So many Christmas and holiday-season offerings in Eastern North Carolina. This list covers events from the counties of Edgecombe, Franklin, Nash, Johnston, Wake, Wayne, Wilson, and beyond.
Parades and tree-lighting ceremonies are listed first, then other holiday events — including vendor markets — listed in date order.
In addition to the events below, the North Carolina State Fairgrounds is hosting multiple holiday events and their events list may be found online here.
A variety of coastal events may be found via What’s On Wilmington’s calendar.
Parades & Lighting Ceremonies
Raleigh Christmas Parade (November 19, 2016 @ 9:40am-12pm)
Presented by the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association, the 2016 “WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade” is Saturday, November 19, 2016. The start time is listed as 9:40am, and arriving in advance may help you get a better view. Details are online at http://grma.org/christmas-parade .
Downtown Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony (November 27, 2016 @ 6-7pm)
Usher in the holiday season at this free, public ceremony in the Memorial Garden of University Baptist Church, 100 S Columbia Street, in Chapel Hill NC. Children can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. See more at www.downtownchapelhill.com/holidays.
Lighting of the Luminaries Christmas Celebration (November 29, 2016 @ 6pm)
Come and enjoy an Evening of Lessons and Carols, featuring the Barton College Choir. This free, public event is being held at Center Campus and Howard Chapel, Barton College, 800 Vance Street NE, Wilson NC.
For additional information, contact the Reverend Jamie Eubanks, chaplain of the college, at 252.399.6368 or via email.
Smithfield Tree Lighting (December 1, 2016 @ 7-9pm)
Bring the family out to see Santa, decorate cookies, sing Christmas carols, and listen to choirs sing. Then, enjoy the evening as the town light up the night at East Market Street, Smithfield NC. This event is kid friendly and family safe. Come join us in making Christmas memories. For details, call 919.934.1408.
Clayton Christmas Village and Tree Lighting (December 1, 2016)
Ring in the holiday season with the Town of Clayton NC’s festive and ever-popular celebration. Thousands of people pack Main Street and help bring downtown Clayton alive with the holiday spirit! Starting at 5:30pm, Main Street hosts 2-1/2 hours of music, holiday cheer, a business open house, a live Nativity, and a chance to sit on Santa’s lap and tell Saint Nick what’s on your Christmas wish list. At the end of the night, the traditional tree lighting ceremony will take place on the corner of Fayetteville and Main Streets. The festivities are organized by the Clayton Downtown Development Association Inc.
Knightdale Christmas on First Avenue (December 2-3, 2016)
Knightdale’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony is December 2, 6-8pm at the Knightdale Station Park Amphitheater, 810 North First Avenue, Knightdale NC. The event includes activities, food trucks, music, Santa, Mrs. Claus, and performers 6-8pm. The Town tree is lit at the end of the event.
Then, on December 3 at 2pm, come and enjoy the Christmas Parade in downtown Knightdale, beginning at Knightdale Elementary and ending at Knightdale Station Park.
More details on performers and the parade are available on the town website.
Bailey Christmas Parade (December 3, 2016 @ 2pm)
Head to downtown Bailey NC for the annual Christmas Parade. Enjoy watching a variety of groups go by and spend the afternoon with family and friends.
The Town of Bailey NC is online at www.townofbaileync.org. For more information, call 252.235.6270.
‘Light up the Night’ Hometown Holiday Parade (December 3, 2016 @ 4:45-7pm)
This parade will be held in Downtown Hillsborough NC, to celebrate the Holiday Season. Organized by the Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce, more information on the parade and participation may be found here.
Children’s Christmas Parade (December 3, 2016 @ 4pm)
Sponsored by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, this parade on W Washington Street, Nashville NC, provides for a fun afternoon for all ages. A bicycle parade for ages 12 and under begins at 4pm in front of the Nash County Courthouse. For more information, visit nashvillechambernc.org.
Opening Ceremony / Festival of Lights (December 3, 2016 @ 6-8pm)
Join this annual Opening Ceremony by the Nash County Circuiteers 4H Electric Club for an evening full of family, friends, and lights at the Nash County Agricultural Center, 1006 Eastern Avenue, Nashville NC.
