Happiness is a Holiday Season with Nature, Music, and Old-Fashioned Celebrations


Get into the authentic feel of the holidays this year with a visit to a state historic site, museum, state park or aquarium. Enjoy colonial harpsichord music at Historic Bath, Jonkonnu dancing at Historic Stagville, or a hearty country meal at Horne Creek Historical Farm. There will be flotillas at the Maritime Museum at Beaufort and Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, and the North Carolina Symphony will bring holiday cheer to several communities in the state.  For more information visit https://www.ncdcr.gov/things-to-do/trips-travel-ideas/holidays




Nov. 19-Jan. 2. N.C. Aquarium-Fort Fisher. Cape Fear Festival of Trees. The Lower Cape Fear Hospice hosts this beloved tradition amidst the inspiring backdrop of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Visitors will delight in more than 50 dazzling, decorated trees in a unique aquatic setting. Free with admission.


Nov. 26-Jan. 4. N.C. Aquarium-Roanoke Island. Help our furry friends -- anyone donating a seven pound or more bag of pet food will receive free admission that day. Anyone donating pet food, a toy or cleaning item will be entered to win a painting created by one of our river otters! Kitty litter, paper towels and peroxide among other needed items.


Nov. 30. Tryon Palace, New Bern. Chamber Music by Candlelight. The Brierwood Ensemble of Wilmington will perform in the palace council chamber by candlelight. Reception follows with sweet treats in the Commission House. 7 p.m. Fee.


Dec. 1. Roanoke Island Festival Park, Manteo. 208th Army Band Christmas Concert. Approximately 40 warrior musicians based in Concord will promote esprit de corps and the magic of the holidays in a performance of jazz, rock, concert music and patriotic selections in the film theater. 6 p.m. Free.


Dec. 1. Historic Bath. Christmas Open House and Evening Delight. Enjoy colonial harpsichord, woodwind and vocal music in the 1751 Palmer Marsh House 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Enjoy evening historic home tours, the Bath Regatta, seasonal sing-alongs and bell ringers, from 5:30-9 p.m. Free.


Dec. 1.  Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, Seven Springs. Christmas Flotilla and Tree Lighting. Parade of boats down the Neuse River complete with music and dancing, Christmas movies on the beach and a tree lighting. Santa will be available for pictures. Concession sales will benefit the park. Donations of unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots will be accepted.  6 p.m. Free


Dec. 1. N.C. Maritime Museum, Beaufort. Crystal Coast Christmas Flotilla. Boats, yachts, oars, kayaks and commercial vessels decorated for the season can be seen at 5:30 p.m. on the Morehead City waterfront and at 6:15 p.m. on the Beaufort waterfront. All decorated boats are judged and prizes for excellence and creativity are awarded at the Awards Party after the flotilla. Fee to participate; free to observe.


Dec. 1. Fort Fisher, Kure Beach. Holiday Open House. Enjoy live entertainment, free refreshments, seasonal decorations and a one-day only 15% discount the museum store. Periodic cannon fire and one lucky ticketholder will win the Civil War playset raffle. Invited musical guests include John Bennet and Masonboro Parlor and local favorite John Golden. 10 a.m. -4 p.m. Free.


Dec. 1. Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City. An Appalachian Mountain Christmas! Spend the day with an Appalachian Mountain Christmas during WWI, hear the story and visit with characters from “A Perfect Christmas Tree,” view the film “The Polar Express,” and enjoy refreshments and activities. Also, School Days for the weeks of Nov. 27, Dec. 4 and Dec. 11; School Days preregistration required. Free.


Dec. 1. Bentonville Battlefield, Four Oaks. A Civil War Christmas. Enjoy cookies and cider while listening to period music and greetings from costumed interpreters. Military interpreters will discuss how the common soldier spent time on furlough with family and friends. 10 a.m-4 p.m. Free.


Dec. 2. Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville. Holiday Jubilee. An open house of the 1897 Poe House with performances by the Coventry Carolers and The Carolina Chordsmen on the front porch of the Poe House, with Christmas decorations providing the back drop. Smell of cooking on the 1902 stove and take photos with Santa in the museum! 1-5 p.m. Free.


