Asheville NC’s Mecca of Gingerbread Artistry

There's a spicy-sweet smell wafting through the air in Asheville, NC. That's because the biggest gingerbread throw-down in the U.S. happens here at the Omni Grove Park Inn. Gingerbread artists from across the country converge here in November for the chance to have their creation take top prize in the National Gingerbread House Competition.

These ain't your grandma's gingerbread houses!

Those who compete in Asheville are decorating masters, elevating a simple recipe of flour, sugar and spices to extremely detailed, complex, artistic tableaus of holiday scenes, animals, and vehicles – with precision, beauty and whimsy.  The prestige of this contest is evident, not only in the judges who preside, most of whom are culinary celebrities, but also the serious prize money:  First place winner gets $5,000!

Contrary to the contest title, entries don't necessarily have to be "houses". And they don't have to be entirely gingerbread either, although each entry must be completely edible. Contestants may use things like candy, fondant, chocolate and other decorative or structural baking materials.

Judges evaluate every minute detail. They examine each piece with flashlights, rulers, measuring tapes – they even use drills, to ensure that no inedible substances are used. What are they looking for?  Creativity, complexity, originality, difficulty and precision. 

2013 marks the 21st year of the contest.  Over 150 entries were submitted. On November 18th, prizes were awarded in four categories: child, youth, teen and adult.  Here’s a look at all the winners

Contest entries are on display at the Omni Grove Park Inn through January 2 and there’s no charge for admission!  In addition to the gingerbread profusion, enjoy the beautiful holiday displays and festive music throughout The Grove. A day – or weekend – spent here is sure to boost your Christmas spirit.

Asheville is a cool town with a fun “mountain” vibe and plenty of holiday events and boutique shopping. For more information on Asheville and surrounding areas in North Carolina, visit



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