Winter Lights 2021 was our biggest and best year yet. We were able to safely return to a walk-through show, allowing visitors to explore the gardens at their own pace. The per-car ticket model, along with the new tiered ticketing system, helped us host more guests than ever before. We sold over 28,000 tickets and welcomed an estimated 107,000 guests! 

As always, Winter Lights was a big production! Over 1 million lights were used to create our biggest display yet.  We hired over 40 seasonal staff to keep things running. In addition, 149 volunteers gave their time for a total of 3,109.5 volunteer hours!

Our staff and volunteers worked hard: the show ran 46 nights and we had no cancellations this year due to inclimate weather. Our team answered over 11,000 Winter Lights-related phone calls

The Cocoa Shack, Bent Creek Bistro and the gift shops were back and more popular than ever, exceeding their budget goals. 

Our team created new displays centered around the theme Forest and Garden Whimsy, including playful garden gnomes that were a guest favorite. Classic displays, like our giant caterpillar, tree of light, and animated quilt garden were back with new updates. 

Thanks to the use of LED bulbs, it only costs about $34 to power the show each night. LED bulbs are 6x – 70x more efficient than incandescent bulbs, making the show energy and cost efficient

A partnership with UNCA STEAM Studio brought new life to Story Time at Woodland Cove, in the form of a singing animatronic elk. The program was a big hit with kids and adults alike. 

Winter Lights is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and thanks to you, we were able to exceed our fundraising goals. These funds go towards keeping the Arboretum beautiful all year long and hiring more staff to make that happen. 

Thank YOU for making Winter Lights 2021 a huge success! 


Support for Winter Lights is provided in part by: The North Carolina Arboretum Society; Asheville Citizen-Times; Asheville Outlets; iHeartMedia Asheville; Travel Guide; Smoky Mountain Living Magazine; Spectrum Reach; T-Mobile; Carolina Living Choices; Lamar Advertising Company; Our State Magazine; Tryon Estates, an Acts Retirement-Life Community; K2 Services Inc. and Daniels Graphics.