top of page

NC Arboretum hosts its fifth annual Winter Lights Holiday Light Show

Western North Carolina will shine brightly as ever this holiday season as The North Carolina Arboretum celebrates the fifth anniversary of its Winter Lights holiday light show.

On display nightly through Monday, December 31, 2018, from 6 to 10 p.m., Winter Lights is an outdoor walking tour of the Arboretum’s nationally known gardens dressed in more than half-a-million holiday lights. Designed with an artistic aesthetic, this family-friendly event includes beautifully lit displays and glowing landscapes that emphasize the beauty of Western North Carolina during the winter season.

Considered Asheville’s brightest holiday tradition, Winter Lights is the Arboretum’s largest fundraising event of the year, and proceeds help support the Arboretum’s educational programs, exhibits and facilities year-round.

New this year, Winter Lights will have a variety of vibrant new displays and themes, including “fire and ice!” Many fan favorites will also return, including the Arboretum’s signature 50-foot animated tree and lighted Quilt Garden, Rocky Cove Railroad G-scale model train, including a new North Pole Express train, as well as its animatronic children’s program, “Storytime at Woodland Cove,” and a variety of interactive motion-sensored games. Festive food and beverages, including hot cocoa, s’mores, wine and beer, will be available for purchase throughout the gardens and inside the Education Center.

“We’re proud to celebrate five successful years of hosting this wonderful holiday event for Asheville and the entire region,” said George Briggs, executive director of The North Carolina Arboretum. “Since Winter Lights’ inception, we have welcomed more than 115,000 guests hailing from all 50 United States and Washington, D.C., as well as several foreign countries. We are thankful for the support from our community, business partners, volunteers and staff to make this event Asheville’s brightest holiday tradition.”

To help reduce traffic congestion and crowding, visitors will now be required to select an entry time of 6:00, 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. with their ticket purchase. Ticket holders can enter anytime between their selected entry time and 9:00 p.m. Many nights, including weekends and holidays, are likely to sell out and visitors are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets in advance. Tickets for Winter Lights can be purchased online at

For visitors seeking transportation from Asheville, The Trolley Company will offer its Winter Lights Holiday Tour Thursday through Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. This chartered package includes a complimentary cup of hot cocoa, admission to Winter Lights and a scenic ride filled with music and merriment to and from the Arboretum.

lots of lights

Pick-up locations for the tour will be at the Renaissance hotel in downtown Asheville and the DoubleTree hotel in Biltmore Village. Tickets for The Trolley Company’s Winter Lights Holiday Tour are $29.50 per person and must be purchased in advance through The Trolley Company’s website,

The Arboretum is also expanding the City of Asheville’s holiday light display. Thanks to a partnership between the Arboretum, the City of Asheville, the Asheville Downtown Association, Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority and the Historic Biltmore Village Association, the new Local Lights holiday display produced by the Arboretum will be placed in Pack Square Park, as well as new locations in Prichard Park and Biltmore Village.

About The North Carolina Arboretum

Each year more than 500,000 visitors experience the Arboretum’s gardens, trails, exhibits and plant shows, educational programs, demonstrations and lectures. The Arboretum’s ability to meet its mission and enrich the visitor experience is made possible by a community of supporting resources – from members, volunteers and staff to state and local funds, tribute gifts, grants and community partners.

The central mission of The North Carolina Arboretum, an affiliate institution of the 17-campus University of North Carolina System, is to cultivate connections between people, plants and places. A standard $14 per vehicle parking fee is required for non-members. Special events and after-hours activities may require additional fees.

For more information, please call (828) 665-2492 or visit

bottom of page