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.


Christmas Parade / Tree Lighting

Head to Bailey (Nash County) for the Christmas Tree Lighting (December 1, 2017 TBA) and the town’s Christmas Parade down Main Street on Saturday, December 2, 2017, 2-5pm. On this Saturday, there will be activities for children and fun for all, plus a Christmas Bazaar area with vendors offering a variety of goods.

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.


Jingle in The Park

Come for lots of fun December 8-9, 2017 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. Event runs approximately 4-8pm each day. See details in this Facebook event.

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.


This year, Christmas -N- Middlesex / the parade 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

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.


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 Stantonsburg NC will hold its Christmas 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.


Wendell Wonderland

Wendell Wonderland 2017 flyer
Wendell Wonderland 2017 flyer

Kick-off the holiday season Friday, December 1, 2017 with Wendell Wonderland, a free, public happening. Visit with Santa Claus; experience historic downtown with a trolley ride; 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, Third and Cypress Streets, Wendell NC and hear live music performances, and more. Plus, be amazed by the town’s magnificent Light Show containing more than 400,000 lights and holiday music.

Friday’s schedule:

  • 5-6pm — Choir on stage at J Ashley Wall Square
  • 5-9pm — Craft Market
  • 5:30-9:30pm — Trolley circulates downtown Wendell
  • 6pm — Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive
  • 6-11pm — Light Show
  • 6:30-8pm — Hephzibah Baptist Church Orchestra at corner of Main & Third Streets
  • 6:30-7:15pm  — EWHS Gospel Chorus

With questions, call 919.365.4450.

The Light Show will be open to the public throughout the holiday season. Located at Third and Cypress Streets, this choreographed light show will come alive with dancing lights and music beginning the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and running nightly through New Year’s Eve.

The Light Show will be canceled if rain or snow occurs. Hours are 6-10pm Sundays-Thursdays, and 6-11pm Fridays-Saturdays.  Additional information about the Light Show available at:  Lake Myra Christmas Lights or Facebook  here.

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.


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 17th. Follow this link (PDF) for parade guidelines, fees, and a downloadable application.

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.


Zebulon Christmas Parade

Join the community on 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.

About Kay Whatley 1769 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.