NC Virtual Charter Schools

Two new options for NC students


Published:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Going to school full-time without leaving home may seem like a fantasy, but it’s a fantasy that has come true for students attending two virtual charter schools available to North Carolina students: North Carolina Virtual Academy and North Carolina Connections Academy.

Virtual charter schools allow students in kindergarten through high school to attend an accredited online school that follows the state curriculum.

“A virtual charter school is a real school, but it uses a different method of delivery,” says Joel Medley, principal of North Carolina Virtual Academy. “The kids take statewide assessments, they take quizzes and tests, they have curriculum to work through. It’s a real school, and that needs to be understood.”

North Carolina Virtual Academy was established in 2000 and has schools in 32 states and Washington, D.C. North Carolina Connections Academy was established in 2001 and has schools in 26 states. The schools are expected to reach a total enrollment of 5,000 within the next four years, according to Deanna Townsend-Smith, lead educational consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. 

These virtual charter schools are here thanks to parent requests and lobbying efforts targeting the North Carolina General Assembly and State Board of Education. Approximately 17,000 people expressed interest in having this option for students, says Dee Stewart, executive director of the North Carolina chapter of PublicSchoolOptions.org. Interested parents also conducted a media campaign to garner support.

The General Assembly heeded their call and enacted legislation last year to create a four-year pilot for virtual charter schools in the state. When the State Board of Education sought applications, North Carolina Virtual Academy and North Carolina Connections Academy applied and were approved.

 

Going to Cyber School Full-time

Virtual charter schools work for a variety of students, such as those who are self-motivated, exhibit severe behavior challenges, have been bullied or learn at an uneven pace. Students who need flexibility due to illness, travel-sports teams or other activities also benefit from virtual charter schools.

A child attending a virtual charter school must work with a learning coach, usually the parent, who assumes responsibility for the child’s education, monitors attendance, maintains a schedule, oversees the student’s work and consults with the teacher(s).

Students who attend a virtual charter school spend 28-29 hours a week doing schoolwork — about the same as in brick-and-mortar schools. They have regularly scheduled live lessons with teachers and classmates, and complete remaining schoolwork any time during the week.

This flexibility allows Jennifer Ratcliff’s 6-year-old daughter Sarah* to take frequent breaks, which help her concentrate and prevent fatigue. Sarah’s day starts with a live lesson, after which she plays for an hour. Then Sarah starts on her assignments. However, instead of working five hours straight, Sarah does her schoolwork in pieces, stopping to walk the dog or engage in other energy-burning activities.

“If Sarah has ants in her pants, she can do a math problem, go run around the house and then do another math problem,” Ratcliff says.

The Ratcliffs, who recently moved to Winston-Salem, just started their second year with North Carolina Connections Academy. 

Sarah has also participated in a reading enrichment class, one of many options for students who are ahead of their classmates. Likewise, students who struggle may receive additional live lessons or other assistance to get them on track.

“We watch data live to see whether students are progressing or not,” says Nathan Currie, principal of North Carolina Connections Academy. “If a student is having difficulty, we put interventions in place.”

Despite working in cyber world, teachers — all of whom are North Carolina-certified — maintain strong relationships with students. In addition to live lessons, Ratcliff says Sarah’s previous teacher was available online and by phone for one-on-one instruction. Teachers call students and parents regularly to check on how things are going.

Though parents are responsible for socialization, the schools provide occasional opportunities for outside activities such as field trips and student get-togethers.

To learn more about North Carolina Virtual Academy and North Carolina Connections Academy, visit ncva.k12.com and connectionsacademy.com.

 

Getting Started

If you’re interested in a virtual charter school for your child, contact the school and talk with a counselor. If you decide it’s a good fit, you’ll need to supply the school with the required documentation: the child’s vaccination records, proof of residency, birth certificate and academic records.

If necessary, the school will assess your child to determine the appropriate grade for him or her. Then the school will develop an Individualized Learning Plan for your child and send your child’s textbooks to him or her.

