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Go Ask Mom

Weekend Plans: Raleigh, Cary, Durham holiday festivals; Christmas parades; more

Posted November 30, 2011

It's all about Christmas parades, Santa visits and other holiday activities this weekend. Here's your weekend family fun!

As I wrote earlier, Raleigh Winterfest, the downtown Raleigh ice rink, opens at 5 p.m. Saturday. To celebrate the beginning of the season on Saturday, they'll have live music, sledding, Santa, carousel rides, a trackless train and more on Raleigh's City Plaza. Check my earlier post for details.

Downtown Cary marks the season with the town's Heart of the Holidays celebration on Saturday. There's a Santa's Workshop where kids can make crafts, a gingerbread house competition, winter festival and tree lighting ceremony.

Durham's Holiday Fun Fest is 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, at Durham Central Park, 502 Foster St., and the Downtown Durham Armory, 212 Foster St. It includes sledding, trackless train rides, a campfire sing-a-long, Santa meet and greet, an interactive corner for kids, mini parade and more.

In Garner, Light Up Main starts at 6 p.m. Friday with a tree lighting ceremony, followed by arts and crafts, visits with Santa, entertainment, food and more. And at 10 a.m., Saturday, the town's Christmas Parade will wind through downtown. After the parade, go to Polar Ice House at the end of Main Street for free skating admission and skate rental from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Get your free ticket at the tree lighting or during the parade. Click here for details about both events.

And Hillsborough has an entire weekend of holiday fun, starting Friday and continuing to Saturday. It includes the lighting of the town tree on Friday, a holiday parade on Saturday and a candlelight house tour.

We have more Christmas parades. They are:

  • 5 p.m., Saturday, in Apex. Click here for details.
  • 11 a.m., Saturday, in Morrisville. Click here for details. The town's tree lighting is 6:30 p.m., Friday.
  • 2 p.m., Saturday, in Knightdale. The town's tree lighting ceremony is 6 p.m., Friday. Click here for details.
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, in Zebulon. Click here for details.
  • 2 p.m., Sunday, in Rolesville. Click here for details.
  • 3 p.m., Sunday, Fuquay-Varina. Click here for details. Fuquay-Varina also will have sleigh rides on Thursday and more events this weekend. Click here for details. 

Wendell will celebrate its annual Lighting of the Square starting at 5 p.m., Friday. The actual lighting happens at 6 p.m. with Santa's arrival.

And Wake Forest kicks off the holiday season with the Lighting of Wake Forest at 6 p.m., Friday, at Town Hall. (Wake Forest's parade is next weekend).

Winter Night at Historic Oak View County Park in Raleigh is from 5 p.m .to 7:30 p.m., Saturday. Find out how people celebrated Christmas from the 1850s to the 1950s. Ride a horse-drawn carriage through Oak View's luminary-lit Pecan Grove, drink hot apple cider, listen to holiday stories and more. Santa makes an appearance! It's free, but donations of new clothing, toiletries or canned goods are welcome. They will be given to InterAct of Wake County.

Duke Homestead in Durham will hold its annual Christmas by Candlelight from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday (and Dec. 9). Celebrate an 1870 Christmas during evening tours of the Homestead. The tour features period decorations, caroling, hot apple cider, and other goodies. Admission is free. Donations are accepted.

The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill will open its 14th annual celebration of the holidays with a free community open house from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday. See the Inn's interpretation of the dozen verses of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," try some Carolina Inn treats, and check out the work of some local crafters and food artisans. You can also learn more about all of the holiday events that the inn has through Dec. 31.

Ride a diesel or steam engine with Santa during special rides this Saturday and Sunday on the New Hope Valley Railway in southwestern Wake County. The rides continue next weekend. Some of the departure times have sold out, but there are tickets still available online. Be sure to check the website for more information before you go to learn more about the rides, which are open air. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for kids ages 2 to 12.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center's holiday concert series starts this weekend. You can listen to seasonal music under the stars of the planetarium. Read my earlier post for details.

Cary Academy's annual Holiday Shoppe is Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the school in Cary. The shop features more than 100 vendors selling jewelry, home decor, children's items and more. As many as 5,000 people shop the sale over the three days. All proceeds benefit the school's scholarships and community outreach.

And you'll find the Chic Christmas Shopping Spree at Marbles Kids Museum's IMAX building from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday. A variety of vendors will be there. So will Santa.

For other holiday events, activities, crafts, gift ideas and more, check the Go Ask Mom Holiday Page.

And for those of us not ready for Santa and other holiday events:

Marbles Kids Museum and the N.C. Symphony will team up for a Music Makers program from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, at Marbles. Kids can try out instruments, talk with musicians, get a picture with the symphony's mascot, and more.

Learn all about Disasters in Raleigh during a special program at the Raleigh City Museum. It's 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. It will focus on fire an weather disasters in Raleigh. A fire engine will be there for kids to explore. At 1:30 p.m., active and retired members of the Raleigh Fire Department will talk about their experiences. At 3 p.m., WRAL-TV meteorologist Nate Johnson will talk about weather disasters and what it is like to study and track them. The program at the downtown Raleigh museum is free and designed for kids and adults.

The N.C. Museum of Art will present Velveteen Rabbit with The Tarradiddle Players at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Saturday, at the Raleigh museum. Tickets are $5. Best for kids ages 5 and up. The museum also will have free drop-in crafts from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. You don't need a ticket to the performance to participate in the crafts.

And the Montessori Children's House of Durham will have an open house from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, at the school at 2400 University Dr. in Durham. Learn more about the school and its new building, which the school will move into in the fall. I'll have more about the school on Go Ask Mom on Friday. The new building will allow them to admit more toddlers and preschoolers.

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