Soak up a season full of holiday cheer with A Small Town Christmas in Banner Elk the first weekend in December. Formerly known as Christmas in the Park, this special holiday celebration takes place over three days this year – Dec. 2-4.
Festivities start Friday evening with the lighting of a 40-foot Frasier fir tree ringed by carolers, followed by a family holiday movie.Saturday’s full day of activities stretches well into the evening, while Sunday is reserved for visiting choose & cut Christmas tree farms throughout Avery County.
Weekend lodging packages are available that include a choose & cut Christmas tree.
“The whole town gets involved with this special holiday celebration,” 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 traditional weekend in a small town. And what better way to end the weekend than by visiting a farm and driving home with a hand-picked tree on top of the car?”
Families and couples are encouraged to start the weekend with Friday evening’s 6 p.m. lighting of a beautiful Avery County Christmas tree on the green in front of the Historic Banner Elk School. The lighting ceremony includes carols by the Lees-McRae College Highlanders, a student a cappella group. Afterwards, everyone is invited inside the school for a free showing of the holiday movie “Elf.”
Saturday starts bright and early with the Reindeer Run 5K race at 8:30 a.m. sponsored by the local YMCA. Then Santa drops by Dunn’s Deli at 9:30 a.m. to have breakfast with the boys and girls on his list.
From there, it’s an easy walk to activities occurring throughout town. Those activities range from ornament making and cookie decorating to a candy cane hunt in the town park to storytelling at the Banner Elk Book Exchange. Shopping options are plentiful in this walkabout village framed by Beech and Sugar mountains.
As the sun sets, the Parade of Lights begins at Lees-McRae College at 6 p.m. The parade includes traditional marching bands, cars and floats, but also has some surprises, such as dogs dressed in lights and Santa arriving on a fire truck. The parade makes its way down Main Street to Tate-Evans Park, where mini-train rides weave through the luminaries and a light show, and kids get one last chance to visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
On Sunday, folks are encouraged to select just the right Christmas tree from among the more than 300 tree farms in Avery County.
For details about A Small Town Christmas in Banner Elk plus info about choose-and-cut lodging packages for families and couples, go to www.BannerElk.com or call (828) 898-8395.