photograph by Fox & Owl Studio

Feature Image: Balsam Range Art of Music Festival • Lake Junaluska • December 1-2

Keep rhythm with the practiced picking, fiddling, and strumming of some of the nation’s top Americana, bluegrass, and acoustic musicians at this two-day music festival at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. In addition to nightly performances, the festival also will include workshops on instrument building, songwriting, and dancing, and master classes for experienced players, led by some of the best musicians in their fields. Closing out the weekend on a high note, award-winning bluegrass band Balsam Range will perform a set alongside The Atlanta Pops Orchestra.

Learn more: (800) 965-9324 or


Deck the Trees • Black Mountain • December 1-31
The Monte Vista Hotel’s seventh annual Christmas tree display will celebrate the hotel’s 80th anniversary: Each hand-decorated tree will follow the theme “80 years of Christmas.”

Learn more: (828) 669-8870 or

Toe River Arts Holiday Studio Tour • Bakersville, BurnsVille, Spruce Pine • December 1-3
Attend the largest and longest-running studio tour in western North Carolina to meet more than 100 craftspeople and artists working in every medium. The tour is a self-guided trip that will lead you to unique places in Yancey and Mitchell counties.

Learn more: (828) 682-7215 or

Tweetsie Christmas • Blowing Rock • December 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 29-30
At this exclusive evening event, the entire family can hop aboard Tweetsie’s signature black locomotive and experience the steam-powered ride along with a dazzling display of lights.

Learn more: (877) 893-3874 or

Lights and Luminaries • Dillsboro • December 1-2, 8-9
More than 2,500 luminaries will line downtown streets during this light display, which will also feature decorated shops. You can sip hot cider courtesy of kind shopkeepers or bundle up with your sweetheart on one of the carriage rides offered each night.

Learn more: (828) 586-1439 or

Candle Tea and Bazaar • Newton • December 2
The New Hope Moravian Church welcomes one and all to this festival of homemade crafts, which includes Moravian stars and hand-dipped beeswax candles. Fill up on hearty chicken pies and sugar cake, and warm up with coffee. Your entrance fee is simply a canned food donation for the local food pantry.

Learn more: (828) 294-4802 or

Santa on the Chimney • Chimney Rock • December 2, 9
Don’t mistake Santa’s cookie addiction for a lack of physical fitness. For proof, head to Chimney Rock State Park to see him take on one of the world’s largest chimneys: Chimney Rock. Enjoy watching Santa’s rapelling technique while you eat his favorite cookies and sip hot cocoa.

Learn more: (828) 625-9611 or

Lake Junaluska’s Appalachian Christmas • Lake Junaluska • December 7-10
Get in the Christmas spirit at this weekend-long event. Enjoy performances by the Lake Junaluska Singers and The Cockman Family; browse arts and crafts handmade by local artisans at the Appalachian Christmas Craft Show; and enjoy filling, festive treats along the way.

Learn more: (800) 222-4930 or

Holiday Sip and Shop • Asheville • December 8-9, 15-16
Shop for holiday gifts handcrafted by local and regional artists at Grovewood Gallery. Enjoy craft demonstrations and complimentary wine, warm cider, and cookies. All gallery merchandise will be 10 percent off.

Learn more: (828) 253-7651 or

Transylvania County Handcrafters Guild Holiday Show • Brevard • December 8-9
Observe skilled artisans as they tackle projects ranging from woodwork to jewelry, and buy unique gifts for family and friends (or yourself).

Learn more: (828) 862-8122 or

Downtown Boone Christmas Parade • Boone • December 9
This annual parade down King Street features decorated floats and smiling Santas galore. Don’t miss out on hot apple cider at the Jones House Cultural and Community Center following the festivities.

Learn more: (828) 268-6280 or

Art in the Hall • Morganton • December 11-January 8
The work of talented artist Jeanne Schlumbohm will be featured in City Hall for this month-long exhibit. Schlumbohm works in various mediums, including graphite, which allows her to capture as much detail as possible.

Learn more: (828) 438-5362 or

Shelby Christmas Parade • Shelby • December 17
Bundle up and bring a chair to Lafayette Street for uptown Shelby’s annual Christmas parade. See floats, horses, dancers, marching bands, and more.

Learn more: (704) 484-3100 or

Jamie Laval’s Celtic Christmas • Tryon • December 30
Former National Scottish Fiddle Champion Jamie Laval will bring the beauty and culture of Scotland, Ireland, Brittany, and Iceland to North Carolina with music, dance, poetry, and storytelling.