The Christmas light show will be on a continuous display throughout the month of December. The show will feature popular holiday and Christmas songs synced to Christmas lights. Open free to the public and kid friendly.
Lighting of Nash County Christmas Tree (December 3, 2016)
Sing Christmas Carols, light the town’s tree, and greet Santa afterwards at the Nash County Office Building in downtown Nashville NC. For more information call 252.459.4050.
Rocky Mount Christmas Parade (December 4, 2016 @ 3-5pm)
Join the fun in Downtown Rocky Mount NC. Get into the Christmas spirit with this annual Christmas Parade, featuring live music by local marching bands, floats, classic cars, and Santa Claus. The grand marshal will be Anna Laurel of ABC 11.
To see this and other Rocky Mount holiday events, including senior offerings, visit this web page.
Zebulon Christmas Parade (December 4, 2016 @ 2-3pm)
The annual Zebulon Christmas Parade offers a variety of vehicles, performers, and groups marching through downtown. Find a spot to watch along N Arendell Avenue, in Zebulon NC to enjoy this holiday event. Watch for updates on the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.
Christmas ~N~ Middlesex Social and Parade (December 10, 2016 @ 11am-4pm)
The parade route starts at Mortex, turns at W Hanes Street, and ends at Middlesex Elementary in Middlesex NC. The fire department will be selling hot dogs (fundraiser) before the parade and hosting Santa after the parade. See the event updates here.
The Town of Middlesex NC is online at www.townofmiddlesexnc.com.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Holiday Parade (December 10, 2016 @ 10am)
**The 2016 Chapel Hill-Carrboro Parade will take place on . Please register for the parade by clicking here.
More information about registration is available by clicking the link in the left menu. See www.chapelhillholidayparade.com for more details including vendor registration.
Greenville Christmas Parade (December 10, 2016 @ 5-6:30pm)
This annual parade gives thousands of citizens their first celebration of the Christmas holidays. The parade route runs through Uptown Greenville NC.
Winterville Christmas Parade (December 10, 2016 @ 2-3:30pm)
Come and enjoy this parade and bring the kids to see Santa as the parade makes its way through Downtown Winterville NC. See more about the Winterville Christmas Parade here.
Farmville Christmas Parade (December 10, 2016 @ 10:30-11:30am)
Bring family and friends to enjoy this annual parade down Main Street, Farmville NC.
Bethel Christmas Parade (December 10, 2016 @ 11am-12:30pm)
Come and enjoy the Bethel NC annual Christmas Parade down Main Street. See more at www.hometownbethel.com/bethel_christmas_parade.
November Holiday Events
Elf The Musical JR. Performance (November 18, 19 & 20, 2016)
Hosted by StageStruck: The Young People’s Own Theatre, these performances — based on the holiday classic film — take place each evening at the Paramount Theatre, 139 S Center Street, in Goldsboro NC. Tickets are available at www.stagestruck.org.
2016 Yule Mart Fair (November 18-20, 2016 @ various times)
This annual craft fair with handmade items is sponsored by the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses. Proceeds from the event benefit the military community with scholarship and welfare distributions. There is a $5 entry fee. This event estimates 3,000 attendees and is held at the Crown Coliseum, 1960 Coliseum Drive, Fayetteville NC. See details and updates here.
Emerson Waldorf Children’s Faire and Artisan Marketplace (November 19, 2016 @ 10am-3pm)
Join in celebrating the coming of winter and the holiday season with this annual Faire/Marketplace at the Emerson Waldorf School location at 6211 New Jericho Road, Chapel Hill NC. The Faire is a special, magical celebration with a wide variety of crafts and activities for children of all ages, a puppet show, food, storytelling, live music, and more. It is a family-run, family-fun event for all, where children and adults alike can make gorgeous, meaningful handmade gifts. In addition to the activities and events, the Artisan Market is where beautiful, handmade, original crafts and works of art can be purchased. Details online here.
The Christmas Market ~ 2016 (November 19, 2016 @ 9am-2pm)
Make Plans To Join Us For The Christmas Market at Johnston Community College, 245 College Road, in Smithfield NC. There will be door prizes, and more than 70 vendors.
