The Biltmore Estate Candlelight tours have begun, Asheville held its Holiday Parade this past Saturday and the Grove Park Inn’s Gingerbread Competition winners have just gone on display. In spite of my stubborn reluctance to even think about Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving, I can’t help but start to give in to the excitement surrounding the holidays. The Christmas season is here, like or not, and I absolutely love this time of year. There’s something magical about the decorations and the music, the parties and even the shopping. Downtown Asheville has a holiday shop window competition that brings out everyone’s creativity and helps get you into the spirit.
Sensibilities Spa won the competition with their clever snow-people enjoying the spa treatment, complete with a snow ancestor portrait above the fireplace! The holiday parade was quite an extravaganza with innumerable floats, performers, marching bands playing holiday music and our own Olympic silver medalists, Lauren Tamayo and Manteo Mitchell serving as Grand Marshals of the parade. Santa was the last to arrive with his entourage of festooned live llamas, bobbing Christmas-tree characters, and dancing reindeer people. Families camped out along the parade route and excited children darted into the street to catch a glimpse of what was coming.
It was great family fun. The Gingerbread Competition winners are always amazing to see and it gives you an excuse to enjoy the outstanding Arts & Crafts Architecture and original mission furniture of the Grove Park Inn. These are not run-of-the mill gingerbread houses. They are amazing edible sculptures and the bakers come from as far away as Massachusetts to compete. There are no less than 6 productions of The Nutcracker or variations thereof in Asheville this year. They range from the Asheville Puppetry Alliance’s “In the Nutcracker Mood”, featuring holiday music, to a modern interpretation with all dance and no singing or speaking at the Flatrock Playhouse and Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre‘s “The Return of the Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” a surreal, imaginative telling of “The Nutcracker”. And of course, the Asheville Ballet will perform the full original ballet from Imperial Russia.
There will be choral performances and parties as well, but nothing can compete with the Grand Biltmore Estate in full Christmas regalia. By candlelight, with harpists playing and choirs singing in the Conservatory, the myriad of trees sparkle even brighter. My own 9 foot Christmas tree has arrived from Balsam Hill trees and it’s all I can do to keep from setting it up now. Right after Thanksgiving it’s going up! Happy Holidays!