December Events: What’s Happening in Raleigh This Month?

Ring the Bells. The Holiday Season is here! It’s a massive month for things to do in Raleigh in December. I have to tell you, this is the most stressed I’ve been putting together this monthly events post for you.

christmas raleigh
Caz & Craig at an ugly sweater party!

I nearly walked away because I was so overwhelmed with the number of events happening in Raleigh and how I could include all of them without overwhelming y’all too!

Make sure you are part of our email community, as each Tuesday I share a list of events for the coming week. I often include events that aren’t in this post. Every Friday, we also release an Instagram | Tik Tok video sharing our top 5 picks for the weekend.

Pop your name in the form below and you’ll also receive our free printable Holiday Bucket List for Raleigh:

We’ve split the December events into categories: Ongoing events and then split into weeks. You can use the table of contents to help you navigate or just keep scrolling and read it all. And here is another in-depth list of things to do in Raleigh for the Holidays.

Table Of Contents
  1. Our 12 Days of Christmas Celebration
  2. Ongoing Events in Raleigh for December
  3.  Week 1: Dec 1 – 4, 2022
  4. Week 2: Dec 5 – 11, 2022
  5. Week 3: Dec 12 – 18, 2022
  6. Week 4: Dec 19 – 25, 2022
  7. Week 5: Dec 26 – 31, 2022

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.

Ongoing Events in Raleigh for December

There are a lot of events ongoing for the entire month of December. Fit them in your calendar where you can and maybe plan a few other events around it.


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


Christmas lights display
The flower field!
  • 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 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.

Read our full guide for 2022 WRAL Night of Lights


lit up dragon at the Chinese Lantern Festival
Image courtesy of
  • 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:

The North Carolina Chinese Lantern 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!


  • 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.


woman standing inside illuminated christmas ball sculpture
Duke Energy Center for The Performing Arts
  • 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 or hot chocolate, or thanks to Sip and Stroll maybe something a little stronger and enjoy the art displays on the streets and in storefront windows.

Stay tuned, we’ll be seeing a preview of it on Instagram to share with you on Friday!


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

Skate the RINK: Red Hat Amphitheater

red hat ice skating the rink 2
  • Where: 500 South McDowell St, Raleigh
  • When: Nov 19 – Jan 16
  • Website

Enjoy the thrill of ice skating in a winter wonderland created in the heart of downtown Raleigh! THE RINK presented by UNC Health features a natural ice skating rink with stunning views of the Raleigh skyline.

Experience a Winter Wonderland themed Ice Rink, outdoor lounging furniture and heat warmers, Fire pits, 20ft Decorated Holiday Tree, snack Bar with hot cocoa, beer, wine, sweet treats, themed nights. And, the Raleigh Night Market is on (Every Saturday starting Nov 26). Get tickets.

Miracle at the haymaker, Nov 25- Dec 31, 2022

t rex and santa at the haymaker pop up bar
  • Where: The Haymaker Bary, Fayetteville St
  • Time: 5pm-1am
  • Cost: Whatever you’re drinking
  • Website

Be prepared for possible long lines for this popular Christmas event in downtown Raleigh. Every year, the Haymaker cocktail bar transforms into an eclectic, kitschy world – kinda like where Grandma and your Ugly Sweaters meet at the North Pole.

It’s quirky and fun. You’ll get professionally-developed cocktails served in a variety of vessels like Santa boots and T-Rex’s. I tell ya, they’re mighty strong too!

 Week 1: Dec 1 – 4, 2022

First Friday, Dec 2

  • Where: Various locations and times in Downtown Raleigh
  • Website:

First Friday is a great opportunity to support local art and businesses. Check out the rotating art on display in the downtown galleries and here are some other fun events happening.

