17 Fun Things to Do in Raleigh-Durham over Thanksgiving
Festivals, outdoor activities and seasonal fun
Photo courtesy of North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival
Enjoy the Triangle with your family and friends during Thanksgiving break. Check out these ideas for homegrown fun, and don’t forget to call ahead to ensure venues are open.
1. Get moving at various Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trots in Carrboro, Cary, Durham, Raleigh, Knightdale and Wake Forest. Browse our roundup of Turkey Day Trots to see which ones offer kids' dashes, kids activities, and where you can take your pet and baby in a stroller along.
Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com
2. Go ice skating with your kids at the Ice Raleigh Skating Rink, which is open Nov. 19-Jan. 29, in downtown Raleigh.
PHoto courtesy of Carolyn Scott Photography
3. Catch Chapel Hill’s Downtown Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony Nov. 27, 6-7 p.m., at Memorial Garden of University Baptist Church on Columbia Street. The event is free. Enjoy caroling with the church choir. Take your camera so your children can have their photos taken with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus!
Photo Courtesy of Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership
4. Enjoy the Chinese Lantern Festival at Booth Amphitheatre in Cary Nov. 25-Jan. 15. You can see more than 20 displays with thousands of LED lights. Hours are 6-10 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday. The festival also features Chinese performers on weekends. Purchase tickets online, $15 adults and $10 for ages 3-17, at boothamphitheatre.com/nc-chinese-lantern-festival-cary.
5. Soak in an old-fashioned celebration at Hill Ridge Farms’ Festival of Lights in Youngsville Nov. 24-Dec. 31, 5-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 4-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Take a covered wagon hay ride through the holiday lights, and enjoy bonfires, a jumping pillow, train rides and music. Admission is $10 for ages 2 and older Sunday-Thursday, and $12 for ages 2 and older Friday-Saturday. Train rides are $3/person. Learn more at hillridgefarms.com.
6. Listen to carols, join in a singalong and expect a visit from Santa at the North Carolina Symphony’s Holiday Pops Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 26 at 3 p.m. at Meymandi Concert Hall in Raleigh. Purchase tickets, $43-$73, at ncsymphony.org.
8. Catch "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical" at Duke Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 25-27 in Raleigh. Visit ticketmaster.com for details.
9. Shop for hand-crafted North Carolina gifts, from pottery to jewelry to foods at these eight unique venues in the Triangle.
10. Donate your time, talents or treasure to a charitable organizing serving those in need. Browse our roundup of local nonprofits where your family can help. Call ahead to ensure the volunteer opportunities listed are still available before you head out.
11. Take your kids for Thanksgiving-themed play at Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh. Marbles will be open Nov, 23, 25, 26, 27, but closed Thanksgiving Day. Catch The Polar Express at the Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles starting Friday, Nov. 25.
Image courtesy of Warner Bros.
12. Explore our state's cultural museums. The North Carolina Museum of History, North Carolina Museum of Art and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh will be closed on Thanksgiving day, but open the day after (Friday) for regular hours. The North Carolina's Museum of Art Ann and Jim Goodnight Museum Park is open daily, including holidays (dawn to dusk) and features paved and gravel trails past interesting works of art.
THOMAS SAYRE, GYRE, 1999, © 2009 THOMAS H. SAYRE PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NORTH CAROLINA MUSEUM OF ART
Check out these visiting exhibits:
The “Secret World Inside You” at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences features a 14-foot projection of a woman’s body as part of an interactive table that highlights ways that microbes impact human health. Visitors can zoom in on 17 animated microbial scenes, from the Streptococcus bacteria that cause plaque on teeth, to the bacteria that break down the crystals that cause kidney stones, to the first big dose of bacteria babies get when they exit through the birth canal.
Photo of The Secret World Inside You © AMNH/D. Finnin
“Selma to Montgomery: A March for the Right to Vote: Photographs by Spider Martin” at the North Carolina Museum of History is a powerful tribute to the work of those who peacefully marched and endured attacks by Alabama state troopers in 1965 so black Americans could have the right to vote. Martin (1939-2003), a photojournalist with The Birmingham News, walked with the marchers, capturing moments that turned international attention to the civil rights movement.
PHOTO BY SPIDER MARTIN, COURTESY OF BIRMINGHAM CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE
"Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco Cars from the 1930s and '40s" at the North Carolina Museum of Art includes beautiful cards like this 1938 Talbot-Lago T-150C-SS Teardrop.
Collection of J. W. Marriott, Jr.; Photo © 2016 Peter Harholdt
All museums are closed on Thanksgiving but open the day after (Friday), with regular hours. Browse our November roundup to find more exhibits.
13. Let the kids unleash their energy at a local playground. Visit the City of Raleigh's largest playground opened this fall in Laurel Hills Park or check out any of these five gated playgrounds in the Triangle.
14. Attend Smashfest in Durham. The Scrap Exchange’s annual post-Thanksgiving, anti-consumerism fundraiser offers a fun outlet for families, 3-7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 25, in Durham. The nonprofit creative reuse center is inviting all to show up to the admission-free event to enjoy the festivities or to buy something to throw against a dumpster to relieve their holiday stress outdoors. Smashfest will also feature Junk Jams, which is The Scrap Exchange’s DIY music-making activity; fire spinning; fire pits; live music from local bands and food truck fare (for sale). Smashables are for sale; all other activities are free. Learn more.
Photo courtesy of The Scrap Exchange
15. Head outdoors with your family for a hike. Hike NC! will offer a hike on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 1:30 p.m. at Annie Louise Wilkerson Park in North Raleigh. The hike is about 3 miles, rated easy and good for families with kids. Register for the hike on Eventbrite.
Photo courtesy of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
16. Ride the State Fair Flyer. The State Fair Flyer will run Saturday, Nov. 26, and Sunday, Nov. 27, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. each day. The ride is $8 is for a roundtrip and it starts at the Orville Terminus near the Scott Building at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. Only cash is accepted and only roundtrips are offered. Learn more.
17. Go on a harvest hunt at Oakwood Cemetary to help lay wreaths on veterans' graves. Come, stretch your legs and enjoy some outside time together with your family throughout the holiday weekend. For a $15 donation, you can pick up a Harvest Hunt packet at the Oakwood Cemetery office, located at 701 Oakwood Ave., Raleigh, then explore the cemetery to learn its history and secrets by filling out the Harvest Hunt packet. Once you've completed your answers, you can email them back to the cemetery by Nov. 28. The $15 fees will be donated to the cemetery's Wreaths Across America event. Each $15 collected will sponsor one wreath for the grave a veteran buried.