East NC Holiday Fun, Parades & Christmas Tree Lightings by Town

Santa arrived at the end of the Christmas Parade in Zebulon NC. Photo: Kay Whatley, 2017
Santa arrived at the end of the Christmas Parade in Zebulon NC. Photo: Kay Whatley, 2017

Compiled by Kay Whatley, Editor

These upcoming holiday parades and town tree lightings are opportunities to gather together and celebrate the season. Many of these are organized by town officials or parks and rec personnel, with no fees to attend.


Bailey, NC

Bailey Christmas Tree Lighting

Friday, December 6, 2019 @ 6pm

Come for hot cocoa and cookies and sing! Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus will be there. Tree lighting will be in downtown close to the Bailey Police Department, 6260 Main Street, Bailey, NC, where the  NC Fallen Law Enforcement Tree will be on display starting December 1, 2019. Follow the town PD on Facebook.

Bailey Christmas Parade & Activities

Saturday, December 7, 2019 @10am-5pm

Join the Town of Bailey for a day of fun downtown and a parade along Main Street, Bailey, NC. Parade is 2-5pm. Vendors and children’s activities 10am-5pm. Follow town activities on Facebook.


Bunn, NC

Bunn Christmas Tree Lighting

Friday, December 6, 2019 @ 6-7pm

Come out to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree. Free cookies, coffee, water, and sodas. Christmas music, Santa, a North Pole Mailbox, and more at Town Hall, 601 Main Street, Bunn, NC. Follow the Town of Bunn Facebook page for updates.

Bunn Christmas Parade

Saturday, December 14, 2019 @ 10am

Always fun, come and watch the annual Christmas Parade down Main Street, Bunn, NC, with floats, cars, horses, marchers, and more. Bring a bag or bucket for candy. Follow the Town of Bunn Facebook page for updates.


Clayton, NC

Clayton Christmas Parade

Saturday, December 14, 2019 @ 3pm

The Clayton Rotary Club and the Town of Clayton are hosting the annual Clayton Christmas Parade during this, the town’s 150th Anniversary year. The parade will be held, rain or shine, in downtown Clayton, NC. See details at www.claytonchristmasparade.org.


Garner, NC

Garner Christmas Parade

Saturday, December 7, 2019 CANCELED

Come watch this parade of marching bands, classic cars, floats, and more including Santa Claus. Parade route includes Garner Road, Main Street, around downtown Garner, NC. See details and access the route map here.


Goldsboro, NC

Downtown Lights Up

Tuesday, November 26, 2019 @ 5-8pm

Gather in front of City Hall, 200 N Center Street, Goldsboro, NC, and kick off the holiday season with the lighting up of the downtown, Santa Claus, SNOW, hot cocoa, kids’ craft activities, free horse-drawn trolley rides, and much more. The town has much to offer this evening, not just at this event but at the Paramount Theatre and local shops and restaurants. See details here.

Jingle in the Park

December 6-7, 2019 @ 4-8pm

This free, family-friendly event spans two afternoons and is presented by Goldsboro Parks & Recreation.  There will be food trucks, hay rides, a Candy Cane Hunt, ice skating, outdoor movie (The Polar Express), Santa Claus, plus more. Held in Historic Herman Park, 900 Park Avenue, Goldsboro, NC. See details here.

Christmas Parade

Saturday, December 7, 2019 @ 4pm

The Wayne County Chamber of Commerce presents this annual Parade through the streets of downtown Goldsboro, NC. See parade information including route map at www.waynecountychamber.com/goldsboro-christmas-parade.


Knightdale, NC

Christmas on First Ave

Saturday, December 7, 2019 @ 4:30-6pm (tree lighting)

Saturday, December 7, 2019 @ 6:30-8pm (parade)

Enjoy watching the lighting and parade on the same evening. Parade this year will begin at Knightdale Station Run and travel down First Avenue to Fayetteville Street, Knightdale, NC.  See details and parade route on the town website.


Mount Olive, NC

Mount Olive Christmas Parade

Saturday, December 7, 2019 @ 10am-noon

Come out and watch this annual parade organized by the Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce. Line the streets along the new route down Bell Avenue to College Street, then Center Street and to the Town Hall, Mount Olive, NC. See details here.


Nashville, NC

Christmas Celebration & Bicycle Parade

Saturday, December 7, 2019 @ 4pm

The children’s parade returns. Bring the kids with their bike, wagon, stroller, scooter, and parents/guardians and become the parade. Ages 12 and younger may participate. Prizes awarded 1st through 4th place. See flyer here.


Red Oak, NC

A Red Oak Christmas

Saturday, November 30, 2019 @ 2-7pm

Come for a Christmas parade, carriage and train rides, live music, craft vendors, Santa Claus, and a tree lighting! Food will be on sale in a concession area. Join this free community event in Ennis Park, 4605 N Old Carriage Road, Red Oak, NC. Follow the Town of Red Oak Facebook page for updates.


Rocky Mount, NC

Rocky Mount Christmas Parade

Sunday, December 1, 2019 @ 3pm

Come out and watch the 64th-annual Rocky Mount, NC Christmas Parade. Downtown Rocky Mount will be full of floats, marching bands, Santa, and more. Follow the city Facebook page for updates.

