6 Family-Friendly Ways To Enjoy The Durham Holiday Season

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Durham is the perfect place to make special memories with the whole family during "the most wonderful time of the year."

Posted By Discover Durham Staff on Nov 19, 2018

Kids from one to 92 can savor the 2018 holiday season and experience days packed with fun festivals, activities, and of course – plenty of lights.

1. Make your day merry and bright at the American Tobacco Campus and Northgate

See American Tobacco Campus in all its glowing glory on November 30 when the historic district and Lucky Strike Tower are draped in lights. Bundle up, bring a blanket, or plan to stroll beneath the string lights to take in the sights. You can also spend the day at Northgate mall for a holiday event calendar activity November 20–December 24. Plenty of activities are planned: breakfast with Mrs. Claus, Santa selfies, a polar express train, elf on the shelf contest, and a Trosa tree lot will mean beautiful backdrops for holiday memories with loved ones.

2. Catch the holiday spirit (and real snow!) at the Durham Holiday Parade and Fun Fest

Find a spot along the Durham Holiday Parade route in Downtown Durham on December 8. Bands, vendors, local mascots, and Santa will make appearances as the highlights of the evening. Later, go to the American Tobacco Campus at 1pm for Fun Fest. Delight in snow sledding, an arts and crafts area, community care corner, and holiday vendors.

3. Journey to the sites of Christmas past at historic Durham places

You won’t be able to be a scrooge while touring Christmas by Candlelight on December 7 at Duke Homestead, the birthplace of the Duke tobacco empire. Costumed interpreters will lead guests on a candlelit tour featuring traditional music, dancing, cookies, and storytelling. History enthusiasts should plan to visit Bennett Place – the site of the largest troop surrender of the Civil War – on December 15, where families can experience how Christmas would have been spent at wartime. Enjoy period décor, cooking, and soldier demonstrations.

4. Experience world-class theater, art, and concerts

You can experience more than yuletide carols sung by a choir in Durham (although Handel’s Messiah at Duke Chapel on December 2 is a holiday staple). There’s no shortage of holiday shows at DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center) in December – with Hamilton, Elf, and A Christmas Carol, to name a few. Savor an evening at The Carolina Theatre, seeing acts like A Motown Christmas or performances of The Nutcracker. Plus, don’t miss a delightful free holiday program for families at The Nasher Museum of Art right before ringing in 2019.

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5. Celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanzaa in a cultural epicenter

This year, join in the festival of lights at the Levin JCC Hanukkah Festival on December 2 with latkes, games, and music. Then celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa at the Kwanzaa Celebration on December 30, or at the African American Dance Ensemble’s Kwanzaafest 2019 on January 1 with dancing, face painting, and food.

6. If the weather outside is frightful, enjoy Durham accommodations. They're delightful!

While it’s unlikely there will be a lot of snow in Durham this holiday season, it’s still fun to cozy up at some of Durham’s lodging properties and leave the cold outside. Little ones will enjoy museum displays at the 21c Museum Hotel, sitting by the fireplace and enjoying warm beverages and sweet treats at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, or splashing around at an indoor pool at one of several hotels near The Streets at Southpoint after holiday shopping.

With so many exceptional things to do with the whole family in Durham, the kids will have lasting holiday memories for years to come. You may have to do it all again next year!

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