Posted on December 3, 2016

Holiday Traditions in North Carolina

Holiday traditions in North Carolina are both meaningful and memorable.  Did you know that “Biltmore at Christmas,” with its legendary holiday decorations, is just one of the many reasons that it attracts over one million visitors each year?  Did you know that McAdenville, North Carolina is better known as “ChristmasTown USA”? These are just two of the special holiday places in North Carolina that we will explore.

First, we show a brief video below about North Carolina native and star of PBS’ A Chef’s Life, Vivian Howard who talks about some of her favorite things to do in North Carolina during the holidays.  Then we have a description of some of the many festive holiday activities that take place in North Carolina.

“I grew up in North Carolina and even when I lived away I spent every Thanksgiving and Christmas in Deep Run. Like everything else for me, the holidays really center around food.  There’s so many foods and food traditions that I want my children to respect and get excited for.  My kids have never been to Winston-Salem at all and I plan on taking them to the Winkler Bakery in Old Salem.  You can smell the cinnamon and sugar and butter and yeast like around the corner from this place and it literally drew me in when I was fourteen years old.”

A Sampling of the Many Festive North Carolina Holiday Events


Nov. 4, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017, Asheville
Christmas at Biltmore, America’s largest home, has a larger-than-life tradition that involves 100 decorated Christmas trees; hundreds of wreaths, bows and poinsettias; thousands of lights; and more than 25,000 ornaments. The grandeur reaches a crescendo in the seven-story-high Banquet Hall, where books, dolls and other toys hang from a 35-foot Fraser fir. Catch the glow of the 250-room mansion by candlelight through Jan. 7.

Nov. 18, 2016 – Jan. 8, 2017, Charlotte
Each holiday season, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza transforms into a 7,000-square-foot ice rink. The rink welcomes you to practice your axels and sip hot chocolate with a view of the Uptown skyline. The venue is hosting several special events, including skate sessions with the Charlotte Checkers hockey team and photo ops with Santa. Skate passes are good for the entire day, as the rink accepts same-day re-entry.

Nov. 19 – Dec. 31, 2016, Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord
One of America’s largest holiday light shows, Speedway Christmas features more than 3 million lights in 800 displays along 3.1 miles – plus a drive on the 1.5-mile superspeedway. But the drive is only the beginning. The infield Christmas Village includes live actors and animals at a Bethlehem Village, a petting zoo, games and activities in Santa’s Workshop. And on Friday and Saturday nights, you can watch holiday movies on the world’s largest HDTV. Also, the annual Egg Nog Jog 5K takes place Nov. 19.

Nov. 25, 2016 – Jan. 15, 2017, Cary
Returning for the second year, the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival will include more than 20 new displays, each one comprised of hundreds of parts and thousands of LED lights. Also, added this year are cultural performances and artisan crafts. And in what proved to be a fan favorite, the Chinese Dragon on Symphony Lake will return to mesmerize visitors.


Dec. 1 – 26, 2016, McAdenville
In Christmas Town USA, a mill town west of Charlotte, the 375 Christmas trees on view outnumber the households in a celebration that started in 1956 with nine evergreens. From modest (6-foot tree, 500 lights) to dazzling (90-foot tree, 5,000 lights), the displays blaze a trail to the heart of town, where trees ring the lake and reflect their colors. With about 600,000 visitors traveling the two-mile route, be prepared to relax and enjoy a very slow ride, especially on weekends.

Ongoing thru Dec. 23. N.C. Arts Council of Wayne County, Goldsboro. Holiday Art Market. From pottery to jewelry, greeting cards to paintings, clothing to woodwork, it is your one-stop shop for all those special people on your list. Unique and beautiful gifts starting at $2. Shop local and support local artists and the Arts Council. Monday thru Saturday.  Monday through Saturday. Times vary.

Ongoing thru Jan. 8. Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville. Poe House Decorations. Enhance your holiday season with a tour of the 1897 Poe House and its Victorian decorations. Decorated with a big tree in the parlor, long hallways and tall windows decked with greenery with a splash of red berries will give your Christmas spirit a boost. You’ll come to appreciate how people from the 1900s celebrated the traditions that many hold dear today. Tours are available Tuesday through Sunday, hours vary. Free.


