Guide: December Festivals in the Triangle

10 festivals bringing holiday cheer
First Night Ferris Wheel
Photo courtesy of Artsplosure & First Night Raleigh

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The air is colder, the lights are shining, and the cocoa is hot. Although this can be a very busy time of the year, find some time to enjoy these 10 hand-picked, family-friendly festivals happening in the Triangle.

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The NC Chinese Lantern Festival

Nov. 19-Jan. 9
NC Chinese Lantern Festival

Koka Booth Amphitheater, 8003 Regency Pkwy, Cary
One of the better known festivals in the Triangle, the NC Chinese Lantern Festival is back at Koka Booth Amphitheater for the 5th year. Marvel at the luminous display of lanterns from twilight to nightfall. The expected time to view everything is about 45-75 minutes. Afterwards, indulge at the food trucks which can be found on Friday & Saturday nights. Prices vary from $15-35.

Dec. 2
Community Chanukah Glow Party

David R. Kahn Community Campus, 12804 Norwood Rd, Raleigh
Happy Chanukah! From 5:30-8pm, join The Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary for a bright night in the dark. That is to say, glow sticks, neon lights, and illuminating art will be present at the event to light up the night.  In addition, free donuts, hot chocolate, and apple cider will be fully stocked. Furthermore, other foods and adult beverages can be purchased at the festivities. Grab a glow stick and dance the night away while celebrating Chanukah! RSVP by Nov. 30 here.

Dec. 4
Scandinavian Christmas Fair

NC State Fairgrounds, Holshouser Building, 1025 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh
Just in time for the holidays season, the Scandinavian Christmas Fair returns on Dec. 4 from 10am-5pm. Celebrate Nordic Christmas traditions from such countries as Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. Expect homemade Scandinavian food along with live music, dancing, children’s activities, and crafts. Don’t miss the traditional Lucia Procession at 4pm. Prices range from $7-13 while kids under 13 are free. You can purchase tickets here or pay at the door.

Dec. 11
Merry and Bright, a North Pole Market

Mordecai Historic Park, 1 Mimosa St, Raleigh
Next on our list is the Merry and Bright, a North Pole Market. Presented by Wonderstruck Festivals and Paper & Star Studio and in partnership with Raleigh Parks, this free event is open to the public on Dec. 11 from 10am-2pm. Join the elves at the Mordecai House and even take a holiday photo to capture the memory. Visit vendors, create festive crafts, and enjoy seasonal food and entertainment. Registration is not required but encouraged.

Dec. 11
MAKRS Holiday Fest

City Plaza, 400 Fayetteville St, Raleigh
Also on Dec. 11 and a few blocks over is the MAKRS Holiday Fest. Bask in holiday fun from 11am-5pm in downtown Raleigh. Watch out for 150+ vendors, food trucks, and most importantly fun activities for the whole family. Performances include sets from Stage Door Dance, Lemon Sparks, and CC & Co. Dance. Rather have the spotlight on you? Try the selfie kiosk for your holiday photoshoot with Santa hosted by Pose Selfie Studio. Then again, you could spend your time crafting at the creative workshops brought to you by Joy Worthy Co. For instance, make candles, cupcakes, ornaments, or gnomes. The event is free, but an RSVP is appreciated.

Dec. 11-12
3 Bluebirds Farm 1st Annual Holiday Market & Festival

3 Bluebirds Farm, 1001 Horse Creek Rd, Raleigh
Not only are two other events happening on Dec. 11, but also make way for the 1st annual 3 Bluebirds Farm Holiday Market & Festival. Unlike the other two events, this new kid on the block is not one, but two days! From 10am-4pm each day, the farm will be filled with holiday-themed activities, such as hayrides with Santa, a letters to Santa station, games, crafts, face painting, and even pony rides. Food trucks and other vendors will also make an appearance. First 50 people to register using promo code FIRST50 will receive 20% off the ticket price. Prices range from $0-34.

Dec. 17
A Frosty Family Affair

Holton Career and Resource Center, 401 N Driver St, Durham
Durham Parks & Recreation invite you and the whole family to A Frosty Family Affair. This free event will take place from 6-8pm on Dec. 17. Enjoy refreshments and fun activities. You’ll certainly be in the holiday spirit after attending this fun-filled holiday event.

Dec. 18 & 19
A Very Merry Cary Holiday Market

Cary Public Library, 310 S Academy St, Cary
Don’t let the fact that the Raleigh Night Market is hosting this event fool you, it is indeed happening in downtown Cary. In fact, it’s going to take place at the old library site on Academy Street. Dedicated to shopping local, this event will have 30+ artisans and food trucks as well as activities and live music. Additionally, there will be several activities for the kiddos and the young at heart like a life size snow globe tour, a visit with Santa, and a holiday lights stroll. This two-day market will be open from 4-8pm each evening and is free to attend.

Dec. 31
Light It Up! Noon Year’s Eve Virtual Dance Party

Virtual via Zoom
Looking for a virtual kid-friendly way to ring in the New Year? Look no further than Kidzu‘s Light It Up! This children’s museum located in Chapel Hill is creating a virtual dance party from 11am-12pm during the day. Count down to “Noon” Year’s Eve, but before that make a glow-in-the-dark instrument and dance ’til the ball drops. Family registration is $10 and includes viewing access for your entire family, plus one craft materials kit to use during the crafting session. Additional craft materials kits are available for $2.50 each.

First Night Ferris Wheel

First Night Raleigh /Photo courtesy of Artsplosure & First Night Raleigh

Dec. 31
First Night Raleigh

Downtown Raleigh
Ring in 2022 at First Night Raleigh Dec. 31, 2 p.m.-midnight, in downtown Raleigh. Enjoy a variety of family-friendly activities including the Acorn Drop, live music and a fireworks show. Tickets are $12 in advance; on-site tickets are $12 for ages 6-12 and $16 for those 13 and older.


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