Things To Do in NC When You’re Bored — Holiday Events 2017

Scene from a Zebulon NC parade, December 2013. Photo: Frank Whatley
Scene from a Zebulon NC parade, December 2013. Photo: Frank Whatley


By Kay Whatley, Editor

Get ready for a plethora of Christmas and holiday season events in Eastern North Carolina. Parades and tree-lighting ceremonies, holiday happenings, and vendor markets are all in the works. Some are free events; others require ticket purchases.

If parade organizers are, or were, accepting entries, basic information on participating has been included. There are no guarantees of space still being available; contact the organizers ASAP.

Note that there are many, many events out there and new items may be added to this list.


Tree Lighting

Head to Bailey (Nash County) for the Christmas Tree Lighting (December 1, 2017, around 6pm).

Christmas Bazaar and Parade

On Saturday, December 2, 2017, 10am-5pm, gather in downtown Bailey for fun including a clown, face painting, Santa, plus food, games, and music.

The Christmas Bazaar area opens at 10am and will be full of vendors offering a variety of goods.

The town’s Christmas Parade starts down Main Street at 2pm.

To participate in the parade, sign up and pay the $10 fee before November 18. After that date, the fee goes up to $20; space may be limited. Parade — and bazaar vendor — applications may be downloaded from

These events are organized by the Bailey Chamber of Commerce. Updates may be found on their Facebook page.


Lighting of Bunn’s Christmas Tree / Food Drive

Join the Town of Bunn on Friday, December 1, 2017, starting at 6pm,  at 601 Main Street, Bunn NC, for the annual Christmas tree lighting. Enjoy free food, cookies, coffee, cider, and sodas. Listen to music, and take a photo with Santa. There will also be a Food Drive and everyone is asked to bring at least one can of food. Food donations will go to the BROAD Center for local distribution. Visit the town Facebook page for possible updates.

Christmas Parade

On Saturday, December 9, 2017, starting at 10am, come and enjoy the annual Christmas Parade down Main Street in Bunn NC. Bring a bag or bucket to collect candy as it is tossed to the crowd along the parade route.

Interested in joining the parade? See contact information here.


Christmas Village and Tree Lighting

On November 30, 2017, starting at 5:30pm, Head to Downtown Clayton for live Nativity, Doggie Christmas Costume Contest and Parade, see Santa’s Workshop, and attend performances. The Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is scheduled for 7:45pm. Overview of activities available at


Colonial Christmas Tour of Homes

The Downtown Enfield Restoration and Preservation Association (DERP) invites all to attend their tour and related activities on Saturday, December 2, 2017. The day includes an 11am speaker on home preservation at Bellamy Manor and Gardens, 613 Glenview Road, Enfield NC, followed by a tour of homes/gardens ($25 per person, $20 for over 65), then a Communion service at the Church of the Advent, and a party at 6:30pm. Visit for details. There will also be Horse and Buggy rides starting at 10am.


Taste of Farmville / Tree Lighting

Taste of Farmville and the Annual Tree Lighting starts at the Town Gazebo in front of town hall on December 1, 2017, 6pm. It begins at the Town Gazebo in front of the Farmville town hall. The mayor will speak and Connie from the Farmville Public Library will read a children’s book to children, then Santa arrives. Afterwards, everyone heads downtown to walk into shops and businesses where there will be live music, light refreshments, drinks, and some merchants will hold giveaways. For the kids, the Farmville Chamber will be handing out reindeer food. There will be two carriages available for carriage rides. Santa will walk with the children to the Arts Council. There will also be caroling through the streets, and the GlasStation will be open with live demonstrations of glass blowing on Wilson Street. Be sure to check out the downtown decorations and watch the annual Tree Lighting.

Christmas/Patriotic Parade

This year’s Farmville Christmas Parade will have a patriotic theme, to honor military and First Responders. The parade is Saturday, December 9, 2017, beginning around 10am. Parade updates may be posted here.

If you would like to participate in the parade, email Brenda Elks.

Christmas Tea

Joy the May Museum and Park, 3802 S Main Street, Farmville NC, for this annual event on December 10, 2017, 3-5:30pm. There will be a new exhibit of vintage toys and decor alongside the traditional tea and refreshments, provided by the Friends of the May Museum.

