Bryson City May be a Small Town, but We Celebrate Holidays in a Big Way!

The streets are decorated with holiday lights and garlands; and our shops offer plenty of gifts and one-of-a-kind arts and crafts, as well as tasty foods and wines. Scroll down for all events.

New in 2016: Visit with Santa, Letters to Santa, and Christmas Past - Mountain Traditions are three new events at the Swain County Visitor Center in the old courthouse.

All Aboard the Polar Express!™ Sing some Christmas carols, and enjoy warm cocoa and a treat, while listening to this magical children's story. Santa is waiting at the North Pole, where he'll board the train, greeting each child, giving them their own silver sleigh bell. (1-1/4 hour round trip. Don't forget to wear your pajamas! November 11 - January 1. More info

Take time for a visit with the old Appalachian Toymaker, located in the Storytelling Center across the parking lot from the train depot. Watch the toymaker create handcrafted wooden toys and listen to a holiday story or two. Toymaker's Schedule

For a great family experience, visit the Ted Craig Farm in Alarka for a choose and cut Frasier Fir. Precut trees, live trees and wreaths available. More information and directions. Of course precut trees are available in town at several locations. We can beat big city prices with our locally grown trees.

Holiday lights and garlands
  • Holiday lights and garlands
  • Lit up for the holidays
  • The bright lights of Whittier
  • Tim the Toy Maker
  • Freshly made holiday chocolates
  • Store windows welcome shoppers
  • Inviting everyone to 'shop local'
  • Lighting of the town tree
  • Caroling at the Spirit of Christmas
  • Delivering the wish list
  • Pajamas on, ready for the Polar Express
  • A singing chef on the Polar Express
  • Getting a bell from Santa
  • Reading the Polar Express story
  • Santa's Workshop
  • Ready for the Christmas parade
  • Presbyterian bell-ringers
  • Swain County High School band
  • The parade at Main and Everett
  • Every vehicle is a float
  • Filling a bag of goodies
  • Feliz Navidad
  • Dozens of floats
  • Local celebrities... like Little Miss Cherokee
  • Wagons make great floats
  • Beauty queens
  • Tractor powered float
  • It all leads up to this.

Santa at the Museum, November 5 - December 17

Saturdays, 1-4 pm. Enjoy a free photo opportunity with Santa on the porch of the cabin located in the Heritage Museum (at the old courthouse/visitor center). Cookies and cocoa served in the lobby all day.

Letters to Santa, November 5 - December 17

Available every day. Write your letter to Santa and mail it at the Swain County Visitor Center. All materials provided. Cookies and cocoa served in the lobby all day.

Christmas Past – Mountain Traditions, November 5 - December 17

Saturdays, 5-7 pm, in the Heritage Museum (at the old courthouse / visitor center). Hear stories about old-time Christmas meals, the felling and decorating of the tree, traditional toys & gifts and more. Kids get to decorate the cabin tree with traditional Appalachian decorations, as well as making their own popcorn, or paper string to take home for their tree. Cookies and cocoa served in the lobby all day.

Friday & Saturday, November 25-26

You're invited to visit local artists' studios and galleries during the Annual Stecoah Arts & Crafts Drive-About Tour. Find that one-of-a-kind holiday gift made by a local artisan. Free self-guided tour. More info and directions.

Friday, November 25

Guided History Hike at Smokemont Area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Friday, November 25 at 10 am. Meet Park Ranger at Smokemont Baptist Church 3 miles north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee. Cross river at turn for Smokemont Campground, parking on right.

Green Friday Fund raiser – Join Wildwater for the 5th Annual Green Friday at their adult and kidzip Zipline Canopy Tours location in the Nantahala River Gorge. Half the proceeds go to local environmental groups, helping to plant trees and improve green spaces in our community.

Saturday, November 26

Shop Local Saturday! Bryson City is a great town to shop at small businesses. You'll find unique crafts, trendy clothing, souvenirs, furniture, antiques, bakeries and more. And a surprising variety of restaurants for a small town.

6 - 8 pm — Spirit of Christmas. Join friends and neighbors for caroling from Caboose Corner to the square for the town Christmas. Then come inside the Visitor Center for hot cocoa and cookies, letter writing to Santa, and a visit with St. Nick himself! In the true Spirit of Christmas bring a canned good to donate to the food pantry or a new unwrapped gift for for the local toy drive!

Saturday, December 3

8-10 am — Breakfast with Santa. At the Rescue Squad Building at 111 Bryson Walk (Behind the Everett Street Dollar General.) $3. Bring your own camera for photos with Santa. 828-488-3681 or 800-867-9246.

Beginning at 9 am – 12th Annual Cookie Walk & Christmas Bazaar. Fellowship Hall, Bryson City United Methodist Church. 76 Main Street.

2 pm — "The Biggest Little Christmas Parade in the Smokies" takes to the streets. Our 40th annual parade features floats, fire trucks, bands, classic cars, beauty queens and more ...and of course, Santa!

December 9-12 and 16-18

"It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" at the Smoky Mountain Community Theatre. A 1940s radio drama of the classic film by the same name. Fridays, Saturdays & Monday (12th), 7:30 pm. Sundays at 2:30 pm. Tickets for all performances are general admission: $10, adults and $5, students. 134 Main Street.

Saturday, December 17

10 am - 2 pm — Holiday Homecoming. Enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas celebration in the Smokies with traditional music, holiday crafts, and cider and cookies! Oconaluftee Visitor Center & Mountain Farm in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee. Music Jam, 1-3 pm.

Saturday, December 31

6 -10 pm — New Year's Eve Celebration with Fireworks. Live music at the depot featuring Grandpa's Cough Medicine (hardcore bluegrass) 6-8 pm; and Ashley Heath (country & blues) 8-10 pm. Hot cocoa, marshmallow roast, popcorn, kids activity area, outdoor family movie, and fireworks at 10 pm.

More events just a short drive away

December 2-31 — Cherokee Lights & Legends. Stroll under the lights at Cherokee Fair Grounds. Enjoy interactive displays, the 40-ft Christmas tree, a visit with Santa, a bazaar and the synthetic ice rink. Fridays & Saturdays, 5-10 pm (except Dec. 23 & 24). More info

December 2, 3 & 9 & 10 — Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries 2,500 luminaries light your way to shops and studios, carolers, holiday treats, live music and a visit with Santa. More info

December 3 — Christmas in the Mountains Indoor Arts & Crafts Show & Sale at the Stecoah Valley Center. 10 am - 5 pm. More info

December 9 – Christmas In My Hometown at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin. More info

December 16, 17– The Nutcracker Ballet at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts in Franklin. More info

Come enjoy our crisp, mountain air and breathe in some holiday spirit!