WRAL tower to set Raleigh aglow for 55th year

WRAL's tower glows with more than 2,000 Christmas lights.

WRAL will light the 300-foot  transmission tower outside the WRAL-TV Studios, at 2619 Western Blvd. in Raleigh, on Dec. 1 in an annual holiday tradition that dates back more than half a century.

The lighting transforms the station's tower into a 300-foot Christmas tree wrapped in more than 2,800 multi-colored lights. Three 5-foot stars adorn the top of the tower, which will glow nightly through New Year’s Day. The tower is a beacon of the holiday season for many.

This year, the NC State Chorale will offer musical selections and Debra Morgan will welcome some very special holiday guests to the WRAL courtyard as she counts down to the flip of the switch.

Before the tower is lit, a professional climber must test every bulb. The lights stay on the tower year-round but are lighted only during the holiday season.

2009 tower lighting_22

A tradition 50 years in the making

It all began in 1959, with Capitol Broadcasting Co. founder A.J. Fletcher reading "A Christmas Carol" to viewers before the tower was lit. 

WRAL to light tower for holidays on Dec. 1

Over time, the original tradition was embellished with new ones, including musical performances, aerial video from Sky 5, manufactured snow to set the mood and streaming video to the Web and mobile phones.

Celebrations from seasons past

Christmas Lights at Station Drive, Morrisville

Holiday lights abound

As Christmas approaches, homes and businesses around the Triangle light the night with unique displays, musical choreography, inflatables and decorations that range from the sincerely religious to the downright silly.

We've mapped the best to start your tour of holiday lights.

Or see them all without starting the car, and be sure to share your photos!

Lucky Strike tower

Durham to light Lucky Strike Tower

In downtown Durham, the American Tobacco Historic District will ring in the holiday season with the 10th annual lighting of the Lucky Strike Tower on Dec. 5.

Diamond View Park outside the Durham Performing Arts Center will also be lined with decorated Christmas trees from competitors in the third annual Triangle Christmas Tree Challenge. Each tree represents an area non-profit organization. Visitors can vote for their favorite via text message. Winners earn donations of $1,000 to $5,000.