Mark your calendar for N.C. holiday events

A host of holiday happenings are sure to entertain across the state during November and December

photo courtesy of Visit NC —photo courtesy of Visit NC
Speedway Christmas creates a dazzling light showand warm holiday village at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord.

In the spirit of the holiday season North Carolina is rolling out the red and green carpet. Take time to travel across the state and bask in all that is merry and bright. Nov. 4-Jan. 8Christmas at BiltmoreAshevilleNo one quite does Christmas like Biltmore Estate. America’s Palace goes all out, adorning the lavish interior with 70 intricately decorated trees. This year’s theme is “Hearth and Home,” reflecting the Vanderbilt’s hospitality, fireplaces will be decorated to the nines. Special events include Christmas wine at the Winery and special menus on estate restaurants. Christmas at Biltmore has been called one of the most storied Holiday destinations in the southeast.biltmore.comNov. 11- Jan. 1Polar Express Train RideBryson CityThe popular Polar Express Train Ride encourages you to put on your best jammies and hop on board for a magical adventure. Children will be delighted and you can’t beat the attention to detail recreated from the beloved book by Chris Van Allsburg. The train ride is an hour and fifteen minutes, taking you to the North Pole where Santa will greet each child and they also receive a silver bell. It’s a magical experience children will remember forever.gsmr.comNov. 18- Jan. 1Tanglewood Festival of LightsClemmonsThings get extra magical this year, as Tanglewood Festival of Lights celebrates their 25th season. The beloved Piedmont tradition has been selected as a Top 20 event in the southeast and Top 100 in America. Miles of the rolling countryside transform into a twinkling village with ornate light displays ranging from Santa and his reindeer, a woman watering her garden, and even dancing snowflakes. The animated displays bring the setting and stories to 19-Dec. 31Speedway ChristmasConcordCharlotte Motor Speedway transforms into a parade of lights with more than 3 million lights along the 3.5-mile course. The lights-to-music drive thru section has seen great improvements in the past few years and will be spectacular this year. After your drive, visit the Christmas Village featuring a petting zoo, horse-drawn wagon rides, Bethlehem Village, and photos with Santa. The speedway also features movie nights, playing Christmas classics on their 16,000-square-ft. HD TV.charlottemotorspeedway.comNov. 24-Dec. 24Charlotte Christmas VillageCharlotteA European tradition comes to Uptown Charlotte at Romare Bearden Park. The metropolitan scenery will transform into a cozy, blissful Christmas market with juried European, Christmas, local arts and merchandise. There will also be specialty foods like Austrian strudels or Bratwurst with Sauerkraut. To indulge your sweet tooth, pick up Lebkuchen (gingerbread), marzipan, and Christmas cookies. A perfect stop for the experience and unique gifts.cltchristmasvillage.comNov. 24-Jan. 2Hometown HolidaysForest CityMain Street of Forest City turns into an enchanting, winter wonderland adorned with whimsical light displays centering around the town fountain. The event features over 500,000 lights. Guests can ride horse and carriage, hayride, or simply stroll the Main Street. The tradition dates back to 1930 and is a great way to ring in the season in an old-fashioned*check listing before heading out to make sure event is still onNov. 25-Dec. 25Christmas by the SeaCarolina BeachThe boardwalk of Carolina Beach lights up with the Holiday spirit throughout December. The lighting ceremony takes place Nov. 25th and activities will be held every Sunday through Dec. 17th. Those include fire pit storytelling, hot chocolate, as well as an arts and crafts area where children can make Christmas ornaments. In its 8th year, Christmas by the Sea has quickly become a tradition for many living in the area or just 25-26North Carolina Holiday FlotillaWrightsville BeachThis year is the 33rd Holiday Flotilla and it once again features a weekend full of fun events with something for the whole family beginning with the Atlantic Marine Launch Party where The Embers featuring Craig Woolard will play followed by an annual tree lighting ceremony and a visit from Santa on Friday. It all culminates with the Festival in the Park followed by Flotilla — a gorgeous display of boats lit up for the holidays.ncholidayflotilla.orgNov. 