With a chill in the air, the most delightful part of winter in Lake Lure & the Blue Ridge Foothills is Christmas. Being here during the holiday season is like entering a Norman Rockwell Christmas card. Explore not just one, but five quintessential small towns sprinkled with all the trimmings you would expect; festive windows with hand-painted holiday scenes lead you down Main Street as you take in the historic charm of downtown restaurants and boutiques, kids impatiently wait for a chance to tell Santa exactly what’s on their list, lifelong friends embrace as if they haven’t seen each other in years, and horse-drawn carriages escort you through a canopy of over a million twinkling lights.

Downtown Forest City Christmas Lights

The City of a Million Lights

The small town of Forest City’s Hometown Holidays is a lighting extravaganza that dates back to the early 1930s. Close your eyes and picture listening to carolers as the smell of gingerbread and hot chocolate fill the air. Residents and visitors gather around the iconic Main Street fountain to capture the perfect holiday picture, while majestic horses lead you on a carriage tour through the wonderland of twinkling lights. It is an experience like no other that brings guests back year after year. It all begins November 23, Thanksgiving night, with the annual lighting of the tree ceremony followed by the highly anticipated Christmas parade on Sunday, November 26. Hometown Holiday festivities take place throughout the month and includes an ice skating rink, Santa’s House, horse-drawn carriage rides, and hayrides on weekends. Click for more details.

Largest Living Cedar Christmas Tree

North Carolina’s Largest Living Cedar Christmas Tree

For almost 100 years this notable tree has adorned the Rutherfordton Courthouse lawn serving as a shady spot to take a break for adults as well as a natural jungle gym for kids. However, at Christmas it takes on the role of N.C.’s largest living cedar Christmas tree.

The Tree Lighting Ceremony is the pinnacle of an all-day Christmas celebration held Saturday, December 2, in downtown Rutherfordton. The day begins with a Holiday Market and free pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus in Main Street Park. Stroll the streets to view hand-painted holiday scenes and live interactive windows such as Santa’s workshop where elves are hard-at-work building holiday toys. Next, take a seat and enjoy the Rutherfordton–Spindale Christmas parade. From marching bands and fire trucks to dance teams and Christmas floats, this parade begins in Spindale at 3:00 pm and travels on to Rutherfordton at 5:00 pm.

Now it’s time to light the tree. Make your way to the courthouse lawn by 6:30 pm to partake in the experience, then stay afterwards to dance along with Ol’ 74 Jazz as they sing your favorite holiday tunes. Food, music, and fun are waiting
for you in Rutherfordton. Download the full schedule of events.

Fairy Village Christmas Display at Lake Lure Flowering Bridge

A Whimsical Bridge that Brings to Life the Magic of the Season

You won’t find this experience anywhere else in the Carolinas! Each November the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, turns into a Christmas fairy tale with sparkling white lights, miniature holiday village scenes, and whimsical creations of local artwork, all nestled alongside winter greenery. The bridge, one of only a few like it in the world, was created and is cared for by volunteers from this idyllic lake town.

Santa on Chimney Rock

Santa Rappels Down the World’s Largest Natural Chimney

Down the street from Lake Lure, and atop the mountain awaits the holiday thrill of watching Santa, adorned in his bright red suit, rappel down the world’s largest natural chimney - Chimney Rock at Chimney Rock State Park. “This has become such a wonderful annual tradition for so many people,” said Mary Jaeger-Gale, General Manager of the Park. “Everyone is always amazed at the level of practice required by Santa to get presents to their intended destination on Christmas morning.” Visitors get two opportunities to see this holiday stunt on Saturday, December 2 and 9. Embraced by towering granite cliffs, Chimney Rock Village kicks off the holiday season on Friday, December 1 with a tree-lighting ceremony, chili cook-off, cake walk, and bingo at the Village Fire Department. On Saturday, December 2 the sounds of Christmas music gets everybody in the spirit with local musicians and Santa handing out stockings for the children to take around to the shops for special treats.

Enhance your yuletide season with traditions, sparkly lights, and nippy air in the five small towns of Forest City, Spindale, Rutherfordton, Lake Lure and Chimney Rock. In today’s environment of mass-produced sameness, the shops, inns, and cafes in our Western North Carolina small towns represent an extension of the individual owners who welcome visitors with a genuineness not often found in the big cities. Christmas here is oozing in the nostalgia we long for during this time of year. We are reminded that it’s possible to disconnect completely from the hustle and bustle and rediscover that spending the holidays together is all about rekindling the joy and nostalgia of our favorite Christmas time memories.

Join us in Rutherford County, NC for a true Carolina Christmas, and start a new holiday tradition that will lead to unique experiences and a lifetime of lasting memories. Download our Guide to Christmas in Carolina for a full list of events, dining specials, and the best places to find that special holiday gift.