13 Fun Things to Do in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill Over Winter Break

Make the most of the winter break with these special events, shows and places with your family


Published:

Photo courtesy of North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival

Schools are out, family is in town... now what?! We have 13 ideas for seasonal fun over winter break to keep the troops entertained.

1.  Holiday Performances

PHOTO COURTESY OF ROB ORAZI

 

Enjoy a live family-friendly performance such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” through Dec. 24 in Raleigh and Carolina Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” through Dec. 30 in Durham. Browse our roundup of December shows for details on a range of holiday shows for all ages. 


2. Ice Skating

Photo courtesy of AboutLife/Shutterstock.com

 

The Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area has several ice skating rinks, most of which offer figure skating lessons, hockey leagues and plenty of time for folks to just skate around freestyle for fun. Although there are no outdoor ice skating options this season, check out:


3. Santa Visits

Photo courtesy of Lauren Bell Isaacs

 

Take your little ones to visit Santa at local malls through Dec. 24. Browse our roundup to find out the jolly old elf’s schedule. 


4. Volunteer at Triangle Nonprofits

PHOTO COURTESY OF DURHAM, PARKS AND RECREATION

 

Give back by volunteering with your kids. Local nonprofits, such as the Food Bank, are always looking for volunteers. Browse our roundup of local nonprofits to find lots of places where your family can help. Call ahead to ensure the volunteer opportunities listed are still available before you head out.


5. Seasonal Nature Programs

Photo courtesy of Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

 

Escape to a local park with your family to learn about nature and make seasonal crafts. Search our daily calendar for programs for children, including Art in the Park: Super Snowflakes Dec. 27-30, an event during which families can celebrate the beauty of the winter season by making paper snowflakes at Historic Yates Mill County Park. At Natural Creations on Dec. 29, learn to identify winter trees and take photos of your favorites for an amateur photography contest at Blue Jay Point County Park. Both events are free.


6. The Polar Express: An IMAX 3D Experience

IMAGE COURTESY OF WARNER BROS.

 

When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Catch The Polar Express at the Marbles IMAX Theatre through Dec. 24.


7. Museum Exhibits

Image courtesy of North carolina Museum of Natural Sciences/Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

 

Catch fascinating museum exhibits, like "Beyond Curie: A Celebration of Women in Science," at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences through Dec. 31. This exhibit features 40 women scientists, mathematicians and engineers who have made incredible advances in their fields, but never earned the recognition they deserve. "The Beyond: Georgia O'Keeffe + Contemporary Art" at the North Carolina Museum of Art brings together a significant group of O’Keeffe’s works as the centerpiece of an exploration of her continued force as a touchstone for contemporary art. Be sure to call ahead to find out when museums are open. Browse our roundup of museum exhibits to find one that will suit your family.

 

8. Must-See Holiday Light Shows Across North Carolina

PHOTO COURTESY OF BILL STICE

 

'Tis the season for dazzling light displays. These annual sparkling and twinkling displays are a great way to celebrate festive fun with the family. Here are our top picks of holiday light shows across the state to help bring out your family’s holiday spirit. Locally, Booth Amphitheatre is transformed into a dazzling walk-through display with larger-than-life lanterns at the Chinese Lantern Festival in Cary until Jan. 13, 2019. Enjoy holiday treats and beverages from venue stands.


9. See Snowflakes in Raleigh

PHOTO COURTESY OF GLENWOOD SOUTH NEIGHBORHOOD COLLABORATIVE

 

Want to see snowflakes in downtown Raleigh — regardless of the weather forecast? Seventy volunteers from Glenwood South and Activate Good hung nearly 1,300 crocheted snowflakes on the trees along Glenwood Avenue between Peace and Hillsborough streets. With more than 15 businesses along the street already displaying oversized crocheted flakes in their windows and on their front porches, the neighborhood is sure to match the winter weather.


10. Track Santa

PHOTO COURTESY OF DUCU59US/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

 

Show your kids how they can track Santa on Dec. 24 and enjoy online holiday games well ahead of Christmas Eve. Learn more about the NORAD Tracks Santa website.


11. Celebrate Kwanzaa

Photo courtesy of Ailisa/Shutterstock.com

 

Kwanzaa is a celebration for all people, focusing on family, friends and the fruits of the earth. It's celebrated from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1, with each of the seven days focusing on one of seven core values, or Nguzo Saba. A candle is lit on each day, and on the last day, gifts are exchanged. In the Triangle, three free Kwanzaa celebrations are happening featuring performances, arts and crafts, drumming, candle lighting and more.