If your child is eligible for free or reduced lunch, the school will provide a computer and assistance with Internet connection expenses. 

 

*This name has been changed to protect the child’s identity.

 

Lynda Van Kuren is a freelance writer based in Wilmington. She has written extensively on education issues.

 

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Calendar

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
5900 Whittier Drive
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Sponsor: FIT4MOM
Telephone: 919-348-0472
Contact Name: Missy Currin
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Show up in your PJs for breakfast and Seussical fun before a 10 a.m. showing of "The Grinch" (the new animated 2018 movie). Pose with The Grinch and Max and...

Cost: Member: $11/adult, $9/child. Non-member: $12/adult, $10/child

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


Website »

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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
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
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Sponsor: Mindful Families of Durham
Contact Name: Adam, Laura, Josh, Sumi
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The comic book pop culture takes over Durham with vendors, a cosplay contest, special guests, panels by industry professionals, and more. Purchase tickets online. 

Cost: $25-$35/person. Free for ages 9 and younger with a paid adult

Where:
Durham Convention Center
301 W. Morgan St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

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Tour 20 pottery studios and two teaching facilities. Learn how pottery is made and ask questions of all the professional potters. Locally crafted pottery will be for sale at all...

Cost: Free

Where:
Claymakers
701 Foster St
Durham, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-544-2451
Contact Name: Cynthia Aldrich
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See artists' studios and their creations during a self-guided tour. Visit the website for details.

Cost: Free

Where:
Orange County
, NC  27510


Sponsor: Orange County Artists Guild
Website »

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Shop antiques, crafts and art, and enjoy food trucks at this artisan and vintage market in downtown Cary.

Cost: Free

Where:
Fidelity Bank Parking Lot
100 W. Chatham St.
Cary, NC  27511
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Contact Name: Leslie & Jessica
Website »

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Design, build and test a marshmallow tower with NC State Engineering ambassadors. 

Cost: $7/person. Free for age 1 and younger

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

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Kids ages 6-10 track deer in the nature preserve and discover their hiding places. Preregister online using course code #228039.

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

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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.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Website »

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Shop for unique gifts at this three-day fair. See website for times.

Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Website »

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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
View map »


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

More information

Enjoy a special Jewish-themed storytime with Morah Dassy Cotlar.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
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Website »

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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
View map »


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

More information

Enjoy the story about turkeys and numbers by Tony Johnston and learn about colors outdoors. Ages 18 mos – 3 yrs with adult. Register online. 

Cost: $2/child

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-4330
Website »

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Take the family for Kids Night at Chick-Fil-A in Garner. Enjoy a free indoor playspace, face painting and balloon twisting with Mimi the Clown. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Chick-Fil-A
2720 Timber Dr.
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: The MelodyMaker Entertainment
Telephone: (919)639-9328
Contact Name: Melody Scruggs
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Stone Soup Supper is back for its fourteenth year in a row, with more chefs than ever before. Enjoy soups from 20 local chefs while shopping unique pottery pieces from The Triangle Potters...

Cost: $25/person

Where:
McKimmon Center
1101 Gorman St
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Telephone: 919-836-1642
Contact Name: Jordan Hewitt
Website »

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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
View map »


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

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Enjoy stories with Amy Godfrey.

Cost: Free

Where:
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC  27705
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Website »

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Preschoolers ages 3-5 (accompanied by an adult).  The winter birds are arriving at the nature preserve! Make paper-tube binoculars and talk a walk to spy on our bird buddies in the forest and...

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

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Strut down a woodland trail to learn about that fantastic feathered fowl: the turkey, and enjoy theme related stories and activities for parent and child aged 3-5 years. Register online. ...

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Blue Jay Point County Park
3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
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Telephone: 919-870-4330
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Celebrate the grand opening of Duluth Trading's new store at Crossroads Boulevard in Cary. Enjoy a ribbon-cutting ceremony with local dignitaries at 9 a.m., and live lumberjack shows...

