Thanksgiving Weekend: 20 events, activities to keep kids, families busy
Posted November 22, 2016
Happy Thanksgiving weekend!
I love this time of year when there is so much excitement and anticipation about the holidays ahead of us - and, so far, none of the stress!
If you'll be hosting friends and family from out of town or just looking for things to do during this Thanksgiving break, here are some ideas.
Holiday Light Displays: All of the region's major holiday light displays are now open. You'll find traditional displays featuring hundreds of strands of Christmas lights and newer traditions like the Chinese Lantern Festival at Booth Amphiteatre in Cary.
Santa Pictures: The big guy has taken his seat at malls across the region. Now is the time for kids to share their Christmas lists and grin (or cry!) with Santa. Some malls let you book your time with Santa in advance so you don't have to wait in line, so check before you go.
Museum Visit: This is the time when many of the region's museums launch special exhibits. Here's what's offered:
- Secret World Inside You: The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh explores microbes, the tiny microorganisms that play a role in just about everything our bodies do. Lots of interactives. Best for grade schoolers and up. (Check our our image gallery).
- Discover Your Governors: This free exhibit at the N.C. Museum of History in downtown Raleigh tells the story of North Carolina's governors and is designed for kids. Best for grade schoolers and up.
- Rolling Sculptures: Art Deco Cars: The exhibit at the N.C. Museum of Art features cars and motorcycles from the 1930s and 1940s. Great for anybody who loves vehicles.
- Turkey Day Parade Float Making at Marbles: Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh offers this special activity from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, and 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturday. It's free with admission, which is $5 per person.
New Playgrounds: This year was a big year for new playgrounds across the Triangle. Take the long weekend to visit one or all of them. They include Sassafras All Children's Playground, the largest playground in Raleigh; the new playground at Crowder District Park in Apex; Jack Smith Park in Cary; and Carpenter Park in Cary. (Check out our Sassafras image gallery and Jack Smith Park image gallery.)
Ice Raleigh: Raleigh's downtown ice skating rink on Fayetteville Street is now open and will be operating all of Thanksgiving weekend, including on Thanksgiving Day.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical: This really fun show is great for kids of all ages and is incredibly faithful to the holiday television classic. My kids have really enjoyed the show, which runs through Christmas Eve at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in Raleigh. Tickets start at $20.
Thanksgiving Weekend Music: The N.C. Symphony offers three concerts this weekend featuring holiday favorites such as "Silver Bells," "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and more. Special guests include Triangle Youth Ballet and the Raleigh Boychoir. Santa will be in the lobby before each performance. And, at 3 p.m., Wednesday, the symphony will present A Kids' Christmas with music from Frozen and other holiday favorites. The one-hour singing and dancing celebration includes visits with snow princesses and Santa. The performances are at the Duke Energy Center in downtown Raleigh.
Polar Express: At least two theaters are screening this Christmas favorite. It will be on the big screen at Park West Village in Morrisville on Nov. 27 and Nov. 30. (A Christmas Story is set for Wednesday, Nov. 23). "Polar Express 2D" opens Friday at Marbles' IMAX theater. The theater includes a sensory-friendly version at 11 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 26.
Author Visit: Caldecott Honor winner Aaron Becker visits Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh at 3 p.m., Friday, Nov. 25, with the climax to his wordless picture book trilogy, "Return." "Journey" and "Quest" came before it. "You'll be amazed at the beauty and moving storytelling in his pictures," Quail Ridge's staff writes. This is best for ages 4 and up.
The Scrap Exchange's Smashfest: The fundraiser is 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, at the creative reuse arts center in Durham. Purchase a smashable item (plates, paint-filled ornaments, mirrors, bric-a-brac, flaming toilet, etc.) and relieve holiday stress by smashing them against a dumpster. All ages welcome. You'll have to buy your "smashable," but it's free to smash them!
Go For a Hike: Hike NC will host a Thanksgiving weekend hike designed for families and kids. It's 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, at Annie Louise Wilkerson Park in north Raleigh and features an easy 3-mile hike. Registration through EventBrite is required. Or check out these Five Family Hikes for Families around the Triangle.
A Dickens Holiday: Take a trip down to Fayetteville for A Dickens Christmas. The Victorian-era experience includes horse-drawn carriages, visits with Father Christmas, the smells of cider and gingerbread, Ebenezer Scrooge himself and more. At 5 p.m., gather for the candlelight procession to the Market House, followed by fireworks.