New year, new changes! We are excited to welcome back guests to our 2020 Winter Lights event. With the redesign to a drive-thru show, there are many new and different experiences for this year’s event. Check out our “Know Before You Go” section below to help you prepare for your evening at Winter Lights, and be sure to keep scrolling to find answers to some of our “Frequently Asked Questions.”

Know Before You Go

  • To aide the flow of traffic, please plan to approach the event from 191 South (Brevard Rd.) past the Asheville Outlets. We are asking that attendees do not approach the property from the Parkway. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

    Upon arrival at the gate, please have your printed ticket ready to scan. Alternately, you may display your purchased ticket from your smartphone. Wireless signal near our gate is limited, so if you plan to check in with a digital version of your ticket, please have it pulled up prior to your arrival.

    Additional tickets are available for purchase at the gate on non-sell out nights for $30 per personal vehicle.

    Driving Directions

    Best Address for GPS:
    20 Frederick Law Olmsted Way
    Asheville, NC 28806

    Please note: Many GPS units do not correctly identify the Arboretum’s location within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest, therefore we DO NOT recommend the use of a GPS device for navigation to the Arboretum. If your navigation system directs you to the Arboretum service entrance off Wesley Branch Road, please turn back and follow the road to the traffic light. Turn right (south) onto Brevard Road/Hwy. 191 and continue in the right lane, which will become a turn-only lane. Turn right at the light and the entrance to The North Carolina Arboretum is immediately ahead to the right.

  • All tickets are date-specific, but not limited by time. You may arrive at the Arboretum anytime between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m. on the date printed on your ticket. As a reminder, the incoming gate closes promptly at 9:30 p.m. to allow entering guests to safely navigate the show and exit before our 10:00 p.m. close.

    Since daytime visitors to the Arboretum must clear the property by 5 p.m., please refrain from lining up early for Winter Lights. Blocking the gates poses a safety hazard and may inhibit the flow of outgoing traffic.

    On weekends and around the holidays, we expect the show to be busy, which may result in a wait for some guests. To avoid lines, we recommend that guests arrive after 8 p.m. or join us during the week.

  • All tickets sales are final (no refunds are permitted for any ticket; no exchanges for General Admission or Discount Night tickets).

  • Winter Lights will be held rain or shine, unless the Arboretum closes for a weather-related emergency. Any closures will be announced by 3 p.m. on the Arboretum’s website and Facebook page, unless circumstances develop later on that warrant a closure after the event opens. 

    ***If the Arboretum closes due to a weather-related emergency, all tickets will be refunded for that night and ticket holders can re-purchase their ticket(s) for another night online or by calling 828-665-2492.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • No. Since Winter Lights has been converted to a drive-thru show this year, tickets are being offered on a per-vehicle, rather than per-person, basis. A ticket purchased at the $25 pre-sale cost will allow one personal vehicle and all its occupants through the gate to experienceWinter Lights from within the car.

    See pricing breakdown

  • Nope! Tickets this year are specific only to your selected date. You are free to arrive at the Arboretum on on the date for which your ticket was purchased anytime between 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., when the incoming gates close.

  • The gates open promptly at 5:30 p.m..

  • On weekends and around the holidays, we expect the show to be busy, which may result in a wait for some guests. Our staff will be working diligently to get folks into the show in an efficient manner, but to avoid lines, we recommend that guests arrive after 8 p.m. or join us during the week.


  • Advanced ticket sales are limited. In the event that we sell out of pre-sale tickets for a given night, tickets may be purchased at the gate for $30 between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m..

  • Yes! Advanced ticket sales are limited, but additional tickets may be purchased at the gate for $30 between 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m..

  • Each ticket is good for a single trip through the show’s one-way route. While guests cannot double-back to experience earlier elements of the show, you are welcome to proceed at a leisurely pace to take in all the lights, as long as you keep your vehicle moving.
  • You are welcome to purchase a ticket as a gift and either email the e-ticket to the desired recipient or print it out to give to them directly. We do not offer open-ended or non-dated tickets.

  • There is no discount for multiple tickets purchased; however, the Arboretum offers tickets at a discounted rate for Tuesday nights during the show’s run (excluding December 22) and during “Arboretum Discount Week” (November 30 – December 3).

    Additionally, Arboretum Society members receive $3 off the cost of pre-sale tickets for nights that are not otherwise discounted.

    See pricing breakdown

  • In order to safely navigate the show’s route and overhead elements, vehicles should not exceed 24 feet in length, ten feet in width or 14 feet in height.

    Please keep in mind that for larger vehicles carrying 15 or more passengers, the cost of your ticket will be $50.

    See pricing breakdown

  • No. The Arboretum’s Winter Lights show doesn’t provide transportation or tram access for guests at the event. Guests are welcome to purchase tickets for their own personal vehicle. Uber/Lyft drop-off will not be permitted at this year’s Winter Lights event; however, guests can use a rideshare service as long as they remain in the Uber/Lyft vehicle for the entire one-mile route of the show. 

  • Yes! This year’s Winter Lights event will have a designated pull-off area half-way through the route (close to the Education Center) for guests that need to use the restrooms. The Arboretum will have several portable restrooms available for use. 

  • No. As a result of trying to limit interaction with staff, the Arboretum will not have food or beverages available for purchase on-site for Winter Lights.

  • No. Due to safety concerns, guests will only be allowed into the show in a motorized vehicle, such as a car, truck, limousine, bus, van or motorcycle. Bicycles and pedestrian access will not be permitted. Uber/Lyft drop-off will also not be permitted.

  • Adults may exercise their own discretion in making this decision for themselves; however, due to concerns over safety, children under 15 will not be permitted to ride in the back of a pickup truck for Winter Lights, even if accompanied by an adult.

  • Yes! Due to the drive-thru nature of this year’s event, leashed pets are welcome at Winter Lights as long as they remain inside your vehicle throughout the show.

  • Over the past several months, the Arboretum has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 crisis in special consideration as to how to safely and effectively host a Winter Lights event in the midst of a global pandemic. Because Winter Lights is the Arboretum’s biggest fundraising event of the year, it is vital to the Arboretum that the event still be held but in a safe, responsible manner. 

    To ensure the safety of our guests and staff, and to create an event that is enjoyable and financially viable in the many unknown scenarios that could come to pass this winter, Arboretum Leadership made the decision to reformat this year’s event into a drive-thru show to avoid minimal contact with staff and others. The overall theme and design for this year’s show will still be in alignment with the artistic aesthetic of previous Winter Lights shows that guests have grown to love. In planning for 2021 and beyond, the Arboretum will evaluate this year’s show to determine the best course of action for the future and create the best experience possible for guests. We hope this year and the years to come will be positive and memorable for all! 

  • On Tuesday, December 8, Governor Roy Cooper announced Executive Order 181, a modified version of the state’s “Stay at Home” order, which included a new curfew for nonessential workers. As a result, the Arboretum has adjusted the hours of itsWinter Lights show to run from 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., with the incoming gate closing 30 minutes prior at 9:30 p.m..