32+ Things to do in Raleigh for The Christmas Holiday Season 2022

Tis the season y’all. The Christmas events in Raleigh for 2022 are back in full swing.

However, the festive season is not just about Christmas, there are other fun holiday events like Jewish Hannukah, African American Kwanzaa, the Chinese Lantern Festival, American Indian celebrations, Thanksgiving, and of course, New Years’ Eve!

Santa and Mrs Clause on a float in a Christ Parade in Raleigh

It’s the most magical time of the year that brings family and friends together and helps us celebrate our unique differences.

This is not just a post that’s focused on the best and biggest Holiday event’s in Raleigh, but also other fun things you can do like attend an ugly sweater party, indulge in seasonal treats, and have your photo with Santa.

Join our email community below so you don’t miss an update and to get access to our free printable Holiday bucket list. It will help you keep on track for planning an awesome festive season in Raleigh. We’ll be updating our email community first as new Christmas and Holiday events are announced for Raleigh and the Triangle:

If you plan to visit Raleigh during this holiday season and are searching for Christmas events near me, then check all of these out too!

Table Of Contents
  1. OUR 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION
  2. See the Lighting of the Tree, Downtown Raleigh
  3. Attend the Raleigh Christmas Parade
  4. Drive tHrough the Magic of Lights Show
  5. WRAL Nights of Lights Drive-Thru Light Show
  6. Experience the Historic Oakwood Candelight Tour
  7. Celebrate Kwanzaa
  8. Honor Hanukkah (Chanukah)
  9. See the Holt Road Christmas Lights, Apex
  10. Take the Kids to Holiday Express at Pullen Park
  11. Be wowed at North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival
  12. Join the 27th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration
  13. Witness the Lake Myra Lights Christmas Show
  14. Participate in the Illuminate Art Walk
  15. Go Ice skating at THE RINK at Red Hat
  16. Give Back & Support Local Raleigh Community 
  17. Indulge in Holiday treats at The Dessertery
  18. Attend an Ugly Sweater Party!
  19. SEe THeATER IN THE PARK’s Christmas Carol
  20. Visit a Farm near Raleigh for Holiday Experiences
  21. Get your photo with santa
  22. Ride The Great Raleigh Trolley holiday Tours
  23. Buy a tree at the Christmas Tree Farms
  24. Shop Local For Holiday Gifts
  25. See a North Carolina Symphony Performance
  26. Enjoy Christmas Carols
  27. Attend THE JUSTICE THEATER PROJECT’s Black Nativity in Concert
  28. See the unique version of the Carolina Ballet’s The Nutcracker
  29. Ride Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express
  30. Have a Raleigh Christmas Bar Experience
  31. Enjoy a Unique Christmas Experience in North Carolina
  32. See a Christmas Show at DPAC
  33. Ring in the New Year at First Night Raleigh
  34. RAleigh accommodation

OUR 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION

For the first 12 days in December, we’ll be getting into the festive spirit and celebrating y’all with some amazing giveaways and behind the scenes of our holiday traditions. If you’re reading this now, it means it has started and you have the opportunity to win some amazing prizes. Click over to this post to learn more.

See the Lighting of the Tree, Downtown Raleigh

Christmas tree in front of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Raleigh
Family photo with the Christmas tree in front of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Downtown Raleigh
  • Where: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
  • When: Nov 18, 5:30-8pm
  • Cost: Free
  • Website

A great way to kick-off the holiday season is the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Downtown Raleigh at the Duke Energy Center. 

The tree will be surrounded by the Triangle Pop-Up holiday market and a stage with live performances. You can do some Christmas shopping, have photos with Santa, and dance to a few Christmas tunes. 

Portions of this event will be televised live on ABC-11!

Other Christmas Tree Lighting events in Wake County

Christmas tree in front of the capitol building in Raleigh, NC
Raleigh State Capitol Christmas Tree

Check your local municipality for their annual tree lighting celebration as well.

