Grab your calendars and start lining up your family fun for this Christmas season.  We’ve listed some of our favorite Holiday shows, tree lightings, special Santa visits and Christmas parades happening in around Raleigh this December.  Go out and create some special festive memories with these Holiday outings.

40+ Christmas Events for Families Happening Around Raleigh

Disclaimer: Always remember to call ahead or check the website of the event you will be attending to stay up to date on cancellations or schedule changes.

Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical 

Runs until Sunday, December 4th.  DPAC, Durham

Enjoy this classic holiday Seuss tale as it comes to life on stage. A Special Sensory-Friendly Performance will be held on Saturday, December 3rd. 

Cookie Houses

Thursday, December 1st – Saturday, December 10th.  Wake County Public Libraries

Families can decorate cookie houses for the holidays.  Graham crackers, icing, and treats will be provided.  Register in advance at your local branch.

Fuquay-Varina Town Tree Lighting & Christmas Parade

Thursday, December 1st & Sunday, December 4th. Downtown Fuquay-Varina

The Town of Fuquay-Varina is ringing in the holidays with a Tree Lighting celebration on December 1st from 6-8 pm with Santa visits, holiday music and more.  The Christmas Parade will be held on December 4th at 3pm.

Holiday Book Drive at Brier Creek & North Durham Orthodontics

Entire month of December. Brier Creek Orthodontics, Raleigh and North Durham Orthodontics, Durham

Take time to clear out cluttered shelves of books your kids have outgrown to give those books a second life with a child who needs them. Kindly donate NEW or Gently USED books to promote literacy in our local community. In the spirit of the Holiday Season, Dr. Gina Lee will give YOUR SCHOOL a $1 donation for each book that you donate during the whole month of December 2016.

39th Annual Santa Train at Museum of Life & Science

December 1st-4th, 8th-11th, 15th-21st. Museum of Life & Science, Durham

Take a train ride through the North Pole through thousands of twinkling lights. At the end families can enjoy face painting, “Science of Santa”, “Skate in your Socks”, complimentary hot chocolate and more. This event sells out quickly so grab your tickets fast.

Kids Night Out Events at Flour Power Cary Parkside

Friday, December 2nd & 16th. Flour Power Cary Parkside, Cary

For ages 5-12 years. On December 2nd from 6-8 p.m. come out to annual Gingerbread House event. Your lil’ chef will decorate their very own gingerbread house to take home at the end of the night.  Kids will also enjoy tortilla pizzas and green beans for dinner. (Gingerbread house kits do include nuts.) Register online. Cost: $39

For ages 5-12 years. On December 16th from 6-8 p.m. at Dinner & a Movie: Holiday Classics parents can finish their shopping as kids cook up some fun in the Holiday Kitchen with Rudolph and Frosty on the big screen and holiday favorites in the kitchen. Lil’ chefs will make Snowman Pancakes, Homemade Whipped Cream, Fruit Magic Wands and a big surprise! Register online. Cost: $39

An Evening with Elves at Marbles

Friday, December 2nd. 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  Marbles Kids Museum, Raleigh

Have you gotten your tickets to this event, yet? An evening with the Marbleous Elves and visits with the Snowflake Fairy will dazzle families.  Enjoy museum play, holiday activities, s’mores outdoors and festive food. Visit their website to purchase tickets.

Annual Tree Lighting at Morrisville Town Hall

Friday, December 2nd.  7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.  Indian Creek Trailhead, Morrisville

FREE evening of holiday entertainment, visits with Santa, a tree lighting, crafts for the kids and refreshments.

Christmas on First Avenue

Friday, December 2nd. 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Knightdale Station Park Amphitheater

Letters to Santa, visits with Mrs. Claus & the Elves, music, performances, food trucks and a Tree Lighting. Come back on December 4th for Rudolph’s Food Truck Rodeo from 12pm-4pm.

Light Up Main & Garner Christmas Parade

lum-54-6x4Friday, December 2nd & Saturday, December 3rd.  Downtown Garner

On December 2nd the annual Downtown Garner Christmas Tree lighting will take place during Light Up Main along with a visit from Santa, face painting, free hot chocolate & cookies, crafts & more.  December 3rd get a front row seat to the Garner Christmas Parade with marching bands, floats, classic cars, Santa visits and more.

Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops

Runs until Saturday, December 24th.  Bass Pro Shops, Cary

Bring your family out to play at Santa’s Winter Wonderland. Enjoy games, crafts, activities and a FREE photo with Santa.


Friday, December 2nd – Sunday, December 18th.  Raleigh Little Theatre

Add some sparkle & magic to your holiday season with this annual musical from RLT.  December 2nd is WRAL Coats for the Children Night. $10 of every ticket goes to provide warm, winter clothing for Salvation Army families in need.

Christmas on Salem Street

Friday, December 2nd – Sunday, December 4th.  Downtown Apex

Three days of Holiday celebrations are happening in Downtown Apex. Families can enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, a kiddie Christmas Train, Santa visits, crafts, activities, a pancake breakfast, a Historic Holiday Home Tour and the Grand Christmas Parade.  Visit their website to map out the family events happening during this event.

Infinity Ballet Theatre’s “Dances of the Nutcracker”

December 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 6th.  Halle Cultural Arts Center, Apex

Enjoy a performance of the “Dances of the Nutcracker” from Infinity Ballet Theatre that all ages can enjoy. Stay and enjoy the festivities happening on Christmas On Salem Street.

IPREO Raleigh Winterfest Celebration

Saturday, December 3rd.  12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  IPREO Ice Rink in the City Plaza, Downtown Raleigh

This holiday tradition is back with outdoor Ice Skating, a Ferris Wheel, Carousel, Super Slide, Santa’s Village, a Gingerbread Competition, Food Truck, Vendors and Mayor’s Tree Lighting.

Sleigh Rides and Cider

Saturday, December 3rd.  5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Historic Oak View County Park, Raleigh

Horse-drawn carriage rides, hot apple cider, live music, Ol’ Saint Nick, holiday activities, handmade crafts and much more.

Holiday Santa Train

Saturdays & Sundays: December 3rd, 4th, 10th & 11th.  New Hope Valley Railway, New Hill

Enjoy a holiday train ride with Santa on a Steam or Diesel train. Visit their website to learn more and purchase tickets.

The Grinch at Quail Ridge Books

Saturday, December 3rd.  2:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.  Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh

For ages 3 years and up. Does your family enjoy Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Come out for a special reading of the book, including singing, activities and a visiting time from Mr. Grinch (costume character).  Don’t forget your camera!

Holiday Open House at Stone Creek Village

Saturday, December 3rd. 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Stone Creek Village, Cary

Families can check out the festively decorated store fronts and vote on their favorites to win a shopping spree to Stone Creek. In addition, enjoy crafting, giveaways, treats, sales and specials throughout the center.

Scandinavian Christmas Fair

Saturday, December 3rd.  10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  State Fairgrounds, Raleigh

Come out and experience a traditional Scandinavian Christmas with cultural exhibits, homemade foods, children’s activities and more.  Cost: $7 for adults. Kids under 13 years are free.

Heart of the Holidays Celebration

Saturday, December 3rd. Downtown Cary

This day is filled with Holiday fun happening around Cary from the Town of Cary. Kids can enjoy working in Santa’s Workshop at a variety of craft stations & visit with Santa. Get into the Holiday Spirit and attend the Page-Walker Holiday Open House with a Victorian-themed celebration. Don’t forget to buy your tickets to The Best Christmas Pageant Ever performed by the Cary Players at the Cary Arts Center. Come out on December 9th for the Arbolito de la Esperanza: Tree of Hope Lighting and on December 10th for the Grinch Candy Cane Hunt – registration required for this event.

Christmas on First Avenue

Friday, December 2nd – Sunday, December 4th.  6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Knightdale Station Park, Knightdale

Tree Lighting celebration will take place on Friday, December 2nd with Santa visits, performances, activities, food trucks and a Tree Lighting ceremony at the end. Come back on Saturday, December 3rd for the Christmas Parade in Downtown Knightdale. Don’t forget to check out Rudolph’s Food Truck Rodeo on Sunday, December 4th with Santa visits, bounce houses, live music, handmade crafts, and local beers.

History Corner: Sugar & Spice

Wednesday, December 7th.  10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.  NC Museum of History, Raleigh

For ages 6-9 years old with an adult. Discover how gingerbread came to North Carolina, and learn what makes it such a special treat. Kids will listen to a story and make a ginger-y craft! Cost: $3 per child. $1 for Associates/museum members. For information, call 919-807-7988.

