Grab the family and hop in the car – it’s the holidays again! This time of year brings natural beauty and all the fun activities to get you in the spirit. Here are some suggestions for what to do in Western North Carolina – from turkey day to 2016. The Candlelight Evenings at the Biltmore Estate If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience a Candlelight Evening at the Biltmore Estate, don’t hesitate to reserve a tour. Biltmore will be painted in warm, natural lighting from fireplaces and candles in each beautifully decorated room. The Candlelight Evenings are really something that should be seen to be believed, but hurry—they book fast, and it is an experience you don’t want to miss. The evenings will be held from now until January 2nd, tickets are for a specific time, and are non-refundable. For more information visit https://www.biltmore.com/visit/plan-your-visit/buy-tickets/candlelight-evenings The Polar Express Train The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad will make the book and film come alive during their annual Polar Express Train ride. From now to January 3, 2016, you can depart from the Bryson City train station, and arrive at the North Pole! Each child will receive a free cookie, cup of cocoa, and a special gift from Santa himself – a silver bell. For more information, visit https://www.gsmr.com . An Old-Fashioned Dickens of a Christmas Festival The first weekend in December, Biltmore Village will be decked out with Dickensian charm as the Old Fashioned Dickens of a Christmas Festival gets underway. The Biltmore Village area will get transformed into a Victorian village, complete with horse-drawn carriages, entertainers in Victorian garb, and tree lighting at 6pm on Friday night. The festivities will continue Saturday, 11am to 7pm, and many shops will be open later than usual to take part in the fun! Biltmore Village has eclectic shopping, fine-dining, and all the history and beauty to make this blast from the past a must-see this season. 23rd Annual National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn This yearly competition has all the sweet treats and structural integrity! Artists and bakers from all over the country submit their masterpieces to be judged by culinary experts. The displays must be entirely edible (except for the base) and 75% gingerbread. And if you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting, The Omni Grove Park Inn is lit up with Christmas decorations and even a large gingerbread kiosk. The houses will be on display until January 3, 2016, Friday and Saturday if you are lodging with the hotel, Sunday through Thursday for everyone else. For more information, visit https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/asheville-grove-park/things-to-do/upcoming-events/2015-national-gingerbread-competition And, what better way to relax after a busy day than to warm up in one of our hot tubs or have a cup of cocoa in front of the wood-burning fireplace? Need a gift for someone who deserves a getaway? We offer custom gift certificates, so you can give the gift of relaxation in a cozy cabin.