  • North Hills Christmas Lighting Event  on November 19 will feature alive Christmas band, kids crafts and activities, food trucks, a vendor village and live music with The Jason Adamo Band (TOP TIP: If you go early and shop in North Hills from noon to 4 p.m. and spend $150, you’ll receive a free $25 North Hills Gift Card (one per person, while supplies last).)
  • Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Cary is on Dec 3rd festive night features actors, singers, and musicians from the community 
  • Lighting of Wake Forest is on Friday, Dec. 2 and will have Santa arrive in a fire truck
  • Wendell Wonderland on Dec 2 will have a visit from Santa Claus, trolley rides through town,, live music, hot chocolate, food trucks, a craft market and more.
  • Raleigh State Capitol on Dec 8th with luminaries and holiday music performed by the Raleigh Concert Band.

Attend the Raleigh Christmas Parade

helium bear balloon hovering over parade
  • Where: Hillsborough to Fayetteville St Downtown
  • When: Nov 19, 9:30am
  • Cost: Free
  • WebsiteGRMA.org

We were quite impressed with Raleigh’s Christmas Parade last year. It’s incredible to see the extent people go to to present their businesses or creative ideas on dozens of floats that include marching bands, twirlers, elaborately costumed Mexican dancers, cowboys and cowgirls riding through, hotted up cars, vintage cars, and of course, Mr. and Mrs. Claus. 

It is the largest Christmas Parade between Washington DC and Atlanta and has been a much loved community event since it began in 1939.

The parade covers 1.4 miles beginning at Hillsborough Street at the intersection of St. Mary’s Street and ending at the bottom of Fayetteville St. 

Group of military personel on a parade float

If you live in one of the smaller Wake County communities, check to see what your municipality is offering by way of Christmas parades. We know Cary and Apex both have a fun filled Christmas parade event. 

If you don’t want to deal with the cold and crowds (60,000+), you can watch from home starting at 9:30 AM by tuning in to channel 11, or online at ABC11.com

Video: Raleigh Christmas Parade 2021

Other Christmas Parades in Wake County

If you can’t make the Raleigh Christmas Parade, there are plenty of smaller ones in Wake County.

Drive tHrough the Magic of Lights Show

Magic of Lights Christmas display, Raleigh
  • Where: Coastal Credit Union Park, Walnut Creek
  • When: Nov 18 – Dec 30, 2022 (closed Mondays in Nov) ; 5pm – 10 pm
  • Cost: $20
  • Tickets

A dazzling drive through mile long light show filled with your favorite holiday scenes and characters. This is one all the family will love. Don’t miss the larger-than-life sparkling Christmas Barbie™ display, the supersized Bigfoot® Monster Truck, and life-sized dinosaurs of Prehistoric Christmas.

Read our 2022 Guide to the Magic of Lights Drive through Holiday Light Show

WRAL Nights of Lights Drive-Thru Light Show

Christmas lights display
  • Where: Dorothea Dix Park
  • When: Nov 25 – Dec 24, 2022: Various time slots
  • Cost: $20+
  • Website:

Bring some cheer into your Christmas in Raleigh 2022 with the Nights of Lights Drive-Thru Light Show, the only downtown Raleigh drive-thru holiday light experience. T

The magical backdrop for this dazzling light show will be Dorothea Dix Park with its magnificent oak trees, rolling hills and open fields.

Along the 1.3-mile route you will see illuminated trees, festive light displays, and local art installations. And if you don’t want to drive, they have evenings where you can walk or bike the route. Be ready to purchase your tickets in advance. It’s a popular event. 

In 2022, there are two new experiences, The Holiday Outpost and the Igloo Experience.

Read our full guide for 2022 WRAL Night of Lights

Experience the Historic Oakwood Candelight Tour

  • Where: Historic Oakwood
  • When: Dec 10 & 11, 2022; 1am – 7pm
  • Cost: $30 until Nov 28 and then $35
  • Tickets

Historic Oakwood is one of the best neighborhoods in Raleigh that dates all the way back to the 1800’s that rose after the Civil War and home to magnificent oak trees, Grand Victorians and modest bungalows.

Each holiday season the neighborhood has hosted the Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour, a ticketed affair inviting guests and visitors into ten private homes dressed for the holidays. 

Homes are staffed with docents to enlighten you on the rich history of each property. Tour the properties at your own pace in any order. We recommend allowing at least three hours for this tour, especially if you go for the later evening hours.

Read our full review of the tour here and here is our video from last year.

