Boy or Girl? Gender-Guessing Myths and Facts


Published:

Photo courtesy of Absfree/Shutterstock.com

We really can't help ourselves; the sight of a pregnant woman automatically makes us fast-forward to one question: boy or girl?

Beware, pregnant moms. From the moment you tell your friends or begin showing signs of a wee baby bump, the congratulations you receive will be uttered in the same sentence as, "Are you having a boy or girl?" Occasionally, even the due date takes a backseat to the baby's sex.

Perhaps this is our desire to envision a complete little person before the birth, a need to begin attributing characteristics, consider names, and find the perfect blue booties or pink layette. Sometimes curiosity about a baby's gender leads to some gender-guessing games that may have moms-to-be wondering: Is there any truth to those old wives' tales?

We asked the experts to weigh in on a few popular myths and provide the facts.

MYTH: Baby girls' heart rates are faster than boys' heart rates.

"Heartbeats for both sexes can range from 110 to 160 beats per minute in the third trimester," says Dr. Kelly Leggett, the medical director at the Women's Hospital of Greensboro. In fact, anywhere within that range is considered a normal heartbeat for both boys and girls.

"This is the most common method my patients inquire about in the office," says Dr. Aviva Stein, an OB-GYN at Charlotte Obstetrics & Gynecology. "Unfortunately, it has been demonstrated over the last few decades that there is no link between fetal heart rate and baby's gender. In fact, the fetal heart-rate baseline tends to change throughout the nine months."

MYTH: Carrying your baby high indicates a boy, while carrying low means you're having a girl.

Every woman's body is unique, and the same goes for her abdominal musculature and pelvic inlet (how the baby is sitting in the pelvis). According to Leggett, "Your body shape and your musculature determine how the baby is carried."

Multiple pregnancies can change musculature, and the more babies a woman has, the more she might protrude, versus carrying high.

"Whether you are carrying your baby low or high is based on the position of the baby," says Dr. Melvin Seid, an OB-GYN with Lyndhurst Gynecologic Associates of Winston-Salem. Positions can change throughout the pregnancy.

"The way that you carry your baby has more to do with your parity status (the number of times you've given birth) and the muscle and tone of your uterus," Stein says.

So, although it's a fun guessing game, low babies and high babies give clues to mom's body shape, not the sex of the baby.

MYTH: Suspending a gold wedding ring (or needle) from a necklace or string over a pregnant mom's belly will predict the baby's sex by the way the ring swings; circular motions for a girl, back and forth for a boy.

"This is really like picking a lottery number," Leggett says. "It's all cute and fun and a nice game to play at your baby shower, but there is absolutely no scientific data to support that claim."

So mothers, don't worry about testing your electromagnetic field while pregnant!

MYTH: If your body hair or nails grow faster during your pregnancy, you're having a baby boy. If hair and nails grow slower, you're carrying a girl.

While pregnant women carry an abundance of beta-HCG (pregnancy hormone), hair and nail growth are not clear indicators of a baby's gender. "Your age will affect your hair texture more than your pregnancy," Leggett says. Hormone levels between boy and girl babies are not sufficient to make any noticeable changes to the mother's body.

"Normally, a woman loses about 100 hairs a day as part of hair growth's natural cycle," Stein says. "During pregnancy, regardless of baby gender, the hormone estrogen prolongs the pregnant woman's hair-growth phase, resulting in less shedding of hair. After delivery, don't be alarmed if your hair may fall out as you return to the normal growth/resting phases. You should return to your pre-pregnancy hairline within one year of giving birth."

MYTH: You are more likely to experience severe morning sickness if you are carrying a girl.

Severe morning sickness does not, as some claim, indicate you're carrying a baby girl, Leggett says. "The hormone we attribute nausea to is the beta-HCG, and it does not determine the sex; for example, if you have twins, you have more beta-HCG and could have elevated nausea, but nausea does not tell us what the gender is, regardless of the levels of beta-HCG."

MYTH: Moms crave sour and salty foods with a baby boy and sweet foods with a baby girl.

False yet again, Leggett says with a laugh. "I wish the science was that easy, but it isn't, so eat whatever sounds good!" Stein agrees. "Your cravings have more to do with a combination of nutritional and psychological needs."

MYTH: Testing a pregnant woman's urine with 2 tablespoons of Crystal Drano will tell you the sex. If the mixture darkens to a brownish color, it's a boy. If it doesn't darken or there is no color change, it's a girl.

We are not advising this test in any way. "There is no scientific evidence to suggest that this method works," Stein says. "In addition, there may be dangerous side effects from the fumes that are produced when mixing urine and Drano. I strongly discourage you to try this method. If one still wishes to use this method, by all means, do not handle the mixture yourself."

