2021 WRAL Tower Lighting

Join us on December 1 as we celebrate one of our favorite holiday traditions – the 63rd annual lighting of the WRAL-TV tower, creating a 300-foot beacon to light Santa's way to Raleigh.

We'll also light the towers at our sister properties at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham and Rocky Mount Mills.

You can watch the WRAL Tower Lighting Special to see all three towers lit from the comfort of your own home.

Or choose to celebrate with us in person in Durham or Rocky Mount. Each ceremony has musical guests, prizes and photo opportunities.

WRAL Tower Lighting Special

Debra Morgan and David Crabtree will head up the WRAL Tower Lighting Special 2021, with Lena Tillet live from Durham and Gerald Owens live in Rocky Mount.

In Raleigh, we will turn the 300-foot WRAL TV tower into the area’s largest lighted tree for the 63rd year!

Tune in for seasonal guest performances by:

  • North Carolina country/pop musician Rory John Zak
  • Bluesman and storyteller Randy McQuay
  • A cappella group Catch 22
  • Walltown Children's Theater Group

American Tobacco Water Tower lighting in Durham

Visit Durham's American Tobacco Campus from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 to celebrate the season with the lighting of the Lucky Strike Tower!

The holiday lights event will feature special appearances by Wool E. Bull, Rudolph, Frosty and Mr. & Mrs. Claus.

We’ll also have 2,000 light wands to distribute courtesy of our friends at Dominion Energy and NC 811.

Expect live shows by local talent like:

  • Barriskill Dance Theatre School
  • Catch 22 Vocal Band
  • Elevate
  • Empower Dance Studio
  • Walltown Children's Theater Group

After the tower lights, grab a hot cocoa, stroll the river and enjoy post-show music, art and entertainment. And don’t forget to take that holiday selfie with the illuminated American Tobacco Water Tower in the background! #WRALHolidays #ATCHolidays

Holiday tower lighting at Rocky Mount Mills

Rocky Mount Mills will host a festive night of live music, horse-drawn carriage rides and a storytime with Santa on Dec. 1 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Expect events full of holiday cheer like:

  • North Carolina blues musician, storyteller and one-man band Randy McQuay
  • Horse carriage rides through the festive mill campus
  • Storytime at the coffee shop with Santa and Mrs. Claus
  • Local breweries and restaurants planning holiday activities and cocktails

WRAL's holiday tower lighting: A beloved 63-year tradition

This December marks the 63rd year that WRAL and Capitol Broadcasting Company have ushered in the holiday season by lighting a 300-foot tall tower of almost 3,000 colorful lights, becoming one of the tallest "Christmas trees" in Raleigh.

It all began in 1959, with Capitol Broadcasting founder A.J. Fletcher reading "A Christmas Carol" to viewers before the tower was lit.

Over time, the original tradition was embellished with new ones, including musical performances, aerial video from Sky 5, manufactured snow to set the mood and streaming video to the web and mobile phones.

In 2017, WRAL anchor Bill Leslie debuted a Christmas original composition.

Celebrations from seasons past

Nights of Lights returns to Dix Park

In 2020, WRAL News teamed up with the City of Raleigh and Dix Park to create a magical wonderland of lights spanning 1.3 miles of rolling hills and grassy fields – all from the safety of your vehicle.

WRAL's Nights of Lights has returned for its second year, quickly becoming a new holiday tradition in the Triangle. this year, we have more lights, more nights and less traffic! The show runs Nov. 20 through Dec. 24, and tickets are on sale now.

Holiday lights abound

As Christmas approaches, homes and businesses around the Triangle light the night with unique displays, musical choreography, inflatables and decorations – and we don't want you to miss any of them!

We've compiled a guide to the best big Christmas light displays around the Triangle, complete with addresses, so you can just pull out your GPS and go explore.

Or see them all without starting the car using our online map, and be sure to share your photos!

Television special and COVID-19 safety

Can’t join us in person? We will once again celebrate the 2021 holiday season by lighting the towers at all three locations in one very special TV event.

Watch from the comfort of your home Wednesday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. only on WRAL and wral.com!

Our in-person events will follow safety protocols to help keep people safe this holiday season:

  • Masks are highly recommended regardless of vaccination status
  • Complimentary holiday masks will be available
  • If you are not feeling well, as a courtesy to others, please stay at home and watch the tower light on WRAL and WRAL.com.