Santa Sightings and Holiday Merriment in the Triangle


Published:

Updated Oct. 18, 2013

The holiday season is a wonderful time to celebrate the blessings of family and friends. Many Triangle towns offer fun ways to spend the season together by hosting festive parades, tree-lighting ceremonies and opportunities to meet a particular jolly old elf. Mark your calendar now for these upcoming events, listed alphabetically by town. Be sure to check with the event's sponsors before heading out, since plans can change based on weather or other unexpected conditions.

Downtown Apex ushers in the holiday season with its annual Christmas on Salem Street event Dec. 6. The evening features a tree-lighting ceremony and sleigh rides. Visit apexdowntown.com for times. The Salem Street firehouse serves a pancake breakfast for families Dec. 7, 7-10 a.m. Children can have their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Halle Cultural Arts Center. The town's annual Christmas parade is at 5 p.m. apexrotary.org.

Benson's Christmas on Main is Dec. 6. The event begins at 6 p.m. with a tree-lighting ceremony, followed by live entertainment, hot cider and cookies, strolling carolers and a parade at 6:45 p.m. benson-chamber.com; 919-894-3825.

Downtown Cary's Ole Time Winter Festival Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., features arts and crafts, food, live entertainment and a visit from Kris Kringle. Families can experience old-fashioned holiday fun at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center, a historic 1868 hotel in the heart of Cary, from 4-6 p.m. The afternoon features horse-drawn carriage rides, craft activities for kids, Victorian carolers and century-old holiday traditions. The town's tree-lighting ceremony takes place at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall Campus. See live performances and the unveiling of a community tree decorated with handcrafted ornaments. townofcary.org; 919-469-4061.
     Celebrate Hanukkah and Jewish culture at Cary's Jewish Cultural Festival with traditional foods, crafts, hands-on activities and more Dec. 4 at 4 p.m. Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary. townofcary.org; 919-469-4061.
     Cary's 19th Annual Kwanzaa celebration, sponsored by the Town of Cary and The Ujima Group, is Dec. 30 at 5 p.m. at the Cary Arts Center. Ponder the Nguzu Saba - seven powerful principals derived from African heritage. 919-460-4963.

Themed floats, marching bands and Santa highlight the Chapel Hill-Carrboro holiday parade Dec. 14, which begins at 10 a.m. on East Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill and ends at Carrboro Town Commons at noon. chapelhilljaycees.org.

Snow sledding, pictures with Santa, cookie decorating and seasonal crafts are all part of the fun at Briar Chapel's Winter Wonderland event in Chapel Hill Dec. 14, 2-4 p.m. briarchapelnc.com.

Main Street in Clayton becomes a holiday wonderland featuring live music, a tree-lighting ceremony and a live nativity Dec. 5 from 6-8:30 p.m. More than 100 units will participate in Clayton's annual Christmas parade on Main Street Dec. 14 at 3 p.m. downtownclayton.org; 919-553-6352.

Durham hosts its Fourth Annual Holiday Fun Fest Dec. 7, 1-5 p.m., at Durham Central Park. Sledding, pony rides, bounce houses, arts and crafts, live music and a visit with Santa round out the fun. Durham's Kwanzaa celebration, featuring dance performances, kids activities and a vendor marketplace, is Dec. 30, 6-8 p.m., at the Holton Career and Resource Center. durhamnc.gov.

Families in Fuquay-Varina can enjoy free sleigh rides in the downtown district and a tree-lighting ceremony Dec. 5 from 6-8 p.m. Bring a canned food item, which serves as a ticket for the sleigh ride, to benefit the Fuquay-Varina Emergency Food Pantry. The town's annual Christmas parade is Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. on Main Street. fuquay-varinadowntown.com.

The mayor leads the countdown for a tree-lighting ceremony at Garner's Light Up Main event Dec. 6, 6-8 p.m. The event also showcases children's arts and crafts in Santa's workshop, local entertainment and food. Garner's Christmas parade on Main Street takes place Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. garnerparks.org; 919-773-4442.

