100+ Things to Do in North Carolina in December (Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and More Events!)

Last Updated on December 1, 2022

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As the end of the year approaches, there are so many things to do in North Carolina in December. It’s when winter begins to set in, but we don’t mind the dropping temperatures with all these warm, festive events that happen throughout our state.

Our first section in this guide is dedicated to Christmas events and more holiday celebrations. After that, we continue with even more things to do in December, rounding out at more than 100 for the month.

There are even a few that members of our Facebook Group and email subscribers mentioned, so thanks for that, friends! And as we’ve done with previous monthly roundups, we’ve grouped each section of December events by starting date and alphabetized by city or town.

To make the more popular types of events more convenient to find, we grouped a few of them together. Here’s how we’ve organized this guide:

  • Christmas Lights Festivals (Tanglewood Festival of Lights near Winston-Salem, Concord’s Speedway Christmas, and More!)
  • Christmas Musicals and Productions
  • Christmas Parades
  • Christmas Tree Lightings
  • Christmas Tree Farms
  • Holiday Home Tours (Biltmore, Korners Folly, and More!)
  • Holiday Train Rides (Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, Tweetsie Christmas, and More!)
  • Christmas Festivals (Christmas Markets and Holiday Markets)
  • New Year’s Eve Events (Runs, Music, and More Celebrations)
  • More Things to Do in North Carolina in December

So with all that out of the way, let’s finish the year strong with a look at the best events during December in North Carolina, with a few that stretch into January.

Read More: Unique Things to Do in North Carolina

Things to Do in North Carolina in December

Note: For those who represent a tourism bureau, destination marketing organization, or PR agency and want placement here, please visit this page for more info.

Throughout this guide, you’ll find events that have carried over from November and some that continue into January.

Note that many December events in NC may decide to cancel or alter times/dates, sometimes at the last minute. Please visit the links we’ve provided and if no link is available, contact local venues to confirm details.

Read More: Christmas in North Carolina (the Best Holiday Events)

Christmas Lights Festivals

Things to Do in North Carolina in December Tanglewood Clemmons NC
Tanglewood.

Speedway Christmas in Concord

2022/2023 Event Dates: November 18, 2022-January 8, 2023
Ticket Info

Things to Do in North Carolina in December Speedway Christmas Charlotte Motor Speedway NC

4 million lights twinkle around the 3.75-mile course that includes the oval and the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas!

You can drive through the track and enjoy the festive lights. Don’t forget to stop by the Christmas Village which includes fire pits for roasting s’mores, vendors selling souvenirs, and more fun!

Read More: Kid-friendly Events in North Carolina

Festival of Lights at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock

2022 Event Dates: November 25-January 29
Event Info

Chetola Resort’s annual Festival of Lights is free and open to the public. You can drive or walk around Chetola Lake, where glittering ice skaters, carolers, and more illuminations await.

Read More: Things to Do in Blowing Rock

Additional Lights Festivals and Events in North Carolina

Most of these lights festivals celebrate Christmas, with one exception, which, as you’ll see, is one of the most unique things to do in North Carolina in December.

NC Chinese Lantern Festival in Cary

2022/2023 Event Dates: November 12, 2022-January 8, 2023
Ticket Info

Things to Do in North Carolina in December

The North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival is the one event that does not directly celebrate Christmas, but it is a beloved annual tradition for the Cary community and beyond.

Read More: Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary

Here are some more lights festivals happening this December in North Carolina.

Read More: Christmas in Fayetteville

Christmas Musicals and Productions

During December in North Carolina, there are plenty of Christmas musicals and productions to keep you occupied. Here are a few traditional favorites, followed by others that you can only find in one place.

The Nutcracker (Starting December 3)

We can think of quite a few places for you to go and get your Nutcracker fix.

Read More: 50+ Awesome Things to Do in Wilmington

Holidays Pops

2022 Event Dates: December 9-11

You’ll have a few chances to catch a Holiday Pops concert in North Carolina. Here are dates and locations for this year’s events:

Read More: The Best Restaurants in Raleigh

A Christmas Carol

2022 Event Start Date: December 10

Versions of “A Christmas Carol” can be found throughout North Carolina in December. One interesting alternative is in Davidson, where the Community Players perform Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some).

Here are more locations in the state where you can watch the more traditional version of the story:

Read More: Christmas in Durham

Additional Christmas Musicals and Productions in North Carolina

Things to Do in North Carolina in December Mikes Farm Ho Ho Christmas Show
Mike’s Farm.

Read More: Great I-95 Exits in North Carolina

Christmas Parades

A few Christmas parades in North Carolina take place in November, including Raleigh on November 19. Most parades, though, will take place in December.

Each one is a wonderful showcase of each city and town that we just can’t pick. Which of these parades should we attend and why?

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Read More: The Mayton in Cary (+ 7 Things We Love About Staying Here!)

