Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Weekend Plans: Raleigh Christmas Parade, Santa sightings, light shows, more

Posted November 17, 2010

It's a big weekend. Take that back. It's a huge weekend for family fun and probably one of my favorites.

Growing up in the chill of central New York state, Christmas parades were totally foreign concepts to me. The snow was, after all, up to my waist by December. And I'm only kind of joking. But I have come to fully embrace this tradition.

The 66th annual WRAL-TV Raleigh Christmas Parade is Saturday in downtown Raleigh. It starts at 9:30 a.m. and runs for more than two hours. You'll see all manner of floats, bands and even some big balloons. This is a hugely popular event.

My strategy for the past five years is to get there no later than 9 a.m. And really, by 9 a.m., the streets are already lined with lots of spectators. We grab a piece of the curb somewhere along Hillsborough Street and wait for it all to start. Blankets, snacks and a thermos of hot chocolate always make the wait and the parade a lot more fun. Would love to hear your strategies too. Please share in the comments!

And if you can't make it to the parade, also will have a Santa Cam during the parade. A camera will follow Santa throughout the parade. Watch it live on during the parade and on demand afterwards.

Santa will be making appearances across the region in the next few days too.

Some Santa photo opportunities:

  • Cameron Village's open house, which is 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Raleigh. The event includes a real snow sliding slope, music from the Sandbox Band, clowns and jugglers and more.
  • North Hills' kickoff to its holiday activities from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Raleigh. The event includes music from the Sandbox Band (more on that Friday), trolley rides, ice skating, a trackless train, horse and carriage rides, snow and the lighting of its tree.
  • Santa arrives with a parade featuring Riverside High Band at Northgate Mall in Durham. It's at 10:45 a.m. Saturday in the Macy's Court.
  • Photos with Santa at The Streets at Southpoint start at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Durham mall. Check the website for a coupon.
  • And Santa arrives at Golden East Crossing in Rocky Mount on Saturday.

Some of the region's major light shows start up this weekend. These are massive holiday light destinations. Meadow Lights in Johnston County opens Friday. And Lake Myra Christmas in Raleigh opens Sunday. Check websites for hours.

The Durham Art Walk's Holiday Market is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in downtown Durham. The event includes art, performances and more.

The City Ballet will perform previews of its Nutcracker. They'll be at Cameron Village Library at 10:30 a.m. Friday and North Regional Library in north Raleigh at 11:45 a.m. Monday. (Sign up is required for the North Regional event). The City Ballet, which offers classes for young dancers, will perform the holiday classic Dec. 10 and Dec. 11 at N.C. State's Stewart Theatre. Their performance features members of the Carolina Ballet. Check the website for details about the community and full performances.

The national tour of Handel's Messiah Rocks: A Joyful Noise comes to Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium for one show at 7 p.m. Saturday. The event blends classical music with classic rock and features members from Raleigh's Sanderson High School choir. Tickets start at $27.

And be sure to check our Holiday Guide for more events this weekend and in the weeks to come.

And if you're not ready for Christmas, there's more ...

""Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1" opens at theaters across the region on Friday. The IMAX Theatre at Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh is planning some special surprises throughout the weekend. The lobby will be decked out as Hogsmeade. Most of the showtimes for this weekend are sold out. So check the website and get your tickets before you go.

N.C. State University's Center Stage's KidStuff series will feature "The Berenstain Bears in Family Matters: The Musical." The show is 3 p.m. Sunday at Stewart Theatre on NCSU's campus. The professional production weaves three of Stan and Jan Berenstain's most popular books. Tickets are $10. And they often sell out for these series so I was surprised to see that there were some left on Wednesday.

The Jungalbook ends its run at the Raleigh Little Theatre on Sunday. Best for kids ages 7 and up. Tickets are $13 for adults and $9 for kids ages 0 to 12. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m.  Sunday.

