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.

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 9 - December 31. 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.

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.

During the November - December Polar Express season, expect wait times at restaurants. Reservations, where accepted, are recommended.

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.

2018 Event Dates

Letters to Santa, Cookies & Cocoa, November 10 - December 10

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.

Santa at the Museum, November 24 & December 1

Santa will be available to visit with children on the porch of the cabin located in the Swain County Heritage Museum. Bring your camera or cell phone to commemorate this fun event. Cookies and cocoa served in the lobby. November 24 (6:30 - 8 pm) December 1 (5 - 8 pm)

Saturday, November 10

November 10 - Heritage Arts Festival, 10 am - 4 pm. SW Community College/Swain Center. More info

Tuesday, November 13

Hike the Smokies : Chimney Tops with Friends of the Smokies. More info

Saturdays, November 17 & December 15

Back Porch Old Time Music Jam at Oconaluftee visitor Center, Cherokee. More info

Saturday, November 17

Turkey Strut 5K Walk/Run in Cherokee. 10:30 am registration. Race starts at noon. Race begins and ends at the Kituwah Mound. Learn more

Friday & Saturday, November 23-24

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 in Bryson City and Robbinsville/Stecoah. Free self-guided tour. More info and directions.

Friday, November 23

Green Friday Fundraiser – 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. Learn more

Saturday, November 24

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.

2 - 8 pm — Spirit of Christmas. Santa will be at the Red Caboose on Everett Street from 2-6 pm. Then he joins friends and neighbors for caroling from Caboose Corner to the square for the lighting of the town Christmas tree. Afterwards 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 1

8-10 am — Breakfast with Santa. At the Rescue Squad Building at 111 Bryson Walk (Behind the Everett Street Dollar General.) $5 pancake breakfast. Bring your own camera for photos with Santa. 828-488-3681 or 800-867-9246.

Beginning at 9 am – 14th 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. This annual parade features floats, fire trucks, bands, classic cars, beauty queens and more ...and of course, Santa!

Tuesday, December 11

Hike the Smokies : Kephart Prong with Friends of the Smokies. More info

Saturday, December 15

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.

Tuesday, December 31

"Uncorked" - Wine & Dine Train event Full service all-adult first class ride on the Tuckasegee River Excursion, pairing four wines with a meal. Age 21 and over only. More info

More events just a short drive away

Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, Franklin. A John Berry Christmas, November 24. A Rocky Mountain Christmas Featuring Jim Curry & the Music of John Denver, December 1. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!, December 6-8.A Christmas Together: An Evening of Stories, Songs & Family, December 18. A Bluegrass Christmas with Sierra Hull, December 21. More info

December 7, 8 & 14 & 15 — 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 1 — Christmas in the Mountains Indoor Arts & Crafts Show & Sale at the Stecoah Valley Center. 9 am - 2 pm. More info

December 2 – Folk School Fireside Sale. Shop for holiday gifts made by local and regional artists. 800-365-5724. More info

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