  • Mural Launch @ J. Lights in Smoky Hollow: Brand new 50′ Mural by artist Sean Kernick. Hello special deal of 8 Wines for $8
  • The Burrow has a holiday party and market
  • Raleigh Founded has an Ugly Sweater Christmas Party
  • Moore Square has food trucks, s’mores and firepits, and free movie “The Muppets Christmas Carol”

Cinderella 2022 , Dec 2- 18

  • Where: Raleigh Little Theater
  • Time:
    • Thursday & Friday at 7:30pm
    • Saturday & Sunday at 2:00pm & 6:00pm
  • Cost: $27+
  • Tickets

Another legendary Holiday event in Raleigh is the musical comedy Cinderella. Expect singing, dancing and gorgeous costumes. Opening night of Cinderella proudly benefits WRAL’s Coats for the Children, with $5 of every ticket sold going to provide warm coats for children in need. 

Christmas Parades, Dec 3 & 4, 2022

Christmas Tree Lighting Festivals, Dec 2 & 3, 2022

Handel’s Messiah, Dec 2 & 3, 2022

  • Where: Duke Energy Center
  • Time: 8pm
  • Cost: $54 – $81
  • Tickets

The North Carolina Symphony and the North Carolina Master Chorale perform Handel’s masterpiece featuring the resounding “Hallelujah Chorus.”

Joel Lane Christmas Open House, Dec 3,  2022

  • Where: Joel Lane Museum House (160 S St. Mary’s Street)
  • Time: 11:00am-4:00pm
  • Cost: Free

An annual opportunity to walk through the historic Joel Lane house – the oldest house in Raleigh – and talk to costumed re-enactors and volunteers. There will be kids crafts like tin punching, candle dipping, and doll making,

Handmade Hanukkah Market, Dec 4, 2022

  • Where: Temple Beth Or
  • Time: 11am – 3pm
  • Cost: Free
  • Website

Jewish artisans will be selling their work including: jewelry, baked goods, pottery, textiles, woodwork and more.

Week 2: Dec 5 – 11, 2022

NCAA Women’s Soccer College Cup Finals, Dec 5

Soccer fans watching a game of soccer
WakeMed Soccer Park

We’re so lucky to have the NCAA women’s Soccer National Championship game in the Cary! Let’s hope UNC win their Final Four match this Friday night and make it to the final on Monday night! Tickets will sell out fast.

State Capitol Tree Lighting & Holiday Open House. Dec 8 – 10, 2022

Christmas tree in front of the capitol building in Raleigh, NC
State Capitol Building tree in previous year
  • Where: State Capitol Building
  • Time: 5:30pm with official start at 6:15pm
  • Cost: Free

The festivities will begin on Capitol Square on Dec 8th at 5:30pm with luminaries and holiday music performed by the Raleigh Concert Band. The governor and dignitaries will make their way to the South grounds at 6:15 p.m. to officially begin the ceremony.

The lit tree will be visible the length of Fayetteville Street. The Junior Woman’s Club will give away cookies and cider – and even Santa is scheduled to make an appearance!

After the ceremony, you can go inside the Capitol to experience its holiday decorations and enjoy a performance by Colla Voce – an ensemble advanced choir from Holly Springs High School.

From Thursday, Dec. 8th – Saturday, December 10th (from 10 a.m. -3 p.m. on Thursday & Friday, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Saturday) the Capitol will have holiday music in the rotunda! We have toured the Capitol before and it’s worth seeing!

29th Annual Jingle Ball Gala, Dec 8, 2022

  • Where: NC Museum of Natural Sciences
  • Time: 7-10:30 p.m.
  • Cost: $130
  • Tickets

Jingle Ball is one of Raleigh’s largest social events of the season. Look forward to a night of unlimited beer, wine, and cocktails, live music, dueling pianos, DJs, raffles, and food to raise money to buy children Christmas presents.