The N.C. Museum of History's major American Indian Heritage Celebration celebrates its 15th anniversary this weekend. The event is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the downtown Raleigh museum and includes musician, artists, storytellers and others from North Carolina's eight state-recognized tribes. There is a scavenger hunt and other opportunities for interactive fun. The event, along with parking, is free. Check the website for a full schedule and more information.

Remember that there is actually a major holiday between now and Christmas at the Raleigh City Museum's Giving Thanks program. Kids will learn facts about the city, complete a museum scavenger hunt with prizes and paint their own Thanksgiving art. It's free. And it's conveniently scheduled after the Raleigh Christmas Parade, which runs right by the museum on Fayetteville Street. It's from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Families from Hope Community Church are hosting a cornhole tournament from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Womble Park in Cary. You can participate in the tournament or just watch. There's also a raffle with lots of prizes. The event is part of a project at the church where families were given different amounts of money and were encouraged to invest it in different ways to watch it grow. Proceeds will be donated to local and international nonprofits.

Consignment sale season is pretty much over ... but there are two this Saturday. A reader tells me that Holly Springs Learning Center, 1180 Holly Springs Rd., will have a sale from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday. And Hannah's Closet Children's Consignment Sale at the Fellowship Baptist Church in Willow Spring is Saturday.

The ArtsCenter in Carrboro will present "Turtle Island Tales" featuring Hobey Ford's Golden Rod Puppets. This is a popular show. Ford uses a variety of puppets, including shadow puppets, rod puppets and marionettes. It's at 11 a.m. Saturday. Tickets are $7 in advance and $8 at the door for kids and $9 in advance and $10 at the door for adults. Kids ages 2 and under are free.

A reminder that the Modern Baby Expo at the N.C. State Fairgrounds was set for this weekend, but it has been postponed. Instead, some of the businesses that were to be involved with the show are hosting a special event at Smart Momma on Glenwood Avenue in north Raleigh from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The event will include La Boutique for Kids' holiday fashion show. Read my earlier post for more information and a coupon.

Willa Brigham, host of "Smart Start Kids" on WRAL-TV will tell stories as part of Duke Gardens' Arts in the Garden series. She'll perform at 11 a.m. Saturday at the gardens' Doris Duke Center, 420 Anderson St., in Durham. Tickets are $10 for adults and $6 for kids under age 16.

Families from Hope Community Church are hosting a cornhole tournament from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at Womble Park in Cary. You can participate in the tournament or just watch. There's also a raffle with lots of prizes. The event is part of the project at the church where families were given different amounts of money and were encouraged to invest it in different ways to watch it grow. Proceeds will be donated to local and international nonprofits.

And Sunday is one of the Nasher Museum of Art's free family days. From noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, the museum will offer hands-on activities including vinyl fabric and printmaking. Artist Fatimah Tuggar, whose work is part of the museum's exhibit "The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl" will lead a special hands-on activity in the Great Hall. Different Drum, an interactive Afro/Latin group, will perform sounds from around the world at 1 p.m .and 2:30 p.m. And there will be gallery hunts for families.


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

Oldest First
View all
  • NEtoNC Nov 18, 2010

    I desperately want to go but hate crowds. Is it worth it? Where is the best place to park?

  • shall6 Nov 18, 2010

    I've only seen it on Hillsborough Street so I can't compare. But just from judging from the crowds I've seen on Fayetteville Street on TV, it seems like Hillsborough is not as crazy. We usually park on Glenwood Avenue or in one of the decks off Glenwood Avenue and walk up. Like I wrote, we usually get there around 9 a.m. and the three or four of us have always found a spot on the curb right up front. By the time the parade starts, there's usually two or three people behind us.

    We've never run into crazy traffic or experienced parking problems though we also don't mind walking four or five blocks.

    Of course maybe I shouldn't be sharing my "secrets." :)

    But that's just my experience ... I'd love to hear from others.


  • anon1 Nov 18, 2010

    Where is the best place to sit for the parade? Last year we came downtown and sat in front of the Progress Energy building. Traffic was awful in and out and the crowd was terrible. Is it easier to attend on Hillsborough Street?