Christmas on Salem Street in downtown Apex Dec. 2, 5-9 p.m., features carriage rides, caroling and a tree-lighting ceremony. The Salem Street firehouse serves a pancake breakfast Dec. 3, 7-11 a.m., and families can enjoy pictures with Santa that day, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., at the Halle Arts Center. The town’s Christmas parade on Dec. 3 starts at 5 p.m. apexdowntown.com, apexrotary.org.
See 20 light displays illuminated by thousands of LED lights at the Chinese Lantern Festival at Booth Amphitheatre in Cary Nov. 25-Jan. 15. Hours are 6-10 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. The festival also features Chinese performers on weekends. Purchase tickets, $15 adults and $10 ages 3-17, online at boothamphitheatre.com/nc-chinese-lantern-festival-cary.
Heart of the Holidays festivities abound in Cary on Dec. 3. Learn about Victorian holiday traditions and enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center, a historic 1868 hotel in the heart of Cary, 4-6 p.m. 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 6th Annual Gingerbread House Competition at the Cary Arts Center through December. townofcary.org.
The 2016 Cary Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Cary Jaycees, is Dec. 10 at 2 p.m. See the website for the parade route. caryjaycees.org.
The Stone Creek Village Holiday Open House Dec. 3, 4-7 p.m., features crafting, giveaways, treats and specials throughout the center, and a chance to vote on the most festively decorated store front to win a Stone Creek shopping spree. stonecreekvillagecary.com.
Chapel Hill’s Downtown Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony is Nov. 27, 6-7 p.m., at Memorial Garden of University Baptist Church on Columbia Street. Children can have their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus. downtownchapelhill.com/celebrations#.
A gingerbread village display, opportunities to dine with Santa on select days, gingerbread house-making, horse-drawn carriage rides and more highlight the annual Twelve Days of Christmasevent series at Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill Dec. 1-Jan. 2. 12daysevents.com.
Carolina Ballet presents its holiday sugarplum, “The Nutcracker” Dec. 3-4 at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill. See website for show times and to purchase tickets at carolinaballet.com.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Holiday Parade is Dec. 10. It begins at 10 a.m. on E. Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill and ends at noon on Main Street in Carrboro. See themed floats, marching bands and Santa in this annual festivity. chapelhillholidayparade.com.
Duke Homestead in Durham hosts its annual Christmas by Candlelight event Dec. 2 and 9, 7-9 p.m., featuring tours of the homestead, caroling and hot cider. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for ages 10 and younger. 919-477-5498. dukehomestead.org.
Enjoy 100 Years of Christmas at Historic Stagville in Durham Dec. 3, 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 are ticketed and begin at 4:30, 5, 5:30 and 6 p.m. Advance ticket purchase is recommended by calling 919-620-0120. historicstagville.org.
The City of Durham hosts its annual Holiday Fun Fest Dec. 3, noon-4 p.m., at Rock Quarry Park featuring live entertainment, pony rides, snow sledding and a visit with Santa. Enjoy a holiday parade with all the trimmings Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. in downtown Durham. The city’s Kwanzaa celebration is Dec. 30, 6-8 p.m., at the Holton Career and Resource Center. 919-560-4355. durhamnc.gov.
Carolina Ballet presents its holiday sugarplum, “The Nutcracker” Dec, 9-11 at the Durham Performing Arts Center. See website for show times and to purchase tickets at carolinaballet.com.
Christmas in the Piedmont During the Civil War at Bennett Place State Historic Site in Durham celebrates the season with living historians who demonstrate cooking and gift-wrapping in the 19th century Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Santa visits with families during the event. 919-383-4345. bennettplacehistoricsite.com/special-events.
West Point on the Eno Park in Durham hosts its annual Christmas Open House Dec. 11, 1-5 p.m., showcasing festive music, holiday crafts and more. dprplaymore.org.
Raleigh Little Theatre presents two musicals in one production with “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “Jingle Bell Jukebox” Oct. 28-Nov. 13. See the website for show times and to purchase tickets. raleighlittletheatre.org.
Cameron Village in Raleigh hosts its annual Holiday Open House Nov. 17, 5-8 p.m. 2108 Clark Ave., Raleigh. shopcameronvillage.com/events/cameron-village-open-house.
Holiday-themed floats, marching bands, classic cars and large helium balloons highlight the annual WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade is Nov. 19 at 9:40 a.m. in downtown Raleigh. The parade begins at the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets. grma.org/christmas-parade.
