WRAL tower sets Raleigh aglow for 58th year

Special guest Cinderella helped WRAL 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.

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.

Photos of the 2016 tower lighting

Celebrations from seasons past

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

Durham lights Lucky Strike Tower

Lucky Strike tower

In downtown Durham, the American Tobacco Historic District will ring in the holiday season with the 12th annual lighting of the Lucky Strike Tower on Dec. 2.

The festivities included musical entertainment and area school choirs will performed a variety of Christmas songs before Santa and Wool E. Bull take to the stage to help light the tower.

The event will also mark the unveiling of trees for the 7th 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. Voting begins Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. and ends Dec. 16 at 11:59 p.m.

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!