The bus-busiest season of all

While its status as the “hap-happiest season of all” is debatable, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve are easily in the running for the bus-busiest of all. But it doesn’t have to be all errand-running, package-wrapping, pie-baking, Santa-costume-renting, tree-decorating, carol-singing and menorah lighting. Save a little time to be entertained, whether by a candlelight tour, a ballet or a holiday jam.

LaZoom’s Happy Jollidays tours run through Saturday, Dec. 31. Hop on the purple bus where you’ll “meet a real fruitcake, a traveling Snowman and a Turkey that simply defies explanation” — all while getting an off-the-beaten-path ride through Asheville’s culture and history. It’s family-friendly. Days and times vary, tickets are $23 for adults, $21 for seniors, $20 for locals, $15 for young adults and $12 for children.

The Smith MacDowell House has its annual 19th Century Carolina Christmas on display through Jan. 4. The exhibit features a "timeline of authentically decorated period rooms showcasing the evolution of Christmas celebrations and decorations." Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. $10 adults and $5 children.

Biltmore Candlelight Christmas Evenings are, according to the Biltmore Estate’s website, “the best way to experience the holiday season at Biltmore.” Plus, if you have out-of-town visitors, they’ll probably want to see the expansive Vanderbilt home. Buy tickets early — tours run through Dec. 31, but they do fill up. $69-$79 for adults, $34.50-$39.50 youth.

Benefiting Mission Children's Hospital and MANNA FoodBank, the Hometown Holiday Jam (at The Orange Peel on Thursday, Dec. 8) is a full night of rock for a very good cause. $10 plus a donation of one can of food gets you this lineup: Sons of Ralph, The Nova Echo, Mike Barnes, Marc Keller Band, The Campaign 1984, Rory Kelly’s Triple Threat, McTaggart Garrett & Debruhl, Full Plate O’ Blues Band and more. 8 p.m.

More candlelight — this time it’s for the Weaverville Candlelight Christmas Stroll. Now in its eighth year, the community-centered event “provides a charming small-town Christmas atmosphere to residents and visitors.” Merchants along Main Street keep their shops open until 9 p.m., horse and buggies offer rides, Santa makes an appearance and the official lighting of the town Christmas tree takes place at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, 6 p.m. start time, free.

Nutcrackers: Asheville Ballet returns with its seasonal showing of The Nutcracker at Diana Wortham Theatre (Friday, Dec. 9-Sunday, Dec. 11. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday. $25/$35/$50 adults, $15 students and children); Ballet Conservatory of Asheville also performs the ballet at Diana Wortham Theatre (Thursday and Friday, Dec. 15 and 16, 5 and 7:45 p.m. nightly. $20 adults, $10 children); Moscow Ballet brings its Great Russian Nutcracker to the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium (Monday, Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m., $37.50-$68).

The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site hosts Christmas at Connemara on Saturday, Dec. 10. The free celebration includes musicians, storytellers, hot cider and cookies. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., full schedule at

Interdenominational bell choir The Brasstown Ringers perform a concert on Sunday, Dec. 11. 4 p.m. in the Sanctuary of First Christian Church in Candler.

Sunshine & The Bad Things Christmas Show is a great opportunity to thrown on your favorite tacky holiday sweater (as incentive, there will be prizes for the best sweaters) and dance the night away at the LAB. Asheville alt-rockers Sunshine & The Bad Things open (check out their darkly lovely self-titled EP) followed by Anatomy of Frank and Elkmont Place. Friday, Dec. 16, 9:30 p.m., $5.

Button Wagon, the astonishing one-ring circus of contortionist Ember Bria and balance master/illusionist Matt "Poki" McCorkle, comes to The BeBe Theatre for two nights: Friday, Dec. 16 and Saturday, Dec. 17. The wondrous production involves giant sewing tools (and buttons!), circus antics and a burlap rabbit. Doors at 7:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $10-$20 sliding scale for adults, $5 for kids 12 and under.

The Chatham County Line holiday tour brings the Raleigh-based Americana band to The Grey Eagle on Saturday, Dec. 17. "Expect old-time favorites, new tunes off 2010's Wildwood, and holiday classics as the band shuffles from regular duties to add electric guitars, pedal steel, piano and whatever else fits in the van," says a press release. Johnny Irion opens; Chatham County Line performs an acoustic set followed by an electric set. 9 p.m., $12.

In Italy, La Befana (whose name means “epiphany”) is a deliverer of gifts. Watch The Legend of Befana in a holiday show performed by Red Herring Puppets. More than 50 Byzantine-style hand, rod, shadow, black-lit and bunraku figures recount the story of a lonely old woman who, after a visit from a mysterious magi, leaves her home on a year-long search for a magical child. Held at White Horse Black Mountain on Saturday, Dec. 17 and Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. daily. $8.

— Alli Marshall can be reached at Find more holiday events in our calendar and at

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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