So many ways to celebrate Christmas in the Smokies

Christmas parade

The lights are up and the hot chocolate is warm— it’s the most decorated, celebrated time of year in Swain County. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the most wonderful time of year.

While you’re getting ready to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast today, remember to tune into the Macy’s Day Parade on television to catch the Western Carolina University Pride of the Smokies Band who will be in this year’s parade.

Seasonal activities will be in full swing in Bryson City starting Saturday, Nov. 30. Spend the day with locals and visitors alike visiting local businesses for Small Business Saturday. Then, join the Swain County Chamber of Commerce for the Spirit of Christmas celebration that will begin at the caboose at 6 p.m. and continue up the street, stopping along the way to sing carols. The event will be marked with the lighting of the town Christmas tree followed by a visit with Saint Nick at the Swain County Heritage Museum and Visitors Center.

Throughout November until Dec. 7, the Letters to Santa Station will be set up at the museum, including cookies and cocoa served during the day.

Santa will be at the museum Nov.30 from 6:30-8 p.m. and Dec. 7 from 5-8 p.m. Bring your camera for photos.

Also this weekend, on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. is the annual Stecoah Arts and Crafts Drive-About. Enjoy a self-guided tour of eight studios and galleries in Graham and Swain counties for some unique holiday gifts.

If you want more arts and crafts, head to Cullowhee for the Hard Candy Christmas Arts & Crafts Show. This huge show at the WCU Ramsey Center features around 100 regional artisans. Admission is $5 for adults and free for children 12 and under.

Darnell Farms is hosting evening holiday hayride throughout the holiday season. See the elves at work in Santa’s barn, paint your own ornaments and other crafts. Hayrides are $8 a person with 2 and under free.

Next Saturday, Dec. 7 start the morning with Breakfast with Santa at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall on Church Avenue. Breakfast is $5, and bring your own camera for photos. Then, head over to the United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall beginning at 9 a.m. for the annual Cookie Walk & Christmas Bazaar.

The 44rd annual Bryson City Christmas Parade “The Biggest Little Christmas parade in the Smokies” that will begin at 2 p.m. and go through downtown. Be sure to make it to this event for the best floats, marching bands, homecoming queens and more.

The Smoky Mountain Roller Girls will be collecting donations to the Bryson City Food Pantry during the parade, so bring a canned good or nonperishable item to donate.

Nearby, the Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries will return on the evenings of December 6-7 and 13-14. There are 2,500 luminaries that light your way to shops and studies, carolers, holiday treats, live music and a visit with Santa.

Cherokee’s annual Christmas Parade will be Saturday, Dec. 14 from 2-4 p.m. through downtown Cherokee between the Cherokee Bear Zoo and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

On Saturday, Dec. 21, there will be a holiday homecoming with an old-fashioned Christmas Celebration in the Smokies at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The event will include traditional music, holiday crafts, cider and cookies.