Support Us Button Widget

Festive December events in Raleigh

Raleigh is home to plenty of December events to keep the whole family busy, cozy, and holiday ready. Here’s just a few festive events to fill out your calendar.


The lighting of the NC State Capitol tree is just one of many festive events to attend this year.

December is just around the corner, and the Triangle has plenty of events to keep your family, visitors, and anyone else in your holiday crew busy. With over a dozen signature December events, there’s something for everyone.

Holiday lights

  • Head to Brier Creek Friday, Dec. 1 for a tree lighting ceremony with Santa, face painting, train rides, and more.
  • Sip n’ Stroll through an illuminated downtown from Friday, Dec. 1 through Friday, Jan. 5 and view giant installations like the Talking Heads as part of Illuminate Art Walk.
  • The NC Chinese Lantern Festival lights up Koka Booth Amphitheatre from now until Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. View 40 brand new displays, cultural performances, Asian-inspired food choices, and plenty more.
  • Attend the NC State Capitol Tree Lighting to watch Gov. Roy Cooper light the tree, then tour the Governor’s Mansion to view the decked halls on Tuesday, Dec. 12.
Two giant illuminated heads with spectators around them.

These two giant heads will be part of the Illuminate Art Walk — they have traveled all over the world and will stop in Raleigh next.

Photo provided by the Downtown Raleigh Alliance

Eat, drink + be marry

  • Put over 100 toppings in some piping hot chocolate at The Dessertery at the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts now through Saturday, Dec. 23 — and meet Santa on select dates.
  • Start lacing up your skatesTHE RINK at Red Hat Amphitheater is open through Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. Warm up around a fire pit and enjoy the 20-foot decorated tree. Plus, donate to local charities on select nights.
  • Show off your culinary skills during The Green Monkey’s second annual chili cook-off Saturday, Dec. 2.
  • Shop ‘till you drop at Fred Fletcher Park on Saturday, Dec. 16 during a Geek and Grub holiday market. This Christmas nightmare themed event could be the perfect spot for last-minute holiday shopping.
  • Cary’s Fenton has more than a few fun festive events coming up. Hit the ice with Skate the Square until Feb. 5, 2024 and enjoy carriage rides through the mixed-use development all through December. Join Fenton in celebrating Hanukkah by lighting a menorah on Tuesday, Dec. 12, the fifth day of the Jewish Festival of Lights. Finally, get some last-minute shopping done on Thursday, Dec. 14 with a Mistletoe Sip n’ Stroll.
  • Join Clouds Brewing’s third annual NC Holiday Beer Fest Saturday, Dec. 9 with more than 25 NC holiday beers on tap.

Family fun

  • Marbles Kids Museum’s immersive holiday event, Evening with Elves, returns Friday, Dec. 8. Attendees will receive an honorary elf name for the evening and enjoy s’mores, museum play, and more.
  • Save the date for Deck the Paws at Deep River Brewing in Clayton Saturday, Dec. 9. Second Chance Pet Adoptions will be there with adoptable dogs, and guests are welcome to bring their own pups to take photos with Santa Paws from 1 to 4 p.m.
A tree in front of Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts.

There is so much going on this season at Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts.

Photo by RALtoday

Holiday shows + live music

  • The North Carolina Symphony is performing three special shows at the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts; Handel Messiah (Friday, Dec. 1 + Saturday, Dec. 2), Holiday Pops (Friday, Dec. 8-Saturday, Dec. 9), and A Candlelight Christmas (Friday, Dec. 22 + Saturday, Dec. 23).
  • Don’t miss Ira David Wood III’s final performances as Scrooge in Theatre In The Park’s “A Christmas Carol” — shows run from Friday, Dec. 8 to Sunday, Dec. 17.
  • Watch The Justice Theater Project’s Black Nativity In Concert on Saturday, Dec. 9 or Sunday, Dec. 10 outdoors at Joseph M. Bryan Jr. Theater in the Museum Park at the NCMA.
  • Get into the holiday spirit with a night of Christmas Music & Beach Classics at The Rialto featuring The Embers and Craig Woolard Saturday, Dec. 23. Or, you can enjoy the sounds of the Durham Symphony: Holiday Pops at this neighborhood theater on Friday, Dec. 13.
  • Sing along with the NC Theatre’s “Elf — The Musical” live Saturday, Dec. 9 through Sunday, Dec. 17 at the Martin Marietta Center for the Performing Arts.
  • The Cary Theater will screen a variety of holiday movies starting Sunday, Dec. 10 with “A Christmas Story.” View other holiday classics like “The Muppet Christmas Carol” and “White Christmas” to get that festive feeling.
  • Rock out with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at PNC Arena on Wednesday, Dec. 13.
  • Get blown away by the Carolina Ballet’s reimagined production of “The Nutcracker” — catch this classical performance Thursday, Dec. 14 through Sunday, Dec. 24.
An acorn drop in downtown Raleigh.

Are you going to watch the iconic Acorn Drop in City Plaza?

Photo by RALtoday

New Year, new me 2024

  • Book a reservation for Centro & Gallo Pelón’s New Year’s Eve Dance Party featuring a welcome cocktail, buffet, music from a DJ and the Latin band Tumbao, a midnight champagne toast, and fun Latin traditions.
  • Take the kids to Fayetteville Street to enjoy First Night Raleigh‘s Children’s Celebration at 2 p.m. and stay to dig into local food vendors + enjoy live music, the famous Raleigh Acorn Drop, and a fireworks show.
  • Ring in the New Year on the rooftop at The Willard with a fireworks show, a buffet of bites, two full cash bars, live music by Peter Lamb & the Wolves, party favors, and a champagne toast at midnight.
  • Spend a night at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences to snack on delicious dishes by Rocky Top Catering, explore four floors of merriment, an open bar, and two DJs spinning tunes.
  • Tickets for a Whiskey Kitchen downtown bash include party favors, a bubbly toast, and a night of dancing to tunes spun by a DJ.
  • High step with The Avett Brothers and special guest Marcus King at PNC Arena during their 20th-annual New Year’s Eve show.
  • Join The Dinner Detective Interactive Murder Mystery Show at Embassy Suites by Hilton Raleigh Crabtree to dine on a feast and spend the night solving mysteries during America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner.
  • Head to Umbrella Dry Bar’s zero-proof space for a ticketed New Year’s Eve party before a grand opening on Sunday, Jan. 5. Get tickets for the event and peruse the menu before stopping into this unique alcohol-free environment.
  • Get the party started early with a special brunch at Cucciolo Terrazza. This three-course champagne-centric brunch will feature Moët and Chandon as a fizzy end-of-year treat.
  • Ring in the new year speakeasy-style at The Green Light. Tickets are $108 and includes a four-course cocktail, dessert, and charcuterie pairing.
  • Dine at Fenton’s Colletta to enjoy a prohibition-style cocktail menu, American Italian dinner specials, and a champagne toast at midnight.

Stay tuned for more events including holiday-themed shows and concerts, non-holiday winter activities, and some meant just for the adults. Keep our events calendar with 100+ activities in mind for your holiday planning, too.

More from RALtoday