Christmas Festivities in the Triangle- First Round


Here we go again. I will be updating this weekly until this big weekend. Post-Thanksgiving it isn’t hard to find an activity near you to load up on your Christmas joy. The Triangle is heavy with activities for the season with tree-lightening ceremonies, plays, shows and other examples of merriment. This is a list borrowed from Carolina Parent- a great website to find things to do that are family friendly in the Triangle. Find when your town is busting with holiday cheer or zero in on an activity for each weekend with the family, right up till Christmas Eve.

Christmas on Salem Street in downtown Apex Dec. 1, 5-9 p.m., features sleigh rides, caroling and a tree-lighting ceremony. The following day, families can enjoy a pancake breakfast at the Salem Street firehouse and take pictures with Santa at the Halle Cultural Arts Center in the afternoon before the town’s Christmas parade, which begins at 5 p.m.

Cary Players present “A Christmas Story” Dec. 1-4 at the Cary Arts Center. See the website for show times and to purchase tickets, $20 for adults and $18 for kids.

Cary’s annual Heart of the Holidays festivities take place Dec. 2 at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center, a historic 1868 hotel, 4-6 p.m. Learn about Victorian holiday traditions and enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides. The town’s tree-lighting ceremony takes place at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall Campus and features live performances and the unveiling of a community tree decorated with handcrafted ornaments. See featured entries in the town’s 7th Annual Gingerbread House Competition in downtown Cary and also at the Cary Arts Center through December.

Carolina Ballet presents “The Nutcracker” Dec. 2-3 at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill. See website for show times and to purchase tickets at

The American Tobacco Tower Lighting in Durham takes place Dec. 1, 6-8 p.m., featuring performances by local dance groups and choirs. At the conclusion of the event, estimated at 7 p.m. when the tower lights, the holiday fun continues over at Diamond View Park as the Home for the Holidays playhouses come to life and the bidding begins. Santa Selfies available near the Trosa Tree Lot.

Celebrate an 1870s Christmas as Duke Homestead in Durham hosts its annual Christmas by Candlelight event Dec. 1 and 8, 6:45-9:15 p.m., featuring costumed interpreters leading visitors on candlelit tours of the decorated homestead. Tickets are $5 per person and free for ages 1 and younger. Purchase tickets online.

Enjoy Christmas at Historic Stagville in Durham Dec. 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free. Learn about the Christmas traditions of enslaved and free people in North Carolina. After dark, see some of the slaves’ quarters and sharecroppers’ homes lit by lanterns as guides share stories of the holidays during these times. Lantern tours, begin at 5 p.m., and are $5 per person and free for ages 1 and younger. Advance ticket purchase is recommended by calling 919-620-0120.

The City of Durham hosts its annual holiday parade with all the trimmings Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. in downtown Durham. A Holiday Fun Fest takes place later that afternoon, 1-4 p.m., at the American Tobacco Campus featuring live entertainment, bounce houses, snow sledding, train rides and a visit with Santa. The city’s Kwanzaa Celebration is Dec. 30, 3-5 p.m., at the Holton Career and Resource Center.

Singer and songwriter Robert Earl Keen presents “Merry Christmas from the Fam-O-Lee”show at Carolina Theatre Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. Purchase tickets, $34-$39, at

The vocal quartet 98° performs songs from its new Christmas album, “Let It Snow,”  Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Durham Performing Arts Center. The following evening, Dec. 6, Grammy-award winner Fantasia delivers a soulful holiday show titled, “Christmas After Midnight” in the same venue at 7:30 p.m. Purchase tickets at

Raleigh Little Theatre presents its holiday sugarplum, “Cinderella,” Dec. 1-17. See the website for show times and to purchase tickets.

Make holiday memories by riding NC By Train’s Santa Train round trip from Raleigh to Charlotte Dec. 2. The train ride features a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, carolers and refreshments. Call 800-298-7246 or see the website for departure times and fares.

The Sleigh Rides and Cider event at Historic Oak View County Park is Dec. 2, 5-7:30 p.m., and offers families horse-drawn carriage rides, hot apple cider, live music, holiday activities and more. Santa also makes an appearance.

The Downtown Raleigh Tree Lighting Celebration is Dec. 2, 4-8 p.m., at City Plaza. This year’s celebration features a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, live entertainment, a 40-foot slide, amusements and activities, holiday refreshments, and Gingerbread House and Holiday Hound Costume contests. The fun culminates in City Plaza with the Mayor’s lighting of the 35-foot Norway spruce tree.

Garner’s Light Up Main event, Dec. 1, 6-8 p.m., showcases a tree-lighting ceremony and a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus. Face painting, a local talent showcase and kids’ crafts round out the fun. The Garner Christmas Parade on Main Street is Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. and features dance troupes, marching bands, Santa and decorated floats.

Hillsborough’s Light Up the Night Holiday Parade is Dec. 2, 4:45-6:30 p.m., and features a parade that begins on Corbin Street and ends at E. Margaret Lane. A tree lighting will take place at the old courthouse lawn at 6:30 p.m.

During Christmas on First Avenue in Knightdale, kids can visit with Mrs. Claus and Santa’s elves at Knightdale Station Park Amphitheater Dec. 1, 6-8 p.m. The event also features a tree-lighting ceremony and fun activities. Santa visits at the end of the evening. Knightdale’s Christmas parade takes place Dec. 2 at 2 p.m.

Four Oaks’ Christmas Festival on Main Street Dec. 2, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., includes a visit from Santa, children’s activities, vendors and the town’s annual Christmas Parade at 11 a.m.

Morrisville’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, featuring musical entertainment, cookies, crafts and a visit from Santa, is Dec. 1, 7-9 p.m. at Indian Creek

The Lighting of Wake Forest on Dec. 1, 6-8:30 p.m., includes performances by local choirs, complimentary hot cocoa and cookies, a visit from Santa arriving on a Wake Forest fire truck, a children’s craft activity, and the lighting of the town’s 30-foot Christmas tree at Town Hall on South Brooks Street. The Downtown Merchants Association hosts a Holiday Open House Dec. 2, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., when kids can enjoy free pictures with Santa and face painting at The Cotton Company Event Gallery on South White Street. The town’s holiday parade, featuring high school marching bands, more than 100 colorful floats and Santa, takes place Dec. 9 at 1 p.m. in downtown Wake Forest.

Take the family for caroling and a tree lighting hosted by the mayor in downtown Zebulon Dec. 2 at 5 p.m.  Zebulon Christmas Parade is Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. Kids can pose for photos with Santa Dec. 1, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Town Hall.

This is in no way an exhaustive list. Check with your local community venue on more festivities and make sure to check the listing for DPAC, the Carolina Theatre and more for special holiday offerings.

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