Winter events happening in and around Raleigh, NC

Check out winter and holiday-themed events happening in and around Raleigh in this seasonal guide.

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Start planning your New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Photo by RALtoday

Table of Contents

Get your fuzzy socks and hot cocoa ready Raleigh. From light displays to holiday performances and festive parties, winter is where the City of Oaks thrives.

Gather the family and friends and celebrate what makes the holiday season special with this guide featuring 45+ winter events happening between December and January.

Holiday events

The Rink Presented By UNC Health | Thursday, Dec. 1-Monday, Jan. 16 | Times vary | Red Hat Amphitheater, 500 S. Salisbury St., Raleigh | $6-$11 | In addition to a large outdoor ice skating rink, this winter wonderland has fire pits, a 20-ft decorated tree, games, and a snack bar.

Christmas sing-a-long | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 7 p.m. | Sola Coffee Cafe, 7705 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh | Free | Join other carolers on the patio while you sip hot cider and munch on popcorn.

2022 Christmas Open House | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 11 a.m.-4 p.m. | Joel Lane Museum House, 160 S Saint Mary’s St., Raleigh | Free | Explore Raleigh’s oldest house during the holidays — there will be kids crafts like tin punching, candle dipping, and doll making.

Holiday Cheer Baking event | Tuesday, Dec. 6 | 11 a.m.-1 p.m. | Oak City Cares, 1430 S Wilmington St., Raleigh | Free | Sign up to bake, individually wrap, and drop off 12-24 holiday treats to be shared with people experiencing homelessness.

29th Annual Jingle Ball Gala | Thursday, Dec. 8 | 7-10:30 p.m. | NC Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 W. Jones St., Raleigh | $130 | Enjoy a night of live music, dueling pianos, raffles, cocktails, and elevated food to raise money to buy children Christmas presents.

Official Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl | Saturday, Dec. 10 and | 3-10 p.m. | Glenwood Ave., Raleigh | $9-$30 | Throw on a tacky sweater for this downtown pub crawl.

Vita Vite Hallmark Movie Event | Sunday, Dec. 11 | 2-6 p.m. | Vita Vite Downtown, 313 W. Hargett St., Raleigh | Get cozy with a Hallmark movie, wine, games, and trivia.

Raleigh Fashion Fest: Holiday Shop & Show | Thursday, Dec. 15 | 5-9 p.m. | Crabtree Valley Mall, 4325 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh | $0-$75 | Benefiting the American Cancer Society, this show will feature one large-format collaborative fashion show directed by Models for Charity.

Doing Others Good Gala | Thursday, Dec. 15 | 7-10 p.m. | Beryl Campus, 3915 Beryl Rd., Raleigh | $120 | Enjoy food, drinks, music, and more at The Loading Dock’s first annual Doing Others Good Gala, aimed at raising $15,000 for local nonprofit, Gabi’s.

GingerBuild Houses & Hops | Friday, Dec. 16 | 7 p.m. | Marbles Kids Museum, 201 E. Hargett St., Raleigh | $25 | Build and decorate an edible gingerbread house and grab beer or wine from the bar — this event is 21+.

Christmas Movie Trivia | Friday, Dec. 16 | 8-10 p.m. | City of Raleigh Museum, 220 Fayetteville St., Raleigh | $0-$10 | Wear a festive costume and test your knowledge of Christmas movies.

Holidays at Hogwarts | Saturday, Dec. 17 | 4-6 p.m. | Borden Building, 820 Clay St., Raleigh | $80 | Enjoy a magical evening in the Hogwarts Common Rooms while creating wizarding Christmas ornaments, sipping on Butterbeer, and finding your house.

Sonic Runway light installation at Burning Man.

Sonic Runway at Burning Man in 2016.

Photo by Jordan Laboucane, courtesy of Rob Jensen, Warren Trezevant, and Creos

Light displays

NC Chinese Lantern Festival | Wednesday, Nov. 30-Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023 | 6-10 p.m. | Koka Booth Amphiteatre, 8003 Regency Pkwy., Cary | $11-$35 | This year’s event features 40+ new displays, all crafted by Chinese artisans and comprised of hundreds of parts and thousands of lights.

WRAL Nights of Lights | Wednesday, Nov. 30-Saturday, Dec. 24 | Times vary | Dix Park, 1030 Richardson Dr., Raleigh | $20-$50 | Enjoy this drive-thru light show complete with local art installations, illuminated trees, and holiday light displays.

Magic Of Lights | Wednesday, Nov. 30-Friday, Dec. 30 | Times vary | Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, 3801 Rock Quarry Rd., Raleigh | $15-$55 | Drive through this magical holiday light show.

