If it seems like the holidays start earlier in Raleigh, there’s a reason for that. The Raleigh Christmas parade, the local kickoff to the holiday season, is traditionally held the weekend before Thanksgiving.
While that date stays the same, it’s 2020, so the holiday season in Raleigh will look a little different. We’re rounding up the creative ways our neighbors are adapting holiday traditions for a safe and festive season.
Know of another event open to the public? Send us an email at email@example.com.
And don’t forget to shop local and support Raleigh businesses — find our guides here, which will be updated.
Sign up for a call from Santa
Raleigh Parks is coordinating with the North Pole for calls from Santa to kids ages 2-10. For a $5 fee, you can schedule a call during times on Dec. 8, 10, 15 or 17. Pro tip: Add your kids as family members in your Raleigh Parks RecLink account before you register. [info]
Visit Santa at the Pope House
The Pope House Museum, a house museum in Raleigh that pays tribute to a prominent African-American family who lived there, is offering times with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 5, and Sunday, Dec. 6. Free to visit, photos with Santa for a fee, make sure to register in advance. [info]
Nights of Lights
Artsplosure, WRAL and the City of Raleigh will host a drive-through at Dorothea Dix Park from Dec. 16 to New Year’s Eve. Expect holiday-themed lights and Christmas music, with a special First Night Raleigh spin on Dec. 30 + 31. The festive route will be 1.3 miles and only available as a drive-through, though there will be a special bike drive-through time with a price of $4/bike.
Family drive-in holiday movies
Raleigh Parks is hosting four drive-in Christmas movies on the first two weekends of December. See “The Grinch,” “Elf,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “The Polar Express” with the fam. $5/car, must be pre-purchased online.
More Raleigh Parks events, including the Jolly Raleigh Scavenger Hunt, can be found here.
Seasonal (virtual) performances from NC Master Chorale
Two virtual events from the North Carolina Master Chorale will help you get in the spirit:
Every Valley, Every Voice: Messiah Together, 3 p.m. Dec. 6, sing along with Handel’s “Messiah,” Part I. The soloists will perform and lead community virtual attendees through the choruses. $10 tickets available online.
Joy of the Season, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15: The annual tradition will include a few special guests while you enjoy (and participate) from your couch. $15 tickets.
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GIFT-GIVING GUIDES: Our local guide to supporting local this season.
Carolina Ballet’s ‘The Nutcracker’
The longstanding tradition won’t be performed in front of a live audience this year; instead, WRAL will film a special performance and broadcast the ballet live on Dec. 25, Christmas night, at 7 p.m. More info at Carolina Ballet’s site.
Downtown Raleigh tree lighting
The Downtown Raleigh Tree lighting will be virtual this year, broadcast by ABC11 at 5:45-6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20. More info.
Raleigh Christmas Parade
Going virtually live this year, ABC-11 and WRAL will broadcast the Christmas parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21. Shop Local Raleigh is encouraging parade watchers to pick up coffee, tea and doughnuts before settling in to watch from home.
Tree Lighting Ceremonies and Market in Lafayette Village
The North Raleigh shopping district, home to several locally-owned shops and restaurants, will host two days of tree-lighting ceremonies during a shopping event this weekend. Triangle Pop-Up will host a market in the corridors between the shops, 12-6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, and 12-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22.
The Tree Lighting ceremonies will be 6 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday. Two trees will be lit during each, one in the Courtyard and one on The Green, for social distancing. Lafayette Village is located at 8450 Honeycutt Road in Raleigh. [Event page]
North Hills virtual tree lighting
North Hills will host its annual Holiday Shop & Stroll Saturday, Nov. 21, 12-4 p.m., followed by a virtual tree lighting at 7 p.m. on the shopping district’s Facebook page.