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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Tweetsie Christmas ready for another run

Tweetsie Railroad debuted its Christmas season in 2017, and it instantly became its most popular annual event, says Chris Robbins, the Blowing Rock theme park’s president and CEO. A big part of its popularity, says Robbins, has to do with childhood recollections.

“Tweetsie creates very vivid memories for people who visited when they were children and people just carry those memories throughout their lives and now they bring their children and grandchildren here hoping for that same experience,” he says.

The park’s Christmas season starts the Friday after Thanksgiving and continues through Dec. 30. The park draws about 250,000 visitors each year, with about 35,000 of those visiting over the 21 nights the park is open during the holiday season, he says.

“It’s just a special place for families and children,” says Robbins, son of the late Harry Robbins, one-third of the trio of brothers, which included Grover Jr. and Spencer Robbins, who were legendary real estate and tourism developers in North Carolina’s High Country.

They started Tweetsie Railroad in 1957 and built its reputation with its Wild West theme, including comedic gunfights on its historic locomotives. The Robbins brothers were also known for their role in Boone-based Hound Ears Club — their first golf course and resort community — and residential communities Linville Land Harbor and Elk River Club in Banner Elk.

Tweetsie Christmas gives people another reason to visit North Carolina’s mountains in the colder months of the year, Robbins says. It features the park’s No. 12 steam locomotive pulling open-air cars along a three-mile route that lasts 20 minutes and takes visitors past more than 1 million Christmas lights. The “signature shot” includes passage over a 200-foot-long trestle, Robbins says.

Tweetsie Christmas features a 20-minute train ride on a steam locomotive.

The theme park also has nightly visits with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, shows and kid-friendly amusement rides. An outdoor fire offers visitors a chance to roast s’mores.

“It’s low-tech and high-touch entertainment and that resonates with people,” he says. “Fun never goes out of style.”

During the summer months, Tweetsie will employ about 240 workers, and about 70 during its Christmas season, Robbins says. 

So far, winterlike weather hasn’t been much of a problem. The only weather-related shutdown occurred last year when the temperature plummeted to 15 degree below zero two days before Christmas, he says. Dress warmly, he says to those thinking about visiting. 

Secret to Tweetsie Chrismas is its low-tech, high-touch experience says Chris Robbins, the Blowing Rock theme park’s president and CEO.

A couple of other reminders: Advance tickets are required, and some nights do sell out; Tickets are $60 for those 13 and over, $40 for children 3 to 12 and free to children 2 and under.

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