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.

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.

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