Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Weekend Plans: Nutcrackers, holiday shows, Christmas parades, more

Posted December 7, 2011
Updated December 8, 2011

I'll start off this week's weekend activity post with the big news that's gotten a lot of people talking here on Go Ask Mom, our Facebook page and my email: Tickets to this week's Pullen Park Holiday Express sold out on Monday.

There will be no tickets available at the park for walk-in visitors. And, the park's rides will be closed to the general public on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They will only be open to Holiday Express ticket holders. For more information, read my earlier post.

With that said, while they don't include carousels and lighted train rides, there are many other opportunities for holiday fun this weekend. Here's what's happening:

The State Capitol tree lighting ceremony in downtown Raleigh begins at 5 p.m. Thursday. The State Capitol also is decorated for the holidays and will be open all weekend for an open house. Both events feature live music. And there will be some food trucks at the tree lighting ceremony. Click here for details about both events. The Executive Mansion, home to the governor, also will host a holiday open house from noon to 8 p.m., Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. It's all free.

Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream skated into the RBC Center on Wednesday. The show runs until Sunday and features scenes from Tangled, The Princess and the Frog and Cinderella. Tickets start at $16.

There are at least three versions of the Nutcracker this weekend:

Carolina Ballet's Nutcracker moves to the Durham Performing Arts Center for shows this Saturday and Sunday. As I've written before, the Carolina Ballet has taken a new spin on the classic by adding some illusions, created by Las Vegas magician Rick Thomas, into the party scene in the first act. Read my earlier post for more details. I'll be sitting in on a dress rehearsal, along with thousands of Durham school kids, on Friday and tweeting about it. Follow @wralmoms on Twitter to read all about it. Tickets start at $35.

The City Ballet will present its 19th performance of the Nutcracker, featuring guests artists from the Carolina Ballet, at 7 p.m., Friday, and 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Saturday. Tickets are $20 and $25. The performances are at N.C. State University's Stewart Theatre. Tickets can be purchased on the City Ballet's website or by emailing

And the Triangle Youth Ballet will present the Nutcracker at 7 p.m., Saturday, and 2 p.m., Sunday, at the Carolina Theatre in Durham. Tickets are $10 for kids 6 and under and $23 for the general public.

Raleigh Little Theatre's Cinderella opens on Friday at the theater, located next to the Raleigh Rose Garden on Pogue Street near Cameron Village. Tickets are $25. Now in its 28th year, this musical version of the popular story is a Christmas tradition for many families around here. I'm excited to take my older daughter next week. Tickets do sell quickly for this one. So if you want to go, buy now.

And Theatre in the Park's A Christmas Carol, another Triangle holiday tradition featuring Ira David Wood III, opens at the Progress Energy Center for Performing Arts in Raleigh. Tickets start around $30.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center's Holiday Stars Concert Series in Chapel Hill continues with a concert from the Sandbox kids and family band at 7:30 p.m., Friday. Tickets for the concert are $12 and include hot chocolate, cookies and holiday music under the "stars" of the planetarium.

Knightdale High School's Repertory Theatre will perform "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." The popular performance returns for the fifth year this year. Shows are 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday, and 2 p.m., Saturday. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for students. The show tells the hilarious, but heartfelt story of the Herdmans, six siblings who, through their outrageous and uncontrollable behavior, have been deemed "the worst kids in the whole history of the world." In an unlikely turn of events, the Herdmans find themselves in Sunday school, wreaking havoc on the church’s traditional Christmas pageant. It is only when the children are granted a second chance that they are guided to discovering the true meaning of Christmas and take its lessons to heart. This event is open to the public and features guest performances from students at neighboring elementary and middle schools. It's become a tradition for many Knightdale families and, I'm told, a really fun show. For information and tickets, go to Knightdale Repertory Theatre's website.

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

Bennett Place State Historic Site in Durham will offer Christmas in the Carolinas During the Civil War from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday. The event showcases a traditional Christmas observance of North Carolina farm families in the 1860s. Santa will make an appearance Saturday. They'll have hot apple cider and holiday cookies. It's all free, though donations are appreciated.

Mordecai Historic Park's very popular Christmas festivities are this weekend. Tickets are nearly sold out for its Saturday evening lantern tours and there are just a handful of tickets remaining for the Santa Trolley. But no tickets are required to attend the holiday open house from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. It's free. Mordecai is near downtown Raleigh.

You can 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. 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 about the rides, which are open air. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for kids ages 2 to 12.

The SPCA of Wake County's 7th annual Kitten and Puppy Art Show and holiday open house is 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, at the Curtis Dail Pet Adoption Center, 200 Petfinder Dr., off Tryon Road, south of Raleigh. The event features both art, created by kittens and puppies running through wet, non-toxic paint, and original photography taken by the pets themselves. Pets will be fitted with a small pet collar camera to catch their point of view. There will be special behind-the-scenes tours of the SPCA that run every hour as well. Warm apple cider, wine and cookies will be available.

The Concert Dancers of Raleigh will present 'Twas the Night Before Christmas at 4 p.m., Sunday, at Jones Auditorium at Meredith College in Raleigh. The choreographed ballet will bring the classic story "The Night Before Christmas" to life and incorporates elves, reindeer, toys and, of course, Santa. It's about an hour long. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for kids in advance. They are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $6 for kids at the door. For tickets and more information, call 919-782-0622.

We have Christmas parades. Here's when and where to find them:

  • 10 a.m., Saturday, Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Click here for information.
  • 11 a.m., Saturday, Holly Springs. Click here for information.
  • 11 a.m., Saturday, Fayetteville. Click here for details.
  • 1 p.m., Saturday, Wake Forest. Click here for details.
  • 2 p.m., Saturday, Cary. Click here for details.
  • 2 p.m., Saturday, Middlesex Fire Department,  12535 Hanes Ave. It's part of Christmas - N - Middlesex, which includes music, food and more starting at 11:30 a.m.
  • 3 p.m., Saturday, Clayton. Click here for details.

Vollmer Farm in Bunn will host its first-ever Christmas at Vollmer Farm from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Dec. 17. The afternoon includes horse-drawn carriage rides, a Santa train, live nativity scene, caroling, a giant underground slide, visits with Santa and a viewing of the movie "The Polar Express." Tickets are $10 per person, $8 for seniors and free for kids under 2.

The Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Raleigh will hold one of its Family Sunday programs. From noon to 3 p.m., Sunday, the museum will offer some holiday-themed, hands-on activities, including special guests from the Carolina Ballet's Nutcracker. A family-friendly museum tour is set for 2 p.m. Admission is $5, free for kids 10 and under.

Goodnight's Comedy Club in Raleigh will feature a special family matinee with Disney Cruise Lines comedian Heath Hyche at 3 p.m. Sunday. Read my earlier post for details.

And the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham will offer a free visit with an African-American Santa from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday. He'll be back next Sunday too.

For holiday events, activities, recipes, gift ideas and more, go to Go Ask Mom's Holiday Page.

1 Comment

Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • babbleon Dec 9, 2011

    I don't regret the Pullen tix - the hour long waits for the rides is no fun. Head over to Chavis if you want to ride a carousel - we have been doing that a lot the last year and it's a fine experience.

    The city should really spend a little time promoting their other great parks.