The National Gingerbread House Competition
Fall in the western part of our state is one of most beautiful times of the year. With the idyllic Blue Ridge Mountain’s extreme elevations and more than 100 species of deciduous trees that grace us with “one of the most dramatic displays of fall foliage in the country” (exploreasheville.com), it’s easy to see why visitors return year after year.
Nestled within the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains is the inviting city of Asheville (approximately a four-hour drive from Wake Forest). As described on exploreasheville.com, “Asheville is that type of unique, special place that lingers sweetly in your mind and memories for years to come. The city’s rich architectural legacy with its mix of Art Deco, Beaux Arts, and Neoclassical styles is the perfect retro-urban backdrop to the edgy energy that emanates from the locally owned-shops and art galleries, distinctive restaurants, and exciting entertainment venues. A bastion of cutting-edge art and technology in the Blue Ridge, the city also prides itself on its fascinating Appalachian past and celebrates this culture with annual events. While many cities underwent major overhauls in past decades, Asheville’s historic and architecturally diverse downtown remains beautifully preserved. There’s something special about Asheville, and the world is just beginning to discover it. This thriving mountain city features a funky and eclectic downtown, 30-plus art galleries downtown alone, a burgeoning culinary scene, a thriving live music scene and, of course, the awe-inspiring scenery of the Appalachian Mountains.”
Just minutes from this city’s thriving downtown you will discover the one-of-a-kind escape known as The Omni Grove Park Inn. This award-winning 513-room resort that originally opened in 1913 boasts an historic 18-hole Donald Ross designed golf course (considered among the top golf experiences in the state), a world-class spa, and signature restaurants offering stunning panoramic views of the mountains and chef-driven menus focused on local ingredients.
The resort is also home to one of the nation’s most celebrated and competitive holiday events. It all began back in 1992, with a small group of gingerbread houses built by community members as a way to celebrate the holiday season – with no plans to continue the following year. At that time, there was no way to know that The Omni Grove Park Inn National Gingerbread House Competition would become one of the nation’s most celebrated and competitive holiday events, and remains so almost 30 years later.
As the event grew, so did the caliber of judges and competitors. Today, the panel of judges represents nationally-renowned food, arts, and media professionals, and the level of competition has attracted the highest quality of design, artistry, and pastry expertise. The competition, which features contestants from all over the country competing for more than $25,000 in prizes, has merited broadcast coverage by NBC’s TODAY Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, the Travel Channel, and the Food Network.
As depicted on exploreasheville.com, “From the whimsical to the elaborate, there are gingerbread houses of every size, shape, complexity, and theme. You’ll find quaint rustic cabins, gumdrop-adorned castles, and sugar spun landscapes that’ll likely inspire your own gingerbread traditions.”
The iconic Gingerbread Display has evolved into more than just entries – it has become a true family tradition. From the very young to the very young at heart, the reaction to this magical experience is the same – one of wonder, awe, and delight. And after a virtual display in 2020, the Resort is excited to safely welcome back participants this year for an exciting hybrid event. A portion of the virtual elements will remain, but coveted in-person components that competitors and the hotel have greatly missed will return. An esteemed panel of judges, including renowned Food Network Chef, Carla Hall, will formally judge the gingerbread designs both virtually and in-person.
This year, the National Gingerbread House Competition will be open for public viewing from November 28 – January 2. During this timeframe, The Omni Grove Park Inn invites guests not staying at the Resort to view it after 3:00 PM on Sundays, or anytime Monday – Thursday (based on parking availability). The display will not be open to the public on the following dates: December 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, 31 and January 1. Public viewing on December 26 and January 2 will reopen after 3:00 PM.
For those who may not travel this season, the hotel will offer “The 12 Days of Gingerbread” by releasing one of the Top 12 finalists, per day, on the hotel’s Facebook (@omnigroveparkinn) and Instagram (@omnigrovepark) channels from December 1-12 to spark ginger-love for all during the happiest season of the year.
This fall, if you’re looking for a “Driveable Destination” to help you get in the spirit of the season, look no further than the Blue Ridge Mountains, where you can embrace Mother Nature’s patchwork of vibrant hues and crisp, mountain air; Asheville, where you can explore the city’s landmarks, cultural arts, and breathtaking natural beauty; and The Omni Grove Park Inn that will welcome you with a tradition of southern hospitality, and the magic of The National Gingerbread Competition.
For more information about The Omni Grove Park Hotel and the National Gingerbread House Competition, visit omnihotels.com/hotels/asheville-grove-park or call 800-438-5800.