Photo of ice sculptures during Blowing Rock WinterFest credit to BlueRidgeParkway

As fall’s beautiful leaves fall away and temperatures steadily drop, winter arrives in North Carolina, ushering in a season of its own unique charm. Despite the cold air settling in, this time of the year holds a special allure, offering many delightful experiences.

From December through February, Franklin comes alive with lots of outdoor activities, festive holiday celebrations, and enchanting Christmas events. With so many winter wonders to discover, we’ve crafted this comprehensive guide to ensure you don’t miss a single moment.

Here you’ll find a treasure trove of seasonal celebrations, the joys of small-town festivities, our top recommendations for indoor and outdoor attractions, and enticing winter getaways. So, whether you’re wrapping yourself in a cozy sweater or bundling up in a warm coat, come join us on an exploration of the captivating events that define winter in North Carolina.

  1. Skiing and Snowboarding: The High Country is home to several ski resorts, including Beech Mountain Resort, Sugar Mountain Resort, and Appalachian Ski Mountain. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skier or snowboarder, these resorts offer slopes of varying difficulty levels for all to enjoy.
    Does NC Have Ski Resorts? Absolutely!
  2. Snow Tubing: If you’re not into skiing or snowboarding, you can still have a blast snow tubing at many of the ski resorts. It’s a thrilling activity that requires no prior experience, making it an excellent option for families.
    Snow Tubing Fun For the Whole Family
  3. Winter Hiking: The High Country boasts a network of beautiful hiking trails that offer a different perspective in the winter. Just be sure to dress warmly and be prepared for icy conditions on the trails. Some popular winter hiking spots include Grandfather Mountain and Linville Gorge.
  4. Ice Skating: Appalachian Ski Mountain has an ice skating rink that’s open during the winter season. Lace-up your skates and enjoy gliding around the rink with friends and family.
  5. Christmas Tree Farms: The High Country is known for its Christmas tree farms, where you can cut down your own tree. It’s a fun family activity that can become a cherished holiday tradition.
  6. Roan Mountain State Park: Visit Roan Mountain State Park to see the Rhododendron Gardens covered in snow. The views are breathtaking, and winter photography opportunities abound.
  7. Cozy Cabin Getaways: Embrace the winter atmosphere by booking a cozy cabin or cottage for a weekend getaway. Relax by the fireplace, sip hot cocoa, and enjoy the serene mountain scenery.
  8. Winter Festivals and Events: Check out local winter festivals and events that often feature live music, holiday markets, and seasonal activities. Boone and Blowing Rock, in particular, host various winter events.
    • Blowing Rock WinterFest: This multi-day festival in Blowing Rock typically takes place in January and features a variety of activities, including ice carving competitions, chili cook-offs, winter fashion shows, and wine tastings. The highlight is the Polar Plunge into chilly Chetola Lake. Link to Event
    • SugarFest: Sugar Mountain Resort hosts SugarFest in December, offering a weekend of family-friendly fun. Activities include skiing, snowboarding, live music, and a torchlight parade down the slopes. Link to Event
    • Boone’s Winter Farmers’ Market: Visit the Watauga County Farmers’ Market in Boone during the winter months for locally grown produce, handmade crafts, and delicious food items. It’s a great way to support local artisans and farmers. Link to Event
    • Appalachian Ski Mountain’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza: Ring in the New Year at Appalachian Ski Mountain with fireworks, live music, and midnight skiing. It’s a festive way to welcome the start of the year in the High Country. Link to Event
    • Winterfest in Banner Elk: This charming mountain town hosts Winterfest, a celebration featuring a Polar Plunge, ice carving competitions, live music, and a beer garden. It’s a lively event that showcases the warmth of the community. Link to Event
    • High Country Beer Fest: Held in Boone, this festival typically takes place in January and offers a chance to sample various craft beers from regional breweries. Enjoy live music and food while savoring the flavors of the High Country. Link to Event
    • Winter Film Festival in Boone: Appalachian State University hosts a Winter Film Festival featuring a selection of thought-provoking films. It’s a cultural experience that provides an alternative to outdoor winter activities. Link to Event
    • Christmas Parades: Many towns in the High Country hold festive Christmas parades featuring holiday-themed floats, marching bands, and visits from Santa Claus. Boone and Blowing Rock, in particular, host popular Christmas parades.
  9. Blue Ridge Parkway Drives: The Blue Ridge Parkway offers some of the most scenic drives in the United States, and during the winter months, it takes on a serene and magical quality. The snow-covered mountains, frozen waterfalls, and frosty forests create a stunning winter landscape. Take a leisurely drive along the parkway and stop at overlooks to admire the breathtaking views. Remember to bring your camera to capture the picturesque vistas. Just be sure to check the road conditions and closures, as some sections of the parkway may be closed or have limited access during the winter due to snow and ice.
See also  4th of July Celebrations Across the WNC Smoky Mountains

We crafted this guide after countless contemplations on how to make the most of the winter season in North Carolina. Given our state’s sheer size and diversity, the abundance of options in the High Country can be overwhelming. We aim for this guide to serve as a valuable resource, helping you narrow your choices for memorable weekends and leisurely moments.

Furthermore, your input is invaluable to us. If there’s a hidden gem or a delightful winter activity that we’ve missed, please don’t hesitate to share your suggestions through email. We’re committed to continually discovering and showcasing our beloved state’s newest and most exciting experiences.

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