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

Last Updated on January 27, 2022

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While closing out the year, there are so many things to do in North Carolina in December. It’s when winter really sets in but with all these warm, festive events happening throughout our state, I can take my mind off those dropping temperatures.

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
  • 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 that some 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.

Christmas Lights Festivals

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

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

Festival of Lights at Chetola Resort, Blowing Rock (November 26 to January 31)

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

Speedway Christmas, Concord (November 19 to January 16)

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

Additional Lights Festivals and Events in North Carolina

Most of these lights festivals commemorate 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, Cary

Things to Do in North Carolina in December

Read More: Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary

Read More: Christmas in Fayetteville

Christmas Musicals and Productions, Various

During December in North Carolina, there are plenty of Christmas musicals and productions to keep you busy. 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 a few places for you to go and get your Nutcracker fix.

A Christmas Carol (Starting 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

Holidays Pops (December 9 to 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

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.

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Christmas Parades

A few Christmas parades in North Carolina take place in November, including Raleigh on November 20. 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?

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

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

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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:

*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 19. Ashe is the largest Christmas tree-producing county in the US and the source of 2021’s 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, Asheville (November 5 to January 9)

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)

Dates: December 3 to 4, 10 to 11, 17 to 23, and 26 to 30

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

Of course, they’ll be there to say “Hello” to Santa and his Gingerbread House, and enjoy more fun, too!

Read More: Great Things to Do in Blowing Rock

The Polar Express Train Ride in the Smokies, Bryson City (November 12 to January 1)

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 story and there’s talk that Santa himself makes an appearance!

Read More: The Road to Nowhere in Bryson City

The Polar Express Train Ride, Spencer (Select Dates Through December 23

Dates: December 3 to 5, 9 to 12, and 14 to 23

You can also take a trip to the North Pole in Spencer at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. During their three-day Polar Express Train event, hot chocolate, cookies, and Santa will be around to greet kids and families who are lucky enough to snag a ticket.

Read More: The Wilmington Railroad Museum

Christmas Festivals (Christmas Markets and Holiday Markets)

Christmas Events in NC Millstone Creek Orchards Randolph County Image
Grab an apple cider donut at Millstone Creek while you’re there!

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:

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

More Holiday Celebrations

Celebration of Gita Jayanti, Statewide (December 14)

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, Statewide (December 26 to 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:

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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, Harkers Island (December 3 to 5)

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!

ACC Football Championship, Charlotte (December 4)

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. I’m in no way biased, but I do have two eyes. That’s why I think Clemson will win against whoever shows up against them.

Chatham Studio Tour, Pittsboro (December 4 to 5 and 11 to 12)

Chatham County’s artists are opening up their studios during a series of tours hosted by the Chatham Artists Guild. 54 local artists will be appearing at 41 studios, so you’ve got your work cut out for you if you want to see them all.

Holiday Ornament Sale, Star (December 4 to 18)

Closed Sundays

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.

Duck Yuletide Celebration, Duck (December 7)

If you’re enjoying 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

NCHSAA Football State Championships, Various (December 10 to 11)

On December 10 and 11, eight high school football state champions will be determined through final matchups held at stadiums in various cities.

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, Southern Shores (December 18)

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, Charlotte (December 30)

The Duke’s May 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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