Dec. 2. Somerset Place, Creswell. Christmas Open House. Be inspired by the site’s traditional holiday decorations and take a self-guided tour where staff and volunteers will answer questions. Share a tasty meal of black-eyed peas and hearth-cooked cornbread, sip delicious hot spiced tea and sample homemade desserts. Enjoy period Christmas music and caroling from the Columbia High School trio. For youngsters, jolly Saint Nicholas will appear in the Collins House from 2 to 4 p.m. Free.


Dec. 4 and 6. Aycock Birthplace, Fremont. Christmas Candlelight Tours. Smell the fragrances of food cooked on the open hearth and experience the magic of a shadow play surrounded by traditional decorations. Make a Christmas craft Dec. 5. Enjoy the sounds of the Harmony Boys for a bluegrass Christmas Dec. 7. 6:30-9 p.m. Fee; ages four and under free.

Dec. 5, 12, 19. Tryon Palace, New Bern. Discovering Tryon Palace:  Holiday Décor. Take a tour with the master gardener who describes the special items used in the decorations and the “Four Elements” theming of the pieces in the Candlelight Christmas Celebration. 9:30 a.m. Fee.


Dec. 5, 11, 13, 19. N.C. Symphony, Tarboro, New Bern, Jacksonville, Wilmington, respectively. A Classic Holiday Pops. Enjoy a spectacular celebration with joyful holiday classics—plus our popular sing-a-long! Come early to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus! Times vary. Fee.


Dec. 7. Museum of the Albemarle, Elizabeth City. Gingerbread House Workshop. Learn the history of gingerbread and take part in the annual gingerbread house workshop led by the Lovin’ Oven. Kids welcomed from ages one to 100. 4 p.m. Fee.


Dec. 7. Tryon Palace, New Bern. Pearl Harbor Remembrance Ceremony. This event commemorates the 77th anniversary of the day Japanese airplanes attacked the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in 1941. More than 2,300 Americans died during the attack that officially began the United States' involvement in World War II. Free.


Dec 7-8. CSS Neuse, Kinston. A Walk Through Christmas Past. Escorts guide visitors through the museum to witness four different skits or vignettes that show what families, soldiers and sailors would have been doing at Christmas, 1861 through 1865. Crafts, cookies, and cider will be available. 6 p.m., preregistration required. Fee.

 Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-walk-through-christmas-past-tickets-49989372559 or at the site. 


Dec 8. CSS Neuse, Kinston. A Victorian Christmas. After the 10 a.m. parade, visitors can enjoy cider and cookies in the CSS Neuse Civil War Center. Sample Victorian times while making crafts, watching a puppet show and learning about the history of Santa Claus from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission, cookies, cider, and crafts are part of the museum’s free day.

Dec. 8 and 15. Tryon Palace, New Bern. Masquerade: A Candlelight Christmas Celebration. Beautiful decorations, heartwarming holiday vignettes by period characters, all illuminated by the magical glow of candlelight. The governor’s palace and other historic homes will be open for tours. 4:30-9:30 p.m. Fee.


Dec. 8. Historic Halifax. Christmas in Halifax. The whole town celebrates with activities for all ages!  Tour festively decorated historic buildings.  Children’s activities will take place at the Halifax County Library.  See historian Warren Bingham present George Washington’s Southern Tour at 11 a.m. in the Historic Halifax Visitor Center.  Enjoy a homemade lunch of Brunswick stew, ham biscuits, sandwiches and desserts at Halifax Methodist Church, which is a fundraiser.  A lively Christmas parade takes place at 2 p.m., with a chance to visit Santa at the Visitor Center afterwards. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free.


Dec. 9. N.C. Aquarium-Pine Knoll Shores. Santa by the Sea. Enjoy special treats and games in a seasonally decorated aquarium! Make holiday cards and an ornament, have a photo with Santa as part of admission for ages 12 and under. A new treat will be magic shows throughout the day.  Fee.


Dec. 10. Brunswick Town, Winnabow. An 18th Century Christmas. Join us to see how American colonists celebrated Christmas. Costumed interpreters will provide guided tours of St. Philips Anglican Church on the hour. Enjoy Colonial refreshments in the Visitor Center, traditional games, or try your hand at Moravian paper stars and other crafts. The highlight of the evening will be an authentic period candlelit service in the ruins of St. Philips Anglican Church. The service will be 5-5:30 p.m. Free.