26-Jan. 21Winter LightsElizabethan GardensManteoThe beautiful grounds of the Elizabethan Gardens transform into a winter wonderland with light shows and live entertainment. Throughout December catch various performers and events with hands-on instruction of perfecting holiday crafts like wreaths and centerpieces. Dec. 17th offers a dinner with Santa the kids will remember forever. You can also simply stroll the enchanting grounds and enjoy the sights and sounds of the 29Lighting of Old MainPembrokeThe University of North Carolina at Pembroke will host its annual “Lighting of Old Main” the week after Thanksgiving. The ceremony will begin at 6:30 p.m. in front of Old Main. There will be light refreshments and entertainment. The event is open to the campus and the community.uncp.eduDec. 1-26Christmas Town USAMcAdenvilleIf you live in North Carolina, a visit to ‘Christmas Town USA’ is a must. In its 61st year, the old mill village turns into a dazzling light show with more than 500,000 holiday lights on houses, trees, wreaths and streets. The route consists of 1.3 miles, with continuous Christmas music playing in the air. Some choose to drive while others walk. The light show starts at dusk each evening and lasts till around 9:30. The best part, it’s free to experience.mcadenville-christmastown.comDec. 212th Annual American Tobacco Tower LightingDurhamWhat better way to kick off the Holiday season than by incorporating a Bull City tradition and witnessing the lighting of the Tobacco Tower. The event is a whole celebration, with a ‘chance of snow,’ dance and choir performances, and plenty of surprises and unexpected guests (I’m guessing Santa or the Grinch). After the lighting, the fun moves to Diamond View Park for the Triangle Tree Challenge.americantobaccocampus.comDec. 2-4Discover the Talent of Toe River ValleyBurnsvilleMore than 80 artists throughout Yancey and Mitchell counties will open their doors for the three-day event sponsored by the Toe River Arts Council. Nine local galleries also participate. Works will be available for purchase just in time for Christmas gifts. The Toe River Valley is known for its diversity of artists, many attracted to the area by nearby Penland School of Crafts. The studio tour includes glassblowers, weavers, quilters, painters, basket makers, blacksmiths, sculptors and potters.toeriverarts.orgDec. 2-4A Small Town ChristmasBurnsvilleSoak up a season full of holiday cheer with A Small Town Christmas in Banner Elk the first weekend in December. Formerly known as Christmas in the Park, this special holiday celebration takes place over three days this year. Festivities start Friday evening with the lighting of a 40-foot Frasier fir tree ringed by carolers, followed by a family holiday movie. Saturday’s full day of activities stretches well into the evening, while Sunday is reserved for visiting choose & cut Christmas tree farms throughout Avery County.bannerelk.comDec. 2-3 & 9-10Dillsboro Lights and LuminariesDillsboroOn Fridays and Saturday, the quaint town of Dillsboro transforms into a winter wonderland of yesteryear, featuring 2500 luminaries to guide your way to shops and studios. You can even enjoy the magic by riding through town on a horse and buggy. Shopkeepers have live music as well as cider and cocoa. As if things couldn’t get more magical, there’s also carolers singing and a live nativity scene.visitdillsboro.orgDec. 3 and 10Santa on the ChimneyChimney RockWho knew Santa was such an adventure seeker? You can watch him navigate his way down one of America’s largest chimneys with various 200 ft. rappels. After his daring feat, children have the opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. There will also be live holiday music, hot cocoa, as well as live park animal educators. One lucky guest will win a two-hour rock climbing lesson from Santa’s*check listing before heading out to make sure event is still on post Western N.C. firesDec. 4thTuba ChristmasBooneIn its 43rd year, Tuba Christmas brings joyful music across America. On December 4th, you’ll have the chance to witness, or participate, as tuba and euphonium players from across the High Country play Christmas 16Emerald City Big Band Christmas ConcertGreenvilleThere is no better way for the family to hear the exciting and beautiful sounds of the holidays than enjoying live big band music. Mark your calendar for Friday, December 16th, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. Greenville’s own Emerald City Big Band will be performing their annual Big Band Christmas Concert at St. James United Methodist Church Christian Life Ministries Center, 2000 East Sixth St., Greenville, N.C. Adult donation at the door ($10), youth/students free. This concert celebrates the Emerald City Big Band’s 27th year of presenting holiday music to the Greenville audience. The band’s twenty-two musicians will present a program of holiday instrumental favorites. Vocalists Emery Davis, RaSheeda Waddell, and Ed Wheatley will sing. Christmas cookies, coffee and tea will be provided free during