12. Family-Friendly New Year's Eve Celebrations

PHOTO COURTESY OF ARTSPLOSURE/FIRST NIGHT RALEIGH

 

Here in the Triangle, your family can ring in 2019 at one of several family-friendly options — from an acorn drop in downtown Raleigh to a scientific celebration of the night sky in Chapel Hill. Check out First Night Raleigh's hands-on global workshops at the daytime Children’s Celebration, a Noon Year's Eve at Marbles Kids Museum or science activities, planetarium shows, Science LIVE! performances and more at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center’s Night Lights


13. State Parks' First Day Hikes

PHOTO COURTESY OF NORTH CAROLINA STATE PARKS

 

Start the New Year on the right foot with a North Carolina New Year’s tradition of family adventure, exercise and reconnection by taking a First Day Hike on Jan. 1. This popular tradition began at Eno River State Park more than 40 years ago, an annual event that now draws more than 800 visitors! Ranging from short “leg-stretchers” to several-mile rambles, most of the hikes feature educational programs led by rangers along the way. Check out our list of local State Parks First Day Hike options in the Triangle. Please note that some events require pre-registration and have a limited number of spots. 

 

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Calendar

September 2019

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Website »

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Join Mindful Families of Durham, a Buddhist-inspired spiritual community that supports area parents, caregivers, and their children in the practice of mindfulness and the understanding of the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Erwin Road
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
Website »

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Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: 24.00

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Website »

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Celebrate Latino culture in Durham.

Cost: Free

Where:
Compare Foods Parking Lot
2000 Avondale Dr.
Durham, NC
View map »


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Enjoy sweets from over 20 vendors for humans and pets.

Cost: Free

Where:
City Market
214 E. Martin Street
Raleigh, NC  27610
View map »


Sponsor: Jay's Italian Ice
Telephone: 919-780-4169
Contact Name: Jay Jones
Website »

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Discover Historic Yates Mill—a place of business, community, and exciting local history! Watch a brief slideshow, then explore the inner workings of the mill itself and witness the power of...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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See Peppa Pig and her friends embark on a new adventure in this live stage show. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $29.50 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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See Peppa Pig and her friends embark on a new adventure in this live stage show. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $29.50 and up

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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Practice your ABCs and develop your fine motor skills through games and hands-on activities. Play a letter game and go on a scavenger hunt!  For ages 18 months–3 years (with an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Road
Apex, NC  27539
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Sponsor: Crowder County Park
Telephone: 919-662-2850
Website »

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These programs are open to students 6–12 years old. Parent/guardians are welcome to stay for the program or drop-off. Preregistration is required. Discover the amazing world of mushrooms and...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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Join park staff for an informal fishing experience for the whole family. Bring your own poles or borrow one of ours through the Tackle Loaner Program. Bait and basic instruction are provided. All...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Pkwy.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

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Robert Gibbs discusses his latest book, "Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation." Ages 8-12. Purchase the book from Quail Ridge to reserve two seats for the event and a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209 Lassister Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Website »

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Join us to make moveable miniature skating figures that light up!  Space is limited. To register, call 919-245-2532. Grades 3-5.

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
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Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

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We are Voted BEST consignment sale in the Triangle and TOP 10 in the NATION!! Our sale features Children's Clothing including a wonderful boutique section, costume section, and coats section,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Towne Centre
1105 Walnut St
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale
Contact Name: Gail Walker
Website »

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Enjoy a free sunset movie by the picturesque Lake Raleigh. Take a picnic blanket, lawn chairs and a non-perishable food donations (human and pet) on Fridays in September to NC State's...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Raleigh Meadows
Campus Shore Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Sponsor: VisitCentennial
Telephone: 704-651-3179
Contact Name: Jude DesNoyer
Website »

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Each year more than 30,000 visitors come to BugFest to experience over 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities. This year's theme is beetles. Interact with entomologists and other scientists...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 919.707.9800
Website »

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Each year more than 30,000 visitors come to BugFest to experience over 100 exhibits, crafts, games and activities. This year's theme is beetles. Interact with entomologists and other...

Cost: Free

Where:
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
11 W. Jones St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Telephone: 919.707.9800
Website »

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Take part in a pop-up Stroller Barre class followed by a nature scavenger hunt for kids and socializing for moms. Suitable for pregnant mamas. Take a sturdy stroller (no jogger needed!),...

