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.”


For out of town visitors, weekend lodging packages are available that include a choose & cut Christmas tree from Elk River Evergreens.

“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.


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)

Sunday, Dec. 9
All day – Choose & Cut Christmas Trees at local tree farms:
10am-4pm – Christmas at Apple Hill Alpaca Farm (hourly guided walking tours)
2:00 p.m. – Performance of “A Banner Elk Christmas” by Ensemble Stage (click for tickets)

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.