Christmas Tea Invitation 2017, May Museum, Farmville NC.
Christmas Tea Invitation 2017, May Museum, Farmville NC.

Breakfast with Santa

On December 16, 2017, 10-11:30am, come for breakfast, juices, craft time, story time, and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. This is a joint event organized by the Farmville Public Library, Farmville Recreation, and the May Museum. Held at the Farmville Public Library, 4276 W Church Street, Farmville NC, the event details and contact information may be found here.


Light Up Main

Join the Garner Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources department on Friday, December 1, 2017, 6-8pm, for their annual Christmas tree lighting in downtown. There will be food, crafts, face painting, and entertainment from Garner residents and businesses. Mr. And Mrs. Claus will be visiting. Free hot chocolate and cookies. See details at

Christmas Parade

Presented by Garner Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department, the annual Garner Christmas Parade includes marching bands, floats, classic cars, and Santa. Held on Saturday, December 2, 2017, starting at 2pm. Find a spot along the street and watch as they all parade through Downtown Garner NC.


Christmas Parade

The Goldsboro NC Christmas Parade is Saturday, December 2, 2017, starting at 4pm. Details may be found on this link. Note that the deadline passed to sign up for the parade on November 21.

Jingle in The Park

**RESCHEDULED to December 20, 2017, 3-7pm. See updated flyer.**

Come for lots of fun in Historic Herman Park, Goldsboro NC. There will be ice skating, outdoor movies, the Polar Express, a candy cane hut, hay rides, food, Santa Claus and more. Admission is free.  (Original dates Dec. 8-9.)

Paramount / Center Stage Theatre

With tickets $5 per person, the theatre’s “Paramount Movie Nights” is showing It’s a Wonderful Life on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 at 7pm. Kids are free with paid adult tickets.

The Center Stage Theatre is offering live concerts and performances in December. Ticketed events include The Nutcracker Ballet, A Christmas Carol, Christmas with The Embers, and more.

The Paramount Theatre and its Centre Stage Theatre are located at 139 S Center Street Goldsboro NC. See all events at


The Carolina Theatre Holiday Films

Visit to see the many holiday films planned and ticket prices. Located at 310 S Greene Street, Greensboro NC, holiday movies planned include:

  • The Muppet Christmas CarolDecember 12, 2017 at 7pm
  • A Christmas StoryDecember 18, 2017 at 7pm.
  • It’s a Wonderful LifeDecember 11, 2017 at 7pm; December 20, 2017 at 1pm and 7pm.
  • The Hebrew HammerDecember 20, 2017 at 7:30pm (in The Crown at The Carolina Theatre)
  • and several other holiday favorites.

On December 2, 2017, the theatre is also holding a free event, “Christmas at the Carolina” starting at 9:30am. The day includes a G-rated movie, free soft drink and popcorn, a sing-along with a historic pipe organ, Santa and Mrs. Clause, and more. See details here.

Visit the website for more details, or call 336.333.2605.


Santa’s Lab

On December 1, 2017, 5:30-8:30pm, take the family to Santa’s Lab, presented by A Time for Science at their Grifton Nature and Science Center, 949 Contentnea Lane, Grifton NC. Watch science experiments, take pictures with Santa, and enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and story time. Admission is $10 per child for this evening of fun and learning. For more information contact A Time for Science at 252.364.2862. They are on Facebook at


Christmas Parade

Head to Queen Street, Kinston NC, for their annual, exciting Christmas Parade on December 9, 2017, starting at 10am. See more at


On December 15, 2017, 5-8pm, join Kinston/Lenoir County Parks and Recreation to celebrate the holiday season. In Pearson Park, 201 W Gordon Street, Kinston NC, there will be face painting, inflatables, hot chocolate, food trucks, crafts, and community booths. All are asked to bring a canned good or good-condition coat for “entry fee”.  For more information, contact Yolanda Munoz at 252.939.3338 or Sara Neilson at 252.939.3302.


