Soak up a season full of holiday cheer with “A Small Town Christmas in Banner Elk” the first weekend in December. Escape the rush of the season and enjoy an authentic small town holiday Dec. 1-3 in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Festivities start Friday evening with an Ensemble Stage performance of “A Christmas Carol” at the Historic Banner Elk School. Saturday’s schedule of activities starts early and stretches well into the evening, while Sunday is reserved for visiting choose & cut Christmas tree farms throughout Avery County. Weekend lodging packages include a choose & cut Christmas tree.

“The whole town gets involved with A Small Town Christmas,” says organizer Jo-Ann McMurray of the Banner Elk Chamber. “We love seeing families and couples get away from the hustle and bustle to enjoy a simpler celebration in a small town. And what better way to end the weekend than visiting a tree farm and driving home with a hand-picked tree on top of the car?”

Visitors are encouraged to drive up Friday evening for shopping and the 7 p.m. Ensemble Stage show of Charles Dickens’ yuletide classic.

The fellowship and good cheer continue Saturday. The day begins with a Holiday 5K race at 8:30 a.m. Next up enjoy breakfast with Santa at 9:30 a.m. at Dunn’s Deli. From there, it’s an easy walk to activities occurring throughout town. Those activities range from ornament making and cookie decorating to a candy cane hunt in the town park to storytelling at the Banner Elk Book Exchange. Shopping options are plentiful in this walkabout town framed by Beech and Sugar mountains.

As the sun sets, the Banner Elk Parade of Lights begins at 6 p.m. at Lees-McRae College. The parade includes the traditional marching bands, cars and floats, but also features surprises, such as dogs dressed in lights and Santa arriving on a fire truck.

“People decorate their cars, their kids, their pets with lights and they’re all in the parade,” McMurray says.

The parade makes its way down Main Street to Tate-Evans Park, where darkness falls and mini-train rides weave through the luminaries. The park is also home to synchronized music and light shows. As always, Mrs. Claus and Santa will make sure every kid gets a chance to sit on Santa’s lap and share their Christmas wish list.

Visitors can wrap their holiday experience Sunday with a visit to one of many Christmas tree farms in the area, or they can opt for a 3 p.m. performance of “A Christmas Carol” at the Historic Banner Elk School.

Also available all three days are walking tours of Apple Hill Alpaca Farm. Tours are hourly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each. Cost is $12 for adults and $7 for children ages 4-10. Children 3 and under admitted free.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday, Dec. 1
10am-4 pm – Christmas at Apple Hill Alpaca Farm (hourly guided walking tours)
7:00 p.m. – Performance of “A Christmas Carol” by Ensemble Stage (click for tickets)
Saturday, Dec. 2
8:30 a.m. – YMCA 5K Reindeer Run (Tate-Evans Park)
9:30 a.m. – Breakfast with Santa (Dunn’s Deli)
10am-4pm – Christmas at Apple Hill Alpaca Farm (hourly guided walking tours)
10am-6pm – Waggin’ Wassail & Paw-licious Hot Cocoa (My Best Friend’s Barkery)
11am-2pm – Storytelling with Santa (Banner Elk Book Exchange)
1:00 p.m. – Candy Cane Hunt (Tate-Evans Park)
1pm-3pm – Christmas Ornament Making (Bayou Smokehouse)
3pm-4pm – Decorate Christmas Cookie (Banner Elk Cafe)
6:00 p.m. – Parade of Lights (Main Street & Shawneehaw Avenue)
6:30 p.m. – Train Rides, Luminaries, Light Shows & Visits with Santa (Tate-Evans Park)
Sunday, Dec. 3
All day – Choose & Cut Christmas Trees at local tree farms: http://www.averycountychristmastrees.org/members/

Great Lodging Options Available

Because it is a resort town, Banner Elk has many lodging options that allow families and couples to find the idea lodging option for this special weekend. Seek out your perfect accommodations by clicking here. Or, check our special Choose & Cut Christmas tree lodging packages by clicking here.

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