REALLY WANT TO KNOW?

"I hate to burst one's bubble," says Dr. Ann Stein, an OB-GYN, "but the most common way to detect the sex of your baby is with an ultrasound, which, generally speaking, is over 90 percent accurate if done after 16 weeks gestation. A very reliable way to tell the sex of your baby is through genetic testing in the form of a CVS (chorionic villus sampling) between 10-13 weeks gestation or amniocentesis done after 15 weeks. The sole purpose of these tests is to diagnose a potential problem with your baby like an anatomical variation, not for gender determination."

Seid mentioned a test called the Sensage Fetal XY test, which can be conducted as early as 11 weeks into the pregnancy. The test involves drawing a sample of the mother's blood and sending it to a lab where fetal cells are isolated.

"They look at the fetal DNA and determine the sex of the baby with 95 to 99 percent accuracy," Seid says, adding that the downside is that the test is expensive ($250-$350). But for mothers who need to know, and when ultrasound results turn out inconclusive, the Sensage Fetal XY test may be a vital option.

"Chromosomal testing is the only definitive way of determining the baby's sex," says Deb O'Connell, a midwife based in Carrboro, who adds that moms should also pay close attention to their intuition, which is usually right. "In my experience, if a mom has a good instinct about what she's having, she is usually right. She intuitively knows. Nine out of 10 times, the mom is right."

 

Rebekah Cowell is a Chapel Hill-based freelance writer and mother.

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November 2018

Run Club meets every Sunday at 8 a.m. in Midtown Raleigh or Wake Forest. Stroller friendly; children invited. 

Cost: $10/run or $100/annual pass

Where:
Optimist Park Community Center/Greenways
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Raleigh, NC  27609
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RJR hosts the Sirens from Savannah, Georgia, for a sanctioned junior bout, followed by an adult scrimmage. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. Allstar bout begins at 10...

Cost: $7 at the door. Free for kids 3 and younger

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United Skates of America
2901 Trawick Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27604
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Sponsor: RJR
Telephone: 919-438-6066
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Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

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Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
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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: $18

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Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
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Erwin Road
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Open Arts
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Morrisville, NC  27560
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Durham Arts Council
120 Morris Street
Durham, NC  27701
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Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Visit the display table to learn about this fall tradition and make a corn husk doll to take home. All ages.

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Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Tour the farm, spend time with farmers who care about the environment and meet friendly animals. Tickets must be purchased online; the farm is not open for drop-ins.

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Hux Family Farm
1923 Shaw Rd.
Durham, NC  27704
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Where:
Sarah P. Duke Gardens - Kirby Horton Hall
420 Anderson St
Durham, NC  27708
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Sponsor: Mallarme Chamber Players
Telephone: 919-560-2788
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Cost: $1/person

Where:
Crowder County Park
4709 Ten-Ten Rd.
Apex, NC  27539
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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Enjoy food, inflatables, games and prizes (for adults and kids), a silent auction and a haunted house.  Cost: $5 ($3 for kids 6 and younger) Concessions and the haunted house...

Cost: $5 ($3 for kids 6 and younger)

Where:
The School for Creative Studies
5001 Red Mill Road
Durham, NC  27704
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Sponsor: The School for Creative Studies PTSA
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Cost: $30/adult, free for children

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Carolina Theatre of Durham
309 W. Morgan St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

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Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Young adults with developmental disabilities enjoy a book club featuring "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."  The group meets most Sundays at 4:45 p.m.

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Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
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Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
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Logs provide great habitat for many animals. Join us as we read Wendy Pfeffer's A Log's Life, explore a real log and create a log craft to take home. For ages 1-6 with accompanying adult. Meet at...

Cost: $4 per child

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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Cost: $19/resident, $24/nonresident

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Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC  27513
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Children with special needs make gyros, a popular pita wrap. Ages 11 and older. Register online. Choose course #116723.

Cost: $19/resident, $24/nonresident

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Herbert C. Young Community Center
101 Wilkinson Ave.
Cary, NC  27513
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Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
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Learn Sarah Hale's story and make fun Thanksgiving-themed crafts. All ages with adult. Register online. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Ages 11 and older with special needs learn basic outdoor survival skills. Register online. Choose course #116958.

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Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
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Ages 6-10 enjoy art and yoga. Register online. 

Cost: $45/child

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Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Avenue
Suite A
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-720-4921
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Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
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See Happy Dan perform magic, comedy and more.

Cost: $5/person

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Renaissance Centre
405 Brooks St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
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Learn about the first Thanksgiving. Play 17th-century games, learn to talk like a pilgrim and create a first Thanksgiving food collage to take home. Ages 7 and older. Registration required.

