*All 2020 activities canceled except for tree lighting, which moves to Sat. evening

Soak up a season of holiday cheer with “A Small Town Christmas in Banner Elk” the first full weekend in December. Escape the rush and enjoy an authentic small town holiday Dec. 6-8 in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Festivities start Friday evening and run through Sunday. Most events take place within walking distance in the downtown area of Banner Elk, and the 2019 schedule is listed at the bottom of this page. For out-of-town visitors, weekend lodging packages are available that include a choose & cut Christmas tree from Elk River Evergreens.

Get in the mood for the weekend on Friday evening with caroling, hot chocolate and the lighting of the official town tree in the Corner On Main Park at 6:30 p.m. After the tree lighting, Ensemble Stage presents “A Banner Elk Christmas” at 7 p.m. just a short walk away at the Historic Banner Elk School. The holiday musical variety show is one of the most popular shows each year by the local professional theater group.

Saturday’s schedule starts early with the 5K Reindeer Run at 8:30 a.m. in Tate-Evans Park and concludes back at the park around 6:30 p.m. following the Parade of Lights. The parade, which starts at 6 p.m., finishes in the park with a synchronized Christmas light snow, train rides through luminary lights, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a DJ with karaoke and the Avery County High School Band’s Christmas music recital.

During the day Saturday, events include a pancake breakfast with Santa at Dunn’s Deli, holiday market at Lees-McRae College, and a new event in 2019, the Banner Elk Polar Plunge at Wildcat Lake. Local businesses are also involved Saturday with events like ornament making and cookie decorating (see schedule below).

As the sun sets Saturday, the Banner Elk Parade of Lights kicks off 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,” says festival organizer Jo-Ann McMurray of the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce.

Visitors can put a bow on their holiday experience Sunday with a visit to one of many Christmas tree farms in the area, or they can opt for a 2 p.m. performance of “A Banner Elk Christmas” at Historic Banner Elk School.

“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?”

Also available all three days are Christmas-themed 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.

An added bonus is the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Tree Contest. Town businesses try to out-do each another with decorated outdoor Christmas trees. The trees must be real trees from Avery County Christmas tree farms. Everyone is encouraged to vote for their favorite at the Visitors Center and the winner is announced Saturday evening as everyone gathers among the lights in Tate-Evans Park.

Great Lodging Options Available

Because it is a resort town, Banner Elk has many accommodations 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.

Schedule of Events for 2019

Friday, Dec. 6
6:30 p.m. –
Christmas Tree Lighting & Caroling at Corner on Main Park
7:00 p.m. A Banner Elk Christmas musical variety show at Historic Banner Elk School

Saturday, Dec. 7
8:30 a.m. –
5K YMCA Reindeer Run in Tate-Evans Park
9:00 a.m. – Pancake Breakfast with Santa at Dunn’s Deli (through 10:30 a.m.)
9:00 a.m. – Holiday Market at Evans Auditorium at Lees-McRae College (through 5 p.m.)
10:00 a.m. – Christmas at Apple Hill Alpaca Farm (through 4 p.m.; tour purchase required)
11-Noon – Christmas card and bookmark making at the Book Exchange at Historic School
11-3 p.m. Pet photos with Santa at Banner Elk Chamber sponsored by Avery Co. Humane Society
1-3 p.m. – Christmas ornament decorating at Bayou Smokehouse and Grill
2:00 p.m. – Banner Elk Polar Plunge at Wildcat Lake (plungers need to arrive at 1 p.m.)
3:30-4:30 p.m. – Cookie decorating at Banner Elk Cafe and Lodge
6:00 p.m. – Parade of Lights on Main Street (ending with festivities in Tate-Evans Park)
All day – Special treats for humans and pets at My Best Friend’s Barkery

Sunday, Dec. 8
 All Day – Choose & Cut Christmas Trees at Avery County tree farms (get a free tree with Choose & Cut lodging package)
10:00 a.m. – Christmas at Apple Hill Alpaca Farm (through 4 p.m.; tour purchase required)
 2:00 p.m. A Banner Elk Christmas musical variety show at Historic Banner Elk School

For additional info about A Small Town Christmas in Banner Elk, call the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce at 828-898-8395.