*Denotes Christmas Parade held in conjunction with or before a Christmas Tree Lighting.

Read More: 17 Amazing Eno River State Park Trails (+ Bonus Hikes)

Christmas Tree Lightings

Like Christmas parades, some tree lightings in North Carolina take place in November. More than a few take place in conjunction with Christmas parades, typically held afterward.

Here are a few of them:

Read More: 50+ Easy Day Trips from Fayetteville (Great Getaways!)

*Denotes Christmas Tree Lighting held in conjunction with or after a Christmas Parade.

^Denotes Christmas Tree Lighting held in conjunction with a Christmas Festival.

Christmas Tree Farms

Things to Do in North Carolina in December Christmas Tree Farms

Throughout Western North Carolina, you can choose and cut your own Christmas tree. Starting in mid-November, you can find the perfect Christmas Tree to put up for the holidays.

Frosty’s in Ashe County is one popular option, and they open on November 18. Ashe is the largest Christmas tree-producing county in the US and provided the 2021 White House Christmas tree!

Read More: Christmas Tree Farms in North Carolina

Holiday Home Tours

A tour of one of North Carolina’s amazing historic homes and properties is a must during December.

Christmas at Biltmore in Asheville

2022/2023 Event Dates: November 4 to January 8
Ticket Info

Christmas at Biltmore is the state’s largest-scale holiday home tour in North Carolina. Dozens of Christmas trees are decorated with thousands of ornaments, with luminaries joining lit candles and fireplaces.

Christmas at Biltmore Estate Asheville

All of this together keeps your memory glowing long beyond your visit to America’s largest home in Asheville. Just like Christmas at Biltmore, some holiday home tours started in November and run through January.

Of course, the peak visit time happens during this month.

Read More: Things We Love About Biltmore Estate

More Holiday Home Tours

Things to Do in North Carolina in December Korners Folly Kernersville
Korners Folly.

Like Christmas parades and Christmas tree lightings, Holiday home tours also take place in November. Here are some to watch out for during December in North Carolina.

Things to do in Asheboro Linbrook Hall

Read More: Winter Getaways in North Carolina

Holiday Train Rides

Tweetsie Christmas, Blowing Rock (Select Evenings through December 30)

2022 Event Dates: December 1-4, 7-11, 14-18, 20-23, and 26-30
Ticket Info

Tweetsie Christmas continues the fun for visitors to the High Country. Families flock for the nighttime train surrounded by beautiful lights.

Of course, come say hello to Santa, visit his Gingerbread House, and enjoy Tweetsie Railroad‘s winter wonderland.

Read More: Great Things to Do in Blowing Rock

The Polar Express Train Ride in the Smokies in Bryson City

2022 Event Dates: November 10-December 31
Ticket Info

The Polar Express Train Ride brings the holiday magic along the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, taking off from Bryson City!

This 75-minute train ride reenacts the classic winter story, and there’s a rumor that Santa himself makes an appearance!

Read More: The Road to Nowhere in Bryson City

The Polar Express Train Ride in Spencer

2022 Event Dates: December 2-4, 8-11, and 13-23
Ticket Info

You can also take a trip to the North Pole in Spencer at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Take a ride on their Polar Express Train, where you’ll be greeted with hot chocolate, cookies, and Santa himself!

Read More: The Wilmington Railroad Museum

Christmas Festivals (Christmas Markets and Holiday Markets)

Christmas festivals stand out as one of the best things to do in North Carolina in December. Here are some that we’ve found for you to enjoy:

Read More: 13 Amazing Restaurants in Banner Elk and Nearby (+ Where to Drink!)

Read More: Amazing Restaurants in Asheville

Read More: 25 of the Most Amazing Winter Hikes in North Carolina

More Holiday Celebrations

Celebration of Gita Jayanti, Statewide (December 3)

Hindus throughout the world honor the Bhagavad Gita during this celebration, and temples and centers in our state will be doing so, too.

If you know about any in particular that we should mention, please let us know about it here.

Kwanzaa Celebration

2022/2023 Event Dates: December 26-January 1

The seven days of Kwanzaa begin on December 26 and a variety of events throughout the state will celebrate and inform those interested in learning more.

Celebrations can be found throughout the Triangle, in Charlotte, and also in Fayetteville.

If you know of more Kwanzaa festivities, please let us know here.

New Year’s Eve Events in North Carolina (Runs, Music, and More Celebrations)

Things to Do in North Carolina in December Avett Brothers NYE Concert

Ringing in the new year is the last and certainly not least of our favorite things to do in North Carolina in December. Most of these last to midnight and beyond, with a couple of exceptions for those with kids.

Here are the events that you need to plan for:

Read More: How to Reach THE Chimney Rock

Read More: Children’s Museums in North Carolina

More Things to Do in North Carolina in December

If you thought these were the only things to do in North Carolina in December, think again. Here are 20-plus more events in our state to close out the year.

