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Weekend Plans: Raleigh Christmas Parade, light shows, Santa arrivals, more!

It's the holiday season! We have the WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade, the opening of Meadow Lights and Lake Myra Christmas, along with lots of Santa arrivals and more. Here's your weekend family fun!

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Raleigh Christmas Parade
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall
It’s a big weekend with some major holiday events. As always, check WRAL.com's Out & About calendar.

Here’s your weekend family fun!

The 2012 WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade kicks off around 9:40 a.m. on Saturday and runs about 2.5 hours, wrapping up with a visit from Santa Claus. Now in its 68th year, it’s safe to say this is a Triangle holiday tradition. Fun fact: It's billed as the largest Christmas parade between Atlanta and Washington, D.C. You’ll see a few large balloons here, along with floats, community groups, marching bands and much more. The parade runs down Hillsborough Street and eventually turns down Fayetteville Street. If you go, get there early - 8:30 a.m. or 9 a.m. is a good time to shoot for. With a high in the mid-50s expected, my family will definitely be bringing a thermos of hot chocolate. For some more details, including parking information, read my earlier post.
We have two of the region’s major holiday light shows opening for the season. Meadow Lights in Benson opens Friday. It’s free to see the lights, but there’s a small charge here to ride the train and carousel. And Lake Myra Christmas, which has moved its display to downtown Wendell this year, opens at 6 p.m., Saturday. For details about these and other major light shows in the region, read my earlier post.

Santa takes his seat at The Streets at Southpoint and Northgate Mall, both in Durham, this weekend.

At Southpoint, the celebration runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, with the Jingle Jam. The mall’s main street stage will feature performances from Big Bang Boom, Fizzbin the Magician, Apex High School and UNC carolers. Then the switch is flipped to light the tree and the Southern High School Marching Band will lead a parade in Santa’s honor. At Northgate, Santa arrives during a parade with the Salvation Army Band at 11 a.m., Saturday. This all happens in Center Court near the Bear Orchestra.
And North Hills will hold its annual tree lighting event from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, at the Raleigh shopping area. You’ll find a sledding hill, crafts, a bounce house, trackless train rides and more. The tree lighting with Santa happens at 6 p.m.
The Museum of Life and Science’s indoor train exhibit, Wonderland Express, opens Saturday for the season. Now in its second year, the exhibit features model trains zooming through a wintery scene. Admission is $3 for everybody 3 and up. Admission to the Durham museum is $14 for adults and $10 for kids ages 3 to 12.
Visitors to Marbles Kids Museum can meet and greet with UNC-TV characters from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday. Characters include Read-a-roo, Cat in the Hat, Curious George, Betsy, Super Why, WordGirl and Princess Presto. Not all characters will be present at each meet and greet time. It’s free with admission, which is $5 per person. And a reminder: Through Nov. 21, visitors to Marbles can get one free museum admission pass or buy-one-get-one free IMAX documentary coupon for every four cans of food donated. Limit one voucher per person. This is not valid for group admission.
The 17th annual American Indian Heritage Celebration at the N.C. Museum of History is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. The free event features performers, artisans, hands-on activities and much more. Plenty of people head over here after watching the Christmas parade, which wraps up a few blocks away around noon. During the event’s Grand Entry at noon, dancers in colorful regalia will be led by Miss Indian North Carolina Layla Rose Locklear.
Blue Jay Point County Park will host Night Owls and Candle Magic from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday. Enjoy a stroll along the park’s luminaria-lined trail to learn about the activities of our local owls. There will be hot chocolate and a craft. This is free for all ages (though baby backpacks are recommended instead of strollers). The last stroll starts at 8:30 p.m. This is free and there is no need to pre-register. Just show up.
Partners for the Advancement of Gifted Education of Wake County’s Super Saturday at Meredith College is Saturday. The event includes classes for kids in grades kindergarten through eighth grade. There also are two talks for parents on gifted education. You must be a member of PAGE to take part in the programs. Membership is $15. Some of the sessions are sold out, but others have spaces. Check the website for more information and to sign up.
From noon to 4 p.m., Sunday, the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke will hold one of its free Family Days. The event includes live entertainment, gallery hunts and other activities. Admission is free for all.
And Broad Street Cafe in Durham will feature a free concert at 4:30 p.m., Sunday. The concert is part of the cafe's BSC Kids series. Durham songwriter Stephen Vincent will sing a big song about animals. As the cafe’s website says: “Just fill out a short form near the stage with the name of the animal you'd like to hear a song about, and Stephen will make one up for you on the spot during his show."
If you're looking for other holiday fun, check Go Ask Mom's Holiday Central and WRAL's Holiday Guide.

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