Asheville Holiday Parade: Cool tie-ins and need-to-know information

The Asheville Downtown Association’s annual Holiday Parade returns Nov. 19. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. nearly 100 entries will file through downtown, ranging from marching bands to high aloft balloons.

It’s a time of cheer for the whole city, as people from all neighborhoods gather on Biltmore and Patton avenues in friendship and fellowship. Children look for candy thrown from floats, families try to catch a glimpse of teens in dance troupes or marching bands. And if nothing else, Asheville’s Holiday Parade serves up a diverse sampling of city culture, from the Asheville Humane Society entry to local businesses large and small.

Now in its 70th year, the parade begins on Biltmore Avenue at Charlotte Street, traveling north. There is a performance stop at the intersection of Biltmore Avenue and Patton Avenue (at Pack Square). The parade then travels west on Patton Avenue ending at French Broad Avenue. See a list of parade entries here.



Cool tie-ins

Santa at the Grove Arcade: New this year is that Santa will be escorted to the Grove Arcade immediately following the parade. You can visit with the jolly old elf there. Find more information here.

Walkable Wall Street:  A new pedestrian-friendly event called Walkable Wall Street will happen from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 19 too. This collaboration between the City, Wall Street merchants and the Asheville Downtown Association will include gift-making opportunities with local merchants, a scavenger hunt, live music in the street and family friendly activities. Following the Holiday Parade, Santa Claus will ride through Wall Street on his way to the Grove Arcade.

Winter Lights Downtown: The City of Asheville will unveil an exciting new holiday light display this season called Winter Lights Downtown. This seasonally bright display will be centered around the Vance Monument and Hoss Haley fountain area of Pack Square Park. This holiday light display is brought to our residents and visitors through collaboration with The North Carolina Arboretum Society. The lights will be turned on at a kick-off event at 6 p.m. at Pack Square Park West.

“This is going to be a fun and festive day downtown, with the new Winter Lights, Wall Street programming and the beloved annual Holiday Parade,” said Dana Frankel, Downtown Development Specialist.


Free bus tickets

For the second year, transportation to the parade can be free! The City’s ART bus system is offering 99 free bus tickets to be used on Nov. 19. You can pick them up in City Hall, at the Water Department payment window just off the lobby. This is a limited time offer, while supplies last.


Traffic, bus route detours and parking

Parade traffic can be a hassle. Not only will Biltmore and Patton avenues be closed prior to and during the parade, some side streets need to be closed off as well. See a list of street closings here.

ART bus routes have to be detoured around the parade as well. For these reasons, the City encourages everyone to plan ahead and allow plenty of time to get downtown, whether by bus, bike, car or on foot. Remember to check in at the City parking garages for available spots on your smartphone by accessing the Asheville App or the Find Parking responsive site that shows how many spots are available in City parking garages, in real time. As always, the first hour of parking in a City parking garage is free of charge.

From 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 19, the City of Asheville’s ART service (Asheville Redefines Transit) will detour due to road closures for the annual Holiday Parade. The following routes will be affected by the detour:

NORTH: N, N1, N2 and N3

EAST: E1, E2 and 170

SOUTH: S1, S2 and S5

WEST: W3, W4 and S5

After you have planned your trip, use NextBus to track when your bus will arrive. To better understand the detours the buses will take, visit  or Or call ART at 828-253-5691, or e-mail

In the keeping Asheville safe and clean department, the City of Asheville will employ a medic bike team during the parade. And more trash cans will be provided this year.

“We’re lighting up Pack Square like never before, launching a new Wall Street experience, hosting Santa at one of our finest buildings, bringing back the big balloons and even providing free bus rides to everyone can celebrate,” said Jon Fillman, Economic Development Specialist who coordinates special events for the City. “It’s more than a parade — it’s Asheville’s kickoff to the holidays!”