The recipe for an ideal competitor? One part talented baker, one part creative artist, and one part innovative architect. See designs in gingerbread and icing that give Richard Morris Hunt and Frank Lloyd Wright a run for their money. Admission is free with a parking fee, half of which supports area nonprofits. The list of 2017 beneficiaries includes United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, Asheville City Schools Foundation, and Homeward Bound. » Omni Grove Park Inn, 290 Macon Ave.; Sundays after 3 p.m. through Thursdays, excluding holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s weekends); $20 parking fee, $25 valet; (800) 438-5800; www.groveparkinn.com

You know and love their hits like “Elvira,” “Bobbie Sue,” and “American Made.” And you know and love the Christmas classics. Now, you can enjoy both together when the country and gospel vocal quartet breeze into the Blue Ridge Mountains for this special two-act show. » Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts, 1028 Georgia Rd.; Friday, 7:30 p.m.; $36-$46; (866) 273-4615; www.greatmountainmusic.com

As you might expect, Balsam Range will perform both nights at their namesake festival, but the lineup is jam-packed with other bluegrass acts, too, including Mike Snider, Bryan Sutton’s All-Star Band, and Flatt Lonesome. The award-winning Haywood County band will also perform a special set with the Atlanta Pops Orchestra. Saturday features master workshops, taught by top musicians, for intermediate and advanced players, along with classes in instrument-building and songwriting. » Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center, 91 N. Lakeshore Dr.; Friday & Saturday, 7 p.m.; performance and master workshop prices vary, lodging packages available; (800) 965-9324; www.balsamrangeartofmusicfestival.com

This Christmas choral performance, directed by Kathy Geyer McNeil, features John Rutter's Magnificat, a seven-movement composition based on a biblical canticle and interspersed with the poem "Of a Rose, a Lovely Rose" and with Latin American musical elements. The evening begins at 7 p.m.   

The jazz saxophonist has performed and recorded with big names in music across multiple genres: from Snoop Dogg to Gerald Wilson, Freddie Hubbard to Chaka Khan, and Kendrick Lamar to Raphael Saadiq. But his music certainly stands on its own. When he stops in WNC, he’ll be performing songs off his solo album, The Epic, a 172-minute triple-disc featuring his 10-piece band, along with a full string orchestra and choir. » The Orange Peel, 101 Biltmore Ave.; Sunday, 8 p.m., doors 7 p.m.; $30, $25 advance; (828) 398-1837; www.theorangepeel.net

The weekend is jam-packed with offerings for the winter sport enthusiast. Two-time Olympian and World Cup downhill winner Marco Sullivan will provide individual ski racing instruction and lessons during a three-day clinic (daily participation welcome), while 1992 figure skating silver medalist Paul Wylie will put on a show and host a clinic. Snowboarders can enjoy equipment demos. Enjoy music, barbecue, and a hot chocolate bar when you’re not on the slopes. »Sugar Mountain Ski Resort, 1009 Sugar Mountain Dr.; Friday-Sunday, times vary; free with lift tickets, activity prices vary; (828) 898-4521; www.skisugar.com

This annual charity race supports those near and far. Proceeds benefit Operation 300, a national nonprofit that hosts adventure camps for children who’ve lost their fathers in military service, and the Women’s Resource Center, which offers workforce development training, substance abuse programs, and other assistance to women in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba counties. Racers are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy for Santa Cops, a charity of the Conover Police Department. Slide some bells on your shoelaces for this one: Awards will be given not only for race times but also for the most “jingled out” costumes. » Sails on the Square, Union Square NW; Saturday, 9 a.m.; $30, $25 advance; (828) 446-4248; www.runtimeraces.com

