There’s nothing like a parade! For the holiday season, town and city parades in North Carolina bring fire trucks, old cars, marchers, and sometimes horses out for the joy of the spectators. Often parades are one part of an event, with food, vendors, tree lightings, caroling, and festive activities surrounding the parade route.
This listing includes links to parade, and sometimes vendor, applications for those who wish to participate or promote their business/arts during an event.
Ed. Note: Because things can change, be sure to follow links to the organizers. An editor doesn’t always catch every update, and we’d hate for you to miss a parade because a schedule has changed since this article’s publication.
Happenings are listed by location, not by date. While most parades and related events take place in December, at least one holiday parade is scheduled for mid-November (the Wilson NC parade).
November 30-December 1, 2018
There will also be a Christmas Tree Lighting in the Town of Bailey on November 30, 2018, starting at 6pm, along with the opportunity to take photos with Santa Claus.
The following day, watch the 46th-annual Bailey Christmas Parade, scheduled for December 1, 2018, starting at 2pm. For spectators, see parade updates on the Bailey Chamber’s Facebook page.
Want to be a part of the parade down Main Street, The organizers are accepting entries for the parade and parade sponsor — also vendor applications — via the Bailey Chamber of Commerce’s event web page. Cost for vendors is $10 per table or booth, with vendor hours listed as 10am-5pm.
Saturday, December 8, 2018
Line Main Street in Clayton NC and watch the Clayton Christmas Parade, rain or shine. Watch the area business/organization floats, marching band, and more including Santa Claus make their way along the parade route.
Saturday, December 8, 2018 @ 10:30-11:30am
To participate in the parade, request an application form via email.
Saturday, December 1, 2018 @ 4pm
Watch the Goldsboro Christmas Parade in Goldsboro NC and enjoy the afternoon downtown. The parade route is available in this PDF.
To be a part of the parade, check out the rules and register via this Wayne County Chamber of Commerce web page. Entries/fees must be received by November 26, 2018.
Saturday, December 8, 2018 @ 5-7pm
Organized by the Greenville Jaycees, the Christmas parade marches along Evans Street/downtown Greenville NC, with the potential for 150+ entrants in the parade.
For those interested in being a part of the parade, see the Jaycees’ parade information web page which includes a link to the application. Entry applications and fees deadline is Monday, November 26, 2018.
November 29-December 1, 2018
The Town of Knightdale’s Christmas on First Avenue includes the Christmas Parade, a Christmas Tree Lighting, and more.
Knightdale’s annual Tree Lighting will be held on Friday, November 30, 2018, 6-8pm. This event includes letters to Santa, visiting with Mrs. Claus and the head elves, activities, food vendors, music, performances and a visit from Santa! Be sure to mark your calendar for this annual event. The tree is lit at the conclusion of the event.
The Christmas Parade will be held on Saturday, December 1, 2018, starting at 2pm. This annual event brings over a thousand people to view as local schools, non-profits, and businesses parade their floats, bands, and other decorated pieces down 1st Avenue. Please click here for parade registration form.
A new addition to Christmas on First Avenue for 2018 is a holiday vendor event on Thursday, November 29, 2018. See this holiday market and others in our #BuyLocal gift-shopping article.
For information on joining the parade or being a vendor, contact Susie Paschal at 919.217.2236 or via email.
Sunday, December 2, 2018 @ 3-6pm
The Christmas Parade makes its way through the Town of Louisburg with everything from floats to horses and antique cars to school bands. Santa Claus will be there too.
To be part of the parade, fill out the application on the Town of Louisburg website or pick one up from Town Hall, 110 W Nash Street, Louisburg NC. Applications must be received by November 16, 2018, 5pm, at the Town Hall.
Saturday, December 8, 2018
The annual Christmas ~N~ Middlesex event offers a parade and gift-shopping from vendors set up around downtown Middlesex NC. The day also offers inflatables and fun, giveaways, and refreshments. The best place for updates is the Christmas ~N~ Middlesex Facebook page.
