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HOLIDAY BRIEFS: Playhouse Christmas, Arboretum lights, Bullington wreaths

Ethan Andersen, Matthew Glover, Blair Ely, Maddie Franke, Alfred Jackson and Nathan Fister star in 'A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas.'  [SCOTT TREADWAY/] Ethan Andersen, Matthew Glover, Blair Ely, Maddie Franke, Alfred Jackson and Nathan Fister star in 'A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas.' [SCOTT TREADWAY/]

A popular tradition continues with “A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas, A Virtual Production.”

For the past four years, the Playhouse has been able to celebrate the holidays with our community and beloved patrons through their Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas productions. This year, the Playhouse is bringing the Christmas show to screens at homes. Experience the magic and merriment with your favorite Vagabonds on stage and around town. Featuring holiday favorites old and new like “White Christmas,” “O Holy Night,” “Carol of the Bells,” “This Christmas,” and many more.

Artistic Associate and Hendersonville native Matthew Glover created the holiday tradition in 2017. Though the Playhouse had to close its doors in May due to the pandemic, with special planning and adjustments, the beloved production continues virtually in 2020.
“We had to get very creative with the show this year,” Glover says. “With the advice of health officials and guidelines, we were able to bring a small ensemble of Vagabonds to the theatre in early October. After a two-week quarantine period, we rehearsed for a week and then filmed on the Mainstage as well as on location. It felt incredible to work with these beloved entertainers again, and ‘A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas’ was a cherished and welcomed mini-reunion for all of us amidst this difficult year.”

The virtual concert will feature classic Christmas tunes, more contemporary holiday selections and was created with the cameras in mind. “We didn’t want to just film a static production on stage. We wanted to use the technology we have available to create something truly unique,” says Glover. “We take you all around town — Main Street, the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, Kanuga Conference Center, and of course, the Rock. There’s as much of the usual dazzling sparkle as there is a homespun warmth and coziness.”

Families can purchase one viewing link for their household for $50 (plus tax) — less than the price of a night out at the movies and relished from the comfort of their own homes.
“We want to share this unique holiday treat not only with our local community but also with our patrons all across the country, and even the world, who haven’t been able to visit the Rock this year,” says Artistic Director Lisa K. Bryant. “Now the Playhouse can come directly to your house for the whole family to enjoy together. Pj’s and hot chocolate encouraged!”

When purchasing their ticket link, audiences will select the date when they would like to view the production. They will be emailed the morning of their viewing date with the link to the production and a unique passcode. On the selected viewing date, the show will be available on demand from 10 a.m. to 11:59 p.m.

Featured performers include an all-star cast from all over the USA, The Flat Rock Playhouse Chorus, Flat Rock Playhouse Youth Ensemble, and Dancers from Pat’s School of Dance. The adult ensemble will include Scott Treadway, Linda Edwards, Nat Zegree, Alfred Jackson, Maddie Franke, Ethan Andersen, Jason Watson, Kathleen Watson, Matthew Glover, Anna Kimmell, Blair Ely, Nathan Fister, Paul Babelay and Ryan Guerra.

A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas was conceived by Glover who also directed and choreographed. Ethan Andersen and Matthew Glover serve as the music directors, and Diane David serves as the FRP Chorus Coordinator. A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas was filmed by Resident Lighting and Visual Media Designer CJ Barnwell, Production Manager Adam Goodrum, and Taylor Jeffries. Kurt Conway worked as Sound Designer. Ethan Andersen, Paul Babelay, and Ryan Guerra play piano, percussion, and guitar respectively. This virtual production was edited by CJ Barnwell and Maddie Franke. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas is presented by Henderson County Tourism Development Authority, Technology Sponsor Morris Broadband, Media Sponsor WTZQ, Hearing Loop Sponsor Asheville Ear, Nose, and Throat, and Audio Described Sponsor Asheville Eye Associates as well as Carolina Village, Dr. Jason Bergman, Connie, and Jacey, Joe and Hilda Ippolito, Boyd Chevrolet Cadillac Buick, Andy Oxy Co., and Morrow Insurance and was supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.