Tree Lighting

The town’s Christmas Tree Lighting is Friday, December 1, 2017, 6-8pm, at the amphitheater in Knightdale Station Park, 810 N First Avenue, Knightdale NC. Santa will be there with Mrs. Claus, there will be hot chocolate, entertainment, a train ride, and more. See

Christmas Parade

Enjoy watching the Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 2, 2017, at 2pm. See local groups, businesses, and organizations, catch candy, and see Santa arrive.  The parade starts at Knightdale Elementary and ends at Knightdale Station Park. There will be park and ride from Walmart. See


Tree Lighting Celebration

Join the Town of Louisburg for this inaugural event. The first-annual Tree Lighting Celebration will be held Thursday, November 30, 2017, 6-8pm, around the Franklin County Courthouse, 102 S Main Street, Louisburg NC. Kick off the Christmas Holidays in Downtown Louisburg. There will be a special guest appearance by Santa Claus (small fee for photos with Santa). Updates and more details may be available on the Town of Louisburg’s Facebook page.

Franklin County Christmas Parade

Head to downtown Louisburg on December 3, 2017, starting at 4pm, for the annual parade down Main Street. Bring a bag or bucket as candy will be tossed to the crowd.

Parade application link, for those interested in joining, may be found on the Chamber event page at


**UPDATE: Parade Canceled due to weather, according to the Nash County Sheriff’s Office.**

Christmas -N- Middlesex / Parade

This year’s activities are planned for Saturday, December 9, 2017, 2-5pm. Head to downtown and enjoy the annual fun and family-friendly activities. There will be vendors too.

To participate in the Parade, or as a vendor, applications are available at the Middlesex Town Hall, or fill out the online application here.

Updates may be found on the Facebook page


A Christmas Carol

Six dates available: December 1-3, 8-10, 2017. Performance offered by Nash County Arts Council at 100 E Washington Street, Nashville NC. Tickets are $13 general admission, $11 senior citizens and students (17 and under) plus fees, available at

Children’s Christmas Parade

On December 2, 2017, starting at 4pm, enjoy the Parade and Celebration. Kids 12 and younger will parade their decorated bikes, wagons, strollers, and selves and parade through downtown Nashville NC. Prizes will be awarded. See flyer at

Festival of Lights

On December 2, 2017, starting at 5:30pm and going “until”, the 4-H Youth Development Program will transform the East area of the Nash County Agriculture Center (1006 Eastern Ave, Nashville NC) into a holiday wonderland of lights, displays, and music. Refreshments available for purchase. Admission is free, plus free Hot Chocolate and Apple Cider. Bundle up, grab some chairs, and take family and friends to usher in the holiday season at this festival. See more here.

Living Christmas Scenes

Rock Creek Baptist Church presents five scenes depicting the story of Jesus’ birth. Drive through and see them all on December 9 and 10, 2017, 6:30-8pm. Displays are at Rock Creek Baptist Church, 1238 Rock Creek Drive, Nashville NC. For more information call 252.459.4477 or visit this town web page.


Christmas Parade

The Parade is scheduled for December 2, 2017, 10am-noon, in Pinetops NC. Free for all spectators. After the parade, gather at the Centennial House where local vendors will have art, crafts, food, and more. For more information, call 252.827.4435.


Christmas Parade

On December 2, 2017, 2-3pm, head to Princeville NC for this annual holiday parade. Free for all to see. For more information, call 252.823.1057.

Rocky Mount

Christmas Parade

Come and watch the 62nd-annual parade through downtown Rocky Mount NC on Sunday, December 3, 2017, starting at 3pm.

Interested in being a part of the parade? Visit this event page to access a Parade application.

Contact the city of Rocky Mount at 252.972.1159 with any questions.

Holiday Book Sale

Braswell Memorial Library, 727 N Grace Street, Rocky Mount NC, invites the public to shop at the library’s holiday book sale on two days — December 8-9, 2017, 10am-5pm — in the Warner Room. All books will be 25 cents, or purchase a bag and fill it for $5.

More Events

See this article on Rocky Mount NC holiday events.


Christmas Parade

Come out to watch the parade down Main Street in Rolesville NC and see Santa Claus on December 3, 2017, 2-3pm. Presented by the Rolesville Chamber of Commerce.

