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Walkin' in the Durham Wonderland

Estimated Read Time:
3 minutes

The festive lights are glowin' and the hot cocoa is flowin'. These fun events in Durham will bring you holiday cheer!

Posted By Natalie Minott

It's the most wonderful time of the year when Durham is transformed into a magical wonderland of twinkling lights and holiday fun. Kids from one to 92 can savor the holiday season and experience days packed with festive shows, merry markets, and lots and lots of lights.

May your days be merry and bright as you visit all the lights.

See American Tobacco Campus in all its glowing glory starting November 30, when the historic district and Lucky Strike Tower are draped in lights. Grab a warm drink, do a little shopping at ATC businesses, and check out appearances by local performers and holiday heroes.

Gather the whole gang for Downtown Durham Holiday, a family-friendly, all-day celebration of the holiday season with shopping specials, music, live performances, and the CCB tree lighting that coincides with the first weekend of the Bullpen — downtown’s social district — so you can enjoy a beverage from a local business while you shop and stroll.

Ready for lights, shimmering pathways, and train rides? Head over to the Museum of Life & Science for magical celebrations of the holiday season at kid-friendly Holidays in the Park and Afterhours: Up Close Holiday Spirits for adults 21+.

Join Mangum Family Christmas Lights for a free drive-in synchronized light show that runs from now until New Year's Eve. Get cozy in your car, tune in to 90.3 FM on your radio to hear the Christmas music, and sing along as you watch over 100,000 dancing lights.

Journey to the sites of Christmas past.

Jingle all the way over to the Duke Homestead for Christmas by Candlelight. Enjoy storytelling, cookies and cider, live music, singing, and a whole lot of history as costumed interpreters lead you on a candlelit tour. Tickets are available for this unique opportunity to see the Duke family home brought to life.

Rockin’ around to concerts & events.

Festive entertainment abounds this holiday season! Snap up tickets to turn any Grinch into a Who from Whoville.

Prepare for comedy, wonder, and music at DPAC, Durham Performing Arts Center. Get tickets to ELF, The Hip Hop Nutcracker, and A Magical Cirque Christmas, and Mannheim Steamroller Christmas.

The Carolina Theatre presents fun for the whole family, including Herb Alpert & Lani Hall: A Christmas Wish, The Holly, Jolly Joshua Show, Triangle Youth Ballet’s presentation of The Nutcracker, and NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet. Get tickets to back-to-back holiday classics on Friday, Dec. 16 with Retro Film Series’ screening of White Christmas & Holiday Inn.

Experience yuletide carols sung by a choir with a performance of Handel’s Messiah at Duke Chapel. (Tickets are still available for the concert on Dec. 2.)

Embrace the art of Aerial Silks & Lyra and Contemporary Dance at Durham Ballet Theatre’s Winter Showcase featuring original choreography in an intimate, 50-person setting.

We wish you a merry Market.

Find the perfect locally crafted holiday gift for everyone on your list as Durham’s abundance of markets make it easy to shop small!

Get a jump on your list with Durham Arts Council’s Durham Art Walk Holiday Market, a weekend festival of fine arts and crafts at strollable indoor and outdoor venues throughout downtown.

Sip and shop for a good cause at the Holiday Market at Umstead Pines Golf & Swim Club. Proceeds will benefit Duke Children's Hospital

Shop a highly curated selection of art, home goods, gifts, and more with your favorite Durham businesses under one roof at Holiday Market at The Durham.

The weekend of Dec. 10-11 offers a full lineup of opportunities to find unique gifts from local artisans and makers. Cover all your bases with The Patchwork Holiday Market at the Durham Armory, the annual Durham Craft Market at Durham Central Park, and Durham Night Market under the lights at American Tobacco Campus.

The Glass Jug Beer Lab (Downtown location) has something for everyone at their Holiday Extravaganza at Durham Central Park including photos with Santa, ornament decorating, holiday vendor market, food trucks, hot apple cider, mulled wine, and craft beer. Stop by the RTP location to give your wish list to St. Nick at Santa Visits the Brewery.

Community is the reason for the season.

Skip the shopping and get involved with joyful gatherings focused-on family, friends, and the fruits of the season.

Santa greets the crowd at Durham's 2021 Holiday Parade.

Have some wholesome holiday fun at the Durham Holiday Parade on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 10 a.m. Cheer on dynamic floats, hometown bands, drill teams, schools, and community groups as they make their way down Main Street. The procession will conclude with a guest appearance from Santa himself!

Immerse yourself in a full lineup of celebrations with Jewish for Good at the Levin JCC including a full day of family fun at Hanukkah festival, the Israel Center’s Young Adult Sweater Party, a Hanukkah 8k, Tot Shabbat, and volunteer opportunities to give back to families in need.

Book an appointment for the return of The Black Santa Experience at The Hayti Heritage Center where a visit with a Santa of color from Santas Just Like Me and professional photography make a holiday to remember.

Delight in African American Dance Ensemble’s 37th annual celebration of Kwanzaafest on January 1 with performances promoting the traditions of African and African American dance and music to the broad community.

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

Cozy up at some of Durham’s lodging properties and leave the cold outside.

Enjoy museum displays at 21c Museum Hotel, warm up with beverages and sweet treats at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club, or splash around at an indoor pool at one of several hotels near The Streets at Southpoint after holiday shopping.

Celebrate the holiday season on The Patio at Unscripted! Escape to their winter wonderland, complete with igloos, and enjoy views of downtown Durham, weekly entertainment and signature bites and libations.

Head to The Durham Hotel for photos and fun at Santa on the Roof on Dec. 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. The event is free and includes a complimentary hot chocolate.

About the Author

Natalie Minott - Freelance Writer

A mother and writer who loves celebrating people and telling their stories. Find me rocking colorful headwraps, singing Disney songs, and drinking too much coffee.