December Activities in the Triangle Area


College Basketball


Where: Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill; PNC Arena, Raleigh; Cameron Indoor Stadium, Durham

When: Now through March

If you’re new to the area you’ll quickly realize that college basketball reigns supreme. The historic rivalries between UNC, NC State and Duke are intense but amicable. December is a great time to get in on the madness as NC State has 5 home games at PNC Arena in Raleigh, UNC has 4 at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill and Duke has 4 at Cameron Indoor Arena in Durham. For more information, schedules and tickets, here are links to DukeNC State and UNC’s athletic websites.


Cary Heart of the Holidays Celebration

Where: Downtown Cary

When: Saturday, December 2, 12:00 – 6:00 pm

Come to historic Downtown Cary for a day packed with activities and holiday fun. Enter your gingerbread masterpiece in the 7th Annual Gingerbread House Competition (rules). Let your kids make a special gift at Santa’s Workshop or check out the Ole Time Winter Festival, Christmas Tree Lighting and more!


Raleigh Tree Lighting Ceremony

Where: Fayetteville Street, Downtown Raleigh

When: Saturday Dec. 2, 4:00 – 8:00 pm, with live broadcast on ABC news 7:30 – 8:00 pm

This year’s celebration will feature a giant inflatable slide, a chance to meet Santa, a Gingerbread House competition, food trucks, live performances and more! Mayor Nancy McFarlane will lead the tree lighting ceremony at 7:30 pm.

raleigh winterfest 2

Scandinavian Christmas Fair

Where: Raleigh State Fairgrounds

When: Saturday, Dec. 2, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

In its 21st year in the Triangle, this year’s Julmarknad (Christmas Fair in Swedish) will once again celebrate the traditions of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. You’ll find delicious traditional foods like Swedish meatballs, herring and more as well as native dancing, musical performances and a Scandinavian fashion show. Artisans and vendors will also be offering unique crafts and gifts from all over Scandinavia.


The Nutcracker by Carolina Ballet and Live Symphony Orchestra

Where: UNC Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill; DPAC, DurhamRaleigh Memorial Auditorium, Raleigh 

When: Saturday, Sunday, Dec. 2-3 (Chapel Hill), Saturday, Sunday, 9-10 (Durham), Friday-Sunday, 15-24 (Raleigh)

With performances in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, put on by the Carolina Ballet, is coming to you. The award-winning dance company will be supported by a live symphony and illusions created by world-renowned magician Rick Thomas, making for an exceptional holiday experience.



A Christmas Carol

Where: DPAC, Durham

When: Thursday – Sunday, Dec. 14-17

Local legend Ira David Wood III’s Christmas Carol has been called “top 20 performances in the Southeast.” The adaptation of the popular tale into a musical comedy for the stage has been a huge success in both North Carolina and throughout the world, performed for over 2 million people to date. Each year the play is rewritten, often touching on current events.

a christmas carole

Governor’s Mansion Holiday Open House

Where: North Carolina’s Executive Mansion

When: Wednesday, Dec. 6 (6:00 – 8:00 pm) – Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Dec. 7-9, (10:00 – 5:00 pm)

Described by FDR as the “most beautiful governor’s residence interior in America,” historically known as the “people’s house,” commonly known as the “Governor’s Mansion,” the North Carolina Executive Mansion will be open for you and everyone else to tour admission free. The mansion will be decorated for the holidays with NC-grown Christmas trees and seasonal musical entertainment by local performing groups. There are no scheduled tours or reservations, just show up and check it out!

 governor's mansion

John Wall Holiday Invitational Basketball Tournament

When: Wednesday – Saturday, Dec. 27-30, Game Times

Where: Broughton High School

Played in Broughton High School’s expansive gym and featuring some of the best high school basketball teams in the country, past Holiday Invitationals have highlighted several rising stars.  Now’s your chance to scout the talent before they’re dominating the NCAA and NBA. Raleigh native and NBA star John Wall will be sponsoring the tournament along with current NBA players and North Carolinians David West and TJ Warren.


23rd Annual Kwanzaa Celebration

Where: Cary Arts Center

When: Friday, Dec. 29, 11:00 a.m.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Peace, Love and Respect…For Everybody” and will feature performances by the children’s dance group Kuumba Dance Company and vocalist Lois Deloatch. The event will also include a vendor market and hands on arts and crafts activities for children. The Kwanzaa Ceremony will begin at 2:30 pm and feature a performance by the African American Dance Ensemble.


Avett Brothers New Year’s Eve Concert

When: Sunday, Dec. 31, 8:30 pm

Where: PNC Arena

Celebrated North Carolina band the Avett Brothers combines alternative and folk styles to create an amazing and unique sound. Follow this link for a little sample of their music. Don’t wait to buy tickets as the concert will likely sell out.

avett bros 3

All times and dates are accurate at the time of publishing but make sure to double check as things are always liable to change. Thanks for reading and have a great December!