2016 Handcrafted Holiday Market (November 19, 2016 @ 8am-2pm)
Hosted by the Vance County Regional Farmers Market, 210 Southpark Drive, in Henderson NC, this third-annual market offers over 25 artisans, crafters, and farmers with handcrafted wares and local produce. You will find everything from turned wood bowls to holiday decor to handcrafted soaps to painted decor to fresh baked goods to local produce.
Santa will be stopping by, so bring your cameras to take pictures with Jolly Old Saint Nick.
Santa’s Christmas Bazaar (November 19, 2016 @ 9am-4pm)
Enjoy stress-free shopping on affordable and quality products from more than 65 vendors offering a variety of arts and crafts, food, gifts, and fundraising items from the nonprofit vendors. Enter the free entrance by bringing a canned-food donation. This fourth-annual Bazaar will be at Cheatham & Vine Streets, Franklinton NC.
For more information, call 919.307.9830.
Cookie Tasting (November 19, 2016 @ 6-9pm)
Come and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or apple cider and taste wonderful cookies at this annual event by Brown Bag Bagels, 4 N Main Street, Wendell NC.
The event, including updates, may be found on Facebook here.
Spring Hope Toy Drive (November 19, 2016 @ 10am-3pm)
The Spring Hope Police Department will be hosting a toy drive at Dollar General in Spring Hope NC. Donations for shop-with-a-cop will also be accepted during those times.
The Spring Hope Police Department is on Facebook here.
Thanksgiving Breakfast (November 24, 2016 @ 6-11am)
Come an enjoy this annual breakfast event, hosted by Pilot Lions Club, located at 50 Pilot Bypass Road, Zebulon NC. Enjoy a breakfast of eggs, sausage, ham, grits, homemade biscuits, and drinks — all for a donation to the Club. For more information, visit the Pilot Lions Club website at www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/pilotusa.
A Dickens Holiday (November 25, 2016 @ 1-9pm)
Hosted by Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, this annual celebration in Historic Downtown Fayetteville NC transforms the town! Come for the decorations, the artisans and vendors, special treats, Father Christmas, horse-drawn carriage rides, and more.
At 5pm, townspeople gather in front of the Arts Council (301 Hay Street, Fayetteville NC) for a candlelight procession to the Market House, followed by fireworks. After the fireworks, the festivities continue until 9pm.
For details, visit www.theartscouncil.com/dickensmain.
Swansboro Christmas Flotilla (November 25, 2016 @ 6pm)
With the slogan “float your boat and let your light shine” this event takes place at the downtown waterfront, Swansboro NC, with activities including a Pavillion Glow Party until 9pm. See details at www.swansborofestivals.com.
Christmas Carousel Holiday Festival and Gift Market (November 25-27, 2016)
Christmas Carousel Holiday Gift Market will be held in the Jim Graham Building, NC State Fairgrounds, Raleigh NC. Tickets range from $4-$7 depending on age. Going strong for 29 years, this Holiday Gift Market one of the largest collections of arts, crafts, and holiday gifts assembled with over 250 exhibitors. Santa will be there all three days!
Don’t forget to register to win a door prize at the show. See updates on their Facebook event page here.
Shop Small Saturday in Downtown Clayton (November 26, 2016 @ 10am-5pm)
Mark your calendar for Shop Small Saturday in Downtown Clayton. NC. The Farmer’s Market will be open 9am-1pm at Horne Square. After 1pm, there will be other entertainment at Horne Square, and businesses will remain open until the evening. Come out and support our local businesses, enter to win some awesome prizes, get your picture made with Santa and enjoy carolers on each block.
Downtown Clayton NC events are online here.
The Nutcracker Land of Sweets Tea Party (November 27, 2017 @ 3-5pm)
Come and see the Goldsboro Civic Ballet perform at the Terrace Room, 104 S Center Street, in Downtown Goldsboro for an afternoon of refreshements, crafts, music, and dancing. To purchase tickets please contact Goldsboro Ballet at 919.778.0888.
Free Coat Drive (November 27, 2016 @ 10am)
Sponsored by Dream Coat Ministries, coats will be given away for children and adults at Black Belt World in Knightdale NC. The event will run until all coats are gone. While this is not exactly a holiday happening, it can help some folks to be more comfortable during the cold weather of the holidays!