Dec. 2, 9. Duke Homestead, Durham. Christmas by Candlelight. Costumed interpreters will lead a candlelit tour through the grounds festooned with period decorations of the 1870s. Enjoy traditional storytelling, hot cider and cookies. In the Third Factory join costumed interpreters for live music and historic dancing. Become a part of Duke Homestead Christmas as you move through the historic home and help decorate a Christmas tree in true Victorian style. Join our carolers with songs. 6:45 p.m. Fee.

Dec. 3-4, 10-11. Chatham Artist’s Guild Studio Tour. The annual Chatham Artist’s Guild Studio Tour features nearly 60 artists working in pottery, drawing, fiber, glass, jewelry, mixed media, metal, painting, photography, silk screening, stone and wood.

Dec. 3-23. Charlotte Ballet’s Nutcracker, Charlotte.  Choreographer Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux is collaborating with a world-renowned design team to re-imagine his Nutcracker production with all new sets and costumes. Complete with live music from the Charlotte Symphony, your holidays are made even more special with the magic of Charlotte Ballet’s Nutcracker! Times vary. Fee.

Dec. 5-6. N.C. Symphony, Raleigh. Handel’s Messiah. Handel’s masterpiece performed with the North Carolina Master Chorale for the much-heralded Hallelujah Chorus. A performance of passion, drama and faith as a perfect lead-in for the holiday. 8 p.m. Fee.


Dec. 8, 9, 10. State Capitol, Raleigh. Tree Lighting and Open House. The governor’s tree-lighting tradition continues! The festivities begin at 5 p.m. with holiday music. The governor and dignitaries will officially begin the ceremony at 6:15. Even Santa is scheduled to appear! The annual holiday open house will begin at 6:30; the public is invited in to see decorations. From Thursday, Dec. 8– Saturday, Dec. 10 (from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.) there will be music in the rotunda, and Saturday, Dec. 10 from 2-4 p.m., the Capitol will again host Santa and children’s storytelling. Free.

Dec. 8, 9, 10. Executive Mansion Open House, Raleigh. The Mansion will open its historic doors for the beloved annual tradition from Thursday, December 8th through Sunday, December 11th. Visitors are invited to tour the home, take in the decorations, and enjoy seasonal music from local groups. The house will be decorated with NC grown Christmas trees and greenery, ornate mantle displays, and floral arrangements. Reservations not required.  Hours vary. Free.

Dec. 9-10. Historic Edenton, Edenton. Candlelight Tour. Festive holiday tours of Edenton reveal with a Dickens theme. Tour the Roanoke Island lighthouse, enjoy wassail at the Cupola Houses and the heavily laden “groaning board” at the Iredell House. Finally, enjoy caroling and echoes in the 1767 Courthouse. 4 p.m. Fee.


Dec. 9 and 10. Horne Creek Historical Farm. Pinnacle. Christmas by Lamplight. Experience a warm, rural turn-of-the-century Christmas. The lamplight lit Hauser Farmhouse will be the scene of caroling, a craft activity and readings of Christmas literature. At the conclusion, a wonderful meal will be served. Reservations are necessary to attend. Seatings are 5 to 6:30 and 6:30 to 8 p.m. Fee.

Dec. 26. Pilot Mountain State Park, Pinnacle. History of the Winter Bird Count/Winter Bird ID. Learn about the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, the country’s longest running citizen science program. Walk through beautiful fallow fields of Pilot Creek while looking and learning about the birds of winter. 1:30 p.m. Free.

North Carolina has festive scenery and light shows as well as fun holiday parades.  Make it a tradition to celebrate the holidays right here in North Carolina.  Celebrate with loved ones and make your own meaningful traditions and fond memories together.  When looking for excellent lodging accommodations, elegant gourmet cooking, and friendly Southern hospitality, look no further than our luxurious North Carolina Bed and Breakfast Inns.