Tree Lighting Ceremony | Friday, Dec. 2 | 6-8 p.m. | Brier Creek Commons, 8181 Brier Creek Pkwy., Raleigh | Free | Meet at the Clock Tower to see Santa light the tree.

State Tree Lighting & Holiday Open House | Thursday, Dec. 8 | 5:30 p.m. | North Carolina State Capitol, 1 E Edenton St., Raleigh | Free | Listen to holiday music performed by The Raleigh Concert Band, visit with Santa, and enjoy cookies and cider — stick around to tour the decorated Capitol.

National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony | Sunday, Dec. 11 | 8 p.m. | Virtual, Raleigh | Free | Tune in to CBS to watch the annual event featuring Raleighite and award-winning actress Ariana DeBose.

Menorah Lighting | Wednesday, Dec. 21 | 4:30-6:30 p.m. | Fenton Square, 21 Fenton Main St., Cary | Free | Join Fenton and Chabad of Cary for a menorah lighting on the 4th night of Chanukah — enjoy a carving of an ice menorah and celebratory Chanukah music.

Illuminate Art Walk | Friday, Dec. 2-Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023 | 12 a.m.-12 p.m. | Fayetteville Street and Glenwood South districts, Raleigh | Free | Sip N’ Stroll your way through this year’s light installation featuring an international exhibit that’s made appearances at Burning Man.

Performers on stage for the Black Nativity in Concert.

Enjoy a free performance at the Museum Park at the NCMA.

Photo provided by The Justice Theater Project

Holiday performances

Elf the Musical (Touring) | Wednesday, Nov. 30-Sunday, Dec. 4 | 7:30 p.m. | DPAC, 123 Vivian St., Durham | $15-$83 | Buddy the Elf travels from the North Pole to New York City to find his birth father during this hilarious Christmas tale.

The Nutcracker - Cary Ballet Company | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 2 and 7 p.m | Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh | $35-$45 | Set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, watch this story of a girl who befriends a nutcracker that comes to life on Christmas Eve.

The RTOOT Celebrates The Holidays | Wednesday, Dec. 7 | 7:30 p.m. | Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave., Cary | $2-$10 | Enjoy an evening of music and unexpected humor performed by the Really Terrible Orchestra of the Triangle.

Raleigh Boychoir’s Carols of Christmas | Friday, Dec. 9 | 7 p.m. | Raleigh | $10-$20 | Sing along to several traditional carols — this year’s performance will include four choirs.

Black Nativity in Concert | Saturday, Dec. 10 | 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.| Joseph M. Bryan Jr. Amphitheater at the NCMA, 2110 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh | Free | Sing, dance, and tap your toes to this holiday musical celebration fit for the whole family.

Holiday Pops | Friday, Dec. 9, Saturday, Dec. 10 | Times vary | Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh | $39 | Listen to the North Carolina Symphony play festive holiday favorites and traditional carols.

Theatre in the Park: A Christmas Carol | Friday, Dec. 9-Sunday, Dec. 11 | 7 p.m. | Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh | $35-$94 | Enjoy this classic holiday performance.

Southern Songbirds: Tift Merritt Sings the Women of Country Music | Saturday, Dec. 10 | 7 p.m. | North Carolina Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh | Free | Enjoy this concert series in conjunction with the traveling The Power of Women in Country Music exhibition.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Ghosts Of Christmas Eve | Wednesday, Dec. 14 | 7 p.m. | PNC Arena, 1400 Edwards Mill Rd., Raleigh | $90-$550 | Listen to Christmas classics performed by this American rock band founded in 1996.

George Birge, Scotty McCreery, and Kylie Morgan | Sunday, Dec. 18 | 5:30 p.m. | Lincoln Theatre, 126 E. Cabarrus St., Raleigh | $40 | Enjoy this Christmas show featuring Garner’s own Scotty McCreery.

Two festive holiday drinks.

Try this: The Christmapolitan served in a classic coup glass at The Haymaker.

Photo by RALtoday

Food and drink

The Dessertery | Wednesday, Nov. 30-Friday, Dec. 23 | Times vary | Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh | $15-$25 | This holiday-themed cafe features a wide variety of desserts to choose from (think: cheesecake, petit fours, and cupcakes) and a hot chocolate bar with 50+ toppings.

Holiday Wine Walk | Thursday, Dec. 1 | 4-7 p.m. | Village District, 2108 Clark Ave., Raleigh | $25 | This charitable tasting tour benefits the Frankie Lemmon School and Development Center.