Cost: Free

Where:
Duluth Trading
301 Crossroads Blvd.
Cary, NC  27518
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Website »

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Explore a part of art. Ages 2-5 with caregiver. Purchase tickets online for workshops at 9:15, 10:15 or 11:15 a.m.

Cost: $6/member, $8/nonmember

Where:
NC Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607-6494
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Telephone: 919-715-5923
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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
View map »


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

More information

Mix, measure and flip seasonal hotcakes and taste the comforts of cozy fall cuisine. 

Cost: $7/person. Free for age 1 and younger

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


Website »

More information

Enjoy a magical lighting exhibition for the entire family, under the cover of darkness artfully lit on a crisp November evening. Enjoy live music, food trucks (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday),...

Cost: $10/member, $20/nonmembers, $5 for children

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
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Website »

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Help plant a new tree that flowers, produces fruit, and has flaming leaves. After a brief ceremony to declare Chapel Hill as a Tree City, you can toss a shiny new penny and a shovelful of dirt to...

Cost: Free

Where:
Chapel Hill Public Library
100 Library Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


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 »

More information

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

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


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
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: $18

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


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

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Stop by the market to enjoy fresh North Carolina collards with all the fixings.

Cost: Free

Where:
State Farmers Market
1201 Agriculture St.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Go on an owl prowl to discover the kinds of owls and other night-time birds that are found in the Piedmont. All ages. Register online. 

Cost: $1/person

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

During the holiday season, come share the excitement as Park West Village hosts Winter Wonderland in the District. Take the family to enjoy train rides, magical winter lights, live music and visits...

Cost: Free; $5 donation for sledding

Where:
Park West Village
3400 Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Telephone: 919-234-6710
Contact Name: Conner Dixon
Website »

More information

Kick off holiday festivities with Waverly Place’s 7th Annual Tree Lighting Celebration. Arrive early for dinner and socializing with family and friends, then make your way to The Park area...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waverly Place Shopping Center
307 Colonades Way
Cary, NC  27518
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a magical lighting exhibition for the entire family, under the cover of darkness artfully lit on a crisp November evening. Enjoy live music, food trucks (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday),...

Cost: $10/member, $20/nonmembers, $5 for children

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Website »

More information

Give Gala has been celebrated for its unique donation model where tickets to the event are exchanged for time and services that benefit terminally ill children and their families. Attendees...

Cost: Free

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


Website »

More information

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Enjoy a baby expo offering loads of product information, vendors, parent tips, resources and samples.  

Cost: Free

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


Sponsor: Buy Buy Baby
Website »

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See Raleigh's annual Christmas parade, featuring large helium balloons, dance and performance groups, floats, Santa and more. Parade held rain or shine. Sponsored by ABC 11.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
Raleigh, NC  27601


Website »

More information

Enjoy face painting and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a Woodplay’s largest sale of the year on playsets and Springfree Trampolines

Cost: Free

Where:
Woodplay Playsets of the Carolinas
9521 Lumley Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-781-6556
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 »

More information

Ages 1-5 and caregiver take a relaxing stroll to experience nature. Register online. Choose course #117302. 

Cost: $8/resident, $10/nonresident

Where:
Bond Park
801 High House Rd.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Children's booksellers read their favorite picture books. All ages.

Cost: Free

Where:
Quail Ridge Books
4209-100 Lassiter Mill Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27609
View map »


Website »

More information

Preschoolers ages 3-5 (accompanied by an adult).  The winter birds are arriving at the nature preserve! Make paper-tube binoculars and talk a walk to spy on our bird buddies in the forest and...

Cost: $3

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
Website »

More information

Originally from Salvador da Bahia, Caique Vidal is an accomplished performer, percussionist, and songwriter, blending the rhythms of samba, reggae, salsa, bachata, pop, rock and Bossa Nova in both...

Cost: $5

Where:
Carolina Theatre of Durham
309 W. Morgan St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Telephone: 919-560-3030
Contact Name: Jaimie Lee
Website »

More information

Take Fido to enjoy a pop-up dog park featuring four acres for dogs to roam, and a small dog area too. Food vendors and pet-themed vendors will be on site.

