Did you know Santa Claus lives in Forest City among the town’s display of one million lights, drives a red convertible Mustang, and “practices” for his big night by climbing down one of the world’s largest chimneys at Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park? Here’s your complete guide to holiday fun in the Blue Ridge mountains and foothills of Rutherford County, NC.

Hometown Holidays – Lights, Carriage Rides and Hayrides, Skating
November 27th-January 1st in Downtown Forest City.

In 1930, the Town of Forest City hung its first set of lights on two trees, and today more than one million shine brilliantly every season. Bundle up with a cup of hot chocolate and hop on a carriage or hayride through the magical display of holiday lights. The lights glow from the Lighting Ceremony at 6PM on Thanksgiving Day through year’s end. Carriage rides are offered December 6th, 13th and 20th. Hayrides are offered December 5th, 12th and 19th. Ice skate November 27th-29th, December 5th-6th, 12th-13th and 19th-20th. On December 7th, 14th or 21st, visit “Santa Paws” at Santa’s House and get your photo made with your pet. Call 828-248-5200.

WinterFest In The Gorge – Beach Bonfire, Lights, Music
November 28, 2014-January 1, 2015 with hayrides, December 5th, 6th, 12th and 13th from Lake Lure Beach to Chimney Rock Village.

Experience holidays in the mountains at the second annual WinterFest in the Gorge. Shop Chimney Rock Village; lights glow from the kick-off on November 28th at 3PM through year's end. On December 5th, 6th, 12th and 13th, eat s’mores by a beachside bonfire, take pictures with Santa, and enjoy hayrides and a trolley ride. Go by the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, decked with lights and its annual Christmas Fairy Village. Hayrides are $5 per person or $20 for families of four or more. Call 828-625-2725.

Santa On The Chimney – Yep, Santa Rappels Down Chimney Rock!
December 6th and 13th, Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park.

How does Santa climb down millions of chimneys around the world in a single night? He practices on one of the world’s largest natural chimneys from 11AM to 2PM on December 6th and 13th, and you can watch. In between climbs, kids sit on St. Nick’s lap, meet Mrs. Claus and snack on cookies. In addition, one guest will receive a free, two-hour rock-climbing lesson for two with Santa’s helpers, Fox Mountain Guides. Events are free with park admission; check the park website for inclement weather updates. Call 800-277-9611. To book your own rock-climbing lesson at Chimney Rock, visit www.FoxMountainGuides.com or call 888-284-8433.

Old St. John's Shape Note Singing
December 13th and 14th, St. John’s Historic Church, 702 N. Main Street, Rutherfordton
www.christianharmony.org/schedule.html (scroll way down for info)

Listen in awe as participants sit facing one another in a square, exchanging a cappella harmonies – it's America’s oldest form of music. Saturday features Sacred Harp singing (four shapes). Sunday features Christian Harmony (seven shapes). For more than 18 years, singers from across the region have gathered at St. John’s Historic Church in Rutherfordton to keep the tradition vibrant and alive. Free and open to the public, 10AM to 3PM. Bring your covered-dish for dinner on the grounds, both days, at noon. Call 828-287-0508.

And Last But Not Least – The New Year's Day Polar Plunge
New Year’s Day at Lake Lure.

Watch or join in as hundreds of people brave the freezing waters of Lake Lure in crazy, silly costumes. The annual celebration takes place at the Beach at Lake Lure and includes prizes. Call 828-625-2725.