With the arrival of the holiday season, residents across the High Country will unpack their holiday decorations and mark their calendars for the many celebrations scheduled for before, between and after Christmas and the New Year. Whether it’s visiting a ski slope or congregating downtown for a holiday parade, the High Country is in no short supply of holiday fun.

For those visiting or living in Boone, a number of events will offer ample opportunity to spread holiday cheer with friends and family. The Festive First Friday, which runs February through December, takes a festive turn during the holiday season on Dec. 6, offering wine tastings, refreshments, art shows, music jams, the annual Christmas tree lighting and horse-drawn carriage rides.

The Christmas tree lighting will take place at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Jones House in downtown Boone, accompanied by performances from the Appalachian Youth Chorale and Watauga High School Honors Choir. After the lighting, hang around for a free reception in the Mazie Jones Gallery, featuring the artwork of Rachael Van Dyke along with an indoor performance in the parlor from App State A Cappella group, the Enharmonix.

Children of all ages can meet and greet a snowman, The Grinch, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Claus during the event. Located on King Street, visitors will find holiday dancers, performers and carolers, as well as other stops, including the county library, the Historic Post Office, the Jones House and the Appalachian Theatre. The Festive First Friday will take place Friday, Dec. 6, from 4 to 8:30 p.m.

Downtown Boone’s newly-opened Appalachian Theater will also be celebrating the holiday season with their production, “A Carolina Snowbelle Christmas,” at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14. The production will feature the 22-member dance troupe with a performance of tap, jazz, ballet and singing.

Before the doors open at the Appalachian Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 14, be sure not to miss the Town of Boone Christmas Parade, starting at 11 a.m., which travels down King Street. The parade will offer treats and surprises for everyone, as well as a special appearance by the jolly one himself — Santa Claus. After the parade, grab some hot cider and other treats at the Jones House.

In Blowing Rock, Chetola Resort’s Festival of Lights begins Thanksgiving weekend on Friday, Nov. 29, and continues until Jan. 26, when Blowing Rock WinterFest ends. See thousands of holiday lights around Chetola Lake free and open to the public. Also on Nov. 29, the Town of Blowing Rock will hold its Christmas in the Park event from 3 to 8 p.m. with the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree and lights, as well as carols, hot chocolate and a visit from Santa Claus.

In West Jefferson, the Ashe County Arts Council’s Christmas Crawl is from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, featuring the town’s many art galleries. The opening reception for “Tree Fest,” an exhibit showcasing decorated trees, ornaments, holiday crafts, gifts and miniature paintings, will also take place Dec. 6, starting at 5 p.m.

Avery County offers no shortage of holiday fun either. Banner Elk will hold A Small Town Christmas, a weekend-long celebration, kicking off at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6, with caroling and the lighting of the town Christmas tree. Following the festivities on Friday, Banner Elk’s Ensemble Stage will perform a Christmas variety show. Events will continue all day on Saturday, culminating with train rides, a light show and a visit from Mr. Claus that evening. In Newland, the town’s annual Christmas parade begins on Park Street at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14.

The High Country is one of the nation’s leading regions for Christmas tree production, with the Fraser fir tree — referred to by many as the cadillac of Christmas trees — being a native species to the mountainous southern Appalachians. What better way to get into the seasonal spirit than by going out to one of the High Country’s many choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms to bring home and adorn with ornaments?

For fans of snow sports, Beech Mountain Resort, Sugar Mountain Resort and Appalachian Ski Mountain offer powdery slopes to shred, ski and carve throughout winter months. There are also a number of special events during the holiday season up on the ski mountains, as can be seen in the Winter Times Calendar elsewhere in this publication.

Blowing Rock’s 22nd annual WinterFest is Jan. 23 to 26, 2020. Polar plunge into the icy waters of Chetola Lake, or watch the WinterPaws Dog Show, WinterFashion Show, ice carvers, drink from the Winter Beer Garden, and much more, mostly free.

No matter where and regardless of season, there is always something fun happening in the High Country, and winter is no exception.

Enjoy all the region has to offer, from ski slopes to concerts and festivals, and everything in-between.

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