Nov. 24-26, Dec. 1-3, 7-10, 12-23. Spencer, North Carolina Transportation Museum, THE POLAR EXPRESS™ TrainSet to the sounds of the motion picture soundtrack, families are sure to enjoy their trip to the North Pole, complete with hot chocolate and cookies served on board the train. Passengers are entertained by a reading of Chris Van Allsburg’s classic, "The Polar Express." Upon arrival at the North Pole, passengers deboard to watch Santa present the first gift of Christmas. Before exiting the train at Candy Cane Lane, all passengers who BELIEVE will receive their own sleigh bell. For more information, click here. 

Nov. 28. Chapel Hill, North Carolina Symphony, Holiday Pops Statewide, 7:30 p.m. Join your North Carolina Symphony for this festive concert full of orchestral holiday favorites you know and love at Memorial Hall  in Chapel Hill. Ticket prices vary.

Dec. 1, Dec. 8. Durham, Duke Homestead, Christmas by Candlelight. 5:30-9 p.m. The soft contours of “Christmas by Candlelight” at Duke Homestead make the annual event a visitor favorite with candlelight tours led by costumed interpreters through the historic homestead. Fee.

Dec. 1 and 2. Raleigh, North Carolina Symphony, Handel's "Messiah," Meymandi Concert Hall, 8 p.m., both evenings. The perfect way to celebrate this holiday season. The North Carolina Symphony and the North Carolina Master Chorale perform one of the most inspiring works of music ever conceived. Handel’s masterpiece is full of passion and drama and features the resounding “Hallelujah Chorus.” Ticket cost varies.

Dec. 2. Raleigh, State Capitol east grounds, Make Ornaments for the Capitol's Outdoor Tree, 1-3 p.m. Join the Capitol to make a rustic outdoor decoration to feed the birds and squirrels on Union Square! While the Capitol remains closed for repairs, we’re bringing holiday cheer outside instead. Families, children and wildlife enthusiasts are invited to make birdseed and critter-friendly ornaments to adorn our tree, provided by the NC Christmas Tree Association. Free.

Dec. 2. Sanford, House in the Horseshoe, “O blessed Season!” Candlelight Tour, 3-6:30 p.m. Step back in time this holiday season and experience the greenery-decorated Alston House by candlelight. Guided tours will focus on 18th Century Christmas practices. Tickets are limited and are $8.

Dec. 7. Raleigh, State Capitol, Tree Lighting Ceremony, 5:30 p.m. Join the State Capitol and Gov. Roy Cooper for the annual tree-lighting tradition and holiday music by the Raleigh Concert Band. Even Santa is scheduled to make an appearance! While the Capitol building remains closed due to ongoing construction, the public is invited to the Governor’s Mansion immediately following the lighting of the tree to see the executive residence all decked out for the holidays. Free.

Dec. 7-9. Raleigh, NC Executive Mansion, NC Executive Mansion 2023 Holiday Open House. 6-8 p.m. on December 7 and 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. on December 8 and 9. No reservations are accepted or required. Visitors are invited to tour the home, take in the decorations, and enjoy seasonal musical entertainment by local performing groups. The mansion's first floor will be decorated with North Carolina-grown Christmas trees, floral and mixed evergreen arrangements, and ornate mantle displays.

Dec. 8 and 9. Raleigh, North Carolina Symphony, Holiday Pops, Meymandi Concert Hall. 8 p.m. on December 8 and noon and 8 p.m. on December 9. Join your North Carolina Symphony for this festive concert full of orchestral holiday favorites you know and love. Ticket prices vary.

Dec. 9. Raleigh, N.C. Museum of Art, Winter Lantern Walk, 4:30 p.m. Bundle up and come together as we honor the quiet beauty of the approaching winter season with a handmade paper lantern walk through the Museum Park. 

Dec. 9. Sedalia, Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum, Christmas in Sedalia. 5-8 p.m.  This free program will have live music, an outdoor Holiday Bazaar, crafts for kids, and Santa himself making an appearance! The Tree Lighting Ceremony featuring Sedalia Mayor Howard Morgan and Site Manager Tanesha Anthony will begin at 7 p.m. outside of Kimball Hall. Free.

Dec. 9. Durham, Historic Stagville, Jonkonnu at Stagville, 4:30 p.m. Enjoy period music, hands on Christmas crafts, and a special Jonkonnu interpretation. Make an ornament and help decorate the Bennehan house, and try decorating branches to dress the Hart house. Fee: $5 per person, children under 12 free.

Dec. 10. Albemarle, Morrow Mountain State Park, Tree Cookie Ornaments, 10 a.m. -12 p.m. Join a ranger in making Christmas ornaments out of one of our most abundant resources — trees! All ages are welcome and materials will be provided.

Dec. 16. Durham, Bennett Place, Christmas in the Piedmont during the Civil War, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. See how soldiers observed Christmas during the Civil War while awaiting packages from home. Observe families decorating and keeping the spirit in spite of shortages and loved ones far away. Weapons and cooking demonstrations during the day; Candlelight Tour and military truce and gift exchange in the evening. Refreshments. Free.

Dec. 16. Raleigh, NC Museum of History, Raleigh Flute Choir Holiday Concert, 3 p.m. Spend an afternoon with the Raleigh Flute Choir as it performs familiar tunes from The Nutcracker, haunting Christmas melodies, and lively holiday arrangements. A musical telling of “The Night Before Christmas” is sure to be a highlight. Tickets $10 for general admission, $6 for students and MOHA members.

Dec 19. Southern Pines, North Carolina Symphony, Holiday Pops Statewide, 7:30 p.m. Join your North Carolina Symphony for this festive concert full of orchestral holiday favorites you know and love at Lee Auditorium in Southern Pines. Ticket prices vary.

Dec. 20-22. Raleigh, N.C. Museum of Art, Gingerbread Tea, N.C. Museum of Art, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Celebrate the holiday season at a family-friendly afternoon gingerbread tea. This festive afternoon tea features a variety of finger sandwiches, premium hot teas and cocoa, and savory and sweet treats. Add on a cookie-decorating activity for bonus holiday fun. Please indicate in the notes if you prefer a private dining table or community dining table. Tickets $45 for individuals, family 4 pack of tickets $37.50 each.

Dec. 22 and 23. Raleigh, North Carolina Symphony, A Candlelight Christmas, Meymandi Concert Hall, 8 p.m. on December 22 and 3 p.m. on December 23. Immerse yourself in the magic of the season with music performed in the glow of candlelight. Experience this extraordinary performance by full orchestra and children’s choir—truly an experience like no other. Ticket prices vary.

Dec 23. Greensboro, Haw River State Park, Afternoon Sky Watch for Audubon Christmas Bird Count, 1- 3 p.m. If you have ever wanted to know the name of a bird you've seen coasting through the skies, now is your chance to learn! Park staff will be available to teach bird identification basics for raptors and other birds, such as silhouettes, flight patterns, etc. We will also observe the afternoon skies as part of our annual Audubon Christmas Bird County. Drop in anytime and stay as long as you would like! We recommended bringing a camp chair and your own binoculars. We have a limited number of binoculars available to borrow. Registration is required. Register here

Dec. 26-31. Spencer, North Carolina Transportation Museum, Winter Holiday Train Rides, 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. Join the museum for special train rides during the winter break between Christmas and the New Year. For more information, click here