Soak up a season full of holiday cheer with “A Small Town Christmas in Banner Elk” the first full weekend in December. Escape the rush of the season and enjoy an authentic small town holiday Dec. 7-9 in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Festivities start 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 of events (listed below) starts early and stretches well into the evening, while Sunday options include visiting choose & cut Christmas tree farms throughout Avery County, as well as a 2 p.m. matinee performance of Ensemble Stage’s “A Banner Elk Christmas.”
“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 the 6:30 p.m. tree lighting and the 7 p.m. Ensemble Stage holiday musical variety show.
The fellowship and good cheer continue Saturday. The day begins with a Holiday 5K race at 8:30 a.m. Next up enjoy a pancake breakfast with Santa at 9:00 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 paw-licious hot cocoa 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 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.
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.
New this year is the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas Tree Contest. Town businesses will try to out-do one another with decorated outdoor Christmas trees. The trees must real trees from Avery County Christmas tree farms. Everyone is encouraged to vote for their favorite at the Visitors Center. The winner will be announced Saturday evening as everyone gathers among the lights in Tate-Evans Park.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Friday, Dec. 7 10am-4 pm – Christmas at Apple Hill Alpaca Farm (hourly guided walking tours)
6:30 p.m. – Caroling, hot chocolate and tree lighting at Corner on Main park
7:00 p.m. – Performance of “A Banner Elk Christmas” by Ensemble Stage (click for tickets)
Saturday, Dec. 8
8:30 a.m. – YMCA 5K Reindeer Run (Tate-Evans Park)
9:00 a.m. – Pancake Breakfast with Santa (Dunn’s Deli)
10am-4pm – B.E. Artists Gallery open with focus on original Christmas gifts
10am-4pm – Christmas at Apple Hill Alpaca Farm (hourly guided walking tours)
10am-5pm – Enjoy a holiday treat at Banner Elk Olive Oil & Balsamics
10am-6pm – Paw-licious hot cocoa (My Best Friend’s Barkery)
11am-1pm – Storytelling with Santa (Banner Elk Book Exchange)
1pm-3pm – Christmas Ornament Making (Bayou Smokehouse)
3pm-4pm – Decorate Christmas Cookie (Banner Elk Cafe)
3pm-5pm – Wreath-making Demo, Wassail and Fruitcake at Stonewall’s Restaurant
6:00 p.m. – Parade of Lights (Main Street)
6:30 p.m. – Train Rides, Luminaries, Light Shows, DJ, Balloon Artist and Santa Claus (Tate-Evans Park)
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.
Create a new tradition this holiday season with the Banner Elk Choose & Cut Christmas Tree Packages. These packages take advantage of Banner Elk’s location in the NC High Country. The High Country is considered the Christmas Tree Capital for its abundance of tree farms growing high-quality Frasier fir trees. And, it is common for one of the farms in our region to provide the White House Christmas tree in Washington, D.C.
For one price, starting at $129 weekdays and $149 weekends (plus tax), our choose & cut packages include: one night’s lodging at your choice of accommodations, a full breakfast, 15% off dining at Banner Elk Cafe, and a voucher for one 7-foot tall choose & cut Christmas tree at Elk River Evergreens.
Elk River Evergreens is a perennial favorite in the NC mountains with lots of on-site activities and a great variety of trees.
The packages are available through Dec. 9, 2018. Booking them is easy. Just contact you choice of lodging options below to ask for the choose & cut package and book your stay. Upon check-in, you will receive a voucher good for one 7-foot Christmas tree at Elk River Evergreens. You will also receive a coupon for 15% off dining at Banner Elk Cafe, a popular restaurant in Banner Elk with a wide-ranging menu.
For an extra dose of holiday cheer, be sure to visit the weekend of Dec. 7-9 for Banner Elk’s annual A Small Town Christmas celebration. More details about that special weekend are available by clicking here.
Lodging Options – Packages are available at the lodging partners below. Please contact them directly and mention the Banner Elk Choose & Cut Christmas Tree Packages:
North Carolina’s High Country is a welcome escape any time of year, but winter is especially magical. And when it comes to choosing a winter destination in the NC mountains, Banner Elk just might be the ideal spot.
Banner Elk, located near Boone, is known for cozy lodging, romantic getaways, family fun and great restaurants. It’s place that has both small town charm and big city amenities.
The two largest winter sports venues in the South – Beech Mountain Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort – are located within 10 minutes of Banner Elk’s lone stoplight. Both resorts offers skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and snowtubing. There’s even a free youth sledding hill in the town of Beech Mountain.
When the sun goes down, Banner Elk’s reputation as a culinary hotspot takes center stage. There are more than a dozen popular restaurants within this town of just 1,067 residents. Culinary choices range from contemporary to traditional, with everything from white tablecloth fine dining to tasty Southern comfort food. Ethnic cuisine runs the gamut from Italian to Cajun to Mexican to Vietnamese.
For a romantic day of exploring, visit the local wineries. Banner Elk Winery has several award-winning dry wines, and is also known for its unusual ice wine. At Grandfather Vineyard and Winery, every bottle comes with a view of its namesake mountain. As you sip a glass by the tasting room fireplace, it’s easy to see why winter is better here.
There are three craft breweries in and around Banner Elk. Flat Top Brewing Co. is located on Main Street East and always features a winter brew. Just up the mountain from Banner Elk is Beech Mountain Brewing Co., nestled in the alpine village at the base of the Beech Mountain ski slopes. And a scenic drive into the country takes you to Blind Squirrel Brewery in nearby Plumtree.
