Our Five Faves

5 Faves: Best Triangle holiday traditions

Posted November 28, 2016

Santa at North Hills

The holiday season is in full swing, but in addition to the typical holiday merriment, Triangle residents can enjoy some unique traditions of their own. Here are our top five picks:

WRAL Tower Lighting

Maybe we’re a little biased, but nothing gets the WRAL newsroom and the Triangle into the holiday spirit like the annual tower lighting, which takes place this year on Dec. 1.

A holiday tradition for almost six decades, the 300-foot transmission tower outside the WRAL-TV studio is set aglow each December as 2,800 multi-colored lights transform the structure into a giant Christmas tree.

The sight is sure to put anybody driving along Western Boulevard into the Christmas spirit, and for those who don’t make it to Raleigh, there’s always the Lucky Strike Tower Lighting in Durham on Dec. 2.

Ice skating downtown

Thousands of people flock to Rockefeller Center each year to skate on the iconic rink under the large tree, but you don’t need a plane ticket to get that experience.

Raleigh’s only outdoor natural ice rink opened last month and lets visitors glide gracefully (or fall down!) right in the City Plaza on Fayetteville Street.

There may not be a big Christmas tree, but you’ll get the chance to have some classic winter fun in the heart of the city.

Visit a large light display

Not feeling like turning your own house into a Griswold-style spectacle? Not to worry, as there are enough large light displays in and around the Triangle to put even the Grinch in the holiday spirit.

From the unique Chinese Lantern Festival to the Festival of Lights at Hill Ridge Farms and the Holiday Express at Pullen Park for those lucky enough to get tickets, heading to one of these spectacular displays has become a tradition for many Triangle families.

North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival - Koka Booth Amphitheart

You’ll want to be on your best behavior while visiting many of the displays, because Santa himself will be on hand to greet visitors- and you wouldn’t want to end up on the naughty list!

Ticket prices range from free for Meadow Lights in Benson to $15 for the Chinese Lantern Festival, but even for a large family those prices are cheaper than the bill you would run up creating a light show in your own front yard.

Take in a holiday show

Whether you’re sharing the tales with your own children or you’re just a kid at heart, some classic Christmas stories are worth revisiting every year, and many make an appearance on stage.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without The Nutcracker and the Carolina Ballet is celebrating its 15th year of performing the holiday classic. Characters levitate, disappear and reappear while dancing to music that has become a permanent part of the holiday season.

'Nutcracker' set designer shares story

The Dicken’s fans can venture to Theatre in the Park’s musical comedy adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” which is currently in its 42nd year.

For the young kids, a new tradition may be emerging with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical.” The stage performance of the classic Rankin-Bass TV special is currently in its third year.

Watch the Acorn drop downtown

By time New Year’s Eve rolls around, we may all be a little tired of the holiday festivities, but thousands will head out for one final celebration.

Rather than stay home and watch Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, head to downtown Raleigh for First Night, which features performances, rides and of course, the countdown to midnight.

If you prefer staying home in your pajamas, you can always watch the acorn drop live on WRAL-TV and on wral.com.

First Night Raleigh: 2016


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