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Weekend Plans: Raleigh's Winterfest, Durham's Holiday Fest, parades, menorah lightings, more

It's all things holiday this weekend with Hanukkah events plus Raleigh's Winterfest, Durham's Holiday Fun Fest, Cary's Heart of the Holidays, lots of Christmas parades, tree lightings and more.

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Rink a key to Raleigh's Winterfest
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

It's almost all things holiday this weekend. But let's start with the holiday that is actually this weekend: Hanukkah.

Hanukkah started Wednesday night and there are several events this weekend, including a concert at Quail Ridge, menorah lightings at Crabtree Valley Mall and the lighting of Cary's first official menorah on Sunday. Check my earlier post for more information and links. Happy Hanukkah!
And so that it doesn't get lost among all the holiday events, Lunch Money, the indie band for kids and families will play The ArtsCenter in Carrboro at 11 a.m. Saturday. The ArtsCenter also will be hosting an event starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday to showcase some of its programs for kids. Read my earlier post on these events for details. Lunch Money is a lot of fun. It should be a great show.

And of course there are many Santa-centric celebrations across the Triangle.

We'll start off with the opening of Raleigh's Winterfest. This two-month-long event features an ice rink on City Plaza on Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. The city will kick off the opening with a big festival on Saturday featuring music (including one of the stars of the TNT show "Leverage"), a visit with Santa, carriage and carousel rides, a holiday tree, plus the opening of the ice rink. The event is 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. The rink will be open until 11 p.m. The event is free. It will cost you $8 to skate (that includes the skates). The rink will stay open through Jan. 30 and there are some special events planned between now and then. Of note for moms with kids in strollers, you can skate with your stroller from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursdays starting Dec. 9. And there will be sledding Sunday events from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 19, Jan. 9 and Jan. 16. Stay tuned for more on all that.
Before the opening of Winterfest, check out some of downtown Raleigh's merchants during A Taste of Retail. Stores will be offering discounts, music and treats. It runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. These include the downtown museum gift shops at Marbles Kids Museum, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences and the N.C. Museum of History, which all offer some great gifts for kids. And Ornamentea on North West Street is encouraging people of all crafting abilities to stop by and make some earrings for just $2. (Sounds like a great activity for kids. You may just see me there).
Durham's Holiday Fun Fest from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday is replacing the city's traditional Christmas parade this year. But there still will be a mini parade at 3 p.m. at the corner of West Main and Corcoran streets, along with a "Kandy Kane Kid's Korner" with a petting zoo, snow sledding (sleds provided), bounce house, face painting and crafts. You'll also find an area where you can write messages to soldiers in the military, a meet-and-greet with Santa and other activities. Check the website for information, a map and parking details. The festival will be held primarily at the CCB Plaza, 201 N. Corcoran St. Some events will be at the Durham Armory, 212 Foster St.
And Cary's Heart of the Holidays celebration includes activities at parks and other locations across Cary on Saturday. All six of the sledding sessions during the Winter Wonderland event at Bond Park are sold out. But there's still plenty you can do. Kids ages 10 and under and their parents are invited to Santa's Workshop from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Herbert C. Young Community Center, 101 Wilkinson Ave. The event includes hands-on crafts, live entertainment by the Cary Ballet Company and a chance to see Santa. Send each child with two non-perishable food items to support the Cary Teen Council's food drive. It all continues from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Page-Walker Arts & History Center's Holiday Open House. Victorian carolers will set the mood and visitors can learn about century-old holiday traditions. Free horse-drawn carriage rides offered. And at 6 p.m., folks will gather at the corner of North Academy Street and Ambassador Loop Drive to watch the lighting of the 30-foot Christmas tree. There will be a holiday variety show and more. At 8 p.m., the Cary Players will perform "Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus." Check Cary's Heart of the Holidays website for more information about all the events. Santa also has set up a mailbox at Cary Town Hall for kids to drop letters this month. Drop off your letters before Dec. 17 and your child will hear back from Santa.

And we've got some Christmas parades or tree lightings elsewhere:

And there's more:

The Theatre in the Park's A Christmas Carol, a Triangle tradition, begins its run Friday through Sunday at the Durham Performing Arts Center. It will move to Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium on Dec. 8.
Lazy O Farm's Christmas Dayz are Saturday, Dec. 11 and Dec. 18 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Walk through the scenes of Jesus' birth, roast some marshmallows at a campfire, sip on hot chocolate or cider, take a hayride, meet Santa and more. It's $8 per person. The farm is at 3583 Packing Plant Rd. in Smithfield. A portion of the sales will go to the Baptist Children's Home.
Deans Farm Market in Wilson also is offering hayrides with a stop at Santa's Workshop. Kids can make holiday crafts, write a letter to Santa and more. Hayrides run every 30 minutes from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturdays only through Dec. 18. Tickets are $9 per person and include a goodie bag.
Santa Trains are running at both New Hope Valley Railway and the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer this weekend. Check my earlier post on Santa trains for details. Tickets are available for some, but not all of the rides. Buy now if you plan on going.

And some local historic sites have holiday events:

Historic Oak View County Park in Raleigh will host its Sleigh Rides and Cider: A Winter Night at Oak View from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
Duke Homestead's Christmas by Candlelight is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Dec. 10 in Durham. Celebrate an 1870 Christmas with evening tours of the site. You'll see period decorations, caroling, hot apple cider, dancing and a visit from Santa. Free, but donations are welcomed.
Historic Stagville in Durham will hold its Christmas in the Big House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Christmas in the Quarters from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. The Bennehan House (AKA big house) will be decorated for Christmas during the daytime event and feature music, games, food and mule drawn wagon rides. The evening program focuses on how slave families celebrated the holiday. Fee for adult tours is $5 per adult. Kids under 12 are free.
And the N.C. Museum of History and the Joel Lane House are teaming up to bring you a Colonial Christmas from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Celebrate the season at both the museum and house in downtown Raleigh. Ride the Raleigh Trolley between the two museums on Sunday.

And some big events coming up:

Disney on Ice: Toy Story 3 will open at the RBC Center on Dec. 8.
And the State Capitol tree lighting ceremony and festival is from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 9.
There is actually more. So check out our holiday event guide for more events this weekend and this month. And go to Go Ask Mom's Holiday Central for all our holiday coverage, including details on area light shows, volunteer opportunities for kids, our Made by Mom Gift Guide and more.

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