Free Spirit of the Holidays
It’s that time once again - time to wrap up another year; time to wrap up in a snug sweater; perhaps it’s even time to wrap up a present or two. Visitors to Greater Raleigh will find holiday cheer mixed with southern charm that creates the perfect recipe for an unforgettable 2011-2012 holiday season. For a full listing of holiday events, visit visitRaleigh.com/holiday. Take the Destination I.D. quiz to discover which Greater Raleigh visitor you are, and then match your I.D. with the many area events that match your personality. We’ve also included great hotel rates and deals for an even more affordable holiday getaway.
Free Spirit Holiday Happenings
It’s the season for Santa, mistletoe, holiday light displays, parades and winter festivals, and in venues and towns throughout Greater Raleigh you’ll find events to put the whole family in the holiday spirit. Start with a parade and festival like the Knightdale Tree Lighting (12/2) and Christmas Parade (12/3), Wendell Lighting of the Town Square (12/2), Morrisville Tree Lighting (12/2), Apex Rotary Club Annual Christmas Parade (12/3), Fuquay-Varina Tree Lighting ( 12/1) and Hometown Christmas Parade (12/4), Zebulon Christmas Parade (12/4), Rolesville Christmas Parade (12/4), Holly Springs Happy Holly Days Christmas Parade (12/10), Cary Jaycees Christmas Parade (12/10) or the N.C. State Capitol Tree Lighting and Holiday Festival (12/10). It’s one of downtown Raleigh’s most popular evening escapes; First Friday (12/2) celebrates downtown’s exciting art, music and food scene, and grab your mittens and scarves and make your way to City Plaza for one of the area’s favorite holiday events—the AT&T Raleigh Winterfest (opening 12/4). This two-month long extravaganza features an outdoor skating rink with natural ice! Your child’s favorite Disney characters come to life at the RBC Center when Disney on Ice presents: Dare to Dream (12/7-11). Enjoy arts, crafts, food, music and activities during the Heart of Cary Ole Time Winter Festival (12/3), and after extensive renovations Pullen Park has finally reopened and invites kids of all ages to celebrate the season during the Holiday Express (12/8-11) with light displays, lighted train ride, historic carousel rides and more! Bundle up for Sleigh Rides and Cider (12/3) at Historic Oak View County Park, take a Trolley Ride (through 12/17) at North Hills or spot Santa when he rides the train at New Hope Valley Railway (12/3-4 & 12/10-11). The N.C. State Fairgrounds turns into a Nordic wonderland during the Scandinavian Christmas Fair (12/3), which features music, dancing, entertainment and crafts. To end 2011 on a high note, First Night Raleigh (12/31) has fun-filled events for the whole family including a People’s Parade, a huge Ferris wheel in City Plaza, music, food and the dropping of the copper acorn at midnight, the RBC Center presents the New Year’s Eve Extravaganza 2012 (12/31) and Marbles Kids Museum hosts Noon Year’s Eve (12/31) complete with ticker tape parade, games and more. Get out of the cold and head over to the newest 3D theatre at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences for Tornado Alley 3D or to the Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles Kids Museum for Olivia’s Wintertime Cheer (through Dec.), Happy Feet 3D (through 12/16) or Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (starts 12/16).
Skates, Saddles and Smack Downs
It’s the holiday season, and sports are in full swing in the Raleigh area. The Carolina Hurricanes play at Raleigh’s RBC Center against the Rangers (12/1), Penguins (12/3), Canucks (12/18), Coyotes (12/21), Senators (12/23), Devils (12/26) and the Maple Leafs (12/29), while N.C. State University’s men’s basketball team hits the court against N.C. Central (12/11), Syracuse (12/17), Northeastern (12/22), Campbell (12/29) and Western Carolina (12/31). Move those feet to a jingling beat during the Arthritis Foundation’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis (12/3), and cheer on the biggest names in professional wrestling during the WWE Smackdown (12/13) at the RBC Center. Get some cowboy culture at the Bulls, Bells and Barrels –Bull Riding Event (12/9-10) at the N.C. State Fairgrounds, or buy a last-minute gift for your favorite Adrenaline Junkie at the Sportscard and Sports Memorabilia Show (12/16-18).
The Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts is the place to be this month for performances that will put even the biggest Scrooge in the holiday spirit. America’s favorite Christmas movie takes to the stage during the North Carolina Theatre’s A Christmas Story: the Musical (12/1-4), and make sure you’re part of a 37-year Raleigh tradition, Ira David Wood’s performance of the Dickens' classic, A Christmas Carol (12/8-14). Theatre in the Park also presents The Santaland Diaries (12/8-11), a true-life account of humorist, and Raleigh-native, David Sedaris’s time of being a department store Santa. Young audiences adore the classic story The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (12/12), and the Carolina Ballet’s Nutcracker (12/16-24) will mesmerize audiences with a new adaptation featuring grand-scale illusions. The North Carolina Symphony has a month full of performances including Mahler’s Fourth Symphony (12/2-3), Twas the Night Before Christmas (12/22) with special guest David Crabtree reading this classic holiday tale and New Year’s Eve in Vienna (12/31). Enjoy the sounds of the season during the Philharmonic Association’s Holiday Concert (12/7), the angelic sounds of handbells during the Raleigh Ringers Holiday Concert (12/11), Raleigh Boy Choir sings Carols of Christmas (12/16) and the Triangle Brass Band’s Holiday Pops Concert (12/17). Burning Coal Theatre Company presents Henry V (on Trapeze) (12/1-4) at the Murphey School Auditorium in a soaring production of the Shakespeare classic featuring aerial gymnastics, and the Raleigh Little Theatre presents their annual performance of Cinderella (12/9-18). Take in some art during the holidays during the special exhibition Rembrandt in America (through 1/22) at the N.C. Museum of Art, and take a stroll through one of downtown Raleigh’s historic neighborhoods during the Boylan Heights Art Walk (12/4).
You’ve got your list, and now is the time to finish last-minute gift-buying. Check out a one-of-a-kind shopping experience with more than 100 vendors at Cary Academy’s annual Holiday Shoppe 2011 (12/1-3). Head to the N.C. State Fairgrounds for the weekly Flea Market (Sat. and Sun) or discover the perfect antique for the collector on your list at the Raleigh Antiques Extravaganza (12/9-11) with more than 125 vendors, and buy a gift for yourself at the North Carolina Pottery Fair (12/9-11). Don’t forget the area has 11 major shopping destinations featuring big-name retailers like Macy’s and Saks 5th Avenue but also numerous boutiques and independently owned specialty stores. Make sure you get a Holiday Shopping Passport for use at participating downtown Raleigh retailers – once you get five stamps you’re registered to win one of five local shopping packages.
Holiday traditions at some of the area’s historic homes and neighborhoods are eagerly anticipated year after year – make these old traditions, new traditions for you and your family. Take a Christmas Tour of the Joel Lane Museum House (12/3) where this circa 1770s house is decorated in colonial greenery and fruit, and Mordecai Historic Park, birthplace of Andrew Jackson, has its Holiday Open House and Lantern Tour (12/10). Re-enactors camp at the N.C. State Capitol during the Civil War Christmas Encampment (12/10), the Apex Historic Society presents the Annual Christmas Homes Tour (12/4) and Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour of Homes (12/10-11) gives visitors a glimpse into some of the oldest homes in Raleigh, all decorated in holiday splendor. Discover the history of North Carolina from the earliest settlers to modern-day events that have shaped our state’s history at The Story of North Carolina (ongoing) at the N.C. Museum of History, and find out the mystery of one of the most ruthless Mongol warlords in history during the blockbuster exhibition Genghis Khan: The Exhibition (through 1/16) at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.
Sound of the Season
Holiday concerts can range from small, local groups to big-budget touring shows, and the Raleigh area has plenty of live music to satisfy any musical wish. Grammy Award-winning Christian rock band Third Day brings their Make Your Move Fall Tour (12/2) to Dorton Arena at the N.C. State Fairgrounds, while the RBC Center welcomes The Platinum Legends of Hip Hop and R&B (12/2) and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (12/4). The award-winning acapella group Straight No Chaser (12/16-17) puts a contemporary spin on traditional holiday classics at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts
The holidays and food are synonymous with each other, and it’s best to just forget the diet in December! The Raleigh area has plenty of Foodie activities that will make you remember why this is the most wonderful (food) time of the year. Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours offers two new walking tours this month. Taste Carolina has partnered with Art Gallery Tours NC (12/19) to offer a special afternoon of food and culture with stops at Mordecai area restaurants and two art galleries for tours, and Eat & Shop Local (12/14) pairs eating and shopping. Triangle Food Tours (Saturdays) takes you to downtown Raleigh and Cary restaurants for indulging in some of the area’s most celebrated food. Explore Raleigh’s urban winery during the 8th Annual Open House at Chatham Hill Winery (12/10-11) with special tours, tastings and entertainment.