Things To Do in Asheville For the Holidays That Are Inexpensive or FREE

Want to come to Asheville during the holiday season, but don’t have a lot of money to spend? Well, here are a handful of cheap or free thrills!

  1. Lake Julian Festival of LightsLake Julian Festival of Lights – Starting December 3rd, the annual Festival of Lights runs from 6-9 pm nightly until December 19th.  This cheap thrill is a drive-thru light show located in a neighborhood around Lake Julian Park (about a mile from Blake House). The cost per car is just $5 ($10 for vans) with a portion of the proceeds going to the Buncombe County Special Olympics. A must-see for the holidays!
  2. National Gingerbread House Display – I wrote about this in an earlier post. The competition is over, but the display goes on until January 2nd.  Walking through and seeing the displays is free Mondays – Thursdays. New for 2010 will be gingerbread cookie workshops called “Baking Memories.” Participants will be able to create their own gingerbread cookie masterpieces with the help of The Grove Park Inn’s chefs and staff. The “Baking Memories” workshops will be available Wednesdays through Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. The cost is just $10 per participant and includes a sweet take-home treat. “Stories of Gingerbread” guided tours will allow guests to go behind the scenes and get details about the construction of unusual entries as well as the workings of the judging, competition and display itself. The hour-long tours will be available Wednesdays through Saturdays at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.  The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 12 & under.
  3. Dickens Festival in AshevilleBiltmore Village Dickens Festival – The first weekend in December (12/3 – 12/5), Biltmore Village transforms into a quaint Victorian village with horse-drawn carriages, carolers, storytellers, and instrumentalists. Everyone will be in period clothing and the Montford Park Players will perform excerpts from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  Cost is FREE! Hours: Friday, 5:00 to 7:00 pm; Saturday, 11:00 am to 7:00 pm; Sunday, 1:00 to 5:00 pm.
  4. Santa on Chimney RockSanta on the Chimney at Chimney Rock Park – Watch Santa practice his climbing skills on 315-ft Chimney Rock. Santa sightings are between 11 am – 2 pm on December 4th & December 11th. Check out the website for more details. Park admission is required and we carry $1 off coupons at Blake House!Cost per person is $14; $6 for children age 6-15; children under 6 are free.
  5. Downtown Asheville Jingle Fest – Sunday, December 5th from 3 pm – 6 pm. Cost is FREE! The first ever Downtown JingleFest will start off at 3 pm at Reuter Terrace in Pack Square Park with traditional Christmas caroling by Asheville Chorale Society, a few dance numbers from Asheville Ballet’s Nutcracker, a 6th grade African Drum group and girls choir from Delta House, the Montford Park Players portraying Dicken’s characters from A Christmas Carol,” the North Pole mailbox and a visit from Santa (the real one!), elves, reindeer and hot cider and snowman building competitions, snowball throwing contests.  At dark, we’ll go inside Pack’s Tavern to the Century Room (second floor) for some hot toddies and a special performance by Mark Keller and friends previewing their upcoming Holiday Jam benefit for Mission Hospital. More games and prizes… “Did someone say “Pin the tail on the reindeer?”  In keeping with the season of giving, people are asked to bring a blanket, gloves, scarf, etc. for ABCCM and/or cans of non-perishable food for MANNA Food Bank.  This will become an annual family-friendly (not beer-friendly until after dark), festive celebration of the season!
  6. Last, but not least, I am running a couple of VERY Festive Specials at the Inn. One special per reservation. They are:
    • BILTMORE ESTATE TICKET SPECIAL – Book a 3-night stay between 11/26 – 12/23 and receive a general admission ticket to the Biltmore Estate for half price!  Add a 4th night and receive a second general admission ticket for half price. All reservations are based on room availability and must be made with at least 48 hours notice before arrival.
    • HALF OFF SPECIAL! – Through January 5, 2011, stay 2 nights, get the third night 50% Off! – Offer valid on stays between Sundays – Wednesdays (not applicable Thursdays – Saturdays).

      • Offer valid on any room, based on availability.
      • All other Inn policies apply.
      • Days must be consecutive and in the same room.
      • 50% Discount is on the nightly room rate only.
    • SECOND PET STAYS FREE – Now through 12/23, pay the nominal $10 per day pet fee for the first pet and the second pet fee is WAIVED! This special applies for stays of two or more nights, any pet-friendly room, any days of the week.


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