Dec. 14. Historic Edenton. Caroling in the Courthouse with the Albemarle Sounds. Come enjoy your favorite Christmas songs in the historic 1767 Chowan County Courthouse. 6-7 p.m. Free.


Dec. 14, 15. Historic Edenton. Iredell House Christmas Groaning Board. So many cookies will be present that the table will “groan!” The Edenton Tea Party Daughters of the American Revolution and James Iredell Association join Historic Edenton in hosting this event. 1-5 p.m. Santa visits 4-7 p.m. Free.


Dec. 15. Jones Lake State Park, Elizabethtown. Christmas Tree Cookie Ornaments. Help recycle fallen timber by turning it into beautiful tree ornaments. Learn the types of trees used to make the ornaments and how to age the tree cookie as well. 10 a.m. Free


Dec. 22. Goose Creek State Park, Washington. Tree Cookie Ornaments, Arts and Crafts. Learn to make old-fashioned holiday decorations. Free. 2 p.m.


Dec. 31. Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach. New Year’s Eve Cannon Blast. Send the old year out with a bang at Fort Macon! 6 p.m. Free. 


Nov. 29. N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh. Adult Holiday Party. Get into the holiday spirit with friends at the museum! Enjoy food, drink, live music, and holiday cheer!  7 p.m. Fee.

Nov. 30. N.C. Symphony, Raleigh. Mozart’s “The Great.”  Experience the expressive power of the human voice when spectacular vocal soloists and the North Carolina Master Chorale join NCS for the purely magnificent Mozart Mass. Three favorite art songs by Schubert reveal a more intimate side of vocal music, and a warm-hearted symphonic overture starts this program in high spirits.  8 p.m. Fee.


Dec. Weekends. N.C. Zoo, Asheboro. The Polar Express in 4D Theater. Enjoy the classic tale in 4D and full sound. Times vary. Fee.

Dec. 1. Reed Gold Mine, Midland. A Golden Christmas. Enjoy holiday cheer and history too! View vintage, antique holiday decorations, enjoy crafts, a hayride, a Christmas market with vendors and demonstrations and candlelight tours of a gold mine. Free, $2 hayride fee for ages three and over.


Dec. 1-2, 7-9, 13-22. N.C. Transportation Museum, Spencer. Polar Express. Enjoy a virtual trip to the North Pole set to a movie soundtrack on the Polar Express. Hot chocolate and cookies aboard the train, and singing, dancing and reading “The Polar Express,” what could be better? Afterwards visit Candy Cane Lane for a picture with Santa. Times and prices vary.


Dec. 2. N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh. Family Holiday Party. Celebrate your holidays at the museum! Visit with Santa, enjoy foods and drinks, create gingerbread houses and other crafts, and take home some holiday treats! 5:30 p.m. Fee.


Dec. 2. N.C. Museum of Art, Raleigh.  Pop-Up Art: Bright Lights. Celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights! View the Museum’s Hanukkah lamps and create your own sculptural lantern to take home. Noon. Free art-making. No reservations necessary.


Dec. 2. Alamance Battleground, Burlington. German Christmas in the Carolinas. Experience the traditions, foodways and culture of German communities including sauerkraut, stollen, scherenschnitte (German paper cutting), 18th century music and learn about German settlers in North Carolina. 1-3 p.m. Fee. Ages under 12 are free.


Dec. 3. Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve, Southern Pines. Rustic Wreath Making. Learn how to bring nature inside with natural materials at a wreath making class. 3 p.m. Free.

Dec. 6, 7, 8.  State Capitol, Raleigh. Tree Lighting and Holiday Open House. The governor's tree-lighting tradition continues! The Dec. 6 festivities begin at 5 p.m. with holiday music. Open house will begin at 6:30 for viewing decorations. Even Santa will appear! From Dec. 6 – Dec. 7 (from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.) and Saturday, Dec. 8 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. there will be holiday music in the rotunda! Free.


Dec. 6, 7, 8, 9. Executive Mansion, Raleigh. Annual Holiday Open House. View extraordinary holiday decorations, enjoy seasonal music from local performing groups as you visit “the people’s house.” Dec. 6, 6-8 p.m., Dec. 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 8, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Dec. 9, 1-4 p.m. No reservations needed. Free.