Imperial Centre Tree Lighting

Friday, December 6, 2019 @ 6pm

Celebrate the tree lighting at Imperial Centre, 270 Gay Street, Rocky Mount, NC, and enjoy the adjacent “First Friday” activities including carriage rides and a visit from Santa Claus. See details at imperialcentre.org/events/first-friday.

Winter Wonderland

Sunday, December 8, 2019 @ 1-5pm

Snow and fun at this annual celebration continues at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences, 270 Gay Street, Rocky Mount, NC. The free event includes music, a sledding hill, arts and crafts activities, carriage rides, and a visit from Santa Claus. Follow updates here.


Rolesville, NC

Rolesville Christmas Parade

Sunday, December 8, 2019 @ noon-3pm (parade 2pm)

This parade will begin at Thales Academy and move past spectators down Main Street, Rolesville, NC, to end at Rolesville Baptist Church. This is the town kick-off of the holiday season and Santa Claus will be there. Check for updates on the Rolesville Chamber website.


Selma-Smithfield, NC

Selma Christmas Parade

Tuesday, December 3, 2019 @ 6pm

Come and enjoy entertainment beginning at 6pm, a tree lighting at 6:45pm, parade at 7pm, and FIREWORKS at 7:45pm. Brought to you by Selma Parks and Recreation. See details at www.selma-nc.com/christmas.

Smithfield Tree Lighting

Thursday, December 5, 2019 @ 7pm

Come out for the tree lighting which includes entertainment, Santa, food trucks, kids’ activities, hot chocolate, cookie decorating, and more. Tree location is the corner of Third Street and Market Street, Smithfield, NC — in front of the library. For updates, Follow Historic Downtown Smithfield on Facebook.

Smithfield Christmas Parade

Thursday, December 12, 2019 @ 7pm

Come out for this annual parade and celebrate the holiday season. Route travels down Market Street, Smithfield, NC. Downtown restaurants may be open before/after the parade. See town holiday events here.


Tarboro, NC

Tarboro Tree Lighting and Caroling

Thursday, December 5, 2019 @ 5:45-8pm

Come downtown and join the fun in the Courthouse Square, Tarboro, NC, and surrounding businesses including Tarboro Coffee House and Tarboro Brewing Co. There will be a food truck, crafts, horse-drawn carriage rides, trivia, and more. Follow Tar River Christmas on Facebook for this event and others during December.

Tarboro Christmas Parade

Sunday, December 8, 2019 @ 2-4pm

Come out and enjoy this parade through Tarboro, NC organized by the Tarboro Edgecombe Chamber of Commerce. Follow updates via the Chamber Facebook page.


Wake Forest, NC

Lighting of Wake Forest

Friday, December 6, 2019 @ 6-8:30pm

Gather at Centennial Plaza at Wake Forest Town Hall, 301 S Brooks Street, Wake Forest, NC, and welcome the holiday season with music, free hot chocolate and cookies, and glow necklaces while supplies last. Watch the lighting of the town’s 30-foot Christmas tree by Mayor Vivian Jones, followed by the arrival of Jolly Old St. Nick (Santa Claus).  See details of this event and other December happenings here.

Wake Forest Christmas Parade

Saturday, December 14, 2019 @ 1pm CANCELED

Come and watch this parade with local organizations, businesses, and Santa Claus. Route covers South White Street / South Brooks Street, Wake Forest, NC. Line up early.   See details of the Christmas Parade and other December holiday happenings here.


Wendell, NC

Wendell Wonderland

Friday, December 6, 2019 @ 5-9pm

Head to downtown for the annual light show, live music, food trucks, a Christmas market, trolley rides, and more. And Santa Claus, of course. Held in Wendell, NC. Follow town updates on Facebook.


Wilson, NC

Wilson Downtown Christmas Parade

Saturday, November 23, 2019 @ 11am-1pm

The town has planned this special celebration with the theme of “A Tropical Holiday” to brighten this late-November Saturday. Come and watch the parade of floats, horses, cars, school bands, sports teams, and more. Route will be down Nash Street, Wilson, NC from Whitehead Avenue to Douglas Street. Come celebrate the season! See details and parade sponsor names here.


Zebulon, NC

Downtown Zebulon Tree Lighting

Friday, November 22, 2019 @ 6-9pm

Live music, vendors, food trucks, beer garden, s’mores at the fire station, SNOW, Santa, 50+ vendors, and more leading up to the tree lighting. Located along Arendell Avenue, Zebulon, NC between Sycamore Street and Vance Street. Come and join the fun, have a meal, and shop for gifts from local crafters. See official details including schedule here. #ShopLocal

Zebulon Christmas Parade

Sunday, December 1, 2019 @ 2-3:30pm

Celebrate the community at this annual parade, which will begin at the Zebulon Community Center, travel through downtown on Arendell Avenue, then left on West Gannon Street, to end at J&M Chevrolet, Zebulon, NC. See info on this Chamber webpage.


For updates, rescheduling, and cancellations, follow or contact organizers directly. Dates and times can change & changes may not be reflected here.


Public event organizers: Display advertising is available month-to-month.


Ed. Note: Originally published November 21, 2019. Updated December 4 with cancellations.


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About Kay Whatley 2309 Articles
Kay Whatley serves as Editor and Reporter with The Grey Area News. Kay is a published author with over 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. Kay Whatley is wife to Frank Whatley, founder of The Grey Area™ newspaper and The Grey Area News online news website.