Drive-Thru Live Nativity

Thursday, December 8th & Friday, December 9th. 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Corporate Chaplains of America, Wake Forest

Drive-thru this Live Nativity scene and enjoy live animals including a camel and more. A drawing will be held for wreaths decorated with gift cards to local businesses (recipients will be notified after the event). Bring a canned good or a new toy to be donated to area crisis ministry With Love From Jesus.

A Christmas Carol

Wednesday, December 7th – Sunday, December 11th.  Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh

Ira David Wood III’s beloved musical comedy, A Christmas Carol, celebrates its 42nd Anniversary this year. Come out and enjoy this acclaimed Holiday tradition with your family. (This show will also be performed at the DPAC during December 15th – 18th.)

Disney on Ice: Follow Your Heart

Thursday, December 8th – Saturday, December 10th. PNC Arena, Raleigh

Kids and parents can enjoy all their favorite Disney characters as they watch their adventures on the ice.

Main Street Christmas 

Friday, December 9th.  6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Holly Springs Town Hall & Cultural Center

FREE holiday fun with a hayride down Ballentine Street, live music & entertainment, stories with Mrs. Claus, crafts, refreshments, Santa visits and the annual tree lighting at 8pm. Don’t miss the Happy Holly Days Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 10th. 

Bulls, Bells & Barrels – Bull Riding Event

Friday, December 9th & Saturday, December 10th.  State Fairgrounds, Raleigh

Carousel Farms is bringing championship bull riding – barrel racing – western and equestrian riding, Christmas shopping and more to local families. Visit their website for ticket prices.

Pet Night with Santa at Streets at Southpoint

Every Monday until December 21st.  Streets at Southpoint, Durham

In between your visits with Santa bring your four-legged friend to meet Santa and pose for a photo.

Special Photo Nights with Santa at Crabtree Valley Mall

Crabtree Valley Mall, Raleigh

Come out on these special nights to celebrate the season with a visit with Santa.  Military and First Responders on December 4th, Pet Night on Monday, December 5th & 11th and Grandparents Day on December 12th.

Polar Express Train Ride

NC Transportation Museum, Spencer

Inspired by the popular holiday movie families can experience a ride on The Polar Express.  Caroling, hot chocolate, cookies, singing & dancing, a reading of The Polar Express and more are featured during this special train ride.  Every passenger will also receive a special silver sleigh bell, too. Check dates and purchase tickets online. 

Letters to Santa: Santa’s Mailbox Open!

untitled-design-27Drop off letters before Saturday, December 10th.  Cary Town Hall

Little ones can drop off their treasured letters to Santa on the Town Hall campus before December 10th.  Include your child’s name and return address on each letter in order to hear back from Santa.



Gingerbread Jamboree

Saturday, December 10th.  10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. & 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.  Marbles Kids Museum, Raleigh

Families can create a sweet treat masterpiece making their own keepsake gingerbread house. Register in advance. Cost: $12 per member, $15 per non-member, $20 per house.

Visits with Santa at the Shepherd’s Way Farms Tree Lot

Sunday, December 11th & Saturday, December 17th.  1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.  North Hills, Raleigh

Pick out your family Christmas Tree at the Shepherd’s Way Christmas Lot and have your picture taken with Santa.

NC Chinese Lantern Festival 

untitled-design-45Runs until Sunday, January 15th. (Tuesday-Sundays) 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Koka Booth Amphitheatre, Cary

This annual festival is mesmerizing visitors both young and old. Enjoy over 20 magical lights displays with over a thousand LED lights. Enjoy the craftsmanship, cultural significance and artistic beauty of the lantern festival.  Cost: Kids 2 and under are free, $10 for ages 3-17 years, $15 for Adults over 18 years.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Broadway Series

Runs until Saturday, December 24th.  Fletcher Opera Theatre, Raleigh

The original television classic comes to life on stage during this Broadway series performance. Come start off your holiday season with a special visit to this magical show.

Cary Ballet Company presents The Nutcracker

Thurs., Dec. 15th at 7pm, Friday, Dec. 16th at 7pm, Saturday, Dec. 17th at 2pm & 7pm, Sunday, Dec 18th at 3 pm. Educational Matinee – Friday, Dec 16, 10am – $7, Special one hour show for young families:  Saturday, Dec 17, 10am – $8.  Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave. 