Cost: $6/child

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
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A playful elf, sent by Santa to confirm the naughty and nice list, stumbles upon the best place to find holiday cheer—the North Carolina Symphony! This family fun concert includes music from...

Cost: $28/person

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Cost: $15-$30

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Downtown Wake Forest
, NC  27587


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Competitive or Recreational 5K at Garner's White Deer Park Thanksgiving morning.  1 Mile option also available Register at https://fsseries.com/event/turkey-day-5k/register/

Cost: $20 - $30

Where:
White Deer Park
2400 Aversboro Road
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: TeddyRox Foundation
Telephone: 919-608-5658
Contact Name: Nancy Cawthon
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Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
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Take the family to enjoy the animated movie at Marbles IMAX. Playing November 22-25 only.  See the website for show times and to purchase tickets.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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Ages 6-10 enjoy art and yoga. Register online. 

Cost: $45/child

Where:
Little Guru Kids Yoga and Creative Arts
215 Glenwood Avenue
Suite A
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Sponsor: Little Guru Kids Yoga
Telephone: 919-720-4921
Contact Name: Jen Fisher
Website »

More information

Come for a tour and try out a Music or Creative Movement class. Any child who will be preschool age (ages 2-transitional kindergarten) for the 2019-20 school year is invited to participate in...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

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Bring the family out for a fall wagon ride along the back roads of the park to enjoy the fall colors and the beauty of Harris Lake County Park.  Staff will interpret the natural and historical...

Cost: $1 per person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC  27562
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Sponsor: Harris Lake County Park
Telephone: 919-387-4342
Contact Name: Joanne St. Clair
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The original television classic comes to life! The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. See favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey...

Cost: $15-$50

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
Contact Name: Box Office
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Cost: $25

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 188-858-79530
Contact Name: hoa bui
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Gather the family together for this fun-filled, heartwarming spectacular featuring seasonal favorites plus a sing-a-long, falling snow, and a chorus line of dancing Santas. Visit Santa...

Cost: $35-$65

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Take the family to enjoy the animated movie at Marbles IMAX. Playing November 22-25 only.  See the website for show times and to purchase tickets.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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A Perch, a local coworking space is pleased to announce their annual indoor/outdoor Holiday Handmade Pop-up. The market will showcase a diverse range of work by local makers including,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Perch Studios
106 S. Greensboro St.
Suite E
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Sponsor: Perch Coworking
Telephone: 919 260 5313
Contact Name: Betsey Elbogen

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Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Raphael Preschool
5801 Falls of the Neuse Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: Saint Raphael Preschool
Telephone: 919-865-5725
Contact Name: Nora Duran
Website »

More information

The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. See favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster,...

Cost: $15-$50

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
Contact Name: Box Office
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Cost: $40 child+adult or $20/child $25/adult

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 188-858-79530
Contact Name: hoa bui
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Cost: $13.50/person

Where:
Spring Haven Farm
5306 Homer Ruffin Rd.
Chapel Hill , NC  27516
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Sponsor: Spring Haven Farm
Telephone: 919.407.1806
Contact Name: Andrew Crihfield
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Cost: $35 child and adult pair, or $15/child and $25/adult

Where:
Cary Hot Yoga
952 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC  27511
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Sponsor: Cary Hot Yoga
Telephone: 888-587-9530
Contact Name: hoa bui
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Explore the historic heart of downtown Raleigh on a walking tour of Fayetteville Street. Tours highlight the people, places, architecture and political movements that have shaped...

Cost: Adults (18+) $10; Youth (7-17) $4; Children (6 & under) Free.

Where:
City of Raleigh Museum
220 Fayetteville St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

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The beloved TV classic soars off the screen and onto the stage this holiday season. See favorite characters Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster,...

Cost: $15-$50

Where:
Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
Telephone: 919-886-4591
Contact Name: Box Office
Website »

More information

Gather the family together for this fun-filled, heartwarming spectacular featuring seasonal favorites plus a sing-a-long, falling snow, and a chorus line of dancing Santas. Visit Santa...

Cost: $35-$65

Where:
Meymandi Concert Hall
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $20/person

Where:
The ArtsCenter
300-G East Main St.
Carrboro, NC  27510
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Sponsor: The ArtsCenter
Telephone: 919-929-2787
Contact Name: Patrick Phelps-Mckeown     
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More information

Take the family to enjoy the animated movie at Marbles IMAX. Playing November 22-25 only.  See the website for show times and to purchase tickets.

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Marbles Kids Museum
201 E. Hargett St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

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