Visitors and community members attending Dillsboro’s annual Lights and Luminaries festival this year are invited to “Follow the Star” to a live Nativity scene, and Western Carolina University and Southwestern Community College faculty, staff and students will be welcomed as special guests on the opening night of the festival on Friday Dec. 5.
Always held the first two Friday and Saturday nights in December, Dillsboro’s Lights and Luminaries is one of the longest running holiday festivals in the region. Merchants started the tradition in 1983 as a way of saying thank you to customers for their year-round support. The dates for this year are Friday Dec. 5, Saturday Dec. 6, Friday Dec. 12, and Saturday Dec. 13. The event runs from 5 to 9 p.m. each evening.
All four nights the town will be aglow as 2,500 luminaries line the streets and white lights adorn the storefronts. Merchants will provide free refreshments; musicians and singers will perform throughout the town; attendees may ride old-fashioned horse-drawn carriages; and children can share their wishes with Santa and Mrs. Claus. With retail shops offering a variety of quality arts and crafts, unique gifts, clothing, gourmet foods and wine, and specialty Christmas items, the festival also provides a unique holiday shopping experience.
New this year is “Follow the Star,” a live Nativity scene at Jarrett Memorial Baptist Church. Those attending the festival will be able to walk though the Nativity scene, beginning at 6:30 p.m. each night. Actors portraying Mary, riding atop a donkey, with Joseph and the Three Wise Men will make their way through the town. Refreshments also will be provided in the church’s Fellowship Hall.
While the “Follow the Star” live Nativity scene will be all four nights, College Night will include specials only available on Dec. 5.
“WCU Night has been a great event, and we decided to expand it to include SCC because of the partnership the two colleges forged to help the town with business development last year,” said Betty Farmer, WCU professor of communication who is coordinating College Night with her public relations students.
College Night will kickoff with the WCU Holiday Dancers performing “Happy Holidays” on Front Street at 5:30 p.m. The dancers are led by Karyn Tomczak, a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette and director of WCU’s dance program.
After the dancers, SCC staff and students will be guests of honor in the first horse-drawn carriage ride of the evening.
All families are welcome to attend Lights and Luminaries.
Also on Dec. 5 College Night:
•Claymates will offer one free paint-your-own ornament per customer (while supplies last)
• The Dillsboro Merchants will donate a percentage of their sales on College Night to The Christmas Connection, which provides new toys and clothing for children of families in Jackson County who need assistance during the holidays. Festival attendees are also invited to bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to The Christmas Connection. Several collection boxes will be available throughout the town.
•WCU’s Staff Senate will be selling WCU 125th Anniversary ornaments in front of Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop. Proceeds will support student scholarships.
Free parking and shuttle transportation for the event will be available at Monteith Park each night of the festival.
For more information about Dillsboro Lights and Luminaries, visit Dillsboro’s Facebook page at:https://www.facebook.com/DillsboroNC