Celebrate Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday tradition that reconnects African Americans to their roots. It acknowledges the vibrancy and depth of their heritage with dancing, singing, and a large feast.

Part of the celebrating is the lighting of seven black, red, and green candles arranged on a Kinara. Each represents the different principles of Kwanzaa: Unity, Self-determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity and Faith.

You could perhaps take time to think of how to apply these principles to your daily life. You can also celebrate with our African American community throughout the city.

Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1.

The Town of Cary has an annual Kwanzaa celebration at the Cary Arts Center on Dec 30. NC State has a variety of programs on during the week November 11 – 18, 2022. See those here.

Honor Hanukkah (Chanukah)

Hannukah is one of the most popular Jewish holidays of the year. It’s an eight day festival, known as the Holiday of Lights, l that “reaffirms the ideals of Judaism and commemorates in particular the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the lighting of candles on each day of the festival” Britannica

Candles are lit in a special nine branched candelabra called a Menorah, and presents are exchanged, games played, songs sung, and traditional Hanukkah fried foods such as potato pancakes (known as latkes) and jam-filled donuts (sufganiyot) are eaten.

The importance of the holiday tradition is a reminder that the world is better when we practice inclusion and compassion for all.

This year, in 2022, it falls between December 18 – 26.

  • Dec 19, @ 5:30pm The Town of Cary will light their NEW menorah and will have special treats, fun for kids and holiday music.
  • December 21 @ 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm Fenton in Cary will celebrating Chanukah with a menorah lighting on the 4th night of Chanukah. Guests can also enjoy ice skating, a carving of our ice menorah, and celebratory Chanukah music.
  • Handmade Hanukkah Market is December 4 at the Temple Beth Or (11a.m. – 3 p.m.) Jewish artisans will be selling their work including: jewelry, baked goods, pottery, textiles, woodwork and more.

See the Holt Road Christmas Lights, Apex

Known to be one of the best Christmas light displays in North Carolina is located on Holt Road, Apex. The Holt Road Christmas Lights is one family’s tradition of decorating their private home in an elaborate fashion as a way of bringing Christmas joy to the local community.

You can drive through to see the light display, which is on select nights throughout the season. Check the Facebook page for those details. There is no charge or required donation.

Not only is this a way of giving to local community, MG and his family use this to expand his global reach for his humanitarian efforts in helping those displaced by the conflict in Ukraine.

I am thrilled to only recently learn about this local Apex family and how they give back. I can’t wait to see the lights and help support their mission.

If you can’t get to the Holt Road Christmas Lights in Apex, I am sure you can drive (or walk) around your own area to see the Christmas displays in your neighborhood. This is something we’ve always done as a family, even back in Australia.

NOTE: Apex is currently putting together a Holiday Tour of Lights, which will be a map that lists homes in Apex that have Christmas light displays. If you know of any other areas in Raleigh or Wake County who do this, please leave a comment with details for those reading this post.

Take the Kids to Holiday Express at Pullen Park

girl riding the Pullen Park carousel, Raleigh
Pullen Park carousel
  • Where: Pullen Park
  • When: December 1 – 11 and 13 – 18, from 5 – 9:30 p.m
  • Cost: $15 (kids under 12 months free)
  • Tickets

Of all the Raleigh Christmas events, this one will sell out faster than a Taylor Swift concert. Start lining up now: TICKETS ON SALE NOV 10TH

This Raleigh Christmas attraction is definitely for the kids. There is the train ride with Holiday lights, an appearance from Santa, a Blizzard Boogie dance party, arts and crafts, and carnival games and inflatables. This is where you find the magic Raleigh!

Here is our guide to Pullen Park.

Be wowed at North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival

lit up dragon at the Chinese Lantern Festival
Image courtesy of visitraleigh.com
  • Where: Koka Booth Amphitheatre
  • When: Nov 18, 2022-Jan 8,2023
    • Mon.-Sun., 6-10pm; performances: 7pm, 8pm and 9pm, nightly
  • Cost: Start at $11
  • Website: BoothAmpitheartre.com

The North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival has exploded in popularity over recent years. So plan well and buy your tickets in advance. The festival has hundreds of larger-than-life lanterns on display creating an incredible, colorful adventure for you to walk through during the holiday season. 

