Things to Do in North Carolina in January

Last Updated on October 5, 2021

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January is a month of new beginnings in North Carolina, where you can slow down and relax after the holiday hustle and bustle. And while our state isn’t nearly as busy this month as November or December, you’ll find there are still plenty of events going on throughout.

With a few holdovers from previous months, here are some things to do in January in North Carolina that will get your year started on the right foot!

As we’ve done with previous monthly roundups, we’ve ordered these January events by starting date and alphabetized by city.

Many of January events are also mentioned in our guide that covers winter things to do in North Carolina.

Things to Do in North Carolina in January 2020

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Christmas and Holiday Home Tours

December was a big month for Christmas and Holiday home tours, and two of them keep on moving into early January. Christmas at Biltmore (through January 4) wraps up after another run as the state’s largest-scale home tour during the holidays.

In Kernersville, Christmas at Korner’s Folly is also open through January 4 and shouldn’t be as crowded as last month, but still packs as much fun!

WinterLights, Manteo (November 30-January 19)

WinterLights in Manteo continues on from November and December. It’s the perfect opportunity for a stroll through the Elizabethan Gardens while enjoying beautiful Christmas lights. Festive trees, warm fires, and lights radiating from every corner make this a must-see event!

Hot tip: If you plan to go more than once, it’s worth buying a Season Pass!

More North Carolina Lights Festivals in January include the following:

KwanzaaFest, Durham (January 1)

We mentioned the seven days of Kwanzaa beginning on December 26 and in Bull City, KwanzaaFest closes things out at Durham Armory. Doors open at noon and the African American Dance Ensemble will begin performing at 2:00 pm.

And if you know of more Kwanzaa festivities that we need to share, please let us know here.

Iceless Skating Rink, Hendersonville (January 1)

Hendersonville’s Iceless Skating Rink ran throughout much of December and continues for one more day on January 1. The synthetic rink will be ready for everyone on New Year’s Day, with a special section set aside for curling.

Grab a bite at one of these great Hendersonville restaurants while you’re in the area, okay?

First Day Hikes, Statewide (January 1)

First Day Hikes in North Carolina Eno River State Park Image
Bridge to Holden Mill Trail at Eno River State Park.

To kick off the new year in nature, all North Carolina State Parks hold a series of First Day Hikes (many guided) throughout the day. Whether you’re out at Gorges, Eno River, or Carolina Beach, this is a wonderful way to start the year!

Folks who can really handle the cold should head to Hanging Rock State Park for a hike and also, for their Polar Plunge.

More info on all First Day Hikes and participating parks can be found here.

Animal Park Tree Toss, Burlington (January 4 and 18)

Have you ever wondered what happens to all those leftover Christmas trees? In Burlington, the trees are donated the Conservators Center Animal Park. Used as special enrichment, the animals enjoy the smells and new textures from the trees at the annual Tree Toss.

Guests are invited to walk around the park to watch the animals enjoy the trees. You’ll also get a chance to create a craft to take home. Tickets do sell out so make sure to buy them in advance!

Inside Pitch Toy Show, Hickory (January 4) & Raleigh (January 18-19)

Presented by Inside Pitch Promotions, the Hickory and Raleigh trade shows take place in January. Vendors of vintage and new sports, toys, and hobby collectibles organize tables for guests to purchase or trade.

Inside Pitch events happen throughout the year in Raleigh, Charlotte, Hickory, and Greensboro, so keep an eye out for the next ones!

Project Zebra Day, Elizabeth City (January 11)

Project Zebra was a top-secret mission that was a part of President Roosevelt’s Lend-lease program bringing 300 Soviet pilots to Elizabeth City.

And on January 11, 1945, when a PBN Nomad warplane crashed into the Pasquotank River. Today, the Museum of the Albemarle commemorates the Candian and four Russian airmen that lost their lives.

Highlights include a reenactment, wreath-laying ceremony, and reception.

Crystal Coast Bridal Fair, Morehead City (January 11)

Calling all brides! The Crystal Coast Bridal Fair is the largest and longest-running coastal bridal event in North Carolina. Vendors, 50-plus wedding professionals, caterers, and fashion shows all to help you plan your perfect day.

