Entertainment

Your guide to the Triangle’s tree lightings, Christmas parades and Santa sightings

The State Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony festivities start at 5 p.m. with the lighting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at 1 E. Edenton St., Raleigh.
The State Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony festivities start at 5 p.m. with the lighting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at 1 E. Edenton St., Raleigh. N.C. MUSEUM OF HISTORY

Santa’s calendar is pretty booked up by now.

But he sometimes leaves his perch at the mall to visit the Triangle’s parades, tree lightings and holiday events.

Meanwhile, Raleigh’s Christmas Parade kicked off the area’s holiday season, but there are more parades over the next few weeks pretty much everywhere. (As we said, Santa’s a busy guy.)

Raleigh’s Christmas tree lighting is on the move from Fayetteville Street to the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Durham will have two lightings in one night — first at the American Tobacco Campus, then in downtown.

So start making plans. Here’s a town-by-town guide.

Apex

Christmas on Salem Street in downtown Apex is Nov. 30 to Dec. 1 with a tree lighting at 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, as well as Christmas carols. Horse-drawn carriage rides between Center and Hunter streets are 6 to 9 p.m. The cost is $10 per person. Children 2 and younger ride free. There also will be a children’s train ride from 6 to 9 p.m., starting in front of the Halle Cultural Arts Center. Tickets are $5.

On Dec. 1, the Apex Rotary Pancake Breakfast is 7 to 11 a.m. at the Apex Downtown Fire House. Photos with Santa are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Apex Rotary Christmas Parade starts down Salem Street at 5 p.m.

On Dec. 2, the Apex Historical Holiday Home Tour is 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the Apex Chamber of Commerce or the Rusty Bucket. apexdowntown.com/christmas-on-salem-street-2018

Carrboro

The town celebrates its annual holiday tree lighting with performance by the Children’s Chorus at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, at Carrboro Town Hall, 301 W. Main St.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Holiday Parade is 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Dec. 8, beginning at the old post office on East Franklin Street and ending at Carrboro Town Hall on Main Street. chapelhillholidayparade.com

Cary

The Heart of the Holidays Celebration is Saturday, Dec. 1. There will be several events: a 1940s Radio Christmas Carol at 3 and 7:30 p.m., Cary Arts Center; Christmas Tree Lighting at Town Hall, 121 Wilkinson Ave., at 6 p.m. and talent show; Santa’s Workshop from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Herbert C. Young Community Center; Page-Walker Holiday Open House from 3 to 6 p.m.; and a gingerbread house competition all day. townofcary.org, search Heart of the Holidays.

The Cary Jaycees Christmas Parade in downtown Cary is at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, along East Chatham Street and South Academy Street. The event is rain or shine. caryjaycees.org

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The Cary Jaycees Christmas Parade in downtown Cary is at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, along East Chatham Street and South Academy Street. NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill hosts a Bazaar Craft and Art Market on the Plaza at 140 W. Franklin St. on Sunday, Dec. 2. A variety of artisans will set up at 140 West Plaza from noon to 5 p.m. The tree lighting follows at 6 p.m. at University Baptist Church, 100 S. Columbia St., Chapel Hill, with caroling and Santa photos. downtownchapelhill.com/holiday2018

Chabad at UNC/Duke hosts the annual menorah lighting at the Pit, the brick courtyard next to the UNC Student Stores on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5. There will be an LED light show, doughnuts and music.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Holiday Parade through both town’s downtowns starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. The route proceeds from the old post office on East Franklin Street in Chapel Hill and ends on Main Street at Carrboro Town Hall. The parade is organized by the Raleigh Jaycees and town of Chapel Hill. chapelhillholidayparade.com

A holiday ArtWalk with luminaries will be in downtown Chapel Hill Dec. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. Caroling and hot beverages at 140 West Plaza.

Clayton

Clayton’s annual Christmas parade is at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, on Main Street downtown. The event is held rain or shine. claytonrotarync.org

Durham

The 14th American Tobacco Water Tower Lighting starts at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30 at American Tobacco off Blackwell Street downtown. Peformers on stage include Santa’s Helpers, Rudolph and Frosty, Ballerina in the Snow Globe, Durham Bullhorns, Diamond Elite Athletics, Barriskill Dance Theater, Little River K-8 School Empower Dance Group, Githens Middle School, Elevate NC, UNC Tarpeggios and Santa, Mrs. Claus and Elf. The first 1,000 people to arrive will receive a free light wand.

