November 24, 2022 - January 2, 2023
For the ultimate festive small town experience to get you in the holiday spirit, drive and stroll down Main Street decked out with a million lights for Hometown Holidays in our top "Christmas Town" Forest City in Rutherford County. Wrapped around the live oak trees and hanging overhead, the displays center around the town fountain. The tradition dates back to 1930 when the town hung its first set of lights on two trees. Bundle up with a cup of hot chocolate and hop on a carriage (offered on weekends) through the magical display of holiday lights. And make sure to visit the Pavilion on Park Square to see the region’s largest, lighted Christmas ornament! Read more about Forest City.

Forest City NC Christmas Lights

While you can enjoy the lighting extravaganza free of charge every night of the week, there are some extra events below!

Forest City Carriage Rides

November 24: Forest City's annual tree lighting is on Thanksgiving night, November 24, with live music from a local gospel quartet. The ceremony begins at 6 PM and lights are turned on at 7 PM by the Mayor and his special guest. 

November 27: The annual Forest City Christmas Parade will be held on Sunday, November 27 at 3 PM.  The parade begins at Cool Springs Administrative Building and travels east on Main Street to First United Methodist Church. 

Forest City Christmas Ice Skating

Fridays Before Christmas (Dec 2, 9, 16)

  • Carriage rides (6-8:45 PM), reservations $40/carriage (up to 4 adults or 2 adults & 3 kids). Reservations must be purchased online beginning November 28. Carriages load at Pavilion on Park Square fountain at the corner of Mill Street and Huntley Avenue. (153 Park Square)
  • Ice skating (6 PM until) $8/person includes skates. (172 Park Square)
  • Hayrides are 6 PM-8:45 PM and are $3 per person. Ticket sales begin at 6 PM and are sold first come, first served. Hayrides load in front of Main Street Meetings. (108 East Main Street) 

Saturdays Before Christmas (Dec 3, 10, 17)

  • Carriage Rides (6-8:45 PM), reservations are $40/carriage (up to 4 adults or 2 adults & 3 kids). Reservations must be purchased online beginning November 28. Carriages load at Pavilion on Park Square fountain at the corner of Mill Street and Huntley Avenue. (153 Park Square) 
  • Ice skating (6 PM until) $8/person includes skates. (172 Park Square)

Lights are on each night from 5 PM-11:30 PM from Friday, November 25 through Monday, January 2.

Forest City Hometown Holidays Lights
Santa spotted in his Mustang cruising Main Street

Other Nearby Small Town Holiday Events

December 3, 2022: Rutherfordton Tree Lighting (NC's largest living Christmas tree) happens on the first Saturday in December and includes sidewalk vendors, a parade at 5 PM, tree lighting, music, and more. Read about Rutherfordton & Spindale.

December 3 & 10, 2022: Santa on the Chimney
Watch Santa practice his climbing skills on the biggest chimney around at Chimney Rock Park. Read more!

December: Christmas in Chimney Rock Village
Stroll Main Street to see the Christmas decorations and lights. Shop at a variety of local stores and galleries or dine at one of the cafes and restaurants, all open with extended hours. Read about Chimney Rock Village.

Forest City Hometown Holidays

Main Street Restaurants
Some great dining options have opened during the last couple of years. Check them out:

  • Copper Penny Grill, 146 E. Main St.
  • Smith's Drugs, 139 E. Main St
  • El Michocan, 107 W. Main St
  • The Hoot Nannie, 164 E. Main St
  • Slim's Bar & Grill, 114 N Powell St
  • Pie Safe Baking Company, 102 W. Main St
  • America’s Fudge Shop, 155 E. Main St
  • Amp Nutrition, 124 Park Sq

Twisted Pear, taproom and coffee shop, 184 E. Main St.

Banfield Gallery

Don't miss Banfield Gallery at 171 East Main Street (pic above) with works from 20+ artists including owners Tom & Kathy. They are open until 8 or 9 PM most nights. Another great stop is Harrill and Harrill Design Company at 121 East Main Street. Visit Jason and Dana for home décor, custom furniture, and vintage finds. 

Forest City is located about 60 miles southeast of Asheville - about halfway to Charlotte along US Highway 74. See our Forest City Guide for more things to do nearby. Come early to visit a winery in the Tryon Foothills Wine Country.

Video: Lighting Ceremony

Watch the lighting of the 1 million lights from Thanksgiving Night

More Forest City Things to Do

Rutherford County B&Bs, Cabins & Hotels

Find plenty of unique inns, bed and breakfasts, local boutique hotels, cabins and campgrounds near all the things to do in Lake Lure, Chimney Rock, Rutherfordton and Forest City.

Bennett Classics Antique Auto Museum

Named “Best Museum in the Nation” by the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA), see a big variety of 70 vehicles representing decades of history. Located in Forest City and Rutherford County… read more

The Foundation Performing Arts

The "big city" 1,300-seat performing arts center is located on the Isothermal Community College Campus in tiny Spindale and features an impressive Mainstage Performing Arts Series featuring music… read more

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