Each year, the shift into the winter season brings about cause for celebration.

Communities across the High Country will be decked out in holiday splendor, local ski slopes will reopen and communities will typically gather for a wide range of winter events which begin in the lead up to Christmas and carry on past the New Year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year’s seasonal festivities will look a little different than those in the past. There is, however, plenty to do and see in the High Country this winter season.

Starting on Nov. 29, Chetola Resort’s annual Festival of Lights opened to the public. Visitors will have the opportunity to view thousands of sparkling Christmas lights and other illuminations as they cruise or stroll around Chetola Lake. The event is free and the light display will be up until Jan. 31, 2021.

High Country visitors can also swing by Blowing Rock on Dec. 4 from 5 to 8 p.m. for the town’s Holiday Stroll. Guests can stroll through a display of dazzling lights set up in Memorial Park and while also getting in some holiday shopping at several of Blowing Rock’s downtown shops. Many shops will remain open late on Dec. 4 to celebrate the occasion.

Local dance workshop, Studio K will be hosting a virtual rendition of the Christmas classic, “The Nutcracker,” this December. A community tradition, this year’s “Nutcracker” production was filmed at a number of different venues around the High Country, and will put a Appalachian twist on the holiday favorite that patrons can enjoy from the comfort of their own home. Tickets for the ballet will go on sale on Nov. 21. Tickets purchased between Nov. 21 — Nov. 28 are $30 per household, $35 per household from Nov. 29 — Dec. 4 and $40 per household from Dec. 5 — Dec. 12. The film will debut online on Dec. 5. For more information, visit http://studiokdancer.com/ or call the studio at (828) 265-6621.

Meanwhile in Banner Elk, the Apple Hill Alpaca Farm will be holding its annual Christmas Celebration from Nov. 20 to Dec. 6. Folks are invited to take a walking tour of the farm, meet the barnyard animals and view the farm’s barn which will be dressed to the nines with Christmas decorations. Tickets to this event vary by age. For more information about this event call (828) 963-1662.

Nestled in the mountains of Ashe County, the small town of Lansing will be holding its annual Christmas Tree Lighting. Visitors can enjoy a cup of hot cider, coffee or hot chocolate and listen to Christmas carols. The event is free and will be held on Dec. 5 from 5:30 - 6 p.m. at the Lansing’s Creeper Trail Park, located at 114 S. Big Horse Creek Road.

On Dec. 12, join Beech Mountain for Santa and Cookies. Step in to Four Seasons at Beech Mountain, 608 Beech Mountain Pkwy, Beech Mountain, to see Santa, where Mrs. Claus will hand out cookies and a special craft. Outside will be a fire pit and hot cocoa. All safety guidelines will be required including mask and social distancing. Email: Info@BeechMTNChamber.com.

There are also plenty of opportunities for skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing, this winter at a number of different slopes around the High Country such as Beech Mountain, Sugar Mountain, Appalachian Ski Mtn. and Hawksnest.

No matter the season or the circumstance, there’s always a chance for family fun in the High Country. Whether it’s taking in the stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains or enjoying a spectacular holiday lights display, the High Country is where memories are made.

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