Dec. 6, 8, 12, 21-22. N.C. Symphony, Chapel Hill, Louisburg, Southern Pines, Raleigh, respectively. A Classic Holiday Pops. Enjoy a spectacular celebration with joyful holiday classics—plus our popular sing-a-long! Times vary. Fee.


Dec. 7 and 14. Duke Homestead, Durham. Christmas by Candlelight. Enjoy a candlelight evening tour with costumed interpreters and live music, caroling and barn dance, Victorian era decorations and refreshments. Tours run from 6:45 to 9:15 p.m. Fee.


Dec. 8. Historic Stagville, Durham. Christmas Open House at Stagville. Enjoy period music, hands on Christmas crafts, and a special Jonkonnu interpretation. Make an ornament and help decorate the Bennehan house and try decorating branches to dress the Hart house. Noon -4 p.m. Free.


Dec. 8. Historic Stagville, Durham. Jonkonnu Lantern Tours. Enjoy and participate in a traditional Jonkonnu Christmas performance with West African influenced music and drums around the evening campfire! Afterwards, experience a lantern-lit tour of the historic Horton Grove quarters with guides telling stories of Stagville's enslaved people at Christmastime. Enjoy refreshments and games. 5:15-7:14 p.m. Fee, tickets on sale now.


Dec. 8. House in the Horseshoe, Sanford. Colonial Christmas. The home of patriot Philip Alston will be decked in 18th century decorations as reenactors in period costumes give trade craft demonstrations and also demonstrate period weapons firings. 2-7 p.m.; candlelight tours 5-7 p.m. Refreshments first-come, first served. Free.

Dec. 8. Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum, Sedalia. Christmas in Canary. Listen to your favorite Christmas songs from the 1940s, create take home crafts, enjoy refreshments, see period decorations in Canary Cottage and take pictures with Santa from 3-5 p.m. Event 2-5 p.m. Fee.


Dec. 12. N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh. History a la Carte: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Raleigh Christmas Parade, with special notes about its history and the effort needed to organize one of the largest annual parades between New York City and Atlanta!  Noon.  Free.


Dec. 14. N.C. Museum of Art, Raleigh.  Duke Energy Family Fun Friday. Celebrate the season ’60s-style at our beloved annual winter event. Create groovy floral art, jam to music and performances, and enjoy a visit from Santa. 5 p.m. Free, ticket required.


Dec. 15. Bennett Place, Durham. Christmas in the Piedmont. Discover how families observed a modest Christmas during the Civil War. See cooking demonstrations and what live was like for soldiers in the field. A daylong bake sale, craft activity for youth, a visit from St. Nick and letter writing to Santa complete the day. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Free. (updated)

Dec. 15. Bennett Place, Durham. Christmas Candlelight Tours. Take a special guided farm tour under the glow of candlelight to learn how soldiers and civilians experienced the holidays during a time of war. Tours will go out approximately every 20 minutes and are limited to 15 people per group. There will be a bake sale and complimentary hot apple cider at the visitor center. 6-9 p.m. Fee, ages under five, free. Proceeds benefit site preservation. 


Dec. 17. Eno River State Park, Durham. Historic Holiday Sing-a-Long. Fill your lungs with fresh air and joyfully sing about the season! 2 p.m. Free.

Dec. 16. N.C. Museum of History, Raleigh. Raleigh Flute Choir Concert. This chamber ensemble of professional flutists from central North Carolina will perform creative arrangements of seasonal favorites and some original works. Utilizing the entire flute family, from a tiny piccolo to an eight-foot contrabass, the ensemble has played across the country. 3 p.m. Fee.


Dec. 21-22. N.C. Symphony, Raleigh. Cirque de Noel An audience favorite where the circus meets the symphony! Stunning aerial feats, mind-boggling contortions, and jaw-dropping juggling acts will take your breath away—and with these awe-inspiring acrobatics accompanied by your favorite festive music. Times vary.  Fee.


