Winter is on its way. With it comes the expected cold weather and the doldrums of bleak, gray skies. Kids look forward to snow and days out of school. Grown-ups look toward breaking the monotony of the coldest, darkest part of the year. Whether you’re a winter lover or the I-can’t-wait-until-spring-and-summer-returns kind of person, there’s plenty to keep you occupied this season.
The Gate House at Biltmore
Photo Credit: anoldent via Flickr. Licensed Creative Commons.
If you’re in the mood to brighten up your day with some holiday cheer before December ends, check out these great events and destinations:
Join the University of North Carolina School of the Art’s annual production of “The Nutcracker” at downtown Winston-Salem’s Stevens Center on Dec. 9-16.
A Tryon Palace Christmas
Enjoy the sights and sounds of an 18th century Christmas in the rebuilt royal governor’s mansion and the first state legislative building in North Carolina’s first state capital, New Bern. Activities have been running since Nov. 23 and continue through Jan. 5, including concerts, tours, storytelling, a masquerade ball and a Twelfth Night party on Jan. 5.
National Gingerbread House Competition and Display
1-800-438-0050, ext. 1281
This national competition brings contestants from across the country. Their architectural, gingerbread masterpieces have been on display since Nov. 20. The display runs through Jan. 2. Held at the Grove Park Inn Resort and Spa. Free and open to the public.
Take a tour of the Biltmore house and estate in all its decked-out holiday glory. Christmas at Biltmore has become an annual tradition for many, with its dozens of Christmas trees, hundreds of wreaths and poinsettias and other decorations. Day-time and night-time tickets available for tours of the home and estate, including the gardens and Antler Hill Village and Winery.
You can plan to peruse this historic Moravian settlement on your own or sign up for guided tours, including special Christmas candlelight tours throughout December exploring life in the 19th century (18th century-period tours are available each November). Gift shops, an historic bakery, other eateries and the historic Salem Tavern (where President George Washington once stayed overnight) are all open to the public. On Dec. 13, attend a special Moravian-style Lovefeast at the historic St. Philips African Moravian Church, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2011. Founded in 1823 and rebuilt in brick in 1861, St. Philips is the oldest African-American church standing in North Carolina. The special Lovefeast service will commemorate the first service held at the church on Dec. 15, 1861.
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Photo Credit: WashuOtaku, via Flickr. Licensed Creative Commons.
North Carolina’s mountains offer a variety of choices when it comes to skiing. Some meteorologists are expecting higher-than-average snowfalls this year, kicked off early by several inches dumped by Hurricane Sandy.
Appalachian Ski Mountain
27 acres. 12 slopes. Peak elevation of 4,000 feet. Longest run: 2,640 feet. Resort also has ice rink.
Beech Mountain Resort
95 acres. 15 slopes. Peak elevation of 5,506 feet. Longest run: 1 mile. Ice rink and snow sports center for children and adults with disabilities.
Cataloochee Ski Area
50 acres. 16 slopes. Peak elevation of 5,400 feet. Longest run: 3,500 feet.
Sapphire Valley Ski Area
8 acres. Two trails. Peak elevation of 3,780 feet. Longest run: 1,600 feet.
Sugar Mountain Resort
115 acres. 20 slopes and trails. Peak elevation of 5,300 feet. Longest run: 1.5 miles.
Wolf Ridge Ski Resort
72 acres. 23 slopes and trails. Peak elevation of 4,700 feet. Longest run: 3,700 feet.
For more information on these resorts and more, visit visitnc.com/journeys/highlights/winter-fun-1. : :