The parade begins at 2pm. For those interested in riding in the parade, the application is available here or at Town Hall. Business sponsors are also needed.
For those interested in a vendor space for the day, reach out to the organizers via comment on their Facebook post. Vendor setup is prior to 10am, when the vendor area opens.
Each year, the Town of Nashville’s Cooley Library holds special holiday events, including children’s holiday story times. Event announcements may be found on the library’s Facebook page as the holidays approach.
The H. D. Cooley Library is located at 114 W Church Street, Nashville NC.
Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Thursday, November 29, 2018 @ 7pm
Gather at the Pinetops NC Town Gazebo for lighting of the town’s Christmas tree, music, and refreshments.
December 1, 2018 @ 10-11am
The 44th-annual Christmas Parade through Pinetops NC will kick off the day’s activities, with a Christmas Bazaar open after the parade for gift-shopping and goodies. Last year’s parade featured 90+ entries and this year’s may be even bigger.
Parade information and related applications are available here. With questions, or to offer business financial support through sponsorship, contact the Town of Pinetops at 252.827-4435.
Rocky Mount NC
Sunday, December 2, 2018 @ 3pm
Head into downtown Rocky Mount NC to enjoy their traditional parade with floats, performers, and Santa Claus. Watch the Downtown Rocky Mount website for information on the parade route and other details as they become available.
Businesses/organizations interested in being part of the parade, fill out the application available here and submit it for consideration along with an entry fee of $50. A separate application is available for marching bands to apply with no fee. Deadline to submit is November 16, 2018.
Sunday, December 2, 2018 @ 2-3pm
Watch the Rolesville Christmas Parade march and float through Rolesville NC. Organized by the Rolesville Chamber of Commerce. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there to kick off the Christmas season.
Information and entry fees, plus application link for those wishing to be in the parade, may be found at here.
Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting
Tuesday, December 4, 2018 @ 6-8pm
Kick off the holiday season with Selma Parks and Recreation in downtown Selma NC. Live entertainment starts on the Town Hall stage (Raiford Street), followed by the parade (7pm), and then the tree lighting ceremony (and fireworks). See event flyer here. Selma Parks and Rec information/updates may be found on their Facebook page. Another good Facebook page to follow for Selma events is S’Uptown Selma.
The deadline for parade entries (free) is Wednesday, November 28, 2018. Vendor booth spaces are available for a $50 fee. Call Selma Parks and Recreation at 919.975.1411 for parade availability or to reserve a vendor space.
Note that the Town of Selma also offers a Santa Train (Saturday, December 15, 2018, 9am-noon), with rates ($45-$55) and information here.
Smithfield Christmas Parade
Thursday, December 13, 2018 @ 7-8:30pm
The Smithfield Christmas Parade will march down Market Street, Smithfield NC, and some downtown restaurants/businesses will be open for the evening.
To enter the parade, fill out the Historic Downtown Smithfield application here, which includes fee details. The deadline to register for the parade is December 3, 2018, 5pm.
Gingerbread House Festival
Saturday, December 8, 2018 @ 10am-noon
Stop by and check out gingerbread houses at the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield, 305 E Market Street, Smithfield NC. The “Cookie Corner” begins at 10am, with award ceremony at 11am.
Enter a gingerbread house in the festival and it will be displayed at the library through mid-December, and maybe you’ll win an award! The library will be accepting entries for this 7th-annual Gingerbread House Festival during business hours December 3-6, 2018. See details and entry categories here and in the flyer below.
Tar River Christmas
December 5-9, 2018
The Town of Tarboro holds various evenings including musical events/concert, children’s activities, the parade, and a Holiday Market. See an overview here.
Sunday, December 9, 2018 @ 2-4pm
Get in the holiday spirit with the Tarboro Christmas Parade, organized by the Tarboro Edgecombe Chamber of Commerce. Watch the parade move down Main Street, Tarboro NC, and enjoy an afternoon downtown.
