Weekend Plans: Christmas parades, tree lightings, festivals, more
Posted December 3, 2014
Updated December 5, 2014
It’s a busy weekend of Christmas activities. As always, check WRAL.com’s Out & About calendar for more weekend fun. And be sure to keep an eye on the skies. There is some rain in the forecast that could muddle some of these plans.
Let’s start with the big ones: We have major Christmas light shows, Santa at the mall and The Nutcracker across the Triangle. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer continues at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in Raleigh. And there’s ice skating at Raleigh’s Winterfest rink and Durham’s The Ice Factory at American Tobacco Campus.
The Holiday Express takes over Pullen Park this Thursday through Sunday. Note that the park will be closed to the general public on those days and that the event is nearly sold out. And the Museum of Life and Science’s Santa Train and New Hope Valley Railway’s Santa Train also take off for the season. Tickets could be slim for these so be sure to get them before you go.
And we have Christmas parades - at least 13 this Friday through Sunday in the region.
Raleigh’s big Winterfest Celebration is 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, at City Plaza in downtown Raleigh along Fayetteville Street. The major event includes skating at the rink, a gingerbread house competition, carnival rides including a Ferris wheel, sledding hill, a tree lighting, Santa and more. Much of the evening is free, but tickets are required for the rides.
Raleigh Little Theatre opens “Cinderella,” the community theater’s annual holiday show. This is a wonderful show for all ages. My girls absolutely love it. It tells the classic Cinderella story with a few twists. The story is told during Christmas time so it has a seasonal feel. The show runs on select days through Dec. 20. Tickets are $33.
UPDATE: This event has been rescheduled for Dec. 13 because of the threat of rain. Go Ask Mom will be at North Hills’ Winter Wonderland event. It’s 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, at the Raleigh shopping area and includes crafts and Christmas movies.
Durham Central Park will celebrate the opening of its new Mt. Merrill playground. It's scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, at the park at 501 Foster St. The new playground will include slides, boulder outcroppings and protective surfacing.
And there’s more!
Christmas on Salem Street takes over downtown Apex from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday. There’s a pancake breakfast at the firehouse from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., Saturday. And there are pictures with Santa at the Halle Cultural Arts Center from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday.
In Cary, the annual Ole Time Winter Festival is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. Part of Chatham Street between Academy and Harrison streets, including part of Ashworth Village and Fidelity Bank parking lots ,will be blocked off for this event, which includes food; artists; local performing groups; a kid’s zone with Raku pottery making, ornament making and face painting; a roving magician; and professional pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. And there are many other holiday events in Cary this weekend, including family-friendly holiday movies, Santa’s workshop and a tree lighting. It’s all part of the town’s Heart of the Holidays celebration.
Durham’s Holiday Fun Fest is 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, at Rock Quarry Park. The free event includes a kids corner with arts and crafts and face painting. There will be opportunities to write messages to the military and Meals on Wheels recipients. You’ll find treats and be able to visit with Santa Claus.
Durham’s state historic sites also are getting involved in the fun with special events. Duke Homestead’s Christmas by Candlelight is 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Dec. 12. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for kids 10 and under. Take an evening tour to learn more about how Christmas was celebrated in 1870. There also will be caroling, dances, hot apple cider and other goodies.
Historic Stagville has Christmas at the Big House, Christmas at the Quarters from noon to 4 p.m., Saturday. The event offers holiday treats and a Christmas-themed tour of the site with a costumed interpreter to hear about life on the plantation. Then visitors can take a mule and wagon ride through Horton Grove to see Jonkonnu performers. It’s free.
Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site in Johnston County offers a Civil War Christmas from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. Visitors can help decorate an 1860s style Christmas tree, spend time with Confederate soldiers around a campfire, sip cider and tour the 1855 Harper House. It's free.
Historic Oak View County Park has its sleigh rides and cider annual event from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturday. There will be sleigh rides, tours, cider, baked goods and Santa. The park's building will be decorated for Christmas.
Cary Academy’s Holiday Shoppe is this Thursday to Saturday. The ArtsCenter’s Elf Fair in Carrboro is Saturday if you’re looking for unique gifts. And Sanderson High School has more than 150 vendors for its Holly Days shopping event this Saturday and Sunday at the school on Dixon Drive in Raleigh. Admission is $2. Proceeds benefit the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
Joel Lane Museum House’s Christmas open house is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, near downtown Raleigh. The day includes costumed docents, live music, crafts, games and more. It’s free.
Fuquay-Varina will host free sleigh rides from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday, as part of the town’s tree lighting event. Bring a canned good to exchange for your sleigh ticket. The tree lighting is at 6 p.m.
Garner’s Light Up Main tree lighting and holiday festival is 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, on Main Street. The event includes local entertainment, kids activities and Santa and Mrs. Claus visits. The tree lighting is at 6 p.m.
Knightdale hosts its tree lighting at Knightdale Station Park at 6 p.m., Friday. The evening includes performances, food trucks, a visit with Mrs. Claus, letters to Santa and more.
And Wake Forest’s tree lighting event is 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, at Wake Forest Town Hall. The evening includes free horse and carriage rides and pictures with Santa. The pictures are free, but you’ll need a ticket with a time reservation to visit with the big guy. Tickets will be passed out in the town hall lobby starting at 5:30 p.m.
And The Relative Pitch, a monthly open mic night for kids ages 18 and under, will be 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, at Sola Coffee Cafe on Lead Mine Road in north Raleigh. Registration is required for performers, but it's free and open to the public.