Downtown Durham Inc. will have a tree lighting right after the American Tobacco lighting. Around 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, everyone will march up Blackwell Street, led by Paperhand Puppet Intervention and Batala Durham drummers, to CCB Plaza at 201 Corcoran St., near the Major the Bull statue.

The Durham Holiday Parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. The parade will start at the Health Department (Main and Dillard streets) and end near Duke University East Campus (Main Street and Buchanan Boulevard).

Parade marshals this year are Grammy Award-winning jazz musician Branford Marsalis and Mayor Steve Schewel. There will be about 100 units in the parade, including 10 floats and six marching bands. Meteorologist Wes Hohenstein and reporter Derrick Lewis from CBS 17 News will announce the parade. There will be performance areas at the intersections of Mangum and Main, Chapel Hill and Main and Duke and Main streets.

Holiday Fun Fest follows the parade from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 on Blackwell Street between Morehead Avenue and West Lakewood Avenue. The free event includes the Peppermint Plunge, which is snow sledding for children and adults, with sleds provided, along with two snow play areas. Children can also meet Santa Claus and decorate holiday cards for home bound people in the community. dprplaymore.org

The Levin Jewish Community Center in Durham hosts a free Hanukkah Festival from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2. The event at the JCC, 1937 W. Cornwallis Road, includes singing, storytelling, crafts and a small marketplace.

In northern Durham County, the Bahama Ruritan Club sponsors an annual Bahama Christmas Parade. It will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at the intersection of Country Knoll and Bahama roads and end at The Ruritan Club, 8202 Stagville Road, where there will be free hot chocolate and doughnuts.

Durham Holiday Parade with Grand Marshals Mayor William V. "Bill" Bell & Mayor-elect Steve Schewel

Fuquay-Varina

Fuquay-Varina’s tree lighting is at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 at the Main/Vance Street Lot. There will be an ice skating rink from 4 to 9 p.m. on Vance Street; visits with Santa at Fuquay Mineral Spring Park from 6:30 to 9 p.m.; sleigh rides ($3) from 6 to 8 p.m. at 120 S. Main St., and choral performances from 6 to 9 p.m. fuquay-varinadowntown.com or fuquay-varina.org

The Fuquay-Varina Christmas Parade is at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, in downtown Fuquay-Varina on Main Street. There are some changes to the route this year. It will start at East Academy Street and South Fuquay Avenue, head south before it turns on East Vance Street, then heads north on South Main Street before traveling the length of North Main Street and ending at the intersection of North Woodrow Street. Find route and street closings at fuquay-varina.org.

Garner

Garner’s Light Up Main is 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, in downtown Garner on Main Street. There will be children’s activities, a talent showcase, face painting, free hot chocolate and cookies and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Free. The event is held rain or shine. garnernc.gov

Garner’s Christmas Parade is downtown at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, with marching bands, floats, cars, Santa Claus and more. The parade begins at the intersection of Avery Street and Garner Road, turns left onto Garner Road, right onto New Rand Road, right on Main Street and ends at the corner of Benson and Garner roads. garnernc.gov

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The Chapel Hill Community Tree Lighting Ceremony is Sunday, Dec. 2 at 6 p.m. at University Baptist Church. File photo News & Observer File Photo

Hillsborough

In downtown Hillsborough, the “Light Up The Night Hillsborough Holiday Parade, Community Sing and Tree Lighting” begins at 4:15 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2. The parade starts at Corbin and Churton streets. A community sing and tree lighting follows at the old courthouse at South Churton and East King streets. hillsboroughchamber.com/pages/parade

Holly Springs

Main Street Christmas is Friday, Dec. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. in downtown Holly Springs with visits from Santa (until 7:15 p.m.) at Town Hall, storytelling with Mrs. Claus, hayrides, the town tree lighting and refreshments. It ends with the tree lighting at 9 p.m. at the Holly Springs Cultural Center lawn. hollyspringsnc.us/359/Main-Street-Christmas

The Holly Days Christmas Parade is at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, starting at Holly Springs Road, going along Main Street and ending at Ballentine Street. The event is rain or shine. hollyspringsnc.us

Knightdale

Knightdale holds a holiday fair Thursday, Nov. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Knightdale Station Park Amphitheater, 810 N. First Ave. There will be a vendor market, Christmas music and food trucks.