If interested in being a part of the parade, contact the Tarboro Edgecombe Chamber of Commerce via Discover Edgecombe.
Wake Forest NC
Christmas in Wake Forest
November 30-December 14, 2018
The Town of Wake Forest offers holiday events including tree lighting (below), the annual parade (below), an artisan market (gift shopping) opportunity, historic home tours, a Christmas Dinner, and the Snowball Dance for those with Special Needs. Locations and dates vary. See the town’s extensive list of events at www.wakeforestnc.gov/christmas-in-wake-forest.aspx.
Lighting of Wake Forest
Friday, November 30, 2018 @ 6-8:30pm
Spend the evening on Centennial Plaza, 301 S Brooks Street, Wake Forest NC, and see the town’s Christmas tree lit by the mayor, see Santa Claus, listen to live music and entertainment. The town will, while supplies last, provide free hot chocolate, cookies, and glow necklaces.
Wake Forest Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 8, 2018 @ 1pm
The Wake Forest Christmas Parade is scheduled, rain or shine. It will follow a route through downtown Wake Forest NC. Come and watch as parade floats, marchers, business/organization entries, and Santa Claus travel through the town.
For businesses, organizations, and groups interested in being a part of the parade, note that application acceptance was scheduled to close after October 29, 2018 and spots may no longer be available. Parade questions should be directed to the Wake Forest Downtown Development Program (919.435.9416).
Each year, downtown Wilson organizations come together to produce A Downtown Christmas, featuring a variety of events including a tree lighting, wagon rides, carnival rides, gift shopping opportunities, a parade, and more. When details are released, they may be found at www.historicdowntownwilson.com/downtown-christmas.
Saturday, November 17, 2018 @ 11am
The Historic Downtown Wilson Christmas Parade has joined forces with the Shriner’s Ceremonial Parade to bring Wilson NC an expanded parade for 2018. Spectators, plan to settle into a space along the parade route early to ensure you can see it all.
To be a part of the 2018 parade, download and complete the application, then return it / make payment before the deadline of November 2, 2018. With any questions, contact the Parade Coordinator, Hannah Woodall, via email.
Saturday, December 1, 2018 @ 10-11am
The parade will make its way down Main Street in Youngsville NC, with Santa available at the end of the parade (Youngsville Armory), along with children’s activities.
Gingerbread House Contest
Saturday, December 1, 2018 @ 11am-noon
After the town’s parade, head to the Youngsville Library, 218 US-1A Hwy, Youngsville NC, to watch prizes being awarded in their Gingerbread House Contest. Entered houses will be on display at the library.
Children and adult contest entries will be due in-advance. Entries must be delivered to the library Thursday, November 29, 2018, between 10am and 6pm, with judging (and display) on Friday, followed by the awards on Saturday. See details and contact information here.
The Friends of the Youngsville Library are on Facebook here.
December 1-2, 2018
Tree Lighting Celebration
Saturday, December 1, 2018 @ 4-8pm
Head downtown for a downtown party including live music, dancing, craft activities for children, caroling, and much more, including the lighting of the tree scheduled for 6:30pm.
The celebration centers around the tree, which will be set up at Dallas Pearce Realty, 214 N Arendell Avenue, Zebulon NC — at the corner of N Arendell Avenue and E Sycamore Street.
Sunday, December 2, 2018 @ 2-3:30pm
Line the streets of Zebulon NC and enjoy the floats, marchers, dancers, and more, with Santa Claus near the end. The parade route runs from the Zebulon Community Center down Arendell Avenue, then turns down W Gannon Street, ending in the parking lot at J&M Chevrolet. Because this parade draws a large crowd, it’s best to pick a spot early along the parade route.
To register as a parade participant, visit the Zebulon Chamber’s registration link. Rates to join the parade are listed on that page, along with a list of groups that may join the parade for free. The chamber listed deadline for registration is November 5, 2018.