Our Favorite Ways to Spend the Holidays Around Raleigh, NC

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Raleigh. At this corner of the research triangle, there’s more than meets the eye, the region quietly marching forward in academics, sport, medicine, the arts, and growth. Whether tourist, returnee, or local, if you’ve chosen the Raleigh area as your destination, you won’t be disappointed. Read on for some of our favorite holiday season festivals and events in the area and get ready to see Raleigh like never before.

North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival

Enjoy the massive light sculptures, feats of acrobatics and athleticism, and the festivities of the holiday season with North Carolina’s Chinese American community during the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival in nearby Cary! Beautifully lit and intricate dragons, birds, whales, pandas, and other symbols of Chinese culture and faces of the holiday seasons are in great size and wondrous display in this event where East meets West. Aside from the lights, there are also a number of Chinese acrobatics performances, accompanied by plenty of delicious dining options. Of course, everyone gets together during the festivities to assemble and release their own lanterns during the event each night. Come experience this North Carolina spectacle that only draws bigger and bigger crowds each year at the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival!

Raleigh Christmas Parade

Enjoy a classic, small-town Christmas parade complete with live music, dance, appearances by some of the most famous and beloved faces of the Research Triangle community. This Raleigh tradition has brought smiles, memories, and holiday joy to generations of North Carolinians, and is a great way for visitors to experience and get to know the Raleigh community at one of its happiest moments of the year. Also adding to the fun are themed floats, twirlers, massive balloons, and local acts! Bring the whole party to the Raleigh Christmas Parade in this charming and inclusive event.

Cary’s Annual Kwanzaa Celebration

Celebrate and reflect on the beauty and accomplishments of Black American heritage at Cary’s Annual Kwanzaa Celebration, where visitors of all backgrounds are encouraged to join and share in the spirit of the holidays. Among the festivities are storytelling and spoken word events, movie showings, crafts and activities, dance and song performances.

First Night

Kick-off the New Year Raleigh style in this electric and engaging annual tradition, First Night Raleigh! This is an action-packed night of open houses at some of the city’s most renowned institutions, live music, and dance performances, rides, games, shows, and delicious food over some twenty blocks of Raleigh culminating in a grand fireworks display. This is a great way for travelers of all ages and interests to see and do it all around Raleigh, whether it may be a stop at the many historic museums, galleries, and churches participating in the festivities, or joining the crowds, or just seeing and doing a little bit of everything. For those who are looking for a memorable and exciting New Year’s Eve out on the town, look no further than First Night Raleigh.

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