Hillsborough hosts a tree-lighting ceremony Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. on the old courthouse lawn at Churton and King streets. The evening features carols, stories and kids activities. The town gets festive with a Christmas parade Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. that begins on Corbin Street and ends at East Margaret Lane. hillsboroughchamber.com; 919-732-8156.

Holly Springs' annual Main Street Christmas takes place Dec. 13, 6-8 p.m. The event includes hayrides, live entertainment, caroling and refreshments. Mrs. Claus reads stories and Santa visits with children at Town Hall until 7:30 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 begins at 11 a.m. Dec. 14. hollyspringsnc.us; 919-557-3930.

Knightdale turns on the holiday charm with a tree-lighting ceremony on First Avenue Dec. 6, 6-7:30 p.m. Kids can walk through a caboose on the avenue to greet Mrs. Claus, view Santa's workshop and write him a letter. Knightdale's Christmas parade takes place Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. knightdalenc.gov; 919-217-2236.

Carriage rides, strolling carolers, a tree-lighting ceremony, marshmallow roasts, kids activities and Kris Kringle highlight downtown Mebane's two-day Annual Hometown Holiday Celebration Nov. 15, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., and Nov. 16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The town's nighttime Christmas parade is Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. downtownmebane.com.

Morrisville greets the arrival of holiday season with a tree-lighting ceremony Dec. 6, 6:30-8 p.m., at town hall. Hot chocolate, cookies and a performance by a children's choir highlight the event. The next morning, the town hosts a Winterfest parade on Town Hall Drive at 11 a.m., followed by a holiday craft fair at Cedar Fork Community Center from noon-3 p.m. Local vendors, food trucks and a visit with Santa round out the fun at the fair. townofmorrisville.org; 919-463-7102.

The New Hope Valley Railway in New Hill invites families to ride a train with Santa along 8 miles of scenic tracks. Bundle up to ride in open cars decorated with holiday trimmings. Santa Trains run Dec. 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 11 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:45 p.m. and 4 p.m. Advance ticket purchase is recommended. See website for prices. triangletrain.com; 919-362-5416.

The annual Christmas parade in Pittsboro is Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. pittsboronc.gov; 919-542-4621.

The 68th Annual WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade is Nov. 23 at 9:40 a.m. in downtown Raleigh. The parade begins at the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary's streets and features holiday-themed floats, marching bands, classic cars and large helium balloons. The rain date is Nov. 24. grma.org.
     The Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest kick-off is Dec. 7, 3-10 p.m. in downtown Raleigh. The event features ice skating, sledding, a Ferris wheel, kids activities, Santa's Village and a tree-lighting ceremony. Raleigh Winterfest runs Nov. 22-Feb.1. raleighwinterfest.com; 919-821-6984.

Selma's Christmas Parade is Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. Smithfield welcomes families to meet Santa, decorate cookies and sing carols Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at the corner of Third and Market streets, and the town celebrates the season's arrival with a Christmas parade on Market Street Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. selma-nc.com and smithfield-nc.com.

Pictures with Santa, performances by local choirs, horse and carriage rides and the lighting of the town's Christmas tree comprise The Lighting of Wake Forest Dec. 6, 6-8 p.m., at Town Hall on South Brooks Street. The Downtown Merchants Association hosts a Holiday Open House that includes school and dance group performances, carriage rides and activities for all ages Dec. 7 at 10 a.m. The town's holiday parade takes place Dec. 14 at 1 p.m. in downtown Wake Forest. wakeforestnc.gov/christmas-in-wake-forest.aspx; 919-435-9415.

Wendell ushers in the holiday season with a Lighting of the Square event Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. on West Third Street. Holiday entertainment, food, vendors and a visit from St. Nicholas round out the fun. townofwendell.com/discover/events; 919-365-6318.

Zebulon's Christmas Parade is Dec. 1 at 2 p.m. zebulonchamber.org; 919-269-6320.

For more family fun in and around the Triangle, visit our Fall Fun Guide and our Things to do and Family Fun pages.