Knightdale’s Christmas on First Avenue and tree lighting is 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, at the Knightdale Station Park Amphitheater, 810 N. First Ave. The event will include letters to Santa, visiting with Mrs. Claus, train rides, music, performances and a visit from Santa. The tree is lit at the end of the event. knightdalenc.gov

The Knightdale Christmas Parade is at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, beginning at Knightdale Elementary School and ending at Knightdale Station Park. Park-and-ride begins at 11 a.m. Knightdale High School parking lot. knightdalenc.gov

Morrisville

Morrisville’s tree lighting is 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, at the Indian Creek Trailhead Shelter, 101 Town Hall Drive. There will be entertainment, crafts, train rides, Santa and more. If there is bad weather, call 919-463-6215. townofmorrisville.org

Pittsboro

The Pittsboro Christmas Parade is at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9. The route starts on MLK Drive, continues down East Street and ends at Farrell Street. pittsboronc.gov

Raleigh

The Downtown Raleigh Tree Lighting Celebration is in a new location this year: in front of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts at 2 E. South St. The tree lighting is Friday, Nov. 30 from 6 to 7 p.m. There will be snacks, beverages and food trucks along with carolers and Santa Claus. godowntownraleigh.com/tree-lighting

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The State Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony festivities start at 5 p.m. with the lighting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at 1 E. Edenton St., Raleigh. There will be cookies and hot chocolate and a visit from Santa Claus. The holiday open house in the Capitol follows at 6:30 p.m. The North Carolina Executive Mansion will be open from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free.

North Carolina first lady Kristin Cooper and the State Capitol are collecting toys for Toys for Tots to go to children in Eastern North Carolina who were affected by Hurricane Florence. Bring toys and books for children up to age 18 to the Capitol rotunda Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Dec. 14. Toys will be collected Dec. 6 during the tree lighting.

There will be holiday music in the rotunda at the Capitol Dec. 6 and 7 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Dec. 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Executive Mansion will be open Dec. 7 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m .and on Dec. 9 from 1 to 4 p.m. 919-733-4994 or nchistoricsites.org/capitol.

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Rolesville

The Rolesville Christmas Parade is 2 to 3 p.m. Dec. 2. The parade starts at Thales Academy, moves to Storage Drive to Main Street, turns left onton Main Street, right onto East Young Street and ends at Rolesville Baptist Church. rolesvillechamber.org/christmas-parade/

Wake Forest

The Lighting of Wake Forest is 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 30, at Centennial Plaza, Wake Forest Town Hall, 301 S. Brooks St. There’s a lighting of the town’s 30-foot Christmas tree with musical performances and free hot chocolate. Photos with Santa require a time ticket, which can be picked up in the Town Hall lobby beginning at 5:30 p.m. Bring new and unwrapped toys, for ages toddler to teen, to benefit Toys for Tots. A collection bin will be outside the entrance to Town Hall. wakeforestnc.gov

The Wake Forest Holiday Artisans Market is Saturday, Dec. 1, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Wake Forest Renaissance Centre, 405 S. Brooks St. A downtown holiday open house is Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. in downtown. Photos with Santa will be taken at Cotton Company Event Gallery, 306 S. White St., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Wake Forest Christmas Parade is at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8, in downtown Wake Forest. The route begins at the intersection of Elm Avenue and South White Street and continues north along South White Street before turning east onto Wait Avenue. It then turns south onto South Brooks Street and turns left at the Elm Avenue intersection. The parade ends at the Taylor Street intersection. wakeforestnc.gov

Zebulon

Zebulon’s Tree Lighting Festival is Saturday, Dec. 1, from 4 to 8 p.m. with crafts, a visit with Santa, food trucks and entertainment. The tree lighting ceremony is at 6:30 p.m. at Dalla Pearce Realty, 1014 North Arendell Ave. zebulonchamber.org

The Zebulon Christmas Parade is 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2, starting at the Zebulon Community Center, through downtown on Arendell Avenue, then left on West Gannon Street to end at J&M Chevrolet. zebulonchamber.org

Features Editor Jessica Banov oversees coverage of entertainment, the arts, food and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun.


Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan has been covering Durham since 2006 and has received five North Carolina Press Association awards.


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