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Holiday Programs and Resources (December 2016)

Dear North Carolina Educators,

The holidays are here and the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources has exciting programming taking place across the State. Whether you are looking for holiday themed field trips for your class, or opportunities to explore traditions on the weekend, we have something for you! We are constantly adding more events and opportunities, so please visit or sign up for regular email communications to stay up-to-date on new activities.


A Kid’s Christmas kicks-off the NC Symphony’s seasonal concert series with interactive music from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frozen, and much more! You can also join the Symphony on one of their traveling Statewide Holiday Pops in December, and even join them to ring in the New Year. Check out their full holiday calendar for all the festive programs available. The NC Museum of Art invites you to transport to a holly jolly wonderland during their annual Holiday Family Fun Friday with art deco–inspired art making and games, free treats for the kids, music, and a visit from Santa! You and your family can also experience the Christmas Story in Art, Words, and Music as the Curator of European Art masterfully weaves art history with poems, literature, and soul-stirring music.



Does your class want to explore holiday traditions from yesteryear? With 27 Historic Sites across our State offering holiday programming, you can find a holiday adventure just a short field trip away!  Visit State Historic Sites to find a location near you to explore for holiday traditions.  You can also board the Polar Express at the NC Transportation Museum for a magical experience inspired by the run-away hit movie! For a festive living history experience with historical characters, dancing, 18th-century circus acts, and fireworks, attend one of Tryon Palace’s famous Candlelight Celebrations. Experience the holiday season with the State Capitol with the Governor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony and Holiday Festival on December 8th, and Holiday Open Houses of the Capitol and the Executive Mansion December 8th-11th. Explore the Poe House beautifully decorated in grand Victorian style at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex throughout the season.  Or if you would like to learn more about maritime holiday traditions, visit the Graveyard of the Atlantic’s holiday celebration, BattleshipHoHoHo with the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, and Winterfest at the NC Maritime Museum in Southport. Cap off your holiday season by ringing in the New Year with the Museum of the Albemarle at New Year’s Eve-Casino Royale or at the Crystal Coast Countdown at the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort. Looking for online materials to explore as well? Try the State Archives’ historical Carolina Christmas collection.


The holidays are a perfect time for family gatherings, and for your students to get to know their family's history. Have students start a family tree this holiday season, as it is a perfect opportunity for them to interview family members during holiday festivities. The State Library and the State Archives have many resources and ideas to help students discover their past. The State Archives of North Carolina has numerous original records for genealogy research. NC Government and Heritage Library maintains an extensive collection of published resources that support genealogical research. Learn more by watching their online Introduction to Genealogy and Family History Research.  Explore North Carolina Family Records online, which is rich in family history materials. You can also browse the State Library’s Our State Magazine Digital Collection for old holiday advertisements or profiles from past celebrations across North Carolina.


The best way to stay fit during a busy holiday season of treats is to exercise outdoors!  Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve and Grandfather Mountain both offer guided nature hikes so that you can enjoy the beauty of fall and burn some holiday calories. In December, experience the natural side to the holiday season with programming in our parks, science museums, and aquariums. How does Santa climb down millions of chimneys around the world in a single night? He practices, of course! Witness Santa’s daring stunt as he practices on one of the world’s largest chimneys at Chimney Rock State Park in a fun-filled day of holiday festivities.  At the NC Museum of Natural Science, make a unique holiday card using specimens from the Naturalist Center for inspiration, or escape the hustle and bustle of the holiday season with a visit to their latest exhibit, The Secret World Inside You.  Santa by the Sea is a magical holiday event at the NC Aquarium in Pine Knoll Shores where children can share their wishes among the fishes and get a snapshot with Santa in a one-of-a-kind setting. In the beauty of Fort Macon State Park, ring in the new year with a cannon-blast before heading to your New Year’s Eve celebrations.

About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.

NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette's Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit