20+ Things to do in December In and Around Raleigh

Capture the spirit of the season in the Triangle with light shows, concerts, festive crafts, and dazzling productions
by Kara Adams and Addie Ladner

Drive through WRAL’s Night of Lights at Dix Park

Nights of Lights at Dix Park is back this year. The second annual event will boast even more twinkling bulbs and mesmerizing artistic displays, including new pieces by Raleigh neon artist Nate Shaeffer. This year, the event will include more nights for guests to choose from and fewer cars per night to shorten wait times to see the display. Pack family or friends into the car for this festive mile-long ride through the park, and tune in to a soundtrack of merry music to accompany the spectacle.
December 1 – 24 | 6:30 p.m.; $35; 1251 Goode Street; dixpark.org

Head to a Christmas Wreath Making Workshop

Head to Phillips Farm of Cary on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays this month for a hands-on wreath-making class. Gardening experts will teach you everything you need to know to craft a festive, one-of-a-kind wreath to adorn your front door out of evergreen branches. The ticket includes all the materials to make your first wreath — then use your newfound skills to make many more with clips from your own garden.
All month | 6 – 7:30 p.m.; $57; 6701 Good Hope Church Road, Cary; phillipsfarmsofcary.com

See the work of Alphonse Mucha at NCMA

Immerse yourself in the work of Alphonse Mucha, a visionary of the Art Nouveau design movement of the early 1900s. The celebrated Czech artist’s illustrations, photographs, sculptures, and more will be on display at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Mucha gained popularity for his fanciful, romantic advertisements, which often featured French actresses intertwined with classical imagery.
All month; $23.60; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; ncartmuseum.org

Skate at The Rink

Red Hat Amphitheater — known for its outdoor concerts most of the year — has transformed into The Rink for the season. The outdoor skating rink is open Thursday through Sunday afternoons through December 19, then seven days a week through January 1 (with some exceptions). The Rink has skates on site, as well as Red Hat’s regular concessions offerings, plus coffee and hot chocolate. For in between sessions or folks more interested in supervising than skating, there’s a large lounge area with fire pits and heaters.
All month; $11 to skate (includes skate rental), $6 for non-skaters; 500 S. McDowell Street; redhatamphitheater.com

Head to Union Station for our Celebrate the Season Event

Join us for a festive evening of shopping local from more than 20 merchants, all in one place, including Edge of Urge, Prodigal Homemade, and Videri Chocolate. Held at Union Station, guests can enjoy signature cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and company while checking off their holiday shopping lists. Get the details here.
Dec. 1 | 6 – 9 p.m.; $25; 510 W. Martin Street; buy tickets here

Plan a Raleigh Staycation

Sticking around for the holidays? Consider these ways to enjoy different neighborhoods in Raleigh for your staycation.

Pick up a Festive Craft Kit from the Arboretum

Bring home the holidays with the Holiday Creations Garden Activity Kit, curated by the staff at J.C Raulston Arboretum. With everything you need to create holiday decor, including a book for inspiration, details instructions, and craft supplies that include natural elementis from the arboretum, the take-away kits lets families work at their own pace on their creations. 
Dec. 3 | 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.; At home; $35; pick-up location at 4415 Beryl Road; jcra.ncsu.edu

Cheer on the Carolina Hurricanes

If you’re not a Caniac yet, maybe it’s time. Cheer on our Carolina Hurricanes — the reigning division champions — at seven home games this month. Bundle up and pack a picnic to get to the parking lot early for the tailgating scene, then watch the team — led by captain Jordan Staal and 2020 Coach of the Year Rod Brind’Amour — bring the heat to the ice.
December 2, 4, 16, 18, 19, 27; 7 p.m. from $16; 1400 Edwards Mill Road; pncarena.com

Rent a Cozy Cabin in the Mountains

From Cashers to Blowing Rock to Ashville, we scanned airbnb for some of the more comfortable-looking, stylish, and spacious vacation rentals for groups of family and friends. P.S. Checkout these tiny home vacation rentals in the mountains and these small towns to explore. So bundle up, head West, and cozy up in one of these spacious cabins.

Watch Burning Coal’s The Road to Mecca

See Burning Coal Theatre’s production of The Road to Mecca, directed by Jerome Davis, the true story of a woman from South Africa, Miss Helen, who finds her calling as a sculptor later in life. Written by Athol Fugard, this is the second time the popular play will be showcased at Burning Coal, and can be viewed in-person or through a livestream.
Dec. 2 – 19; virtual and in-person; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; From $20; 224 Polk Street; burningcoal.org

Explore the Boylan Heights Art Walk

The Boylan Heights ArtWalk transforms this historic neighborhood into an immersive gallery, with exhibits set up in the front yards and porches of the area homes. Collectors and casual observers alike will enjoy this juried show, which displays paintings, jewelry, pottery, stained glass, and more from nearly 100 artists — all for sale, just in time for the holidays. Lyman Collins, chair of the Boylan Heights ArtWalk chair and a neighborhood resident, says they’ve gone the extra mile to make this as COVID safe as possible. “We’re so excited to be back in person. It feels like a real accomplishment. The biggest thing though we’ve done is reduce the number of artists, which was hard,” he says. In past years, multiple artists would be stationed on a single front porch or yard, but this year there will only be one artist per space. For food, Rebus Works will be up and running as usual and the neighborhood will have a food stand offering individually wrapped items.
Dec. 5 | 12 – 5 p.m.; free; Boylan Heights neighborhood; boylanheights.org

Whip up a Big Batch of Soup

’Tis the season to huddle together at the table and reconnect over comfort food. Consider these ten nourishing soup recipes shared by Raleigh area chefs and food writers — each one showcases herbs, spices, lesser-known vegetables, and professional techniques to create something satisfying simple. Might we suggest making big batches of them to freeze and pull out on snow days? Get the recipes here.