December Holiday Events
A Night in Bethlehem (Dec 1, 2 & 3, 2016 @ 6:30-8:30pm)
Stoney Creek Church, 752 Stoney Creek Church Road, Goldsboro NC, invites all to come see, taste, touch, feel, smell, and experience Bethlehem! This is more than a live nativity. It is a walking journey that will take you back to the time when Jesus was born. Feed the animals, see camels, and warm yourself by a fire. There will be refreshments in the Inn (if there is any room) and visitors can see the manger and witness the newborn child, Jesus!
Kids will participate in hands-on activities and gather goodies along the way. Register via www.stoneycreekchurch.net/#/creekidz.
MCOG Choir Christmas Dinner Theater/Concert (December 2, 2016 @ 6-9pm)
Hosted by the Middlesex Church of God, 5407 S NC-231, Middlesex NC. This special holiday event, “A Christmas Gift,” provides the dinner theater and concert for $15 per ticket. See the church’s Facebook events for more details.
Bass Plant Farm Christmas Open House (December 2, 2016 @ 6-8:30pm)
Bass Plant Farm and Garden Center, located at 6256 US Highway 64A, in Nashville NC, is holding a special day with Santa and a sleigh scene, hayrides, snacks, and live music.
Wendell Wonderland (December 2, 2016 @ 5:30-11pm)
This special holiday-season event is hosted by the Town of Wendell at J. Ashley Wall Town Square, in Wendell NC. Events through the evening include free downtown trolley rides, pictures with Santa, ice carving demonstrations, a Light Show display (Lake Myra), downtown business open house, Wendell United Methodist Church’s annual cookie walk, Wendell Baptist Church Music Concert (7pm), and live music. The Boy Scout Troop 515 will on site serving hot chocolate and popcorn.
See more about Wendell seasonal events at www.townofwendell.com/discover/events — including a special December 4 visit from Santa and all dates for the Lake Myra light show.
To see more about the Cookie Walk at Wendell United Methodist Church, visit the church online at www.facebook.com/wendellumc.
First Friday & Lighting of The Imperial Centre (December 2, 2016 @ 6-9pm)
Kick off the month with an evening full of activities, and free admission, at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences, 270 Gay Street, Rocky Mount NC. Admission is free with Christmas activities for the whole family. Enjoy carriage rides, live music, and food trucks. Show off your talent during No Shame Open Mic in the theater, and enjoy activities in the Children’s Museum, planetarium shows, and more.
For more info., call 252.972.1266, or visit www.imperialcentre.org.
Sing for Joy! Children’s Chorus and Youth Strings Christmas Concert (December 2, 2016 @ 7:30pm)
The joy of Christmas comes alive with this award-winning Tar River Children’s Chorus and Youth Strings presentation. Come early for a seat for this popular annual concert, held at Fellowship Church, 1114 S First Street, in Nashville NC.
Tickets are $15, online here.
Pop-Up Holiday Vendor Market / Tree Lighting (December 3, 2016 @ 10am-4:30pm)
Shop local for your holiday gifts at this festive, one-day outdoor market! The market will be set up at the corner of Arendell Avenue and Sycamore Street, in Zebulon NC. Bring a camera and have your picture taken with Santa 5-6pm, and join Carolers as they make their way to the Zebulon Christmas Tree Lighting around 6pm.
For more information, contact the Zebulon Chamber of Commerce via email or at 919.269.6320.
Enfield Colonial Christmas (December 3, 2016 @ 11am-5pm)
Join the fun of today and yesteryear at this Downtown Enfield NC annual celebration. Enjoy the Christmas House Tour, a presentation on history, a Live Nativity scene, mule and buggy rides, and more.
Vendors and local shops will be offering a variety of crafts, pottery, jewelry, and additional handmade and homemade items.
Tour Aunt Ruby’s Peanuts, or enjoy quilting, chair caning, beehives with honey, and a wreath-making demonstration.
This annual Colonial-themed eventday is organized by Downtown Enfield Restoration and Preservation (DERP), online at www.derpserves.org, and available by calling 252.443.5786.
