outdoors: Start work on that New Year's resolution to lose a few pounds and get in better shape! Take a winter hike and enjoy views through with leafless trees, cool temperatures, and few fellow hikers. See our hiking guide for top picks. All trails in the National Forests are open every day. And don't forget to find some of our spectacular waterfalls (most waterfalls are open on New Years Day, including DuPont State State Forest and Gorges State Park). Area ski resorts will be open all weekend. See First Day Guided Hikes below!
8. Shop: There's plenty shopping options on Friday and Saturday to find those special after holiday deals. Most locally-owned stores will be closed on New Year's Day. Browse through more than 200 shops, 30 art galleries and a dozen antique stores in Downtown Asheville. For more great local shops with unique gifts, explore the quaint downtowns of nearby Brevard, Hendersonville and Waynesville. Located across from the entrance to Biltmore Estate, Biltmore Village is home to more than 40 unique shops. Explore the River Arts District. The best area in Asheville to find antiques is the Biltmore Antiques District with 13 stores within a mile and a half of the Biltmore Estate. Included is the local long-time favorite, the Antique Tobacco Barn. See our Antique Shopping Guide.
9. LaZoom Comedy Bus Tours: What a fun outing with friends and family! Take the zany tour on the big purple bus. During their newest tour, you'll meet a real fruitcake, a traveling snowman and a turkey that simply defies explanation! Make reservations in advance! Read more about LaZoom Tours.
10. Gingerbread Houses at Grove Park Inn: For a real treat, see the amazing display of gingerbread houses from the National Gingerbread House Competition at the famous Grove Park Inn Resort. (Read about their New Year's Eve celebrations above.) Overnight guests and restaurant guests at the resort can view the display at anytime. If you're not a guest, visit on Sunday-Thursday. It's free to tour the display and see the other elaborate decorations at the grand hotel. See our Gingerbread House Competition Guide.
See our Top 10 Holiday Outings for more holiday events!
First Day Hikes
Start 2014 off with the right step! State parks across the nation are offering First Day Hikes as a way to promote healthy lifestyles and year round recreation at America's State Parks. Here are some options near Asheville in western North Carolina. Also see our Favorite Winter Hikes.
Gorges State Park
Hike to the park's overlook from the Upper Bearwallow picnic area. The trail is 2 miles roundtrip, with the first part having an elevation gain. They'll take our time and stop often to check things out along the way. The reward at the end of the trail is a great view of the gorge and Lake Jocasee. Wear sturdy shoes and bring some water. Call the main park office for directions. 828-966-9099. No reservations or fees.
Start time: 9:00 am
Start location: Upper Bearwallow Picnic Area
Chimney Rock State Park
Join a park ranger at Rumbling Bald Climbing Access to hike the newly constructed Rumbling Bald Trail. This trail is 1 mile long (round trip) and leads to the bottom of Rumbling Bald and the east side boulder fields. Along the way they will discuss how the park uses ecological information to reroute old trails and plan new trails. Bring water and wear sturdy hiking shoes.
Start time: 1:00 pm
Start location: Rumbling Bald Climbing Access
Lake James State Park
Join Park Ranger Clay Veasey as he leads a hike along the Paddy's Creek Trail. Please bring appropriate clothing for the weather and be prepared to walk approximately 2 miles.
Start time: 2:00 pm
Start location: Paddy's Creek Access - Boathouse Breezeway
Mount Mitchell State Park
Join a ranger for a winter walk along the Balsam Nature Trail. Total hike is approximately .75 miles. Please dress appropriately with hats, scarves, gloves, boots. Temperatures can be quite cold up here in the winter especially if the wind is howling. Please check the park website for accessibility prior to coming, or contact the Park Office at 828-675-4611.
Start time: 12:00 pm
Start location: Summit parking lot
Grandfather Mountain State Park
Join a ranger on a winter exploration hike looking for tracks and other signs of animal activity. You will be out for three hours and may be off the trail. Dress for the weather & conditions. Please contact the office with any questions: (828) 963-9522
Start time: 1:00 pm
Start location: Lowes Grocery parking lot; Highway 105 at intersection of Highway 184