Best holiday parades
Posted November 13, 2016
Updated November 15, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — Christmas is coming and that means the sound of marching bands in many communities across the Triangle. If you love a parade, here are some of the best to keep you entertained in the coming weeks.
The big dog (at least in North Carolina) is the WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade presented by Shop Local Raleigh, now in its 72nd year in the City of Oaks. Raleigh's parade ranks as the largest between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. It's got floats, balloons, tens of thousands of spectators and a live television broadcast for those who don't want to brave the cold. It's also one of the earliest parades, held annually on the Saturday BEFORE Thanksgiving. The fun begins Nov. 19 at 10 a.m.
Apex bills itself as the Peak of Good Living, and this little town knows how to pull off a community event. A decked-out Salem Street sparkles during this evening parade (Dec. 3 at 5 p.m.), which serves as the centerpiece of a weekend of events that includes carriage rides and mingling with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Wake Forest residents wait among the longest for their parade. By 1 p.m. on Dec. 10 when the parade rolls down White Street, early birds will have the gifts bought and wrapped and be able to relax and enjoy the spirit of the season.
Lovers of holiday lights will feel right at home in Wendell, which doesn't have a parade per se. Instead, Wendell Wonderland, a nightly choreographed show of lights and music, runs Nov. 23 through Dec. 31.
For a true small-town celebration, head to Erwin's weeknight celebration (Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.), where church and community volunteers vie for prizes for the best float while revelers enjoy hot chocolate to ward off the chill.
There are homemade "floats" in the Benson parade as well. Golf cart owners are invited to deck their ride and join Golftilla parade on the evening of Dec. 2. Prizes are available for the most creative Christmas look.
Bonus: Durham, which has deferred to the big parade in Raleigh and smaller community celebrations is back on the calendar this year with a parade down Main Street on the morning of Dec. 10. Downtown parking garages will waive parking fees on the day of the event.