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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 activities, virtual events, and lots and lots of lights.

1. May your day be merry and bright as you go see all the lights.

See American Tobacco Campus in all its glowing glory when the historic district and Lucky Strike Tower are draped in lights. Grab a warm drink, bundle up, and stroll beneath the string lights.

Head into town for Downtown Points of Light, a family-friendly, socially distanced, holiday celebration happening from Thanksgiving through early January. Check out the beautiful lights throughout downtown, including Five Points Plaza and Black Wall Street Gardens, and of course the tree at CCB Plaza. Many downtown businesses and residents will have displays as well, so stop in, dine, shop and support local merchants while you enjoy the lights.

Ready for lights, shimmering pathways, and train rides? Head over to the Museum of Life & Science for Holidays in the Park, a magical celebration of the holiday season. Tickets are available for select days in December.

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-a-long as you watch over 100,000 dancing lights.

2. Over the Eno and through Duke Forest to get outdoors we go.

Nature is calling. Please answer the call and explore the great hiking, walking, and running trails in Durham. Half of the 22.6-mile American Tobacco Trail runs through Durham along an abandoned railroad bed originally built for the American Tobacco Company in the 1970s.

Explore all of downtown Durham by foot, whether you have a spare hour or an entire afternoon. In Northern Durham, Eno River State Park and Little River Regional Park & Natural Area feature hiking and biking trails along winding rivers and hills.

Hungry after your wildlife adventure? Have yourself a merry little meal! Order takeout directly from one of our local restaurants or gather around the socially distanced firepits and heaters at one of these local restaurants with heated outdoor dining.

3. 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 as it might have been when the Dukes lived here!

4. Rockin’ around to concerts & events.

Kick off the holiday season at the Durham Holiday Parade on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 11 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!

Live entertainment abounds this holiday season! Prepare for comedy, magic, and music at DPAC, Durham Performing Arts Center. Get tickets to A Christmas Carol, The Hip Hop Nutcracker, and A Christmas Story: The Musical.

The Carolina Theatre retro film series is presenting two back-to-back holiday-themed movies this season. On Friday, Dec. 10, get a ticket to see both Christmas Vacation and Elf.

Experience yuletide carols sung by a choir with a performance of Handel’s Messiah at Duke Chapel. (Tickets are still available for the online presentation of the concert on Dec. 12.)

5. 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.

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 and enjoy views of downtown Durham, weekly entertainment and signature bites and libations.

Join The Durham Hotel for photos and fun at Santa in the CCB Plaza on Dec. 5 from 1 to 4 p.m. The event is free, and they’ll have hot chocolate, coffee, and festive treats available for purchase.

6. We wish you a merry Market.

Find the perfect locally-crafted holiday gift for everyone on your list!

Shop a highly curated selection of art, home goods, gifts, and more at the Holiday Craft Market in the Beer Garden at The Glass Jug Beer Lab (RTP location). In addition to a wide variety of delicious craft beer on tap, The Glass Jug will have hot apple cider (spiked or non-alcoholic) and mulled wine available to help keep you warm during the market.

Make your way to The Patchwork Holiday Market at the Durham Armory on Dec. 5 to shop a diverse selection of high-quality and original goods.

Head to the annual Durham Craft Market on Dec. 12 at Durham Central Park for a one-of-a-kind local holiday shopping experience with local artisans and makers. Shop small for a wide variety of high-quality, affordable arts and crafts. Everything at the Market is handcrafted by and being sold by the person who made it!

About the Author

Natalie Minott - Content Marketing Manager

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.