Interested in being a part of the parade? Register with the Rolesville Chamber. Fees start at $25 for nonprofits and go up to $550 depending on business type. Details and registration on the Chamber website at With questions, email.


The Town of Smithfield NC offers a variety of holiday events, from swimming to a 5K, tree lighting, to a parade.

  • Swim with Santa is Friday, December 1, 2017, 5:30-7pm. Fee is $2 for Smithfield residents, and $5 for non-residents; all are welcome.
  • Grinch Stink, Stank, Stunk 5K and Jingle Bell Jog is Saturday, December 2, 2017, with the race beginning at 10am, and the jog at 10:05am.
  • Annual Christmas Tree Lighting is Thursday, December 7, 2017, 7pm.
  • Christmas Parade is Thursday, December 14, 2017.

See details of all the holiday events at

Note that Parade Participants may be accepted until December 4, and a link to the application is available on the above link.

Spring Hope

**NEW DATE:  Christmas in Spring Hope**

On December 15, 2017 (new date), 5:30-8pm, head to this quaint Nash County town for a variety of activities and displays. Fun includes horse-drawn carriage rides, Nativity display, Santa Claus, and Christmas-themed face painting, music, scavenger hunt, dancers, and more. It also includes reading of the Christmas Story. A light supper will also be served. Follow the town Facebook page for updates. Held along Railroad Street, Spring Hope NC. ** Christmas in Spring Hope was POSTPONED until Friday, December 15, 2017. (Original date was Dec. 8.)**


Christmas Parade

The Town of Stantonsburg NC will hold its Parade on December 9, 2017, starting at 2pm. Come and watch the parade for free.

Anyone interested in participating in the parade may contact Police Chief Orlando Rosario at the Stantonsburg Police Department (252.238.3534) or the Town Hall (252.238.3608). Parade Applications may be picked up at the Town Hall, 108 E Commercial Avenue, Stantonsburg NC, 8am-5pm, Monday through Thursday, or 8am-noon on Friday.

Vendors are welcome, and may participate at no charge. Call one of the numbers given to confirm a vendor space.

See the town PD’s Facebook page for updates.


Christmas Parade

On December 10, 2017, 2-3pm, enjoy watching the Tarboro-Edgecombe Chamber of Commerce parade in Tarboro NC. Beginning in the beautifully decorated Downtown, the parade slowly rolls up Main Street. The event is free, so join the crowd along the sidelines and watch the floats, and see Santa too. Questions, call the Edgecombe Chamber of Commerce at 252.823.7241.

Wake Forest

Lighting of Wake Forest

Wake Forest will officially kick off the holiday season with the Lighting of Wake Forest on Friday, December 1, 2017. See details here.

This annual event features the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree at 6pm, Jolly Old St. Nick, and more. There will be musical performances by local groups and complimentary hot chocolate, cookies and glow necklaces — while supplies last.

Pictures with Santa sponsored by The Dental Care Center will be offered from 6:45-8:30pm. A ticket with a time reservation is required to visit with Santa. Time tickets will be distributed in the town hall lobby beginning at 5:30pm. Once you have your time ticket with your time reservation, feel free to enjoy all the festivities and return to the picture line at the time indicated on your ticket.

Christmas Parade

Wake Forest area residents are invited to experience the sights and sounds of the holiday season at the 2017 Wake Forest Christmas Parade. The parade is scheduled for Saturday, December 9, 2017, 1pm, rain or shine.

The deadline (October 30) has passed to sign up to participate in the 2017 parade. For future reference, application information may be available on this town page. For 2017, note that participation fees started at $375.


Wendell Wonderland 2017 flyer
Wendell Wonderland 2017 flyer

Wendell Wonderland / Lake Myra Light Show

Kick-off the holiday season on Friday, December 1, 2017, starting at 5pm, at the J Ashley Wall Square, Third & Cypress Streets, Wendell NC. Visit with Santa Claus; experience historic downtown with a trolley ride; be amazed by our magnificent Lake Myra Light Show containing more than 400,000 lights and holiday music; participate in activities such as the cookie walk, live nativity, artisans showcasing their talents, and cantata.  Visit the downtown businesses and see how they decorated for the holiday and then walk over to J Ashley Wall Square and hear live music performances, and more. No admission fee.