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Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
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Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
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Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
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Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
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Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
Website »

More information

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Forget tourist-filled museums, make your own memories with a photo scavenger hunt tour in Raleigh! On a Let’s Roam scavenger hunt, you and your team will work together to wander throughout...

Cost: $11

Where:
500 S Salisbury St
raleigh, NC  27601
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Sponsor: Let's Roam
Website »

More information

Farmers markets are essential to the livelihood of farmers and food producers and are exempt from the Governor's Stay at Home Order (page 6). Farmers markets offer an efficient way for residents to...

Cost: free

Where:
Holly Springs Cultural Center
300 W. Ballentine St.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Farmers Market Coordinator
Telephone: 919-567-4010
Website »

More information

  Meet at the Waterwise Garden (first parking lot on right) Join our bird enthusiast, Vernon, for an easy walk while looking and listening for our feathered friends. Discover...

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 »

More information

PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Parents, bring your child to class with you. Children 10 years...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
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Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
Website »

More information

PARENTS JOIN OUR DHHS APPROVEDCPR/AED & First Aid Certification ClassesFoster parents are required to be CPR & First Aid certified. Must register in advance. Space is limited. Parents, bring your...

Cost: 50-80

Where:
Holly Springs, NC
1001 Silverstone Way
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Sponsor: Save A Life Now Training Center LLC
Telephone: 919-215-6942
Contact Name: Valentina Cordoba
Website »

More information

Amongst the ancient oak trees is the heart of Raleigh. We'll help you see the forest for the trees and all its magic splendor. Tourist, local, or new to town, this is a lively small group activity...

Cost: $11

Where:
Downtown
500 S Salisbury St
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: Let's Roam
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: Kelly
Website »

More information

Calling all Black tech leaders and visionaries! Are you looking to spur future collaborations, discover new business and career opportunities, and invest in this community? Join us for T.H.E. State...

Cost: Varies

Where:
Durham Convention Center
301 W Morgan St
Durham, NC  27701
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Contact Name: Tarryn Henry
Website »

More information

Kindermusik is a research-based early childhood curriculum that includes 45-minute classroom lessons with materials and resources that encourages parental involvement . Research has linked...

Cost: $70/month

Where:
Hope Community Building
2080 E Williams St
Hope Community Building, Fuquay Varina Room
Apex/Holly Springs, NC  27539
View map »


Telephone: 191-990-25432
Contact Name: Leigh Hamm
Website »

More information

Live online classes for kids - FREE! Kids and families can join our online classes from home while school is out. Our special guests teach kids about art, medicine, music, cooking, science and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Online at your Home
265 Cambridge Ave #60923
Palo Alto, NC  94306
View map »


Sponsor: ActivityHero
Telephone: 800-437-6125
Contact Name: Mabelle
Website »

More information

Sign up for a Raleigh scavenger hunt and put on your best Nick Cage impression as you seek out the national treasures hidden in Raleigh. Via an app, be guided through the cultural, historical,...

Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
500 S. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

The 16th Annual (Virtual) Beaver Queen Pageant, Beavers in the Stream! The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver...

Cost: free

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-423-1502
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
Website »

More information

We invite all Triangle youth between the ages of 8 thru 17 with a sincere interest in the Performance Art of Magic to join Magic Youth Raleigh! This youth program teaches magic history and theory,...

Cost: $35 per Student

Where:
New Horizons Fellowship
820 E. Williams St.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Sponsor: The International Brotherhood of Magicians
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

The Beaver Queen Pageant is the Triangle’s own special mix of folly, pageantry, and humor. Contestants take on beaver personalities and compete for the title of Beaver Queen with their fashion,...

Cost: free

Where:
Online
, NC


Sponsor: Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association
Telephone: 919-698-9729
Contact Name: Rachel Cohn
Website »

More information

River Jam at the U.S. National Whitewater Center brings together live musical performances throughout the year to a one-of-a-kind outdoor venue, right in the middle of the world’s largest...

Cost: $6

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy
Charlotte, NC  28214
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Telephone: 704-391-3900
Contact Name: Jenny Hill
Website »

More information

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