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Make your holiday unforgettable with these Triangle-area favorites

Learning to be a local Series

Events with sweets and drinks

When: Now through Christmas Eve

St. Nick’s Raleigh Jolly Pop-up House is a Christmas experience like no other. Located in a historic house across from Moore Square in downtown Raleigh, this Christmas themed pop-up features holiday decor, drinks, music, and a photobooth for even more fun. Admission is $10.

When: Now through Dec. 31

Miracle is a pop-up cocktail bar decked out with kitschy holiday decor, just in time for Christmas. Enjoy a set of holiday-themed cocktails from The Haymaker’s bartender Taylor Sullivan, you’ll love the energy found in this setting. To skip the line, pre-purchase fast pass tickets.

When: December 17 and 18, 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m.

Enjoy making a sweet treat you can take home at Marbles in downtown Raleigh. This special event provides the opportunity for families to make keepsake—and delicious—gingerbread houses. Pricing is $15 per person for members and $18 per person for non-members. Each table can seat up to 6.

Holiday performances

When: December 17 and 18, 4-6 p.m.

Ring in the holidays—or watch them be rung in—with the help of the Raleigh Ringers. This group of professional handbell performers is holding their annual holiday concerts at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Enjoy a unique set of music, including sacred, secular, and even a bit of pop music that will have you officially ready for Christmas. Tickets are $26 for adults, $22 for seniors, $19 for groups of 10 or more, and $14 for students.

When: Now through December 24, Matinee and evening performances available, check website for specific dates and times

Nothing is more iconic during the holidays than The Nutcracker. Join Carolina Ballet’s take on this classic tale, which features the music of Tchaikovsky. This is the only production in the United States that also includes illusions from renowned magician Rick Thomas. The Nutcracker’s characters will levitate, disappear, then reappear on stage. Check Ticketmaster for pricing details.

Shopping and cultural events

When: Saturday, December 17, 2 to 8 p.m.

Explore Durham’s Holiday Extravaganza, which is a local vendor market you won’t want to miss. Hot cider, mulled wine, and craft beer will be available in the park, as well live music and food trucks. The market will have crafts and goods from area vendors. You can also purchase a ticket to decorate an ornament and take a photo with Santa, who will be on the patio of The Glass Jug. The event is free, but tickets for Santa are available through Eventbrite.

When: Monday, December 19, 5:30 p.m.

Celebrate the second day of Hanukkah with the lighting of the new menorah outside of the Cary Arts Center. The Town of Cary is partnering with the Beth Shalom congregation, Jewish Federation of Raleigh-Cary, and Chabad of Cary for this event. Enjoy treats, holiday music, and events for kids. The event is free to the public.

When: Friday, December 30, 12-5 p.m.

Explore the seven principles of Kwanzaa at this annual celebration, hosted by the Town of Cary and the Ujima Group. Kwanzaa, which is derived from African heritage, gives African-Americans an opportunity to celebrate their achievements and enter the new year refreshed. The event will include a vendor market and children’s village as well as dance performances and a drumming demonstration. The event is free to the public.

When: Now through January 8, Monday through Sunday from 6-10 p.m.

The North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival is a beautiful showcase of Chinese culture. Larger-than-life lanterns and displays made from thousands of LED lights brighten the nighttime skies during this one-hour walking tour. Each night at 7, 8, and 9 p.m., performances from martial artists, dancers, acrobats, and drummers will delight visitors. Tickets span from $11 to $35. Check the website for details. Kids 2 and under are free.

Outdoor events

When: Now through December 30, Check website for specific times

The Santa Express is rolling through Downtown Raleigh this holiday season and it’s the perfect event for toddlers and grade school kids who are just dying to meet Santa. Before you board the trolley and take a ride into the city, Santa himself will get pictures taken with your kids and they’ll be able to share their Christmas wish list with him. You’ll even have professional photos taken while enjoying refreshments, music, lights, and more. The experience lasts about 60 minutes and tickets are $42 each.

When: Now through January 16, 2023, Monday-Thursday from 3:30-9 p.m., Friday from 3:30-10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday from 12-7 p.m.

Cary’s hottest new district, Fenton, is open this winter for an extra bit of holiday cheer. Fenton’s outdoor skating rink will be your favorite new holiday tradition. Admission is $16 for 75 minutes of skating time and skate rental is included in the admission price. 

When: Now through January 16, 2023, Monday-Sunday, Hours vary depending upon date

The Rink is a natural ice skating rink with a stunning view of the downtown Raleigh skyline. Enjoy the Rink’s wintry village design, which features lounging stations for warming up, a snack bar, games, photo ops, and theme nights. Admission is $6 for non-skaters and $11 for skaters, which includes skate rental.

When: Now through December 30, Sun.-Thurs., 5-10pm; Fri. and Sat., 5-11pm

Raleigh’s Magic of Lights is one of the area’s largest drive-through experiences. Right from the comfort of your own car, you can explore holiday scenes and Christmas characters that feature the latest LED technology. It’s fun for the entire family! Cost is $25-30 per car.

What are your favorite holiday-related events? Leave a comment below if there’s something we missed that you think should be included.

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