Dec. 23. N.C. Symphony, Raleigh. A Candlelight Christmas. Back by popular demand! In the glow of candlelight, this one-hour program will warm your heart at the height of the holiday season. Share an evening of classical music with the North Carolina Symphony, uplifted by the voices of the North Carolina Symphony Children’s Chorus. 7:30 p.m. Fee.  

Dec. 31. N.C. Symphony, Raleigh. New Year’s Eve Celebration Concert. Welcome the New Year with the North Carolina Symphony when we present an evening of unforgettable Viennese waltzes and Big Band classics with the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra. 8 p.m. Fee.



Dec. 1.  Horne Creek Living Historical Farm, Pinnacle.   A Child’s Christmas on the Farm. Enjoy caroling, making a craft item and a Christmas story from the period, followed by refreshments. Due to limited space, tickets must be purchased in advance.  (Please note: This program is for children, not adults). 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. Fee.


Dec. 6 & 7.  Horne Creek Living Historical Farm, Pinnacle. Christmas By Lamplight. Experience the warmth of a rural turn-of-the-20th-century Christmas with caroling, readings from the period, and a “make and take” craft in the Hauser Farmhouse. Finish with a good hearty country meal. Reservations required for one of the following times: 5:30 – 7 p.m. or 7 – 8:30 p.m. (This is not a program for children under age 11).  Must pre-register by calling (336) 325-2298; no walk-ins allowed. Fee.


Dec. 6-8. Zebulon Vance Birthplace, Weaverville. An Appalachian Christmas Carol. Be transported into a retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” with the Vance family and the enslaved smack dab in the middle. Go on an illuminating journey of the entire site from the Birthplace to the 1790s slave cabin. Tours start at 5:30 p.m. and run every 30 minutes until 8 p.m. Reservations required. Fee.


Dec. 8. Mountain Gateway Museum, Old Fort. Open House. Visitors will see the museum and its two late 1800s log cabins bedecked in natural holiday splendor! Live music, free hot cider and coffee and other homemade treats will recreate the old-fashioned warmth of Christmas as luminaries glow. Homemade baked goods and crafts will be sold. 5- 7 p.m.  Free. 

Dec. 15. President Polk State Historic Site, Pineville. Mini-Makers - Storytime + Craft. Come with your child to hear "Llama Llama Holiday Drama" by Anna Dewdney read aloud then craft an ornament for your holiday tree, materials provided. Recommended for pre-K through 1st grade. 10-11 a.m. Fee.


Dec. 15. President Polk State Historic Site, Pineville. Holiday Ornament Workshop. Create one or two of your very own ornaments with materials we provide, a miniature wreath and/or a wood slice ornament. Pre-registration recommended, remaining slots will be available on a first come, first served basis. 2-4 p.m. Fee.


Dec. 15. Fort Dobbs, Statesville. Winter on the Western Frontier.  Discover what life was like at the outpost garrison for the first winter in 1755. See examples of camp life, period cooking, musket and cannon firing demonstrations. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Free.


Dec. 15. Thomas Wolfe Memorial, Asheville. Angels Christmas Open House. Children's crafts and activities throughout the day and an inspiring exhibit of angel wreaths and figurines throughout the Old Kentucky Home. 10 a.m-5 p.m. Adults fee, children free.

Dec. 23. Lake James State Park, Nebo. Christmas Eve Eve Boat Tour. Experience some of the most majestic views of Linville Gorge and Black Mountain Range while viewing some of the many species of waterfowl in the park during winter months. Join in the search for otters, loons, eagles and scenic vistas. Dress warmly as the weather could be blustery. 2 p.m. Registration required. Free.


Jan. 5. President Polk Birthplace, Pineville. 12th Night – the Vanishing Holiday. Executive Director Ron Vinson, Presbyterian Heritage Center, Montreat, will discuss the origin and prominence of Twelfth Night from its medieval continental origins through Shakespeare's 1602 play, to observances in Colonial Carolinas with illustrations, medieval carols and colonial tunes. Plus, get a taste of the holiday spirit with a slice of King Cake. 11 a.m.-noon. Pre-registration encouraged.  Free.



Jan. 1, 2018. N.C. State Parks.  First Day Hike. Join a park ranger for a hike in a state park near you and start a New Year’s Day tradition. Times vary. See N.C. State Parks webpage for details. Free.

For additional information visit here.


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