More than 15,000 LED lights make up 20 distinct displays, including a 200-foot-long, 21-foot-tall mythical creature that sits on Symphony Lake. Hopefully this is the year we finally attend!

Join the 27th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration

Time to honor our Indigenous Peoples. This annual event has been held in honor of American Indian Heritage Month in North Carolina for over 25 years.

The festival includes multiple demonstrations, presentations, and performances highlight the traditional and contemporary artistic, scientific, historic, and cultural contributions of American Indians in North Carolina for over 14,000 years. 

Witness the Lake Myra Lights Christmas Show

  • Where: 10 S Cypress St, Wendell
  • When: Nov 23 – Dec 31, 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
  • Cost: Free but donation encouraged
  • There website has not been updated this year and information is scarce. Here is a Facebook update.

This is one of the largest Christmas light displays on the East Coast with more than 400,000 dancing lights synched up with holiday music. It’s a drive-in style interactive light show that typically lasts between 30 – 45 minutes.

A walking path leads to some of the biggest displays and through their tallest tree!

Santa will be here on Saturdays 7-9pm through Christmas Eve

Participate in the Illuminate Art Walk

woman standing inside illuminated christmas ball sculpture
Inside Union Station
  • Where: Downtown Raleigh
  • When: December 2, 2022 – January 6, 2023; after dark
  • Cost: Free
  • Website

Born out of the pandemic and now a regular Holiday event in Raleigh is the highly enjoyable Illuminate Art Walk.

Parts of the Fayetteville Street and Glenwood South districts transform with large-scale, interactive and light-based art pieces that are unique and family-friendly.

Grab yourself a coffee, hot chocolate, or now, thanks to Sip and Stroll, something a little stronger and enjoy the art displays on the streets and in storefront windows.

Read More: 2022 Illuminate Art Walk in Downtown Raleigh

Go Ice skating at THE RINK at Red Hat

man holding beer with view of the  Raleigh Ice skating Rink

Where: Red Hat Amphitheater
When:  Nov 19 – Dec 18; Various
Cost: $11 includes skate rental | $6 for non-skaters
Website: 

The Winter Wonderland returns to downtown Raleigh with The Rink for the second year in a row. The rink is quite small, so time your session to beat the crowds. It’s a lovely ambiance with the Christmas music and chill out areas surrounding the rink with comfy chairs, fire pits, games and beverages.

Below is our video from last year:

Skate the Square will also be at Fenton, Cary from Nov 5 – Jan 16, 2023, which is $`16 for 75 minutes of skate time.

Give Back & Support Local Raleigh Community 

floor filled with wrapped christmas presents
Wrapping presents with the Nog Club

The Holiday Season doesn’t have to be ALL about self-indulgent activities and increasing our material possessions. It’s a great time to give back to Raleigh and support local causes working to make our community better. 

Research your local area (and ask your friends) to find Holiday volunteer opportunities. Nextdoor is a great place to ask! Last year, the girls and I helped to sort and pack Christmas presents for those in need with the Nog Run Club through the Wake County Holiday Cheer Program. 

Giving Tuesday is Nov 29, 2022 global generosity movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. It’s a great reminder to choose one thing (or more) to do to raise up a community.

Some local nonprofits we love:

Indulge in Holiday treats at The Dessertery

Sweets in a dessert cafe
  • Where: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
  • When: Nov 19 – Dec 23, 2022; various times
  • Cost: $15 (ages 2-6) $25 (Ages 7+)
  • Website:

This new Holiday experience in Raleigh is a family friendly holiday themed dessert café. which features elaborate holiday décor, all you can eat sweets and hot cocoa, plus live entertainment (on select nights)!

Read our experience at the Dessertery – with video

Attend an Ugly Sweater Party!

caz and craig wearing ugly sweaters at a party
At Raleigh Founded’s Ugly Sweater Party

Craig and I did this for the first time last year. Twice! How we’ve never participated in the joy of this Christmas Bucket List item before, I’ll never know. In fact, we won the ugly sweater prize at the Raleigh Founded Christmas party! I was so happy to find a llama sweater as one of our favorite family travel memories for 2021 was walking alpacas in Shenandoah Valley Virginia.