Hear Master Chorale’s Joy of the Season

Hear the North Carolina Master Chorale in a showcase of seasonal music featuring a range of genres, from a jazzy rendition of “Sleigh Ride” to the rousing “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and its annual, classic show-ender, “Joy to the World.” Accompanied by the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, the program will take place in Meymandi Hall. 
Dec. 7 | 7:30 p.m.; From $35; 2 E. South Street; ncmasterchorale.org

See Theatre in the Park’s Christmas Carol

Theatre in the Park presents Ira David Wood III’s A Christmas Carol, a comedic, Raleigh-centric version of the Dickens classic that includes new twists every year to delight the audience. Performed since 1974, A Christmas Carol has been named one of the “Top 20 Events In The Southeast” and will be on view at DPAC and Raleigh Memorial Auditorium.
Dec. 9 – 12 & 15 – 19; From $36.50; 2 E. South Street and 123 Vivian Street, Durham; theatreinthepark.com

See the Festive Homes on The Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour

Transport yourself back to the Victorian era with this unique opportunity to peek inside a dozen century-old homes that are still in use today. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour, and it will include some of the homes from the original tour, as well as visitor favorites from over the decades. After the outdoor-only version last year, the self-paced Candlelight Tour will again include interiors, where guests will have the opportunity to hear about the histories and architectural details of each home they visit. “Last year, we were pleased to offer a walking tour version of the Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour, and it was an astonishing success. But the real beauty and warmth of this event – and this neighborhood – is welcoming people and giving them the chance to enjoy these beautifully decorated homes,” says tour chair Kurt Hurelbrink.
Dec. 11 & 12 | 1 – 7 p.m.; From $30; start at 418 N. Person Street; historicoakwood.org

Grab a Meal Out at a Cozy Local Eatery or Bar

Hello hygge season, when we crave crackling fires, belly-warming beverages, hearty meals, and cozy seating. Whether you’re gathering with good friends or looking for a great fall and winter date-night spot, we’ve rounded up 25 Raleigh-area bars and restaurants that offer just that: a spot to nestle in for a slow meal or an intimate evening, tucked away from the cold. Not comfortable eating indoors still? Fear not, these places offer heating outside.

Enjoy an Evening with Elves at Marbles

A night at the museum in pajamas that includes encounters with elves, a dance party, outdoor s’mores, and an appearance from a magical snowflake fairy? Sounds like holiday heaven for little ones. At this annual event at Marbles Kids Museum, children will receive a special elf name and the chance to explore arctic-themed play areas, with a visit to the North Pole Pizza Parlor available for an extra charge.
Dec. 10 | 6 – 8:30 p.m.; $25; 201 E. Hargett Street; marbleskidsmuseum.org

Listen to the North Carolina Symphony’s Holiday Pops

Get into the holiday spirit with vocalist Yolanda Rabun and the North Carolina Symphony performing all your favorite holiday tunes at the Meymandi Concert Hall. Featuring show tunes, popular music, and the classics, this beloved local tradition is an inspiring Yuletide event for all ages.
Dec. 10 – 11; From $26; 2 E. South Street; ncsymphony.org

See Carolina Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Join Carolina Ballet for the holiday tradition The Nutcracker, where the choreography will be accompanied by a live symphony orchestra at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. ”We are so excited to bring our community back together in person with this holiday favorite for the young and young at heart,” says Emily McGheen of the Carolina Ballet. ”We are grateful to have had the opportunity to broadcast The Nutcracker last year — but there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself on stage!”  For even more festive performances to catch this month, head here.
Dec. 17-24From $27.15; 2 E. South Street; carolinaballet.com

Head to Saxapahaw for Chatham County Line’s Holiday Electric Tour

Raleigh’s hometown band Chatham County Line returns to North Carolina for their annual Holiday Electric Tour at the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw. Expect recognizable favorites like Wildwood and Porcelain Doll plus covers and guest appearances from friends. Why not make the trek over early to grab one of the Saxapahaw General Store’s famous burgers?
Dec. 18 | 8p.m.; 1711 Saxapahaw Bethlehem Rd. Saxapahaw; from $20; details here

Bundle up and Take a Historic Hike

These trails, each a short drive from Raleigh, showcase former mill towns, industrial works, farms, and estates from as far back as the 1700s.

Ring in New Year’s Eve Downtown

Ring in the new year at The “Official” Downtown Raleigh 2022 New Year’s Eve Celebration. Featuring DJ Grant, DJ LP, DJ iLL Digitz, DJ Nevy, & DJ Jus Right spinning all genres of music, with live musical guests as well, the party will take place over two levels at Raleigh’s Union Station. Snap pictures at the photo booth, mingle with friends and family, and dance the night away with a spectacular view of downtown’s skyline
Dec. 31 | 9 p.m. – 2 a.m.; From $40; 510 W. Martin Street; downtownraleigh.org

See A Christmas Story The Musical at DPAC

The stage version of one of America’s favorite holiday movies, A Christmas Story, The Musical will hit DPAC just in time for the post-holiday lull. Set in Indiana in the ‘40s, this take still includes the infamous leg lamp, bunny suit, and ice-cold lamp pole — but this time in live-action, and with a soundtrack.
Dec. 28 – 31; From $25; 123 Vivian Street, Durham; dpac.com