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Our Five Faves

Best family holiday fun

Posted December 2, 2013

November 23, 2013. Raleigh, NC. The annual christmas tree lighting celebration takes place at North Hills in Raleigh, NC.

— Christmas! The most wonderful time of the year! For me and my family, it really is. 

We don’t break the bank on Christmas gifts. Instead, we focus on our family traditions – listening to Christmas music all of the time, decorating the house just so, baking cookies, searching for Christmas lights and attending our neighborhood church’s living nativity.

And, while those traditions are the same each year, we also like to mix it up a bit, checking out some of the many events that I write about as part of my job as Go Ask Mom editor.

Here are our Five Faves.

Santa Trains  There are so many to choose from – rides on kiddie trains at Pullen Park in Raleigh and the Museum of Life and Science to rides on big trains at the New Hope Valley Railway in southwest Wake County or at the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer. Santa might not ride with you on all of the trains, but he’s always nearby. Holiday lights and activities are often part of the fun. You typically must get your tickets in advance for these popular rides (Note: Pullen’s Holiday Express is sold out this year). But there’s always a chance you can score a ticket this year or make plans to do it next year.meadow lights

Holiday Lights – My family will spend more than a few nights driving around looking for over the top Christmas light displays. I. Love. Them! But if you want to take the guesswork out of it, you can always head to one of the region’s major light shows – Lake Myra Christmas in Wendell, Meadow Lights in Benson, Lights on the Neuse in Johnston County and Hill Ridge Farms’ Festival of Lights in Youngsville. These destination provide big light displays and typically other holiday fun, including visits with Santa, hot drinks, Christmas treats and more.

The Nutcracker – I took my older daughter to see Carolina Ballet’s The Nutcracker for the first time when she was six. She knew the score (see the bit above about how we listen to Christmas music all of the time), so she loved seeing the story come to life on stage. I took my younger daughter, then 3, for the first time last year. She sat still in her seat, absolutely spellbound. We’ll be going again this year. It’s become a holiday highlight for my family. If tickets to see the Carolina Ballet perform the Christmas classic aren’t in the cards for you, many other local ballet companies offer versions of the ballet.Carolina Ballet Nutcracker

Cinderella at the Raleigh Little Theatre – Now in its 30th year, Raleigh Little Theatre’s production of Cinderella is a holiday tradition for many Triangle families. It’s a musical version of the classic princess story with some holiday flavor. And it’s absolutely hilarious (the Ugly Stepsisters give Cinderella a run for her money as star of the show). Some buy their tickets as soon as they go on sale to make sure they get an aisle seat near the front so their little princesses, often dressed in their princess best, can try on Cinderella’s slipper. After the show, the cast lines up so kids can get their programs autographed. It’s a fantastic production. (And I’m sure that Theatre in the Park’s A Christmas Carol is great too. I just haven’t been yet).

Choose and cut your own Christmas tree – You can pick up your Christmas tree from the neighborhood lot. Or, you can go to the actual Christmas tree farm, pick your own from the field and cut it down (or have it cut down). Christmas tree farms in western North Carolina open their doors to the public and offer special package deals with local inns and bed and breakfasts. Santa, hot chocolate, hayrides and Christmas treats often are part of the deal. But you don’t have to travel far to cut your own tree. There are Christmas tree farms right here in the Triangle too.

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