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New Year's in Asheville—A Local's Perspective

Woosh! There it goes! They tell me that colorful little number that just flew on past is called “the year.” Certainly felt endless in the thick of things, but here I am sitting at the year’s end once again, wondering what happened to all that time.


There were hikes. Holidays. Dinners and lots of shows. Another vibrant fall and a rainy winter. So it goes. But now it's time to celebrate, to gather with friends and family, and to drink in all the recollections from the past three-hundred-sixty-five days. 


Myself, I’ve done a lot of traveling this year, and I count myself lucky to wind up straight back where I started on New Year’s Eve: here in Asheville, the Paris of the South. So if you too have taken a trip to the Blue Ridge at the year’s end, or if you’re looking for an excuse to extend your Christmas vacation, then read on and discover five of the best New Year’s events in Asheville.


New Year's in Asheville - champagne firework
Image from Unsplash

There’s always stiff competition among downtown’s bars and breweries for who can throw the biggest, fanciest, most final shindig of the year. Now come the time of your own New Year’s visit to Asheville, the details may have changed some, so I recommend following the links, confirming your times, and as always, getting reservations early. 


That said, I’d start by taking a look at the Observatory rooftop bar up on the sixth floor of the Restoration Hotel. I remember when this luxurious downtown landmark was naught but a dusty old construction site, so I am proud to say they’re all grown up, open for business, and putting on not one but two New Year’s Eve parties this year. 


Up top at the Observatory, you’ve got your ticket-only masquerade ball complete with champagne and hors d'oeuvres. Meanwhile down below, in their Draftsman bar and lounge, you’ve got your 80s throwback party. No ticket, simply a ten dollar entry fee.  


For even more New Year’s rooftop carousing, head on up to Capella on 9 atop the AC Hotel for raffles, music, champagne, and a killer view of the city.


Recommended Resolution: Not sure what resolution you want to make for the new year? Well I got plenty of ideas. For instance: visit all the breweries of the South Slope.


New Year's in Asheville - spaghetti and wine
Image from Wix

Now personally, I enjoy my New Year’s best when its paired with a home cooked steak hot off the grill. But chances are if you’re visiting Asheville this New Year’s you may not have access to the finest in culinary facilities. Unless you’re staying with Asheville Cottages, of course.


Then again, while you’re in Asheville, you might as well try out some of our famous local restaurants. You can find a general primer here and here.


In terms of more specific intel: some of my favorite eateries with confirmed New Year’s hours include downtown’s Curate tapas bar, Jettie Rae’s Oyster House, Hemingway’s Cuba—incidentally also equipped with a rooftop bar—and Posana’s extra fancy New Year’s prix-fixe menu. 


Recommended Resolution: Craft your own little culinary tour of Asheville, making stops at our best in show for Italian, Indian, Mediterranean, and barbecue.


New Year's in Asheville - Christmas lights in tree
Image from Wix

The NC Arboretum is one of the most popular spots year round for us locals to catch some fresh air, but come the end of the year, I reckon just about the whole of WNC makes the pilgrimage to see the Arboretum’s annual winter lights display.


If you haven’t heard about the lights from me by now—indeed, if you haven’t heard about them at all—then let me tell you the sheer wattage on display out there is gonna blow any display you’re familiar with straight out of the water. Frankly, it's luminescent, and in the absence of a fireworks display, it's got to be one of the most explosively colorful things you can see on New Year’s in Asheville.


Wrap up your night with a visit to their cocoa shack, and dinner at one of the aforementioned venues, and there you have it: a Happy New Year’s. Ticket sales usually begin in early November.


Recommended Resolution: Check out Asheville’s very best hikes. Its exercise for the body. Its exercise for the soul.


New Year's in Asheville - sneakers running
Image from Unsplash

This here event’s been running strong for ten years as of my writing, so I reckon it's here to stay.  Now I know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth should I run anywhere, at any time, for any reason (other than to save my life)?” Well, fact is, I think I can sell this one to even the most comatose of New Year’s celebrants. 


The race sports two routes, one 10k, one 5k, and doesn’t kick off until 10am of the 1st. I’m not asking anyone to wake up at the crack of dawn here. Plus, both routes take you from Pack Square—right in downtown’s heart—up through the historic Montford neighborhood, then back around to the square for hot cocoa and good cheer.


The way I see it, you’d be signing yourself up for a leisurely stroll through some of Asheville’s most beautiful districts, concluded with cocoa. I don’t know about you, but that right there’s enough to get me out the door on New Year’s Day.


Recommended Resolution: Next time you hit downtown, visit to a local tea room or café. I think ten kilometers is enough walking for one year. You’d better take it easy. 


New Year's in Asheville - playing acoustic guitar
Image from Unsplash

Asheville’s music scene has always been a point of local pride. National acts, regional acts, acts no-one has heard of but a pretty darn good; they all come on down to the Paris of the South, sooner or later. 


So, it's no surprise that on this final day of the year, all of my hometown’s finest music venues are up to bat for their New Year’s showstoppers. There’s no way you can catch them all in one night—unless you’re some kind of time traveler, or just really good at scheduling—but my top picks got to be Salvage Station and the Grey Eagle (both in the River Arts District), and of course downtown’s iconic Orange Peel.


If you feel you got to catch up on any foot-stopping, hip-swaying, or local craft beer, then a New Year’s night spent at any one of these beloved Ashevillean institutions is just what the doctor ordered. Happy New Year’s, readers, and may your visit leave you as enamored with Asheville as I am.


Recommended Resolution: Learn an instrument, so that next year, it can be you up on that stage yourself.


Businesses Mentioned

The Restoration Asheville

(828)-220-0368

68 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

Capella on 9

10 Broadway St f9, Asheville, NC 28801

North Carolina Arboretum

(828)-665-2492 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806

Salvage Station

(828)-407-0521 468 Riverside Dr, Asheville, NC 28801

The Grey Eagle Music Hall

(828)-232-5800

185 Clingman Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

The Orange Peel

(828)-398-1837

101 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

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