Holiday Fun Fest (December 3, 2016 @ 12-4pm)
Head to the Durham County Stadium Practice Field, 750 Stadium Drive, in Durham NC, for snow sledding, Santa Claus, a family-fun zone, a campfire with s’mores, and tasty foods.
See details on the town website at durhamnc.gov/1620/Holiday-Fun-Fest.
Rudolph Holiday Rodeo (December 4, 2016 @ 12-4pm)
This second-annual Rudolph’s Holiday Rodeo food truck festival is held at Knightdale Station Park, 810 N First Avenue, Knightdale NC. This event is designed to promote and support Meals on Wheels of Wake County. Santa will make a visit, craft vendors (and a gift wrapping station), and there will be inflatables for kids.
For more information, visit www.rdumfa.org/events.
Santa’s Village (December 4, 2016 @ 9am-3pm)
Hosted by Northgreen Golf Club, 900 Northgreen Lane, Rocky Mount NC. Enjoy Christmas shopping with local direct sales and crafters, plus pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Kids can enjoy the coloring corner while you shop.
Christmas in Spring Hope (December 9, 2016 @ 5:30-8pm)
This holiday event is organized by the Spring Hope Chamber of Commerce, located at 118 W Railroad St, Spring Hope NC. Come downtown for free carriage rides, music, beautiful trees decorated by area churches, over 100 nativities on display, and a visit by that jolly old elf from the North Pole! Updates and event discussion are online here.
The Spring Hope Chamber of Commerce is online at www.facebook.com/SpringHopeChamberOfCommerce.
The Town of Spring Hope is online at www.springhope.net.
“The Night That Christ Was Born” Christmas Concert (December 10, 2016 @ 6pm)
This will be a Voices With Purpose Christmas concert at Bethel AME, 7340 Pleasant Grove Church Road, in Spring Hope NC.
Please bring a toy so we may be able to give to back to Toys For Tots.
Breakfast with Mary and Joseph (December 10, 2016 @ 9:30-11am)
Hosted by Wendell Baptist Church
Enjoy this free event at Wendell Baptist Church, 3651 Wendell Blvd, Wendell NC. Come for breakfast and a visit from Mary and Joseph. There will also be “Advent” crafts and story time as part of this special morning.
Winter Wonderland / A Charlie Brown Christmas (December 11, 2016 @ 2-3:30pm)
Daytime events and a special performance are being held at the Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences, 270 Gay Street, Rocky Mount NC. Admission is free, though activities have a nominal fee.
Winter Wonderland is 1-5pm, offering a day of fun for the whole family including music, children’s activities, carriage rides through downtown, and a visit from Santa. There will even be snow in the main lobby every hour.
Then, watch the production, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” scheduled for 2-3:30pm. Tickets are required. (Additional dates are available for this production.)
Call 252.972.1266 or visit imperialcentre.org/events/winter-wonderland to find out more.
Christmas with the Embers (December 15, 2016 @ 7:30-10pm)
The Embers featuring Craig Woolard bring their Christmas back for this special holiday concert. Organized by the Arts Council of Wilson, the performance is at the Edna Boykin Cultural Center, 108 Nash Street NE, Wilson NC.
Tickets are available at www.wilsonarts.com for $20 to $25, by stopping by the Arts Council of Wilson, or calling 252.291.4329.
Clayton Piano Festival “Holiday Gala Concert” (December 15, 2016 @ 7pm)
Enjoy this first-ever Holiday Gala Concert at The Historic Wagner House, 121 E. Main Street, Clayton NC. General admission tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for 18 and under. There is a small service fee when purchasing online tickets.
Tickets are on sale at www.claytonpianofestival.org.
Holiday Train Expo (December 16-18, 2016)
Head to Independence Mall, 3500 Oleander Drive, in Wilmington NC, for the Cape Fear Model Railroad Society’s annual Holiday Train Expo. The expo features trains of all types in a variety of villages, parks, and landscapes, plus photo ops with the conductor of the Polar Express, and a chance to watch models being built. Admission is $4-$5, with kids under 3 free. Hours are 6-9pm Friday, and 1-5pm Saturday and Sunday.
Details and updates may be found on this Facebook page or call 910.231.8567 with questions.