Learn more: (828) 859-8322 or

New Year’s Eve Extravaganza • Blowing Rock • December 31
Ring in 2018 at Appalachian Ski Mountain with a night of ice skating, skiing, dining, and a torchlight parade before a grand fireworks display as the clock strikes midnight.

Learn more: (828) 295-7828 or


Weihnachtsmarkt • Charlotte • December 1-2, 8-9, 15-16
Experience a festive German Christmas market right in North Carolina. This signature holiday event at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery features an open-air craft market, craft beer, and comfort food.

Learn more: (704) 525-5644 or

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever • Fayetteville • December 1-18
In this comedic Christmas play, which has been performed by the Cape Fear Regional Theatre for more than 25 years, a couple struggling to produce a church Christmas pageant is faced with casting the most “inventively awful” kids in history.

Learn more: (910) 323-4233 or

Wendell Wonderland • Wendell • December 1
Kick off December in historic downtown Wendell: Visit with Santa; take a trolley ride; watch a light show comprising more than 400,000 lights and holiday music; and enjoy a cookie walk, live Nativity, and choir singing.

Learn more: (919) 365-4450 or

Official Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony • Cary • December 2
Enjoy entertainment by community actors, singers, and musicians before the 25-foot Christmas tree is officially lit just outside Town Hall. Then head inside for a reception and the unveiling of a second tree, which will be decorated with ornaments handcrafted by more than 120 community groups.

Learn more: (919) 319-4560 or

Christmas Holiday Craft Show • Chapel Hill • December 2
This 14th annual craft show at St. Thomas More Catholic Church will feature more than 65 artisans and crafters from around the state, selling everything from pottery and jewelry to holiday decorations.

Learn more: (919) 929-2241 or

A Carolina Holiday Concert • Fayetteville • December 2
Celebrate the holidays with traditional and popular holiday tunes, performed by the Fayetteville Symphony at Methodist University’s Huff Concert Hall. The Fayetteville Academy Chorus will also join the symphony for several selections.

Learn more: (910) 433-4690 or

Greensboro Oratorio Singers present Handel’s Messiah • Greensboro • December 2
The Greensboro Oratorio Singers will present their 64th annual performance of Handel’s masterpiece at Christ United Methodist Church.

Learn more: (336) 253-4878 or

Come Home to Christmas • Warrenton • December 2-3
Tour 10 historic homes and properties decorated in their Christmas finery.

Learn more: (252) 204-9908 or

Holiday Jubilee • Fayetteville • December 3
Enjoy a Victorian caroling concert on the front porch of the Poe and view the elaborate Christmas decor during this annual open-house event at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex.

Learn more: (910) 486-1330 or

National Poinsettia Display • King • December 3
More than 80 varieties and 10,000 individual poinsettias will be displayed in a sea of color at Mitchell’s Nursery and Greenhouse. Plants will also be available for purchase and can be custom-wrapped.

Learn more: (336) 983-4107 or

98° at Christmas • Durham • December 5
Head back to the 1990s at the DPAC when (former) boy band 98° performs an energetic show featuring songs from their new holiday album, as well as their most loved hits.

Learn more: (919) 680-2787 or

Gingerbread Lane • Charlotte • December 7-27
See an enchanting display of gingerbread houses at this free, monthlong event. Make a donation to vote on your favorites — all proceeds will benefit Levine Children’s Hospital.

Learn more: (704) 248-4055 or

Weymouth Christmas House • Southern Pines • December 7-9
Teams of designers, garden clubs, and community organizations will dress up the historic Boyd House, grounds, and stables for Christmas. This year’s theme, “A Love Story a Century Old,” will honor what would have been James and Katharine Boyd’s 100th wedding anniversary.

Learn more: (910) 692-6261 or

Charity Ball • Enloe • December 9
Each year, Enloe High School students raise funds and awareness for a local nonprofit leading up to this annual dance, where they present a check. For the 13th annual dance, they are hoping to raise $150,000 for The Raleigh-Wake Partnership to End Homelessness.

Learn more:

Holiday Lights • Fayetteville • December 9-10, 14-17, 21-23, 26-30
Bundle up for this mile-long stroll through the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens, where you’ll enjoy a synchronized light-and-music show with thousands of lights. Take pictures with Santa, make s’mores over a fire, and partake in kids’ crafts.

