Winter Lights show at North Carolina Arboretum opens Friday, converts to drive-thru event this year

Jason Sandford

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

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The North Carolina Arboretum’s family-friendly Winter Lights holiday light show opens to the public at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and has converted to a drive-through event due to concerns about the spread of Covid-19. Get tickets at

Visitors will navigate through a one-mile stretch of the arboretum’s campus and see unique exhibits covered in thousands of holiday lights. The show has been redesigned to emphasize nature-themed displays, including winter wildlife, colorful butterflies, a special insect lantern exhibit and a giant daisy “garden.” Upon arrival, guests can tune in a special radio station that features favorite holiday tunes to accompany the show from inside their vehicle.

The arboretum extended the show’s dates and times to provide better accommodation for guests. The show closes on Jan. 10.

The event is the arboretum’s largest fundraising event of the year. Proceeds generated from Winter Lights directly support the Arboretum’s mission-driven programming.

“By converting Winter Lights into a drive-thru event, the Arboretum has created an entirely new design perspective that showcases the landscape through your vehicle windshield and allows guests to feel immersed in lights at a scale that is in tune with the great outdoors,” Clara Curtis, senior director for mission delivery at The North Carolina Arboretum and co-designer for Winter Lights, said in a news release.

“We are excited to introduce several new features and design elements this year, along with some fun twists, that will surely delight guests and create happy moments and memories this holiday season.”


-Winter Lights will now be held November 20, 2020 – January 10, 2021, from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. (incoming gate closes at 10 p.m.).

-Pre-sale admission is $25 per personal vehicle and $30 at the gate the night of the event. Guests are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets ahead of time online at to save on ticket fees and reserve their space.

-Commercial vans and motor coaches will be charged a premium; please see website for details.

-Arboretum Society members will receive $3 off their pre-sale tickets, and the Arboretum will be offering discounted pricing every Tuesday (excluding December 22) and the week of November 30 – December 3).

-Support for Winter Lights is provided in part by The North Carolina Arboretum Society, Asheville Citizen-Times, Asheville Outlets, iHeartMedia Asheville, K2 Irrigation Services, Inc., Travel Guide, Smoky Mountain Living Magazine, Spectrum Reach, Carolina Living Choices, Friendship Park at Givens Estates, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, Our State Magazine, Southeastern Container, Daniels Graphics.

Jason Sandford

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

  • 1

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