Thank you for another wonderful year of Winter Lights!
We sold 25,768 tickets and welcomed an estimated 91,063 guests. The walk-through format continued, and we’re thrilled to have guests explore the garden at their own pace. The per-car tiered ticket model once again allowed guests to save money by visiting on off-peak nights.
This year the show was back with fan-favorites like the giant caterpillar and gnomes, along with some new installations! A narwhal joined the unicorn in Rainbow Land, accompanied by an all-new rainbow tunnel to greet guests as they stepped outside of the Baker Visitor Center. We also saw the new Mistletoe Explosion – an interactive igloo that lit up as guests danced inside!
Woodland Cove welcomed 5 new animatronic animals, thanks to the hard work of UNC Asheville’s STEAM Studio. A bobcat, bear, squirrel, goose and raccoon joined their friend the elk.
We had a team of spectacular volunteers who were happy to lend a hand tending fires, giving directions, and helping the show run smoothly. Our 114 volunteers worked a whopping 1,648 volunteer hours.
Our generous Community Partners contributed over $80,000 of support for Winter Lights!
As always, your support provided seasonal jobs for the community. During Winter Lights, we hired 75 seasonal workers. They did everything from setting up the lights to staffing the Cocoa Shack and retail shops. We couldn’t have done it without them!
Speaking of the Cocoa Shack, we served 17,459 cups of cocoa. That’s enough to fill 26 bathtubs!
Setting up for the show is a lot of work! Our crew began prepping the gardens in August, and the first lights went up in September. Deinstallation takes about two months, and after that they’re back to work on in-house builds as early as the Spring! Preparations for Winter Lights 2023 are already well underway.
It costs over a million dollars to run the show each year! We keep the money local: $350,000 goes towards paying employees during the show, and another $325,000 goes towards purchasing items or hiring local businesses and musicians for the show. The taxes from ticket sales contribute almost $100,000 back to the state of North Carolina!
Winter Lights is the Arboretum’s largest fundraiser of the year. Thanks to your support we’re able to provide jobs, educational programs, and access to nature all year long!
Support for Winter Lights is provided in part by: The North Carolina Arboretum Society; Asheville Citizen-Times; Asheville Outlets; iHeartMedia Asheville; RomanticAsheville.com Travel Guide; Smoky Mountain Living Magazine; Spectrum Reach; Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority; Carolina Living Choices; K2 Services, Inc., Lamar Advertising Company and Clark Communications.