Arboretum holiday lights show goes drive-thru

The North Carolina Arboretum’s Winter Lights holiday light show will light up hearts and spirits this holiday season but with a safe, spectacular twist.
This year, guests are invited to take a dreamy ride through the Arboretum’s enchanted forest and experience Asheville’s brightest holiday tradition safely within their own vehicles. In light of Covid-19, the Arboretum has converted its popular event into a drive-thru show, allowing guests to navigate through a one-mile stretch of the Arboretum’s campus and see unique exhibits covered in thousands of holiday lights. As the Arboretum’s largest fundraising event of the year, proceeds generated from Winter Lights directly support the Arboretum’s mission-driven programming.
WinterLightsDesigned with an artistic aesthetic, this family-friendly event features beautifully lit displays and glowing landscapes nestled along the Arboretum’s woodland edge and garden areas. As part of the show’s redesign, visitors will enjoy several new nature-themed displays, including winter wildlife, colorful butterflies, a special insect lantern exhibit and a giant daisy “garden.” Upon arrival, guests will select a special radio station that features the sounds of their favorite holiday tunes to accompany the show from inside their vehicle.
“By converting Winter Lights into a drive-thru event, the Arboretum has created an entirely new design perspective that showcases the landscape through your vehicle windshield and allows guests to feel immersed in lights at a scale that is in tune with the great outdoors,” explained Clara Curtis, senior director for mission delivery at The North Carolina Arboretum and co-designer for Winter Lights. “We are excited to introduce several new features and design elements this year, along with some fun twists, that will surely delight guests and create happy moments and memories this holiday season.”
Beyond this year’s safety measures, the Arboretum has also extended the show’s dates and times to provide better accommodation for guests. Winter Lights will now be held Nov. 20-Jan. 10 from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. (incoming gate closes at 10 p.m.). Pre-sale admission is $25 per personal vehicle and $30 at the gate the night of the event. Guests are strongly encouraged to purchase their tickets ahead of time online at to save on ticket fees and reserve their space. (Commercial vans and motor coaches will be charged a premium; please see website for details.) Arboretum Society members will receive $3 off their pre-sale tickets, and the Arboretum will be offering discounted pricing every Tuesday (excluding Dec. 22) and the week of Nov. 30 - Dec. 3). Tickets will be available for purchase beginning Tuesday, September 1.
“Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arboretum is excited to uphold its annual holiday tradition for our community while protecting the safety and health of our staff and guests,” said George Briggs, executive director of The North Carolina Arboretum. “We look forward to sharing this new experience and offer a different way of seeing the Arboretum and nature through an alternative exciting path.”
To purchase tickets for Winter Lights, please visit
Support for Winter Lights is provided in part by The North Carolina Arboretum Society, Asheville Citizen-Times, Asheville Outlets, iHeartMedia Asheville, K2 Irrigation Services, Inc., Travel Guide, Smoky Mountain Living Magazine, Spectrum Reach, Carolina Living Choices, Friendship Park at Givens Estates, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, Our State Magazine, Southeastern Container and Daniels Graphics.
The North Carolina Arboretum is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 393. From I-26, take Exit 33 and follow Blue Ridge Parkway signs for two miles to the entrance ramp. Please visit for parking fees and hours of operation.

Bullington Gardens opens online craft sale

Bullington Gardens, a horticultural education center and public gardens, holds its 16th annual Holiday Craft and Greenery Sale online with contactless pick-up for shoppers’ convenience.
The online Holiday Craft Sale features nature-themed, handcrafted items including ornaments, jewelry, textiles, quilts and holiday decor. Wreaths and swags enhanced with botanicals gathered on the Bullington Garden grounds and created by volunteers are ready for your home. A delightful holiday garden gnome, standing 30 inches tall, adds a whimsical touch to your front porch. Locally-grown premium amaryllis, poinsettias, cyclamens and Christmas cactus plants are also available.
Bullington’s “Buzzington” bee products are offered including BeeKind ornaments, bee-themed gift items and beeswax candles.
The Holiday Greenery Sale features premium, freshly-cut Fraser fir trees ranging in height from five to eight feet. These native trees come from the Western North Carolina mountains and are wrapped for protection during transport. Also available are premium garlands in a 25-foot length, plus unadorned 12-inch wreaths. Holiday greenery must be ordered by Tuesday, Nov. 24.
Bullington Gardens is a proud supporter of our veterans and believes all service members should be honored for their sacrifice. In partnership with local veterans and volunteers, Bullington Gardens offers Veteran’s Wreaths. Your $17 donation to honor a fallen veteran provides a 12-inch wreath, decorated with a hand tied red bow, and placed on a gravesite at the State Veteran’s Cemetery in Black Mountain.
Shop our Bullington Gardens store online at and fill your virtual cart with unique gift items and greenery. You can also place your order by phone at 828-698-6104 or in person at Bullington Gardens. Shipping or delivery is not available.
Bullington Gardens is located at 95 Upper Red Oak Trail in Hendersonville. For more information, call Bullington Gardens at 828-698-6104 or click here.