Miracle at The Haymaker | Friday, Dec. 2-Saturday, Dec. 31 | 5 p.m.-1 a.m. | The Haymaker, 555 Fayetteville St., Raleigh | Free | Sip on holiday drinks like the Yippee Ki Yay served in Santa’s boot at this holiday pop-up bar.

A Very Cheeni Holiday Open House | Sunday, Dec. 4 | 2-5 p.m. | Cheeni Indian Food Emporium, 1141 Falls River Ave., Raleigh | $15 | Be the first to sample the holiday cocktail menu, snack on small bites, shop from the bazaar, and enjoy wine and beer pairings.

2nd Annual NC Holiday Beer Fest | Saturday, Dec. 10 | 3-7 p.m. | Clouds Brewing Tap Room, 1233 Front St., Raleigh | $20-$40 | The brewery will feature 25+ holiday beers on tap.

Specifically tailored to kids

Nature Peekers: Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit | Tuesday, Dec. 6 | 10:30-11 a.m. | Blue Jay Point County Park, 3200 Pleasant Union Church Rd., Raleigh | Free | Find out how animals survive in the winter with this book reading by Il Sung Na.

Evening with Elves | Friday, Dec. 9 | Marbles Kids Museum, 201 E. Hargett St., Raleigh | $12 | Enjoy roasting s’mores outdoors, arctic museum play, and a special visit from the Snowflake Fairy.

Santa on the Rooftop | Sunday, Dec. 11 | 1-4 p.m. | The Willard Rooftop Lounge, 9 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh | Free | Take family photos with Santa with a backdrop of the downtown skyline.

Gingerbread Jamboree | Saturday, Dec. 17-Sunday, Dec. 18 | Marbles Kids Museum, 201 E. Hargett St., Raleigh | Free | Enjoy creating a sweet treat masterpiece with friends and family.

Holiday shopping pop-ups

First Friday Holiday Party & Market | Friday, Dec. 2 | 4-8 p.m. | The Burrow, 119 E. Hargett St., Raleigh | $5-$10 | Join The Burrow for this holiday party featuring live music, art, drinks, and vendors.

The Holiday Market at NCMA | Saturday, Dec. 3 | 11 a.m.-3 p.m. | NCMA, 2110 Blue Ridge Rd., Raleigh | Free | Browse the galleries, enjoy the Museum Park, and shop local.

Celebrate the Season | Wednesday, Dec. 7 | 6-9 p.m. | Raleigh Union Station, 510 W Martin St., Raleigh | $25 | Peruse 30+ local holiday vendors.

Artspace Holiday Art Fair | Saturday, Dec. 10 | 12-5 p.m. | Artspace, 201 E. Davie St., Raleigh | Free | Shop from 30+ studio artists, 20 guest vendors, and showcased artwork while enjoying holiday music performances and festive food and drinks.

The Vintage Market Before Christmas | Sunday, Dec. 11 | 11 a.m.-8 p.m. | Transfer Co. Ballroom, 500 E. Davie St., Raleigh | Free | Enjoy a unique retro sports vintage holiday shopping experience.

Fireworks over downtown Raleigh.

Enjoy fireworks over downtown Raleigh at The Willard Rooftop.

Photo provided by The Willard

New Year’s Eve celebrations

New Year’s Eve Gala | Saturday, Dec. 31 | 8 p.m. | NC Museum of Natural Sciences, 121 W. Jones St., Raleigh | $150-$175 | Celebrate the New Year in style... ‘80s style, that is — enjoy four floors of food and late-night snacks, open bars, craft cocktails, a DJ, two dance floors, and a live ’80s cover band.

WRAL First Night Raleigh 2023 | Saturday, Dec. 31 | TBD | 19 W. Hargett St., Raleigh | Free | Enjoy art, music, and the Acorn Drop at midnight at this event by Artsplosure.

New Year’s Eve at The Willard Rooftop | Saturday, Dec. 31 | 8 p.m.-1 a.m. | The Willard Rooftop Lounge, 9 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh | $155 | Ring in 2023 with spectacular views of the downtown Raleigh fireworks.

2023 Raleigh New Year’s Eve Party - Gatsby’s House | Saturday, Dec. 31 | 9 p.m.-1:30 a.m. | Sheraton Raleigh Hotel, 421 South Salisbury St., Raleigh | $89-$825 | A little party never killed nobody... dance the night away at this Gatsby-themed party featuring an open bar and four NC DJs.

NC’s Official New Years Eve Extravaganza 2023 | Saturday, Dec. 31 | 9:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. | Hilton North Raleigh, 3415 Wake Forest Rd., Raleigh | $15-$575 | Enjoy a night of dancing and music by multiple DJs.

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