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When I moved to Highlands NC twenty four years ago, this lovely little town would basically shut down for the winter. My late husband and I opened a bed and breakfast in October and I was excited to stay open for the winter! I think I had 1 guest in January and had to change their room because of a frozen pipe and subsequent leak in the ceiling! Hardly any restaurants or shops were open so why would people come to Highlands or Cashiers?

My, have things changed! This was never more apparent than the crowds last month here attending the Food and Wine Festival! Many traveled from various states to attend, making it an annual tradition 3 years in a row. All restaurants are open as well as all shops. People were literally dancing in the street…that would be Main Street with wonderful bands entertaining on a temporary stage set up at the end. The street was filled with food vendors and wine distributors with Bloody Mary’s included!

It all began Thursday Night with the Grand Tasting event with the band, Lyric, and ended Sunday afternoon with the Gospel Brunch and the soul-filled songs of Mavis Staples! Pat Allen Realty Group –my firm-was delighted to sponsor both events. The energy and comradery felt by all who attended was priceless. The other events were wonderful and many restaurants offered fabulous wine dinners!

Our next events will be a traditional Thanksgiving feast at most restaurants, our tree lighting that is such a family affair and brings a magical glow to our little Hallmark town, followed by an Old- Fashioned Christmas parade that is reminiscent of days gone by. If in luck, camels will return this year! It is a special event and well attended. Many come to see the entertaining dance done by the Mountain Garden Club each year. Those ladies give it their all!

We now have an ice-skating rink that attracts locals and visitors as we await our first fallen snow usually in December, with more in January, February, March and sometimes April. Many restaurants will close about 6-8 weeks during January and February for a much needed rest while others will remain open. Many shops stay open and the Playhouse will show movies and the Performing Arts Center will still entertain. The Old Edwards Inn offers many events including great wine dinners. Just pack your heavy coats and boots and come on!

As you can see, unlike 24 years ago, Highlands has changed from a sleepy little town in the winter to a destination. This has changed real estate sales to a year-round business instead of just seasonal. One thing is for sure…you won’t be bored!

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