Learn more: (910) 486-0221 or

A Candlelight Christmas Tour of Mendenhall Homeplace • Jamestown • December 9
Tour two 1800s-era homes decorated for the holidays and lit by candlelight. Stop by the old barn to see Santa’s sleigh full of gifts, enjoy hot cider and homemade cookies, and listen to live music and carolers.

Learn more: (336) 454-3819 or

Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour • Raleigh • December 9-10
Take a cheery self-guided tour of some of Raleigh’s grandest 19th-century homes during this 46th annual event in the Historic Oakwood neighborhood. Here, immaculately preserved and restored Victorian homes range in style from Queen Anne cottages to Neoclassical Revival. Learn about the history of each home’s architecture while taking in the holiday decor. Tickets required.

Learn more:

Carols by Candlelight • Winston-Salem • December 10
The Piedmont Chamber Singers, celebrating their 40th season, will perform two free concerts full of traditional holiday carols in the 18th-century Germeinhaus in Historic Bethabara Park.

Learn more: (336) 722-4022 or

A Christmas Carol • Chapel Hill • December 12-17, 19-23
Don’t be a Scrooge: Go see a performance of Dickens’s Christmas classic at the PlayMakers Repertory Company.

Learn more: (919) 962-7529 or

Kansas • Raleigh • December 13
Classic rock band Kansas is on tour to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their album Leftoverture. They’ll perform the album in its entirety at this concert at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

Learn more: (919) 996-8711 or

The Nutcracker • Raleigh • December 15-24
Take part in a holiday tradition by going on a journey to the Land of Sweets: This performance of the classic ballet will have elaborate sets and costumes, plus live music.

Learn more: (919) 996-8709 or

Unity Choir’s “Glory of Christmas” Concert • Raleigh • December 16
Unity Choir, a guest orchestra, and soloists will perform this Christmas concert, which draws from different faiths and traditions and includes jazz, gospel, classical, and world music.

Learn more: (919) 832-8324 or

Marvelous Music Family Series: Cary Ballet presents The Nutcracker Suite • Cary • December 16
Enjoy a one-hour version of the holiday classic, perfect for short attention spans. Purchase a separate ticket to attend “Ballerina Tea” after the performance: Decorate a teacup and take photos with featured ballerinas.

Learn more: (919) 462-2055 or

Christmas in the Park • Burlington • December 22
Wear your coziest coat to City Park for hay rides, a live Nativity, Santa and Mrs. Claus, amusement park rides, face painting, games, and crafts.

Learn more: (336) 513-5469 or

Greensboro Tanger Outlets POPS Series: Broadway to Hollywood • Greensboro • December 30
Celebrate the new year with the Greensboro Symphony at this tribute to cinema and Broadway classics, which will feature award-winning pianist Richard Glazier and singer Michael Andrew.

Learn more: (336) 335-5456 or


Island of Lights Christmas Parade and Flotilla • Carolina Beach • December 1-2
Floats, bands, and Santa Claus will parade down to Federal Point Plaza on Friday night. At the flotilla on Saturday, boats decorated with thousands of lights will cruise from Snows Cut to the Carolina Beach Boat Basin and back.

Learn more: (910) 458-5507 or

Christmas Extravaganza and Flotilla • Edenton • December 1
Watch the annual tree lighting and flotilla, where lighted boats parade through Edenton Bay.

Learn more: (252) 333-0655 or

The Taste of Farmville • Farmville • December 1
After a Christmas tree lighting at 6 p.m., enjoy refreshments, live entertainment, visits with Santa, and carriage rides through town.

Learn more: (252) 753-5921.

Winterfest • Southport • December 1-9
Holiday celebrations will include a Nutcracker Tea Party, cookie contest, movie night, parade, craft festival, book sale, tour of homes, costumed history tour, the Southport Christmas Flotilla, and Santa’s workshop.

Learn more: (910) 457-7927 or

Star of Wonder, Star of Night • Wilmington • December 1-2, 8-9, 15-16
Candlelight tours will be offered through the eight rooms of the Manor House at Poplar Grove Plantation, which will be decorated by theme and color with natural flora and greenery inspired by the Foys’ colonial-through-Victorian family history — with a few contemporary flourishes to represent the family’s four centuries in coastal North Carolina.

Learn more: (910) 686-9518 or

Ballet for Young Audiences: The Nutcracker • Wilmington • December 1-2
This 60-minute narrated version of the classic Christmas tale, performed at Thalian Hall, is the perfect show for the short attention spans of younger fans.

Learn more: (910) 632-2285 or

Enchanted Airlie • Wilmington • December 1-2, 8-10, 13-22
Take a half-mile, self-guided walking tour through Airlie Gardens’ light display, which includes local food and beverage vendors, plus a visit from Santa.

