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Holiday events 2020 in Raleigh and Wake County

IMPORTANT NOTE: Raleigh Convergence is no longer publishing, as of April 1, 2022. Read more.
The unlit tree in front of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Raleigh on Monday.

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 editor@raleighconvergence.com.

And don’t forget to shop local and support Raleigh businessesfind 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

Storytime with Santa

Historic Oak View Park will host a virtual Storytime with Santa on its Facebook page beginning Dec. 5 at 10 a.m. and continuing on Dec. 12 and 19, according to Go Ask Mom.

Drive-through Hanukkah

The Jewish Festival of Lights will look different this year. Beginning Dec. 10 at sundown, Hanukkah continues for eight days. Temple Beth Or is doing a drive-through celebration Dec. 12 with lights and art, plus food for purchase that will support the temple.

Chabad Young Professionals will celebrate with Eight Crazy Nights, a series of small gatherings and virtual events.

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.

Tickets go on sale at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, beginning at $15/car. [purchase]

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.

Evening with Elves

Marbles Kids Museum created a hybrid on-demand program with an at-home party pack for participants. Let Pizza Times or The Pit make dinner for an additional charge. The fundraiser begins Dec. 4. [details]

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.

Holiday Pops with Jingles the Elf

The NC Symphony will perform a virtual, ticketed event including familiar Christmas classics and a special reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Dec. 19, 7 p.m. $20 tickets.

GET REMINDED: We’ll include these events and more in our Friday email newsletters. Sign up here.
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.

Past events:

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.

Update: Holidays with the Popes has been canceled.

Author: raleighconvergence

Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen is the editor of Raleigh Convergence.

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