Christmas Parades, Dec 10, 2022

  • Cary Jaycees Christmas Parade is on Dec 10 in Downtown Cary The parade is a joyful celebration which includes bands, mascots, local businesses, community groups, and churches.
  • Happy Holly Days Christmas Parade is on Dec 10 in Downtown Holly Springs with floats, bands, dancers, decorated vehicles, marching groups

FWE Pro Wrestling, December 10th

  • Where: Dorton Arena
  • Time: 7pm
  • Cost:$14
  • Tickets

Fortitude Wrestling Entertainment presents this pro-wrestling event featuring Hall of Famer Kurt Angle, Heavyweight champion Carlito, NWA Women’s Champion Kamille, and more!

Holiday Open House at Mordecai Historic Park, Dec 10 & 11

A person sitting on a bench in front of a house
Mordecai Historic House
  • Where: Mordecai Historic Park
  • When:
    • Saturday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
      Sunday, Dec. 11, 1 – 4 p.m.
  • Cost: Free

Celebrate the holidays at the Holiday Open House and see how the home would have been decorated for the holidays in years past. Enjoy crafts, live music, and more throughout the park!

On Saturday the Merry and Bright: A North Pole Market will be one hwere you can do some holiday shopping and meet some holiday characters!

Attend THE JUSTICE THEATER PROJECT’s Black Nativity in Concert, Dec 10, 2022

  • Where: North Carolian Museum of Art outdoor theater
  • When: 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.

the Carolina Ballet’s The Nutcracker, Dec 10 -24, 2022

  • Where: Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
  • When: 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.

Annual Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour®, Dec 10 & 11, 2022

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

A wonderful thing to do in December in Raleigh is the Historic Oakwood annual Candlelight Tour. It was created in 1972 in an effort to save the neighborhood from being torn down for new development.

Dozens of Victorian, Queen Anne, and Craftsman architectural style properties open their doors to visitors to see their stunning interior designs and elaborate Christmas decorations, as well as learning more about the history behind each house.

You need at least 4-hours to visit every home. Start (or end) with a drink at Pelagic Beer and Wine on North Person St, one of the coolest neighborhood watering holes in Raleigh. 

READ MORE: Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour and you can see our IG Reel for 2021’s event here.

Theatre In The Park Presents A Christmas Carol, Dec 9- 18. 2022

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

Another of the hugely popular Christmas events in Raleigh is the comedy adaptation of the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol.

The show has been performed annually since 1974 and was named one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast.” Cited as “one of the most successful shows in North Carolina theatre history,”

Week 3: Dec 12 – 18, 2022

Raleigh Ringers Concert, Dec 17 & 18, 2022

  • Where: Meymandi Concert Hall
  • Time: 4-6pm
  • Cost: $14-$26
  • Tickets

This annual Holiday concert features the group’s unique interpretations of sacred, secular, and popular music, including a little bit of rock ‘n’ roll.

Marbles Gingerbuild Houses & Hops, Dec 16, 2022

  • Where: Marbles Museum
  • Time: 7-9pm
  • Cost: $25 (event is being sold by tables of 2-6 people each.)
  • Website

Marbles is clever enough to understand adults love creating gingerbread houses too – but sans kids! This 21+ event is for a festive outing with friends or lovers. You can decorate your own edible gingerbread house with a few drinks (for purchase)

Marbles Gingerbread Jamboree, Dec 17 & 18, 2022

  • Where: Marbles Museum
  • Time: 9:30AM, 12:30PM AND 3:30PM
  • Cost: $15 members | $18 non-members
  • Website

No More Gingerbread House Mess. You can make it of course, you just don’t have to clean it up. Leave that to Marbles with their special event allowing you to create sweet Gingerbread house masterpieces at their kids museum. So grab your friend’s with kids and head down together.

Soccer Fan Fest, (World Cup Final), Dec 18, 2022

family posing in front of trophies
Having a photo with the USA Women’s World Cup Trophy
  • Where: Moore Square
  • Time: 9:30am – 2pm
  • Cost: Free
  • Website:

This event was rescheduled from Nov 25th due to inclement weather. It’s a day to celebrate the global sport of soccer during the World Cup Final Match on Dec 18th.

