New N.C. Arboretum winter light show includes DJs, former Disney designer

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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TNCA Winter LightsPress release here with details on the N.C. Arboretum’s new light show, designed by a former Disney project designer. It is also worth noting that the N.C. Arboretum Society has applied to the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority for $250,000 to help put this show on.

Nights will shine even brighter in Asheville this winter, as The North Carolina Arboretum hosts its first-ever light exhibit. Opening November 22, Winter Lights will transform the Arboretum’s gardens into a nighttime wonderland. Visitors will have the opportunity to stroll through spectacular lighted displays and see the gardens in a completely new way.

For the first time in its history, the Arboretum’s most visited landscapes will be adorned with unique light installations. Designed with an artistic aesthetic, Winter Lights will enhance the natural beauty of the gardens. The Arboretum has collaborated with Jerry Stripling, former designer and manager of holiday decorations, special projects and events for Walt Disney World®, to create a magical experience for visitors.

At the heart of its mission, the Arboretum serves as a living classroom, modeling creative and sustainable expressions of landscape stewardship. Guided by green principles, the design team created a show composed entirely of energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lights, which use 80% less energy than conventional lights.

In addition to the dazzling display, visitors to Winter Lights will be among the first to see Rocky Cove Railroad, a special winter exhibit featuring G-Scale (garden scale) model trains. The railroad includes two tracks featuring trains similar to those used in western North Carolina at the turn of the century. A mixed train led by a small locomotive pulls logging cars, passenger cars and freight, and a second train loops through a replica of a small mountain town.

Winter Lights will also feature a nightly DJ and dancing in the newly-completed outdoor courtyard of the Education Center. The Savory Thyme Café will offer food and beverages, including a hot chocolate and coffee bar. An outdoor s’mores station will offer visitors the opportunity to roast marshmallows and build their own gooey confections. Holiday gifts and souvenirs will be available in the Baker Exhibit Center Connections Gallery as well as a satellite outpost in the Education Center.

Winter Lights opens to the public November 22, 2014 and runs through January 4, 2015. The show will be open nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets go on sale October 15 and will be available exclusively through Tickets are date-specific and sold in limited quantities. All tickets must be purchased in advance; no tickets will be sold at the gate. Pricing is $18 for adults and $16 for children (ages 5 to 11). Children age 4 and under are free. Members of The North Carolina Arboretum Society receive a discount on admission. Group tickets are available ($15 per person, minimum 20 people), though some restrictions may apply.

Support for Winter Lights is made possible in part by the following sponsors: IHeartMedia, Inc.; Ingles Markets;

Fairway Outdoor Advertising; The Daniels Group; Our State magazine; Parsec Financial; and Southeastern Container. Each year more than 450,000 visitors experience the Arboretum’s gardens, trails, exhibits, shows and expos, educational programs, demonstrations and lectures. The Arboretum’s ability to meet its mission and enrich the visitor experience is made possible by a community of supporters—from members, volunteers and staff to state and local funds, tribute gifts, grants, and community partners.

For more information about Winter Lights, please visit Follow the arboretum on Facebook and the arboretum on Twitter,  for event updates. The central mission of The North Carolina Arboretum, an affiliate institution of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system, is to cultivate connections between people and plants.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Robert S. December 18, 2014

    The Winter Lights show was a complete rip off. I support the arboretum as a member and take several classes there throughout the year. I expected WAY more for $20 a ticket (and that is at member price). I would have paid at most $5 for the light ‘show’ that was put together – and only to show support for the arboretum. It was simply lights strung on some trees. Why they needed a designer for that I have no idea – the employees of the arboretum could have put that together.

  2. Mike November 28, 2014

    Way oversold and way under delivered. Fooled once but never again, we spent a LOT of money on this as an early present to ourselves. Seemed half finished like they ran out of lights, the bonsai garden had two bonsai trees lit. This should have been sold as a fundraiser for the arboretum and stay for the lights. I’m sure kids would like this, but it’s really only for the wealthy who really want to support the arboretum. Good news though, if you are a member the little pack of two graham crackers, two chocolate pieces and two marshmallows is only 10 bucks instead of 12

  3. Lois Hughes November 27, 2014

    Your article about the light show shows the cost of each person and has to be purchased at this website. There does not seem to be any instructions on how to buy tickets. I wanted the article about the new light show and when I copied it I receive 6 pages of ads.
    So far, this website hs done nothing to give information. Lois Hughes


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