Follow Clara through an evening of dreamy delight in the classic holiday ballet, The Nutcracker.  Enjoy the full length story that begins with a family party that includes magical tricks by Drosselmeyer, life size dancing dolls and his special gift to Clara, a wooden nutcracker.  As the clock chimes ring, the evening is not what it seems. There is a battle between soldiers & mice, Nutcracker & Mouse Queen that is not to be missed.  Clara becomes the hero of the battle. Guided by the Prince, she finds her way through the snowy landscape to meet with the lovely Sugarplum Fairy where Clara is rewarded with a presentation of the Land of Sweets. Was it a dream? Hard to say.  Come find out!

Tickets on sale at The Cary Theater or or 800-514-3849

Holiday Family Fun Friday 

Friday, December 16th.  5:30 p.m.  NC Museum of Art, Raleigh

Enjoy holiday fun at the Museum of Art! Transport yourself to a holly jolly wonderland. Art deco–inspired art-making and games, free treats for the kids, music by Sandbox, and a visit from Santa await families at this popular annual event. Food and drink, including pizza, available for purchase. Cost: $5 per person. Free for family-level members and above and children 2 and under.

Park West Winter Wonderland 

Friday, December 16th – Sunday, December 18th.  5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.  Park West Village, Morrisville

The District at Park West Village is transforming to a Winter Wonderland for all families to enjoy. This FREE event will host 2 large real snow sledding hills, a children’s snow play area (ages 1-5 years), train rides, live a-cappella music from Catch 22 and a story time with Santa.  Visit their website to learn more and to sign up early for your sledding time slots.

Storytelling Pajama Night

Friday, December 16th.  6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.  Wake Forest Renaissance Centre for the Arts, Wake Forest

FREE and open to the public. Put on your favorite jammies and slippers and cozy up for an evening of storytelling & hot chocolate. Rags and Riches Theatre will be performing The Gingerbread Man.


Friday, December 16th – Saturday, December 24th.  Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh

Celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Carolina Ballet’s annual classic, The Nutcracker, a holiday tradition perfect for the whole family. The only Nutcracker in the country with real illusions, created by world-renowned magician Rick Thomas. (This performance will also take place at the DPAC December 9th – 11th.)

Winter Farmer’s Market

Saturday, December 17th.  8:30 a.m – 12:30 p.m.  Holly Springs Cultural Center, Holly Springs

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the next market! Bring the kids to have their photo taken with Santa. (Free! You can take the photos yourself.) While there stock your kitchen with local artisanal cheeses, honey, baked goods, eggs from free-range chickens, scratch made granolas & nut butters, maple syrup, homemade dog treats, natural bath & body products, candles and so much more!

Relaxing Stroll on the American Tobacco Trail

Sunday, December 18th. 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.  American Tobacco Trail, Apex

For all ages. Take a break from the holiday hustle & bustle for a relaxing stroll along the American Tobacco Trail to enjoy the peace of nature. Dress for the weather, bring binoculars if have them and a water bottle. Register in advance.  Cost: $1.

BIGG Holiday Mashup 

Thursday, December 22nd.  6:00 p.m.  Caroline Theatre, Durham

This family-friendly holiday variety show will feature storytelling, music, dance, comedy and inspiration. The evening will feature the New Orleans-style band the Bull Town Strutters, the Durham Ukulele Orchestra, a storyteller from The Monti, the Durham Bulls’ Jatovi McDuffie, gospel singer Mary Williams, dancers from Barriskill Dance Theatre School, acappella singers and much more!  Cost:  $14 for adults, $8 for kids under 18 years.

Nature Lab: Kids Get Holiday Crafty

Thursday, December 22nd.  10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Harris Lake County Park, New Hill

For ages 6-12 years. Parents can enjoy a few more hours to finish shopping while kids can get in 4 hours of craftings, hiking and games. Children will make great keepsakes or wonderful gifts for family members.  Snacks and supplies provided. This is an annual tradition at Harris Lake County Park so register early. Cost: $16 per child.

22nd Annual Kwanzaa Celebration

Thursday, December 29th.  11:00 a.m.  Cary Arts Center

FREE & open to the public. Enjoy this cultural celebration with live performances, crafts, activities and more.



Don’t forget to get your FREE tickets for a day of family fun at the KidDilly Expo on Saturday, January 21st, 2017 from 10am-2pm at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cary. Register for your tickets here.







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