This month, the North Carolina State Capitol is aglow with holiday spirit. The State Tree Lighting ceremony on December 12—which includes festive music and performances, cookies and hot chocolate, and an appearance from Santa alongside the first family—started in 1978. The capitol tree is always from North Carolina, and this year, it’s a 24-foot tall Fraser fir from Peak Farms in Ashe County. After the tree outside is lit, guests are invited inside the Rotunda, where they’ll find the County Tree decorated with ornaments representing each of the 100 North Carolina counties, and children can have their picture taken with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
“For me, the season doesn’t really begin until I hear the Raleigh Concert Band play Jingle Bells just as the Governor and first lady light the tree,” says Terra Schramm, site administrator for the Capitol. “That, combined with the view of the lights lining Fayetteville Street from the Capitol to Memorial Auditorium, instantly puts you in the holiday spirit!” —Ayn-Monique Klahre