Step inside some of the most storied homes in Montford, a circa 1890s historic district that is one of the largest in the state. New this year, a keepsake booklet will serve as your ticket while providing details about the homes, which will be adorned for the holidays, as well as information on the neighborhood’s rich architectural past. Proceeds support improvements and activities in the neighborhood, such as youth programs at the Montford Recreation Center and the springtime Montford Music & Arts Festival. » Multiple venues, self-guided tour booklets available at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce, 36 Montford Ave.; Saturday, 1-5 p.m.; $25 (cash or check only); (828)-210-2726; www.montfordtour.com

It’s not actually on Christmas Eve, but this annual event aims to conjure up the anticipatory magic of the night with carolers, Santa, storytelling, and more. First Baptist Church recreates a live nativity and first century marketplace, while galleries and restaurants remain open well past dark. » Downtown; Saturday, 6-9 p.m.; free; (828) 456-3517; www.downtownwaynesville.com


The classic 5K gets a makeover in honor of the eight-day Jewish holiday Hanukkah, aka the Festival of Lights. Adults and youth of all ages are invited to run or walk, while younger children can take part in the free “Latke Loop,” an eight-lap challenge around the Jewish Community Center’s parking lot. » Asheville Jewish Community Center, 236 Charlotte St.; Sunday, 9:15 a.m., Latke Loop start 8:30 a.m., $40, $35 advance, $25 youth/walker; (828) 253-0701; www.jcc-asheville.org

The beloved story by Charles Schulz is just as popular today as when it first aired on television more than 50 years ago. Now adapted for the stage, the play includes all the elements of the famed tale: Join Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the Peanuts gang as they mount a theater production, save a tree, and uncover the true meaning of Christmas. » CoMMA, 401 S. College St.; Thursday, 7:30 p.m.; $24-$28, $15 youth; (828) 433-7469; www.commaonline.org

The event, based on the Swannanoa Gathering, is now in its 15th year and presents an impressive lineup that includes internationally known artists Al Petteway, Amy White, and Robin Bullock, plus Grammy Award-winner David Holt and nationally acclaimed dancers Phil Jamison and Ellie Grace. Enjoy renditions of Celtic, Appalachian, Scots-Irish, and world-influenced holiday music. Help fight homelessness by bringing supplies for those served through Homeward Bound. » Diana Wortham Theatre, 2 S. Pack Sq.; Sunday, 2 & 7 p.m.; $45, $40 students, $20 children; (828) 257-4530; www.dwtheatre.com

It’s a Christmas Eve Eve celebration for those anxiously counting down to the 25th. Awards will be given to 5K winners in each age group, while all fun run participants will receive a medal as an early gift under the tree. » RO HuffmanCenter, 700 S. Main St.; Saturday, 9 a.m., fun run 10 a.m.; $25, $20 advance; (828) 438-1111; Facebook: RO Huffman Center

The evening serves as a symphonic send-off to both 2017 and Musical Director Daniel Meyer: It will be his final concert as artistic leader of the Asheville Symphony after a 13-season tenure. The show will open with the opulent “Bacchanale” from Saint-Saëns’ opera Samson et Dalila, followed by the rhapsodic and romantic Violin Concerto No. 2 by Wieniawski. To cap off the night, three soloists, with the full might of the orchestra and the Asheville Symphony Chorus, will take on Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. » Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, 87 Haywood St.; Sunday, 7:30 p.m.; $24-$74; (828) 254-7046; www.ashevillesymphony.org

The owners of Clay’s Corner have retired and closed the store, but their infamous Possum Drop is still on this New Year’s Eve. Festivities begin at 9:30 p.m. with bluegrass by the Wilson Family. The night’s guest of honor will arrive at 10:15, welcomed by the ladies of the Miss Possum Contest at 10:45. The main event, when a possum gets lowered in a cage, should get underway just before midnight. Why celebrate with the marsupial? Brasstown is the “Opossum Capital of the World.” » Clay’s Corner, 11005 Old Hwy. 64 W.; Sunday, 9:30 p.m.; free; (828) 389-8081; www.clayscorner.com