Thursday, December 3, 2015

Road Trip: See Santa rappel down Chimney Rock, giant trees at Biltmore and more

Holiday traditions in the Charlotte area mean a trip to Christmas Town USA, aka McAdenville, and Charlotte Motor Speedway's Speedway Christmas. However, if you're looking for a road trip, below are a few area holiday events worth the drive.

Christmas in the Park, Saturday, Dec. 5, Banner Elk
The annual Christmas in the Park event features ornament making, cookie decorating, a parade of lights, luminary train rides through the park, live Nativity scene and the dusk lighting of a 40-foot tree in the center of town. Don’t miss the Christmas parade. Events throughout the day starting at 9 a.m. with breakfast with Santa. Details.

Santa on the Chimney, Dec. 5 and 12, Chimney Rock
See Santa rappel down a 315-foot granite monolith shaped like a chimney. Visitors can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, see critters, and enjoy live music, hot cocoa, cookies and kids’ activities. Details.

Just added: The Train To Christmas Town, Ends Dec. 27, Belmont
Take a holiday train ride to Christmas Town.  The 70-minute train ride is based on the popular kids' book of the same name. It follows the story of Janice and Paul as they journey to Christmas Town in the company of their woodland friends. See lights and enjoy appearances from Bumblebee the Polar Bear and Zephyr the Depot Cat, and, of course, Santa and his elves. You’ll eat cookies and hot cocoa. $35 and up. Details.

23rd Annual National Gingerbread House Competition, Ends Jan. 3, Asheville 
Gingerbread houses are set up throughout the famed Grove Park Inn for viewing and smelling. Guests not staying at the Grove Park can view the display Sunday through Thursday, excluding holidays. Admission: Self Parking: $10-$15. 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. Details.

“The Polar Express” Ends Jan. 3, Bryson City and Spencer
Experience the magical Polar Express with a reading of the book, a visit from Santa and hot chocolate. Attire: pajamas encouraged. The train ride is set to the soundtrack for the 2004 adaptation of Van Allsburg’s modern classic, “Polar Express.”  Details.

Holidays at Tryon Palace, Ends Jan. 3, New Bern
The Tryon Palace historic site re-creates celebrations from different eras. Don’t miss “Child’s Play: Celebrating the History of Toys and Games” exhibit at the North Carolina History Center. Visit: Dec. 12 and 19 for the Candlelight Celebration, which includes holiday vignettes throughout the complex. Details.

Christmas at Biltmore, Ends Jan. 10, Asheville
Marvel at 65 decorated Christmas trees inside the 250-room Biltmore Inn. The tallest is the 35-foot Fraser fir in the seven-story-high Banquet Hall. Outside a lighted 55-foot-tall Norway spruce is decorated by 20 illuminated evergreens, and 41 additional trees are decorated at the Winery, Antler Hill Village, restaurants and other spots on the 8,000-acre estate. Through Jan. 2, visitors can catch the glow in a candlelight tour of Biltmore House. Details.