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Durham lights Lucky Strike Tower

Lucky Strike tower

In downtown Durham, the American Tobacco Historic District rang in the holiday season with the 11th annual lighting of the Lucky Strike Tower on Dec. 4.

The festivities included musical entertainment from the touring cast of the Sound of Music. Area school choirs will performed a variety of Christmas songs before Santa and Wool E. Bull took to the stage to help light the tower.

Diamond View Park outside the Durham Performing Arts Center was also lined with decorated Christmas trees from competitors in the 6th annual Triangle Christmas Tree Challenge.

Each tree represents an area non-profit organization. Visitors can vote for their favorite via text message and winning trees in different categories will walk away with donations of $1,000 to $5,000.

Holiday lights abound

Christmas Lights at Station Drive, Morrisville

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!

WRAL tower sets Raleigh aglow for 57th year

Sky 5 tower lighting 2014

WRAL lit 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. 2015 tower lighting 2015 WRAL Tower Lighting

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.

The NC Master Chorale offered holiday musical entertainment throughout the course of the WRAL Evening News, including standards like "Joy to the World" and "Deck the Hall."

Elves from the cast of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - The Musical" performed a specially choreographed version of the song "We Are Santa's Elves" before the tower was lit, and Debra Morgan and David Crabtree welcomed Rudolph himself who used his red nose to spur the tower to light.

More performances

Volunteer voices power NC Master Chorale

NC Master Chorale: Joy to the World

Greg gets snow for tower lighting

Santa's elves perform special song for tower lighting

Scrooge visits to recall tower lighting history

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.

Sky 5: Tower lighting 2014

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

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