Learn more: (910) 798-7717 or

Christmas Homes Tour and Bazaar • Greenville • December 2
Tour seven festively decorated homes, and do some holiday shopping at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church during this 16th annual event.

Learn more: (252) 752-3482 or

Core Sound Decoy Festival • Harkers Island • December 2-3
Celebrate one of the coast’s oldest traditions at this 30th annual festival: Enjoy antique decoy exhibits, retriever demonstrations, kids’ activities, a head whittling contest, and decoy competitions with categories for every kind of carver. Save room for a shrimp burger.

Learn more: (252) 838-8818 or

Annual Coastal Christmas Flotilla • New Bern • December 2
The evening kicks off with a performance by the 2nd Marine Corps Band from Cherry Point. Later, watch a parade of lights on beautiful boats, and visit with Santa in Union Point Park.

Learn more: (252) 639-2902 or

Ronnie Ezzell and Southern Comfort Present: A Holly Day Celebration • Rocky Mount • December 2
The whole family will enjoy this variety show organized by talented local singers at the Dunn Center at North Carolina Wesleyan College.

Learn more: (252) 985-5197 or

Christmas Parade • Rocky Mount • December 3
This downtown Rocky Mount tradition will feature live music by local marching bands, festive floats, classic cars, and Santa Claus.

Learn more: (252) 972-1159 or

Jingle Belles Holiday Tea • Wilmington • December 3-4
Stroll through the decorated parlors of Bellamy Mansion, and enjoy sandwiches, scones, desserts, tea, a champagne toast, raffles, and live entertainment. Tickets are required.

Learn more: (910) 251-3700 or

Albemarle Chorale Christmas Concert • Edenton • December 4
Enjoy a variety of Christmas selections performed by The Albemarle Chorale; this year’s concert theme is “A Silent Night.”

Learn more: (252) 426-5891 or

Christmas Candlelight Tour • Edenton • December 8-9
Take a tour of private homes adorned with natural Christmas decorations in this 36th annual event sponsored by the Edenton Historical Commission.

Learn more: (252) 482-7800 or

A Christmas Carol • Goldsboro • December 8-10
Watch Scrooge’s transformation from “Bah! Humbug!” to “Merry Christmas!” at the Center Stage Theatre’s 10th annual production of Dickens’s classic tale, performed at the Paramount Theatre.

Learn more: (919) 429-9278 or

Candlelight Christmas Tour • Murfreesboro • December 8-9
This 32nd annual event will include stops at 12 different historic sites downtown, as well as food and drinks along the way.

Learn more: (252) 398-5922 or

A Queen Street Christmas • Kinston • December 9-10
A 50-voice choir and a 30-piece orchestra will perform traditional holiday carols at this 16th annual Christmas concert at Queen Street Church.

Learn more: (252) 527-2119 or

A Wacky Wonderful Life • Mount Olive • December 9
This performance will take the 1946 Frank Capra classic and turn it on its head with an array of quotes and characters from other classic Christmas tales.

Learn more: (919) 658-7861 or

A Merry Little Christmas Festival • Wilmington • December 9-10
Head to Poplar Grove Plantation for an outdoor arts, crafts, and gift show; there will be appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, a petting zoo, Santa’s workshop, Christmas movie showings, and marshmallow roasting.

Learn more: (910) 686-9518 or

Handel’s Messiah • New Bern • December 11
This Christmas concert at the Centenary United Methodist Church will be the Craven Messiah Chorus’s 35th presentation of composer G.F. Handel’s famous oratorio. There also will be an orchestra made up of players from the North Carolina Symphony.

Learn more: (252) 637-3270 or

The Barefoot Movement • Oriental • December 14
This talented bluegrass band, which won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Band of the Year Momentum Award in 2014, will perform a Christmas concert at the Old Theater.

Learn more: (252) 617-2125 or

Polar Express at The Children’s Museum • Wilmington • December 16
Wear your pajamas to this third annual event, and enjoy hot chocolate, story time, holiday crafts, letters to Santa, train rides, and more. Each child will receive a special “believe bell” while supplies last.

Learn more: (910) 254-3534.

New Year’s Countdown • Carolina Beach • December 31
Watch the giant beach ball drop and count down to 2018 on the boardwalk, where there will be fireworks, music, dancing, refreshments, and more to ring in the new year.

Learn more: (910) 458-5507 or

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Katie Schanze is the assistant editor and digital editor of Our State.