November 17-December 31, 2017
Don't miss The North Carolina Arboretum's elaborate Winter Lights show, transforming the gardens into a nighttime wonderland with 500,000 lights! Stroll through spectacular lighted displays and see the gardens in a completely new way. Designed with an artistic aesthetic, the Winter Lights show enhances the natural beauty of the gardens as you celebrate the holidays. And RomanticAsheville.com is delighted to be a sponsor of this event. Buy tickets in advance. Plan ahead since many nights sell-out.
Returning this year are several displays synchronized to the sounds of holiday favorites, along with a 50-foot tall animated tree with 8,000 lights. The Rocky Cove Railroad featuring G-Scale (garden scale) model trains returns with two tracks featuring trains similar to those used in western North Carolina at the turn of the century. New elements include a projection show "Plantasia" that projects drawings onto the walls inside the Bonsai Exhibition Garden and family-friendly animatronic program "Storytime at Woodland Cove" in the Education Center. Holiday gifts, art and souvenirs are available in the Baker Exhibit Center Connections Gallery as well as a satellite outpost in the Education Center. The 3-D glasses are a big hit for the light tour.
You'll start your visit at the Baker Exhibit Center, with a visited exhibit of moving, giant insects. Pick up a map so you won't miss anything. Stroll through the various paths in the gardens for many vistas of the lights. Guided by green principles, the design team created a show composed of energy-efficient LED lights, which use 80% less energy than conventional lights. Proceeds generated from the Winter Lights fundraiser will help the Arboretum continue to expand its educational programs, exhibits and facilities.
The Savory Thyme Café offers a delicious buffet ($18/person) on Fridays and Saturdays in November and Fridays-Sundays in December (and other peak days including Thanksgiving and Christmas Day) with seatings at 6:30 & 8 PM. Reservations required - make them when you buy tickets online. They also offer an a la carte menu at their regular location in the Education Center.
Tickets & Hours
Advance tickets only - no tickets sold at the gate! 2017 rates TBA. Members of The North Carolina Arboretum Society get a $2 discount on all ticket purchases. Group tickets are available (minimum 20 people). Open nightly from 6 to 10 PM, including Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Click here to buy tickets on their Web site.
Things to Know
Dress for the outdoors and changing weather. No pets allowed. No outside food or beverages.
The North Carolina Arboretum is located next to the Blue Ridge Parkway entrance ramp at Milepost 393. From I-26, take Exit 33 and follow NC 191 South for two miles to the entrance on right.
Also see our North Carolina Arboretum Guide for daytime visits year-round.
See a sample of the lights and music with this video from opening night 2016!