There’ll be a live viewing of the match at 10am on a giant LED screen, plus other interactive experiences such as Knockerball, human foosball, Teqball and giant soccer!

Hone your technique at the soccer skills clinic. Enjoy arts and crafts, international food trucks, a beer garden and a photo op with a replica world cup trophy!

Here are other places you can watch the World Cup Soccer in Raleigh.

Week 4: Dec 19 – 25, 2022

Happy Hannukah and Merry Christmas for all those who celebrate! And if you don’t may you have a lovely day whatever you choose to do!

We’ll be having a quiet day together at home. We usually choose a movie from our GEN X upbringing to show the girls. This year it’s Girls Just Wanna Have fun!

A Magical Cirque Christmas, Dec 19 , 2022

  • Where: DPAC, Durham
  • Time: 7:30pm
  • Cost: $39+
  • Website

This would be a fun Christmas event in Durham. A Magical Cirque Christmas is a show filled with dazzling performers and breathtaking cirque artists, accompanied by your favorite holiday music performed live.

You can see some of our tips on things to do in Durham while you’re over there!

Hannukah Menorah Lighting, Dec 19, 2022

  • Where: Outside Cary Arts Center
  • Time: 5:30pm

The Town of Cary will light their NEW menorah on the 2nd night of Hannukah and will have special treats, fun for kids and holiday music.

Menorah Lighting, Dec 21, 2022

  • Where: Fenton Cary
  • Time: 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Celebrate Chanukah with a menorah lighting on the 4th night of Chanukah. Guests can also enjoy ice skating, a carving of an ice menorah, and celebratory Chanukah music.

The Motown Sound of Christmas, Dec 21- 22 & 28 – 29, 2022

  • Where: Cary Arts Center
  • Time: 7:30pm
  • Cost: $20 – $27
  • Tickets

Enjoy a unique holiday experience full of soul and joy, wrapped up with a message of love with a Motown music celebration. We saw a Motown Christmas Show on our vacation in Myrtle Beach last year and it was fun!

Week 5: Dec 26 – 31, 2022

A very quiet week in Raleigh as we all prepare to ring in the New Year! I hope you’ve had time to reflect on the year that was 2022 and know what you want to work on and manifest for 2023.

My favorite blessing for you, which comes from the Maori people of the now country, New Zealand:

May all the rays of sunshine forever dance along your pathways.

Kwanzaa Celebration, Dec 30, 2022

  • Where: Cary Arts Center
  • Time: Noon – 5pm
  • Cost: Free

Kwanzaa is a communal, cultural celebration that honors African-American people and their heritage. The Kwanzaa Celebration is produced by the Town of Cary in partnership with the Ujima Group Inc. There’ll be kids activities, singing and dancing.

First Night Raleigh, Dec 31, 2022

First Night Raleigh (New Years Eve)
Image by

First Night Raleigh, in downtown Raleigh, is North Carolina’s largest New Year’s Eve celebration!

Festivities begin with the early afternoon City Plaza outdoor musical performances and the Children’s Celebration at 2pm. We usually leave after the 9pm fireworks as it gets too cold for us to wait until midnight.

The night is capped off with music on the outdoor Main Stage, the famous Raleigh Acorn Drop, and a spectacular fireworks show.

New Years Eve at City Club Raleigh

  • Where: City Club Raleigh,150 Fayetteville Street #Suite 2800 Raleigh
  • When: Dec 31, 5:00pm – Sun, Jan 1, 2023, 1:00am
  • Website

Celebrate your NYE on the 28th & 29th floor of the Wells Fargo building with the best view in Raleigh! Free-flowing prosecco, a four-course dinner and Bull City Syndicate, a ten-piece band to get the party and dancing started. There will be jello shots and a grand balloon drop to ring in 2023. Tickets here.

Comment: Let us know in the comments below what are you doing this December in Raleigh. Were there any fun celebrations or events we missed?

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