I've been writing about family-friendly weekend activities in the Triangle for at least four years now. And in my time, there's not been a bigger weekend than this.
We have the biggest Christmas parade between D.C. and Atlanta. An American Idol winner in town ... for that parade. The long awaited opening of Pullen Park. The reopening of Kidzu Children's Museum in Chapel Hill. The N.C. Symphony's first Young People's Series concert of the season. Santa continues his appearances at local malls. And so much more.
So here we go: Your weekend family fun!
I'll start with the WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade because it starts before Pullen Park's grand opening ... well just 20 minutes before. The Christmas Parade, now in its 67th year, will feature American Idol winner and Garner resident Scotty McCreery as grand marshal, along with a wide variety of participants including local dance companies, marching bands, theater productions, businesses and, of course, Santa. It starts at 9:40 a.m. and lasts about 2.5 hours. My family has tried to get to the parade at least 45 minutes early each year. This year, with Scotty at the helm, we will be going even earlier to grab our patch of curb. The parade begins on Hillsborough Street at St. Mary's Street and eventually makes its way down Fayetteville Street. You can also watch the parade from the comfort of your own home. Click here for WRAL's coverage plans.
After nearly two years of construction, Pullen Park and its carousel, train, kiddie boats and playground reopens at 10 a.m. Saturday. The hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and daily after the opening weekend. My earlier post has a lot of details on parking, the schedule, the new Pullen Place cafe and more. If the Christmas Parade isn't a must for your family, I'd recommend going to the park as close to 10 a.m. as you can. Read my earlier post for all the details about the big opening! I'll have some video of the park on Friday.
Kidzu Children's Museum wasn't closed for two years, but it still has been missed by many Chapel Hill parents. The museum closed in the spring to move to a new spot on Franklin Street. After a few delays, it is scheduled to reopen this Friday. The grand opening celebration is set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday. Admission is free on Sunday. The new location at 123 W. Franklin St. in University Square will be the museum's temporary location until it can build a new museum at Wallace Plaza.
The N.C. Symphony's first Young People's Series' concerts of the season are at 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., Saturday. The hour-long program, "Beethoven Lives Upstairs," is based on a children's book of the same name and features actors and performances of many of Beethoven's greatest works. Ticket holders should get there early for activities from Marbles Kids Museum and the symphony's Instrument Zoo. Tickets are $20.
Santa continues his rounds to area malls and shopping complexes. He'll be making appearances at Cameron Village's open house, which is 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday; North Hills tree lighting celebration, which is 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday; and at The Streets at Southpoint in Durham, where he'll begin sitting for pictures starting on Saturday. The Sandbox band will be playing from their Christmas CD at both the Cameron Village and North Hills events.
The Christmas light displays are starting to open too. Meadow Lights, a massive holiday light show near Benson in Johnston County, will open for the season on Friday. Lake Myra Christmas, another major light show, also opens this weekend in Wendell.
I'll also mention that Sycamore Crossing, a gift shop in Zebulon, will open its Children's Store, where kids can find gift items for friends and family for $10 or less, on Monday. It is open through Dec. 10.
Check the Go Ask Mom Holiday Events Guide for other events.
Raleigh Little Theatre wraps up its run of "Merry Christmas, Strega Nona." The show ends Sunday. Based on the Tommy dePaola story, the holiday musical follows the story of Strega Nona, who is planning her traditional Christmas Eve feast. She vows to do it without magic. But thanks to the well-meaning yet bumbling Big Anthony, the feast almost doesn't happen. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids ages 12 and under. It's part of the Raleigh Little Theatre's youth series.
The state history and natural sciences museums in downtown Raleigh will be busy.
The N.C. Museum of History will hold its 16th annual American Indian Heritage Celebration from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. Read my earlier post for more information about this free event.
And the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences will open Genghis Khan: The Exhibition on Saturday. It runs through Jan. 16. The exhibit highlights a collection of more than 200 rare treasures from jewelry and ornaments to musical instruments and weaponry made famous by Khan, the Mongol warlord who conquered half the known world of the early 13th century. The exhibit includes a mummified Mongolian princess from the time of Khan. Tickets are $14 for adults; $10 for seniors and students; and $8 for kids ages 5 to 11.
St. Nick's Attic, a consignment sale featuring holiday decor and children's holiday outfits and winter gear, runs Friday and Saturday in north Raleigh. Read my earlier post for details.
Triangle Community Birth Stories, where women share their stories of childbirth, is at 4 p.m., Saturday, at The Diapering Doula in Morrisville. Expecting parents, new parents and couples who are considering starting a family are welcome to attend. Read my earlier post for details. The group will talk about both natural childbirth and those that included medical intervention.
Johnston Community College Performing Arts will present Cinderella - The Musical at 7 p.m., Friday. It's best for preschoolers to kids in first grade. Tickets are $11 in advance or $12.50 at the door.
Cary will spotlight its performing arts offerings at an open house at the new Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday. It's free and includes a concert by the Triangle Youth String Orchestra, a jam session by Meredith College guitar students, an open rehearsal of the Cary Players' upcoming performance of "It's a Wonderful Life," and more.
Sunday is Durham Appreciation Day at the Museum of Life and Science. The museum invites Durham residents to visit the museum for free from noon to 5 p.m. A valid ID (driver's license or state issued ID) that shows Durham County residency is required in order to receive free admission.
The Nasher Museum of Art in Durham will hold one of its free family days from noon to 4 p.m., Sunday. There will be gallery hunts, hands-on activities such as designing super hero attire and more. Local indie hip-hop group The Beast will perform at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Activities are designed for kids ages 3 to 12 and their adults.
And, finally, the Free Spirits Ensemble of the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra will present "Twisted Tales," at 3 p.m., Sunday, at the Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex. The family concert features the premiere of a new work for children, "Wolfie Locks, His Real Adventures," a story and music from the wolf's perspective. Tickets are $12 for adults; $10 for seniors and students; and $5 for kids ages 5 to 11.
Have a fantastic weekend!