  • Core Sound Christmas & Waterfowl Weekend on Harkers Island (December 2-4)
  • Holiday Ornament Sale in Star (December 2-22, Closed Sundays)
  • ACC Football Championship in Charlotte (December 3)
  • Tribal Museums Day in Cherokee
  • Duck Yuletide Celebration (December 3)
  • Chatham Studio Tour in Pittsboro (December 3-4 and 10-11)
  • NCHSAA Football State Championships (December 9-10)
  • Outer Banks Jingle Jog Christmas Run in Southern Shores (December 10)
  • Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte (December 30)

Core Sound Christmas & Waterfowl Weekend on Harkers Island

2022 Event Dates: December 2 to 4
Event Info

Held every first weekend in December, this Harker’s Island event celebrates local waterfowl art, seafood, educational exhibits, music, and more.

The Core Sound Christmas & Waterfowl Weekend also encourages young people to attend and on Sunday, children under the age of 17 get in for free!

Holiday Ornament Sale in Star

2022 Event Dates: December 2-22 (Closed Sundays)
Event Info

Montgomery County’s finest glass and ceramics makers are at it again, with a Holiday Ornament Sale at STARworks Gallery. 2,500 ornaments will be waiting for you and all who hope to purchase more than a few.

ACC Football Championship in Charlotte

2022 Event Date: December 3
Ticket Info

Things to Do in Charlotte NC in December Bank of America Stadium Image

Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium will again host the ACC Football Championship Game, with a playoff spot on the line as well. We’ll see who makes it to the end, and who will claim the championship title!

Tribal Museums Day in Cherokee

2022 Event Date: December 3
Event Info

Museum of the Cherokee Indian Cherokee NC End of Trail of Tears

The Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee will join tribal museums and cultural centers throughout Indian Country for the very first Tribal Museums Day, an event organized by the Association on American Indian Affairs.

Free admission to the Museum will be offered to visitors during regular hours of 9:00 am-5:00 pm. Don’t forget to support Native artists this holiday season (and beyond) in the Museum Store when you visit.

Read More: How to Enjoy Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort (15 Tips)

Duck Yuletide Celebration

2022 Event Date: December 3
Event Info

If you’re enjoying the off-season on the Outer Banks, head up to Duck for their Yuletide Celebration. The fun includes an “Elf Passport,” treats provided by local businesses, music, caroling, and much more.

Read More: The Best Things to Do in the Outer Banks

Chatham Studio Tour in Pittsboro

2022 Event Dates: December 3-4 and 10-11
Event Info

Chatham County’s artists are opening up their studios for the 30th annual studio tour, hosted by the Chatham Artists Guild. 55 local artists will be appearing at 39 studios, so you’ve got your work cut out for you if you want to see them all.

NCHSAA Football State Championships

2022 Event Dates: December 9-10
Event Info

December closes out the high school football season with final matchups held at stadiums in various cities throughout the state. Teams will play for the chance to win one of the eight football state champions.

With North Carolina’s reputation for producing pro talent, this is a great chance to see some future greats right before they make the jump to their respective college teams.

Outer Banks Jingle Jog Christmas Run in Southern Shores

2022 Event Date: December 10
Event Info

Choose between a 10k loop, an Out-and-Back 5k, Jingle Jog 1 mile, or Little Elf 1/4-mile during your morning Outer Banks Jingle Jog Christmas Run.

Read More: The Best Outer Banks Restaurants

Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte

2022 Event Date: December 30
Ticket Info

Duke’s Mayo Bowl returns to Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, as the SEC and ACC do battle on December 30. Events surrounding this college football game include the Fan Central Party the night before and the concert the day of the big game!

Read More: The Best Restaurants in Charlotte

Ready for these Fun Things to Do in North Carolina in December?

December in North Carolina is a wonderful and busy time for everyone. We look forward to enjoying these Christmas and holiday events while searching for more to share with you. 

Before looking ahead to our future adventures, we’d love to know what’s on your mind. Which of these things to do in North Carolina in December will you be attending?

Also, what events do you think we should add to this list? 

More Events (Beyond Things to Do in North Carolina in December)

3 thoughts on “100+ Things to Do in North Carolina in December (Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and More Events!)”

  1. Would have been nice to mention a Hanukkah event as well! There are over 20,000 Jewish people in Charlotte and approximately 10,000 in Raleigh as well as other towns and cities!

    Reply
    • Hi! We’ve tried to be inclusive for all holidays but haven’t had much luck finding Hanukkah events in North Carolina. If you know of some that we might have missed please do let us know and we will happily include it in this article.

      Reply
      • There may not have been any hanukkah events due to covid but next year, contact Chabad locations throughout NC – they usually have public events. Also JCC’s (Jewish Community Centers) have public events.

        Reply

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