Cost: $5

Where:
Piney Wood Park
400 E. Woodcroft Pkwy
Durham, NC  27713
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Sponsor: FIT4MOM West Raleigh Durham
Telephone: 984-329-5970
Contact Name: Jenine N Pearson
Website »

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Give rugby a try. Take part in tag rugby pick-up games every Saturday morning at Baileywick Road Park, near the Second Shelter.  No experience necessary. All ages. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Baileywick Road Park
9501 Baileywick Rd
Second Shelter Field
Raleigh, NC  27615
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Sponsor: Raleigh Redhawks Rugby
Contact Name: denise travis
Website »

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Please join us for our 27th annual Triangle Festival of Hope & Walk to De-feet Dementia at Knightdale Station Park. The 1-mile walk through the park, or 1/4 mile shorter version, will begin...

Cost: Free

Where:
Knightdale Station Park
810 N First Ave
Knightdale, NC  27545
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Website »

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Family fun for all ages includes more than 100 delicious food and craft vendors, free children's activities, live demonstrations and all genres of music from local and regional bands. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Main Street Creedmoor
301 N. Main St.
Creedmoor, NC  27522
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Sponsor: City of Creedmoor
Telephone: 919-764-1013
Contact Name: Angie Perry
Website »

More information

We are Voted BEST consignment sale in the Triangle and TOP 10 in the NATION!! Our sale features Children's Clothing including a wonderful boutique section, costume section, and coats section,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cary Towne Centre
1105 Walnut St
Cary, NC  27511
View map »


Sponsor: Kids EveryWEAR Consignment Sale
Contact Name: Gail Walker
Website »

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Visual artists from near and far will showcase their work, and 75 performing arts groups provide continuous music, dance and entertainment throughout the festival including extended Saturday...

Cost: $5 suggested donation; free for children under 12

Where:
Durham Arts Council
120 Morris Street
Durham, NC  27701
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Sponsor: Durham Arts Council
Telephone: 919-560-2719
Contact Name: Susan Tierney
Website »

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Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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Enjoy local bands, arts and crafts vendors, car show, kids' area, fun contests and games, plus a barbecue cook-off contest featuring veteran cooking teams.

Cost: Free

Where:
River Park
114 E. Margaret Ln.
Hillsborouh, NC  27278
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Website »

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This family-oriented event includes corn milling demonstrations and costumed tours of Yates Mill, and other event activities including a fun children’s scavenger hunt activity, live music and...

Cost: Free, though there is a $3-5 fee for mill tours

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

For almost 200 years, farmers brought their wheat and corn to what is now Yates Mill to have their grains ground into flour and meal. Today, you can stop by the Yates Mill visitor center to see a...

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Take the family for Caribbean food, live music, a Kids Zone, bounce house, face painter and more. 

Cost: Free

Where:
West Point on the Eno
5101 N. Roxboro St.
Durham, NC  27704
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Website »

More information

Step back in time with our 19th-century costumed interpreters and watch the millstones at work grinding corn into meal. Tour fee: $5/Adult, $4/Senior (ages 60 & over), $3/Child (ages 7-16),...

Cost: $5/Adult, 4$/Senior (60+), $3/Child (7-16), 6&Younger Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Road
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Celebrate diversity in Wake Forest with live performances, traditional cuisine and family entertainment. 

Cost: Free

Where:
E. Carroll Joyner Park
701 Harris Rd.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Website »

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Live bands showcase this event that also features a kids zone, vendor village and food trucks.

Cost: $11.25 – $20

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre's Rose Garden and Stephenson Amphitheatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
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Website »

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Live bands showcase this event that also features a kids zone, vendor village and food trucks.

Cost: $15 advance tickets, $20 at the door. Free for ages 5 and younger

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre's Rose Garden and Stephenson Amphitheatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

The Teen Advisory Board invites you to meet up with other gamers to mingle, snack, and test your skills for prizes! Guests are welcome to bring their own controllers/fightsticks. Register by...

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County Main Library
137 W Margaret Ln
Hillsborough, NC  27278
View map »


Sponsor: Orange County Public Library
Telephone: 919-245-2539
Contact Name: Libbie Hough
Website »

More information

East Cloud Kungfu hosts a Parent's Night Out event, featuring a safe environment for kids as they about the wide world of kungfu.   Check it out!...

Cost: $25 first child, $20 each additional child

Where:
East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
5655-A Western Blvd
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: East Cloud Kungfu, LLC
Telephone: 252-646-7053
Contact Name: Imari Colon
Website »

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The Clayton Center presents country crooner Billy "Crash" Craddock in concert. Sing along with Crash as he belts out his biggest hits, including Knock Three Times, Rub It In, Ruby Baby, Broken...

Cost: $25 plus taxes & fees

Where:
The Clayton Center
111 E. Second Street
Clayton, NC  27520
View map »


Sponsor: The Clayton Center
Telephone: 919-553-1737
Website »

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