Lafayette Village in Raleigh ushers in the holiday season with its Lighting of the Tree 2016, Nov. 19, 4-8 p.m. 8450 Honeycutt Rd., Raleigh. lafayettevillageraleigh.com.
North Hills in Raleigh welcomes families to its Tree-Lighting Celebration, which features live music, snow slopes, trackless train rides, kids crafts and activities, a bounce house and a vendor village. As Santa Claus arrives at 6 p.m., the 41-foot Christmas tree is lit amidst a joyous chorus of “Santa Clause Is Coming to Town.” visitnorthhills.com.
The annual Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest kick-off is Dec. 3, noon-8 p.m., on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. The event features a tree-lighting ceremony, carnival rides, Santa’s village, a gingerbread house competition, five musical acts, ice skating and more. godowntownraleigh.com/winterfest/festival. Ice Raleigh, an outdoor ice skating rink located at City Plaza on Fayetteville Street, opens Nov. 19 and closes Jan. 29, 2017. raleighicerink.com.
Kids can make crafts, play colonial games and watch costumed re-enactors demonstrate scenes of 18th-century life when Joel Lane Museum House in Raleigh hosts its Colonial Christmas Open House Dec. 3, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 919-833-3431. joellane.org.
Mordecai Holiday Open House in Raleigh welcomes the holiday season Dec. 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Dec. 11, 1-4 p.m. Admission is free. Take one of the lantern tours, which run 5-9 p.m. on Dec. 10, through the house and grounds to watch vignettes of the Mordecai family, soldiers and enslaved people during the Civil War. Tickets are $5/person. reclink.raleighnc.gov/activities/activitiesadvsearch.asp#top (click on “advanced search” and search for “Mordecai”).
Carolina Ballet presents its holiday sugarplum, “The Nutcracker” Dec. 16-24 at Raleigh Memorial auditorium. See website for show times and to purchase tickets at carolinaballet.com.
Raleigh Parks and Recreation Department has added an extra night, Dec. 7, to its popular event, Holiday Express at Pullen Park. Tickets for Dec. 7 are $10/person and go on sale Oct. 17 at 8 a.m. at eventbright.com. All other dates are sold out. Pullen Park is transformed each year into a holiday wonderland complete with holiday lights and displays, a train ride, local entertainment, carousel ride, crafts and a visit with Santa. Learn more at carolinaparent.com/CP/Tickets-to-Go-on-Sale-for-Holiday-Express-at-Pullen-Park.
The Sleigh Rides and Cider event at Historic Oak View County Park is Dec. 3, 5-7:30 p.m., and offers families horse-drawn carriage rides, hot apple cider, live music, holiday activities and more. Santa also visits. facebook.com/events/1606202959678162.
First Night Raleigh takes place Dec. 31, 2 p.m.-midnight, in downtown Raleigh. Enjoy family-friendly activities prior to the Acorn Drop at midnight. A First Night button, $10, is required for entry. firstnightraleigh.com.
Main Street Christmas in Holly Springs takes place Dec. 9, 6-8 p.m. The annual event includes hayrides, crafts and live entertainment. Mrs. Claus reads stories at the Cultural Center and Santa visits with children at Town Hall until 7:15 p.m. The night concludes with the town’s tree-lighting ceremony at 8 p.m. at the Cultural Center. Holly Springs’ Happy Holly Days Parade on Main Street in Holly Springs is Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. 919-552-6221. hollyspringsnc.us/359/main-street-christmas, hollyspringsnc.us/270/happy-holly-days-christmas-parade.
Morrisville’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, featuring musical entertainment, crafts for kids and a visit from Santa, is Dec. 2, 7-9 p.m. at Indian Creek Trailhead. 919-463-7110. townofmorrisville.org.
The Lighting of Wake Forest on Dec. 2, 6-8:30 p.m., includes horse and carriage rides, pictures with Santa, performances by local students and the lighting of the town’s 30-foot Christmas tree at Town Hall on South Brooks Street. School and dance group performances and fun activities for families highlight the Downtown Merchants Association’s Holiday Open House Dec. 3, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free pictures with Santa will be offered from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Fidelity Bank on South White Street that day. The town’s holiday parade takes place Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. in downtown Wake Forest. 919-435-9415. wakeforestnc.gov/christmas-in-wake-forest.aspx.
by: Janice Lewine , associate editor at Carolina Parent.