You’re sure to find a bar or community social event during the Holiday season who is having one. If not, create your own with a group of friends, either at someone’s house, or by bar crawling down Glenwood Avenue.

SEe THeATER IN THE PARK’s Christmas Carol

  • Where & When:  
    • Duke Energy Center for The Performing Arts; December 9-11, 2022
    • DPAC: Dec 14- 18
  • Cost: $35+
  • Website:

Get ready to book the hottest ticket in Raleigh for Christmas. This musical comedy adaptation of Charles Dicken’s Christmas classic has been running since 1974 and was named one of ‘the top 20 Events in the Southeast.’

Visit a Farm near Raleigh for Holiday Experiences

Tunnel of Lights at Fieldstream Farm
Tunnel of Lights at Fieldstream Farm

Just like Fall in Raleigh is a great time to visit nearby farms for pumpkin patches and Halloween events, they are also great for Christmas experiences.

  • Fieldstream Farm Festival of Lights: With approximately 1 million lights on display, this drive-thru Christmas light show at Fieldstream Farm has one of the longest LED lit tunnels in the world with over 200,000 lights, plus a 40 foot tall Santa. 
  • Lights on the Neuse features a one-mile long (20-minute) old-time tractor-pulled hayride through a Lights Extravaganza with Christmas music, a visit with Santa, a Sugar Barn and cookie decorating station, and Santa’s Sweet Shoppe with hot chocolate, coffee, kettle corn and S’mores kits for purchase to cook at the picnic area.
  • Country Christmas Train at Denton Farm Park takes you on a mile journey to see Christmas lights and scenes. There’s a gingerbread house, petting zoo, horse drawn carriage rides and more!
  • Hillridge Farms’ Festival of Lights has over a million lights and holiday themed displays and characters as you travel through the farm from the comfort of your own vehicle.

Get your photo with santa

two girls sitting on santa's lap in macy's nyc
With Santa at Macy’s NYC for Christmas

Looking for a place to get your kids photo with Santa in Raleigh this year? Visit a mall or shopping village somewhere in Raleigh, and your bound to find a Santa.

It is advised to book in a time for your visit with Santa – I’ve seen some of those lines before and they are not enticing.

Here are a few popular places to have your photo taken with Santa in Raleigh

Ride The Great Raleigh Trolley holiday Tours

  • Where: Tap Yard, Mordecai
  • When: December 1st through December 30th
  • Website:

Another hugely popular thing to do in Raleigh for Christmas is to enjoy a themed ride on the historical Great Raleigh Trolley.
This year there are five Holiday tour options to satisfy your Christmas cheer.

  • The Santa Express is perfect for the younger kids with Santa visiting each child on the ride. (This one typically sells out in 24 hours)
  • Oaks & Jokes Holiday Cruise is a spirited party tour for adults!
  • Ghost lovers will enjoy hearing the tales of Raleigh’s ghosts of Christmas past on the Christmas Spritis Ghost tour
  • The Must See Raleigh Holiday tour visits the most popular holiday sights throughout Downtown.
  • There are also a private family holiday trolley rides available.

Buy a tree at the Christmas Tree Farms

girl sitting at christmas tree

In Australia it was very rare for us (or any Australians) to have a real Christmas tree and it wasn’t until we moved to Raleigh that we had our first real tree.

So if you’re researching where to get a new fresh Christmas tree this year, consider these local farms close to Raleigh. 

Boyce Farms

Boyce Farms is a family owned and operated Christmas Tree Farm located in Raleigh, NC since 1982. They are committed to providing a family-oriented, hands-on experience for families from all walks of life when the holiday season rolls around.

You can choose and cut your own tree, choosing from either White Pines, Leyland Cypress, Blue Ice and Carolina Sapphire Christmas trees. They also have pre-cut Fraser Firs that are freshly cut from the North Carolina mountains.

Back Archers Christmas Tree Farm

A family owned, choose-and-cut tree farm (since 1978) committed to providing a warm and festive atmosphere for families selecting their annual Christmas Tree.

They have a selection of 250 -300 choose-and-cut trees including Carolina Sapphires, Leyland Cypress, and Green Giant Arborvitaes. 5′ to 10′ tall as well as 4′-8′ tall Virginia Pine and Cedar trees. Call ahead for availability for Fraser Fir trees over 10′ tall.

