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. Our 50-foot Christmas tree on the town square is just across the street from the Visitor Center, where you’ll find cookies and hot cocoa and everything your children need to write letters to Santa. 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 8 – December 31. Tickets and 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.
During the November – December Polar Express season, expect wait times at restaurants. Reservations, where accepted, are recommended.
2019 Event Dates
Check back for 2020
Saturday, November 2
10:30 am. “Uncorked” Wine and 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. Learn more
November 8 – December 15
Letters to Santa, Cookies & Cocoa. 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.
November 8 – December 31
All Aboard the Polar Express! The 1-1/4 hour round trip excursion takes riders to the North Pole to pick up Santa, who visits with each child on the train and presents them with the silver sleigh bell. Enjoy singing, warm cocoa and a treat. Steam train on December 31. Schedules vary by the day. More info
Saturdays, November 16 & December 21
1 – 3 pm. Back Porch Old Time Music Jam at Oconaluftee visitor Center, Cherokee. Stick around after the music and you might just spot some elk on the grounds. 828-497-1904.
Saturday, November 23
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
Mid-November thru December 6
Evening Hayrides at Darnell Farms. Thursdays – Sundays from 6:30 – 10:30 pm. $8 per person (2 and under free). Meet Santa Claus and his elves as they work in Santa’s barn. Other activities and items for sale include: Paint your own Christmas ornaments and other crafts. Choose from locally grown Christmas trees and wreaths. Enjoy hot chocolate, Christmas-themed ice cream whips, coffee and hot ciders, fresh citrus, Christmas candy, and fruit baskets. US 19 East of Bryson City, on the Tuckasegee River. Facebook
November 23 & 30, and December 7
Santa will be available to visit with children on the porch of the cabin located in the Swain County Heritage Museum. November 23 & December 7, 4 – 7 pm. November 30, 6:30 – 8 pm. Bring your camera or cell phone to commemorate this fun event. Cookies and cocoa served in the lobby.
Friday, November 29
Green Day 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
Friday & Saturday, November 29-30
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.
Saturday, November 30
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 at the lighting of the 50-foot-tall town Christmas tree at the corner of Main and Everett. 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 7
8 – 10 am. Breakfast with Santa. At the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall, 37 Church Ave. $5 pancake breakfast. Bring your own camera for photos with Santa.
Beginning at 9 am. 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!
Saturday, December 21
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. 828-497-1904.
More events just a short drive away
Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, Franklin. Various Christmas programs. More info
November 30. Folk School Fireside Sale. Shop for holiday gifts made by local and regional artists. 800-365-5724.More info
December 6, 7, 13, 14. 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 7. Christmas in the Mountains Indoor Arts & Crafts Show & Sale at the Stecoah Valley Center. 9 am – 2 pm. More info
Come enjoy our crisp, mountain air and breathe in some holiday spirit!
Bryson City - Swain County
Chamber of Commerce
210 Main Street
P.O. Box 509
Bryson City, NC 28713
Free 2020 Travel Guide to the Smokies — Includes the Official 2020 All Aboard for the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
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