Cost: Free

Where:
Dix Park
801 Biggs Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn about the state’s American Indian culture from musicians, dancers, craftspeople and storytellers from eight state-recognized tribes. Over 100 presenters will fill the museum and...

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

More information

Enjoy snow sledding, photos with Santa, an inflatable obstacle course and bounce house, and an appearance by Matt Iseman, host of NBC's "American Ninja Warriors."

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Mary's School
900 Hillsborough St.
Raleih, NC  27603
View map »


Website »

More information

Join costumed interpreters Jon and Karena Potter in learning and dancing 19th-century country dances. Registration not required.

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Take part in a fun and playful aerial yoga and movement class for parents and children age 5 and older. Stretch, move, play and learn aerial yoga poses. Breathing techniques will be taught to...

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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Visit a tabletop display to learn how colonial frontier communities prepared for the dark, chilly days ahead. Knead bread, roll candles and try your hand at corncob darts to sharpen your...

Cost: Free

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


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

This is a fundraising event for Fuquay-Varina Downtown Association and features things people love about North Carolina: BBQ, Blues and Craft Beer! Guests are encouraged to sample delicious...

Cost: Free admission; $10 for 10 tasting tickets

Where:
Stephens Hardware Bldg
405 E Broad St
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
View map »


Sponsor: Fuquay-Varina Downtown Assoc
Telephone: 919-552-0848
Contact Name: Rachel Cornett
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Talented dance students perform the lavishly staged holiday ballet alongside guest artists from Carolina Ballet. Show times are at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. All ages. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $12-$27

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


Website »

More information

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 »

More information

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Cost: $2

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
5229 Awls Haven Drive
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Wilkerson staff
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All evening and into the night, 3000 pounds of molten iron will be poured into molds, in an exciting fiery display. Additionally, there will be Liberty Arts artists’ work for sale, scratch...

Cost: Free

Where:
Durham Central Park
501 Foster St.
Durham, NC  27701
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Website »

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Build a boat from just cardboard and duct tape and try to make it across Campus Hills Pool with just your wits and a paddle. Trophies will be awarded. Ages 6-15. Advance registration...

Cost: $6/resident, $11/nonresident per two-person team

Where:
Campus Hills Pool
2000 S. Alston Ave.
Durham, NC  27707
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Website »

More information

Usher in the holidays with a tree-lighting and other seasonal activities.

Cost: Free

Where:
Lafayette Village
8450 Honeycutt Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27615
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy a sunset kayak adventure. Meet at the launch point 1 hour before sunset, just in time to review guidelines and equipment. Then go on  a leisurely paddle, keeping an eye out for wildlife...

Cost: $35/person

Where:
Jordan Lake
, NC


Sponsor: frolyk
Telephone: 866 481 6166
Contact Name: Lili Engelhardt
Website »

More information

Discover what's happening as the sun sets and listen to stories around a campfire. All ages with adult. Register online. Choose course #117094.

Cost: $18/resident, $24/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Talented dance students perform the lavishly staged holiday ballet alongside guest artists from Carolina Ballet. Show times are at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. All ages. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $12-$27

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


Website »

More information

During the holiday season, come share the excitement as Park West Village hosts Winter Wonderland in the District. Take the family to enjoy train rides, magical winter lights, live music and visits...

Cost: Free; $5 donation for sledding

Where:
Park West Village
3400 Village Market Place
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Telephone: 919-234-6710
Contact Name: Conner Dixon
Website »

More information

Enjoy a magical lighting exhibition for the entire family, under the cover of darkness artfully lit on a crisp November evening. Enjoy live music, food trucks (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday),...

Cost: $10/member, $20/nonmembers, $5 for children

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Website »

More information

Look through telescopes, facilitated by Morehead staff and dedicated volunteers, at a variety of objects in the sky. Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be prime targets, along with many other deep...

Cost: Free

Where:
Dix Park
101 Blair Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27603
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Website »

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