Shop Local For Holiday Gifts

woman browsing store displays in the flourish market raleigh

I know how easy Amazon can make your holiday shopping, especially for busy parents. Do your best to support local this Holiday season. They help our local economy thrive AND creates a unique, vibrant personality.

Did you know that 90% of downtown Raleigh stores are locally and independently owned? Let’s help keep that!!

There’ll be Holiday markets popping up throughout the season, and many of the stores will have their own sales.

Here is a post to help you find some local stores in Downtown Raleigh that we love.

See a North Carolina Symphony Performance

Duke Energy center lit up with christmas lights
Duke Energy Center

The most magical time of the year to see a performance from the North Carolina Symphony would be during the Holidays. The Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in downtown will host three Holiday performances.

  • The Polar Express Nov 23 & 25: Baritone Scott MacLeod a chorus of children join the Symphony to bring this magical holiday tale to life at this festive family concert. Paintings from the book The Polar Express will appear on a giant screen above the stage.
  • Handel’s Messiah, Dec 2 & 3:  The North Carolina Symphony and the North Carolina Master Chorale perform Handel’s masterpiece featuring the resounding “Hallelujah Chorus.”
  • Holiday Pops: A festive concert full of holiday favorites and traditional carols you know and love.

Which holiday concert are you choosing? All three?

Enjoy Christmas Carols

family holding candles at christmas carols new orleans
Carols by Candlelight in New Orleans

Apart from my family -and maybe the summer temps- the thing I miss most about Christmas in Australia, is our nighttime Carols tradition.

It happens in two big outdoor venues in Sydney and Melbourne. Celebrities and musicians sing the most beloved Christmas carols on stage to an audience of thousands sitting with lighted candles. Those who can’t make it watch with their families on TV.

We’ve only ever seen something similar in New Orleans with their Carols by Candlelight, which we LOVED.

But, there are some carols experiences in Raleigh you can enjoy:

  • North Carolina Master Chorale presents Joy of the Season on Dec 13 in Meymandi Concert Hall (Duke Energy Center) Nearly 200 voices, guest choirs, a brass ensemble, Meymandi’s pipe organ and the Master Chorale’s newly established Youth Choir sing popular Christmas Carols
  • Raleigh Ringers Concert will perform in Meymandi Concert Hall on Dec 17 & 18. The show features the group’s unique interpretations of sacred, secular, and popular music, including a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll.

Attend THE JUSTICE THEATER PROJECT’s Black Nativity in Concert

  • Where: North Carolian Museum of Art outdoor theater
  • When: Dec 10, 2022; 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Cost: Free
  • Registration is required. Click here.

Bring a lawn chair and blanket for this 45 minute outdoor production featuring nine featuring nine soloists, West African and contemporary dance, a live band, vibrant costumes, and a beautifully poignant narrative.

See the unique version of the Carolina Ballet’s The Nutcracker

  • Where: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
  • When: Dec 10 – 24, 2022: various days and times
  • Cost: $35+
  • Website

Another holiday tradition for Raleigh is the Carolina Ballet’s performance of the Nutcracker. Its the only production in the country that uses illusions created by renowned magician Rick Thomas, The Nutcracker will make characters levitate, disappear and reappear before your eyes

After 20 years and over 400 performances, this year the creative team will bring a fresh new take with the revamp of more than 140 costumes.

Ride Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express

  • Where: North Carolina Railway Museum & New Hope Valley Railway, Apex
  • When:  Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 3, 4, 10, 11 and 17; 9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m
  • Cost: $13-15
  • Website:

Kids will be able to find Santa’s missing reindeer along the tracks as they ride on the historic train for four miles out-and-back for 50 minutes through the North Carolina countryside. Santa will be at the New Hope Valley Railway to greet all of our guests.

This is another hugely popular Christmas attraction for families in Raleigh so don’t delay in booking your tickets.

Have a Raleigh Christmas Bar Experience

Grab your ugly sweater and head to one of the bars in Raleigh that sprinkle a little magic into their drinks and atmosphere. Just be sure to let us know which bar you visit, and what awesome Christmas cocktail you discovered. 