Sometimes, the best thing about a winter getaway is spending quality time in your lodging of choice, and Banner Elk has a banner selection. Cozy cabins. Upscale condos. Friendly bed-and-breakfast inns. Comfortable hotels. Spacious vacation homes.
Many of Banner Elk’s lodging options feature a mountain motif and most have a fireplace for making warm memories on cold winter nights in the NC mountains.
Did you know Banner Elk is North Carolina’s top ski town? Click here to learn more about ski vacations in Banner Elk or call us at 828-898-5398.
Make plans now to attend the annual Mile High Fourth of July celebration, June 29-July 4. The resort towns of Banner Elk and Beech Mountain have joined forces for six days of fun that includes: fireworks, live music, arts, culinary options and Banner Elk’s famous Fourth of July Parade and Party in the Park.
The fun begins on Friday, June 29, with music on the patio at Banner Elk Cafe at 6 p.m. Also that day is a Lee-McRae Summer Theatre performance of the musical The Wiz at 2 p.m. in Banner Elk.
The centerpieces of this fun-filled weekend are Beech Mountain’s Fireworks and 47th Annual Roasting of the Hog on Saturday (June 30) and Banner Elk’s Fourth of July Parade and Party in the Park on Wednesday (July 4).
Saturday’s fireworks & pig pickin’ take place atop Beech Mountain, more than a mile high at 5,506 feet above sea level. Slow roasted barbecue pork and turkey are available beginning at 6 p.m., with a fireworks spectacular at dark.
Wednesday’s July 4th lineup in Banner Elk is an all-American celebration to make Uncle Sam proud, starting with the Fourth of July Parade on Main Street at 11:00 a.m. The parade concludes with a party in Tate-Evans Town Park, where folks enjoy lunch from several vendors and traditional games like egg-toss and sack races. You can even enter a ducky in Banner Elk’s Duck Race on the creek.
Other fun events include the Avery County Wine & Beer Festival on Saturday (June 30) in downtown Banner Elk; a Tuesday evening (July 3) concert in the Beech Mountain kite field by DeCarlo, featuring the lead singer of the legendary rock band Boston; and a Wednesday (July 4) pig roast and lawn party, complete with craft beer from Flat Top Mountain Brewery, hosted by Dunn’s Deli in Banner Elk.
Live music plays a big role, with eight bands performing at various venues across the six days. For complete information, visit the official event website by clicking here.
For those who stick around the following weekend (July 7-8), be sure to check out the Art on the Greene fine art and craft show on the lawn of the Historic Banner Elk School.
Visitors are familiar with Grandfather Mountain’s resident animals, including black bears, bald eagles, cougars, river otters and elk. But what do they do after dark?
Find out Saturday, Sept. 29, at Grandfather Mountain’s annual Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight, a nighttime event featuring fun and spooky stories told by firelight, along with rare after-dark tours.
From 6 to 9:30 p.m., guests of all ages can enjoy hot chocolate and warm apple cider by the glow of a bonfire. The event is BYOS (Bring Your Own S’mores), but the park will provide marshmallow roasting sticks, cider, hot chocolate and seating.
From there, join Grandfather staff members on a nocturnal trek to the top of the mountain (via shuttle) and the environmental wildlife habitats.
“It’s a whole different way to experience the animals,” said Jenny Condron, habitat keeper at Grandfather Mountain. “When you see them in the daytime, it’s all just a visual experience. But at night, you hear their unique noises and rustling around way before you actually see them, and it can be quite exciting and eerie.”
An “Owl Prowl” will take participants on a search for the mountain’s feathered denizens of the night, during which guides will attempt to communicate with the birds through recorded owl calls.
“On our last Owl Prowl, the barred owls were very, very responsive, talking back a lot,” chief habitats curator Christie Tipton said. “By the time we take the last tour, it’s pitch black, and you can’t see anything. Although the owls can see you.”
In fact, the event casts Grandfather Mountain in a whole new light — or lack thereof.
“Creatures of the Night is an amazing opportunity to see the new world that is Grandfather Mountain after the sun goes down,” Tipton added. “The mountain comes alive with inhabitants not seen during daylight hours, and experiencing the majesty of this in complete darkness, with no outside lights, is an awe-inspiring experience.”
Planning to Attend?
Cost is $20 per person, and participants must be at least eight years old to attend. Space is limited and registration is required by visiting https://bit.ly/2PaBpXk.
Guests are encouraged to dress warmly and bring blankets, flashlights and s’mores ingredients to enjoy around the fire. For more info, call 828-733-2013, or visit www.Grandfather.com.
Banner Elk has been selected as the starting point for the 2016 “Mountains to Coast Ride,” hosted by Cycle North Carolina.
All participants arrive in Banner Elk on Saturday, Oct. 1. The ride begins the next day at Tate-Evans Park in Banner Elk and concludes Saturday, Oct. 8, in Atlantic Beach. A total of 1,100 riders are expected to participate, which is the highlight of the year for many cyclists from across the nation.
The “Mountains to Coast Ride” was created in 1999 and is North Carolina’s only fully-supported ride. It is designed to promote North Carolina’s beauty, tourism, visitor attractions, historic sites, state parks, healthy lifestyle and the benefits of bicycling.
During the course of the week, riders will bike an average of 60 miles per day. In addition to overnights in Banner Elk and Atlantic City, stays are also planned for the towns of Wilkesboro, Lexington, Burlington, Sanford, Clinton and Jacksonville.
“Cycle North Carolina events generate an economic impact that exceeds $3 million a year for numerous small North Carolina towns,” says Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit NC. “The event travels secondary roads, exploring all areas of our great state.”