For years now, I've taken my kids to see the Christmas finery at the state's Executive Mansion in downtown Raleigh.
The four-day event offers the public a chance to take a look at the first floor of the sprawling house, which is decorated for the holidays. Inside four rooms - the ladies' parlor, the gentlemen's parlor, the morning room and the ballroom - you'll see massive Christmas trees.
Each tree has a theme. Victorian era decorations hang from the tree in the ladies' parlor. Dogwood flowers, cardinals and other North Carolina-themed ornaments don the tree in the gentlemen's parlor. The morning room, home of the "children's tree," is topped with a rocking horse. And the ballroom features a red, white and blue tree decorated in honor of the state's military and includes handmade ornaments by service members and their families, which you can see in the quick video.
The open house runs noon to 9 p.m., Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday; 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. It's at 200 N. Blount St., Raleigh.
Some things to know if you go:
- No reservation is required. You can just show up during the hours of the open house. It is free.
- There are no public bathrooms there. So, know that going in.
- Yes, it is family friendly. Kids certainly can't scramble under ropes or up the stairs, but I've taken both of my kids since they were babies and toddlers. They loved to look at the colorful decorations and giant trees and listen to the live music.
- Local school and community groups will perform in the ballroom during the open house, changing every hour on the hour.
- Before you go inside, security guards will need to check any bags.
- The public is welcome to take photos.
- It's hard to recommend the perfect time to visit and beat the crowds. But know this: School groups are regular visitors during the day on Thursday and Friday.
- The building is handicapped accessible.
- Docents will be on hand to answer any questions you have about the house and the decorations. They always have great stories to share!
- Downtown Raleigh Alliance has information about parking in the area. Parking in state government lots and on the street is free on the weekends.