Let’s be honest, most of us want 2020 in the rearview mirror; we are mostly hoping to escape unscathed. This year has been difficult for many but finding some holiday cheer is exactly what is needed. Rather than wishing Christmas here already, slow down, and find a way to celebrate the season safely and make the most of the rest of this year.
Located in the Western North Carolina mountains, Jackson County overflows with the charm, nostalgia and wonder that help to create wonderful and safe Christmas memories to end 2020 in the best possible way. With the towns of Cashiers, Dillsboro and Sylva decked out in their Christmas decor, visitors and residents alike can enjoy small-town holiday ambiance perfect for an intimate and safe, cozy holiday getaway. Teeming with holiday spirit, Jackson County boasts a full schedule of holiday offerings and special events – there’s something fun and entertaining for the entire family.
Perhaps best of all, because of the area’s proximity to nearby cities, Jackson County is exceptionally easy to get to for a quick mountain getaway. To help plan your itinerary, check out these eight must-do’s for the whole family.
*To help keep yourself, loved ones, and our residents safe, while visiting our mountain towns, please make sure to adhere to North Carolina’s Mask Mandate and remember the three W’s: Wear a face covering, wait six-feet apart, and wash your hands frequently.
1. Choose and Cut Tree Farms
Thanks to a combination of elevation, location, quality soil conditions and abundant rainfall, Jackson County couldn’t be more perfect for growing Christmas trees. In fact, our regions landscape is ideal for growing the Fraser Fir which is known as the most desirable species of Christmas Tree. The area is home to many locally- and family-owned Christmas tree farms where visitors will find a gorgeous selection of Fraser Firs of all shapes and sizes. With tens of thousands of trees grown in Jackson County, there are plenty of trees to choose from. You’ll find your family’s perfect holiday centerpiece and make memories for generations to come.
2. Lights and Luminaries
Nothing is more wondrous during the holidays than the glow of twinkling Christmas lights. That’s why Lights and Luminaries in Dillsboro was named one of the “Top 20” events in the Southeast for the month of December. With 2,500 luminaries to light your way, downtown Dillsboro transforms into a winter wonderland. Enjoy live music while the children will experience a socially distant and safe visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus. This year’s event takes place during the weekends of December 4 and 11. Kids can bring a letter to Santa and place it in his mailbox. If they include a return address, they’ll receive a personal reply back.
3. Cashiers Christmas Lights Display at the Village Green & Chestnut Square
Although we’ve had to sadly say goodbye to the traditional Cashiers Christmas Parade this year, Cashiers is still fully in the holiday spirit. As a part of Jackson Counties “Home For the Holidays” event series, Cashiers will be displaying the famous Christmas Tree at the Village Green, professionally decorated with all the trimmings. The Boys and Girls Club of Cashiers is hosting the Bright Futures Light Festival at Chestnut Square, every Friday & Saturday Night through New Year’s, offering a perfect place to snap a festive photo.
4. Holiday Shopping
Escape the mall crowds, and shop instead at a great selection of non-chain boutiques and shops filled with interesting and unique gifts. Ranging from handmade Appalachian treasures and handwoven baskets to pottery, antiques, art galleries, and more, shoppers are sure to find the perfect, one-of-a-kind gifts. For special Christmas ornaments and holiday decor, a stop at Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop is a MUST. This shop is the perfect place to find special mementos that will be treasured for generations. For ideas on where to get started, check out our shopping itinerary.
5. Christmas in Sylva
Sylva’s downtown is again displaying its iconic holiday charm. The annual display of the downtown tree shines afront the historic Courthouse, decorated from trunk to top! Running through the end of December, Jackson County’s Home for the Holidays event will brighten even the dullest of grinches. New this year, Bridge Park is also being decked out with its own tree and light display, along with sparking up some much needed holiday spirit with Sylva’s Downtown Holiday Fireworks. Enjoy shopping at Sylva’s non-chain boutiques and shops, with the echo of your favorite holiday tunes in the background, Fridays in December from 5:30-7:30 pm. Storefronts are competing for the most festive decorations, as they deck the halls walls, and windows! Looking for a craft brew to get you through? All four of Sylva’s Ale Trail locations will be equally festive with “Holiday Cheer Beer,” along with uniquely crafted seasonal specials.
6. Tubing at Sapphire Valley
One of the most exciting winter activities in Jackson County is snow tubing. Rent a tube and slip and slide down a 500-foot run and over a 60-foot slope with the whole family. All tubing sessions run 1.75 hours; interested tubers should inquire at least one hour prior to the desired tubing time to ensure they get a spot in the session.
Nothing makes Christmas sweeter than chocolate sweets and treats! To tempt your taste buds, visit the local chocolate factories, where you can indulge in all the seasonal treats. Be sure to take a box home to share with loved ones. Those 21 and older can partake in a chocolate and beer pairing at several of the area’s local breweries for a unique way to satisfy all your sweet cravings.
8. Holiday packages and deals
To help you make the most of your holiday adventure, take advantage of some holiday packages offered by the area’s accommodations. Visitors can find the perfect retreat to fit every family size and budget. For the coziest of Christmas escapes, check out one of the cabins, cottages and vacation rentals that come complete with fireplaces or hot tubs. Select units offer these amenities, so we suggest booking early to secure the perfect home base.
From the cozy accommodations and packages to the full slate of festive events and holiday shopping, there’s something for everyone in the Western North Carolina mountain towns of Jackson County. Download a free visitor guide and book the perfect winter getaway today.