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State Capitol, Executive Mansion gear up for Christmas with tree lighting, open house

Posted December 9, 2014

Christmas tree at the Executive Mansion

The State Capitol and Executive Mansion will kick off the season with a tree lighting and open house this week.

The long-running Christmas tradition in Raleigh is a favorite for many. I take my kids to the Executive Mansion to ogle the Christmas trees, enjoy the Christmas music and make one last feeble attempt at a decent Christmas card photo.

The tree lighting festivities begin at 5 p.m., Thursday, with luminaries and holiday music by the Raleigh Concert Band and the Middlesex Church of God trio. Gov. Pat McCrory will light the 24-foot Christmas tree from Ashe County at 6:15 p.m. The tree sits on the Fayetteville Street side of the State Capitol square.

There will be cookies and hot chocolate, courtesy of the Junior Women's Club, along with mascots from local sports teams to entertain visitors before the 6:15 p.m. ceremony. Santa will stop by too.

The Capitol building's open house starts after the ceremony at 6:30 p.m. The public can walk through to take in the ornaments and trees. The Panther Creek High School Choir will perform in the rotunda. The State Capitol also will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday to Monday, Dec. 15, with local choirs performing.

Both the N.C. Museum of History and the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences will stay open later  - until 7:30 p.m. - on Thursday. Visitors can check out the history museum's gift shop and giant tree. There will be old fashioned toys and games, a make and take craft, and exhibits to explore. The museum will offer a ticket deal to the new Starring North Carolina exhibit. From 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Thursday, get half-price admission. (The rest of the museum is free).

And the natural sciences museum will be open with hands-on activities for kids.

Finally, the Executive Mansion will host its open house from noon to 5 p.m., Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday; 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday; and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Local groups will perform in the ballroom and docents can share information about the house and answer questions.

You can just walk into this one. You don't need reservations. The mansion will have several giant Christmas trees on display - they are enormous and beautiful. They include a children's tree, which is typically decorated by children with parents serving in the armed forces.

Visitors can roam around the first floor of the mansion.

The State Capitol is bounded by Edenton, Salisbury, Morgan and Wilmington Streets. The Executive Mansion is at 200 N. Blount St.

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