Here are a few of the popular Christmas bar experiences in Raleigh:

  • The Haymaker in Raleigh has a Christmas Bucket List experience. Stop by They have floor-to-ceiling Christmas decorations and a Miracle menu with over 10 finely-crafted cocktails. Details for 2022 not yet released
  • St Nicks Pop Up Experience is a Raleigh Christmas fave. Located in a historic house across from Moore Sq, the pop up features Christmas decor, drinks, music, and events.
  • The 5th Annual 12 Bars of Christmas Crawl® is happening Dec 10 in Downtown Raleigh. Put on your best holiday onesies, Santa suits, ugly sweaters, and elf costumes! It’s the most wonderful crawl of the year!

We’ll keep updating this list as more are announced. It’s best to subscribe to our email in the form below, so that you don’t miss our regular weekly updates with events, updates, and fresh finds. You’ll get our free Christmas Bucket List when you do.

Enjoy a Unique Christmas Experience in North Carolina

Santa talking to a child on a train - The Polar Express
The Polar Express in Bryson City

Since we’ve lived away from our extended family for years, we love to travel to experience special Christmas events. Craig and I once had Christmas together in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, and our favorite family Christmas ever was experiencing Christmas in New York. 

It’s a wonderful way to create memories as a family, which lasts way longer than shiny, wrapped presents.

BUT, you don’t have to travel across oceans and state lines to create these magical memories.

From the lighting of the Christmas Tree in McAdenville, aptly nicknamed Christmas Town, to riding the iconic Polar Express in Bryson City, there are so many things to do at Christmas in North Carolina.

We’ve written a post sharing 12 amazing North Carolina Christmas Experiences

TOP TIP: One of my favorite souvenirs to buy during Christmas travel is a Christmas tree ornament from wherever we are. Then each year, when we put up the tree with the girls, we can talk about that special memory we made in the years before! It’s one way to keep the memories alive.

See a Christmas Show at DPAC

glass building of DPAC
DPAC

We love seeing a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham. In case you don’t know this is the Triangle’s version of Broadway – and yes, DPAC gets many visiting Broadway shows each year. We’ve seen Les Misérables and Frozen, and both were fantastic. Tickets do sell fast so be at the ready!

For Christmas this year, apart from the aforementioned A Christmas Carol, there will be two Christmas Shows (so far)

  • MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER CHRISTMAS (Nov 26) by Chip Davis has been America’s favorite holiday tradition for over 35 years featuring Christmas classics in the distinctive Mannheim sound.
  • ELF THE MUSICAL (Nov 29 – Dec 4)will be delighting us all on a journey to remembering the true meaning of Christmas
  • A MAGICAL CIRQUE CHRISTMAS (Dec 19) a show filled with dazzling performers and breathtaking cirque artists, accompanied by your favorite holiday music performed live
  • THE HIP HOP NUTCRACKER (Dec 23rd) takes audiences on a journey that celebrates love, community, and the magic of the holiday season.

Ring in the New Year at First Night Raleigh

First Night Raleigh (New Years Eve)
Image by visitraleigh.com

On New Year’s Eve we usually take our kids to Downtown Raleigh for First Night Raleigh and to watch the early show for kids, but as you know this is not a normal year!

So this year First Night Raleigh is a one-of-a-kind, special edition in collaboration with the first annual WRAL Nights of Lights Drive-Thru Light Show at Dorothea Dix Park. 

On December 30 and 31, you can enjoy a series of creative and large-scale light installations by local artists, plus experience the Raleigh Acorn like you’ve never seen it before, nestled among the oak trees and enhanced by large-scale light installation.

I hope you found a few activities on this list of Christmas events in Raleigh NC for 2022? If more events come to light between now and the new year I’ll add them in.

RAleigh accommodation

Traveling to Raleigh for a Christmas event and need accommodation?

If you visit Raleigh from out of town for any November events, here are our recommendations for accommodation in Downtown Raleigh.

You can also use the list view below to book directly.

If you found this blog post helpful, please share it with your friends via email or social media. And you can use the image below to save to Pinterest.

woman standing inside illuminated christmas ball sculpture

Please share in the comments any holiday activities near Raleigh you know about that are not already mentioned here! 

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