Queen’s Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week (January 17-26)

January in North Carolina Charlotte Restaurant Week Image
73 and Main in Mount Pleasant will be participating!

Get your stretchy pants ready and prepare to drop that New Year’s Resolution for Charlotte Restaurant Week! More than 130 of the city’s best restaurants and others in 10 surrounding counties offer exceptional value to encourage eaters to come out!

Note: Make reservations and check individual restaurant pages for their prix fixe menus ranging from $30 to $35 per person.

Battle of Fort Fisher, Kure Beach (January 18-19)

Fort Fisher was the last coastal stronghold of the Confederacy and the battle was the largest amphibious operation of the Civil War. Two battles for the “Gibraltar of the South” eventually led to its fall to the Union.

And in January, NC Historic Sites remembers the second and final battle of Fort Fisher during a two-day family-friendly event.

You’ll learn about tactical battle scenarios with hundreds of uniformed reenactors, enjoy living history demonstrations, artillery firing, and guided tours.

While you’re in the area, check out the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, even if you didn’t bring kids along!

Moonshine Heritage Day, Wilkesboro (January 18)

From 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, Moonshine Heritage Day in Wilkesboro will celebrate the town’s claim to fame as America’s Moonshine Capital. Live music, food trucks, local crafts and more make this a fun event that belongs on your calendar.

Battleship 101, Wilmington (January 18)

January Events in North Carolina Battleship 101 Wilmington NC Image

Head to Wilmington for the monthly Battleship 101 series, which offers detailed explanations of life on the USS North Carolina.

With your admission aboard Battleship North Carolina, as it’s known today, knowledgable volunteers will be stationed around the ship to provide more in-depth information on areas like gunnery, radar, sickbay, galley, and daily shipboard life.

We included a visit to Battleship North Carolina in our guide to family-friendly things to do in Wilmington.

Asheville Fringe Arts Festival (January 19-26)

The Asheville Fringe Arts Festival returns for its 18th edition, with multiple venues hosting performances. You can find remnants of this festival happening in theaters, clubs, and even the LaZoom Bus in Asheville.

Winterfest, Blowing Rock (January 23-26)

Blowing Rock Winterfest features lots of fun events over four days in one of our favorite small towns. There’s a Polar Bear Plunge in Chetola Lake, Winterfeast (15 restaurants in one place), Ice Carving in Memorial Park, and much more that you can learn about here.

North Carolina Jazz Festival, Wilmington (January 23-25)

The North Carolina Jazz Festival celebrates its 40th year with another three days of cool at Hotel Ballast. Featuring different jazz artists every year, the music seemingly never stops.

You won’t want to miss this event if you’re into jazz, as it is the largest of its kind in the Southeast!

Rare & Vintage Beer Tasting, Durham (January 25)

January Events in NC Rare and Vintage Beer Tasting Image

The 9th annual NC Rare & Vintage Beer Tasting celebrates new and exciting flavors in hops, raising over $100,000 to date for Pints for Prostates. Attendees learn about how the 50-55 beers being poured special, while enjoying local eats, too!

Looking for more beer in Bull City? Here are some awesome breweries in Durham for your next pint out!

Astronomy Days, Raleigh (January 25-26)

Raleigh Museum of Natural Sciences1

Get to see the bigger picture at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences during Astronomy Days. During this free event, stations across the museum allow guests to interact, learn and ponder.

Create a rocket, play a Jeopardy-style game from the Raleigh Astronomy Club, and learn about constellations during the out-of-this-world and kid-friendly fun!

This free event would pair nicely with our favorite things to do in Raleigh!

Johnnie Mercers Pier Dogfish Tournament, Wrightsville Beach (January 25)

Watch or join the fun as hundreds of anglers line up on Johnnie Mercers Pier from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm to see who can reel in the biggest dogfish! The top three anglers earn cash prizes and raffle prizes will be presented as well.

WinterFeast, New Bern (January 31)

Come to the North Carolina History Center in New Bern for barbecue, oysters and more low country offerings, and beer during WinterFeast.

Held from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, proceeds from this end-January event go to Tryon Palace and the foundation’s mission to continue preserving North Carolina history for all to enjoy.

WinterFeast ticket info is available here. While you’re in town, these things to do in New Bern will further boost your fun!

Got Something to Add?

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? 

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