Although it may be tempting to stay in and enjoy your Smoky Mountains vacation rental, there are so many things to do around Western North Carolina, it would be a shame not to check out some of it – especially around the holidays. We’ve got a few ideas on how to spend some time away from the house. 


The tiny but artistic town’s annual Festival of Lights & Luminaries takes place during the first two weekends in December. More than 2,500 luminaries line the streets and sidewalks leading to the shops downtown. In addition to the lights, the stores and restaurants (like our favorite, Foragers Canteen) along Front Street stay open later, a live nativity takes place at Jarrett Memorial Baptist Church, and horse and buggy rides will be available, as will hot cider and cocoa. Visitors can also enjoy carolers, as well as a visit from Santa Claus. This year, the lighting takes place Dec. 3-4 and 10-11 from Dusk-9 p.m.


Christmas in Sylva centers around the lighting of its Historic Courthouse downtown. The official lighting takes place on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. Downtown Sylva’s annual Christmas parade takes place on Dec. 5 at 3 p.m. and travels along Historic Main Street. This year’s theme is “Down Home Christmas,” and will feature more than 50 floats. The first-ever Holiday Fireworks in Downtown Sylva will take place on Dec. 17, from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. Before the fireworks, shop for the perfect gifts at unique downtown shops, or grab dinner at one of the town’s independent, locally-owned restaurants.


The world’s only museum dedicated to aluminum Christmas trees (The Aluminum Tree & Ornament Museum, or ATOM) is in the small town of Brevard inside its Transylvania Heritage Museum. The trees are decorated with vintage ornaments befitting their kitschy nature. The Atomic Sisterhood will be on-hand to sing carols most days through the display’s closing date of Jan. 15. Open hours and more information can be found on the website


This year on December 11, Downtown Waynesville‘s historic Main Street area will come alive for A Night Before Christmas. The town’s shops, galleries, and restaurants stay open later, and from 6-9 PM the streets are filled with live music, live carolers, a Bethlehem marketplace and live nativity, wagon rides, Santa & Mrs. Claus, storytelling, luminary-lined streets, and more. Visit the website for more info.


Events during the town’s “Home for the Holidays” include carriage rides, the lighting of the city’s Christmas Tree outside of the Historic Courthouse, a Christmas parade on Dec. 4, and the popular Peppermint the Bear Scavenger Hunt. The quaint and vibrant Main Street is decked out in thousands of lights and its 100 independent stores, restaurants, galleries and antique shops.

Call for more information: 1-877-786-3641