The Light Show is open to the public at Third and Cypress Streets. The choreographed light show will come alive with dancing lights and music beginning the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and running nightly through New Year’s Eve. Hours are Sundays-Thursdays 6-10pm, and Fridays-Saturdays 6-11pm. The show will be canceled in the event of rain/snow. Light Show information is available at Lake Myra Christmas Lights and on Facebook here.


Christmas Parade

The parade is scheduled for December 9, 2017, 2-3pm. Come and watch the floats in downtown Whitakers NC. With questions, call 252.437.4011.


A Downtown Christmas

Head to Historic Downtown Wilson NC for a variety of holiday activities December 1-2, 2017. These activities include:

  • Candyland! — Historic Downtown Wilson will be transformed into a sweet, colorful creation of gingerbread and confections. Events and activities include “Light Up Wilson”, Santa’s Cottage, a gingerbread creation contest, laser shows and glow parties, Ferris wheels and berry-go-rounds, wagon rides to Shop Stops, and holiday shopping and dining.
  • 2017 Gingerbread Creations Contest — Who’s going to design and build the best Gingerbread Creation? Open to youth and adults, individuals or small groups, these masterpieces will be on display in the Boykin Theater lobby during A Downtown Christmas for everyone to see.  Only 10 entries each will be accepted for youth and adult categories so enter soon. Applications must be received by November 17, and creation delivered to the town by the end of November. See contest rules and entry form here.
  • Christmas Parade — Starts December 2, 2017, at 11am. Come and watch as marching bands, floats, dancers, horse and cycle groups, fire trucks, bucket trucks, and, Santa and Mrs. Claus weave their way through downtown.

Would your organization or group like to have an entry in the Historic Downtown Wilson Christmas parade? Parade applications are being accepted now through November 17, 2017. Follow this link (PDF) for parade guidelines, fees, and a downloadable application.

Who-Bilation Family Movie Night

Watch a movie in the multi-purpose room at The Harrison Family YMCA, 1000 Independence Drive, Rocky Mount NC, on December 1, 2017, 5:45-8pm. This is a free event, but registration is required. Pizza will be available for $1 per slice (cash) and punch will be provided for free. Register at the Y or online at Optional: bring blankets for comfort.

Wee School Train of Lights

Wilson Parks & Recreation is holding this special miniature train at Recreation Park Community Center, 500 Sunset Road NW, Wilson NC. Ride the train ($2 per rider) and see Christmas lights and decorations as you go. Held 5:30-9pm on November 30, December 1-3, 7-10, 14-17, 2017. See details on the Facebook event.

Wilson Winter Lights

This light show at the Wilson Botanical Gardens, 1806 Goldsboro Street SW, Wilson NC, runs December 1-10, 2017. Walk thorough Wilson Winter Lights while enjoying holiday themed gardens, thousands of dazzling lights, music, and more. Santa will be at Wilson Botanical Gardens every night; bring a cell phone or camera to take free photos with Santa Claus. Difference performers each night.

Tickets are $5 per person for adults and youth 13 and older. For children 12 and under, tickets are $3 per person. Tickets are available at the Wilson Ag Center, 1806 SW Goldsboro Street, in Wilson.  With questions, call 252.237.0113. Updates may be posted on the Gardens’ Facebook page.


Pop-Up Vendor Market and More

On Saturday, December 2, 2017, 10am-4:30pm, enjoy an outdoor pop-up vendor market, entertainment, food trucks, photos with Santa, and more. Held in downtown Zebulon NC.  See more on the Zebulon Chamber website.

Tree Lighting

Christmas Tree Lighting and Caroling on Saturday, December 2, 2017 starts at 5pm. Lighting held at Dallas Pearce Realty, 1014 N Arendell Avenue, Zebulon NC, and presided over by the Mayor.

Christmas Parade

Join the community on Sunday, December 3, 2017, 2-3:30pm for the annual Christmas Parade. The Parade 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 (606 W Gannon Avenue, Zebulon NC).

Want to be a part of the Zebulon Christmas Parade? Check out the Chamber’s registration details here.


Ed. Note: Events list originally published November 9, 2017. Revised on November 28, December 8, and December 14.

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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.