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20+ Great Things to Do in North Carolina in January (Updated for 2024)

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on February 29, 2024.

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These things to do in North Carolina in January will get your year started on the right foot! Our guide shares the best events during our coldest winter month.

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 as November or December, you’ll find there are still plenty of events going on throughout.

Because there are holdovers from Christmas, exciting sports events, and more fun going on, we’ve organized this post into the following sections:

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

Read More: The NC Tripping Events Calendar

Things to Do in North Carolina in January (Christmas and Holiday Celebrations)

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Cape Fear Festival of Trees at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher

2024 Event Dates: Through January 2, 2024
Event Info

Things to Do in North Carolina in January Cape Fear Festival of Trees NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher

The North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher becomes an enchanted winter wonderland under the sea during the Cape Fear Festival of Trees.

The event features aquarium exhibits from streams, oceans, reefs, and coastlines serving as the backdrop for festive Christmas trees. Enjoy a seasonal experience at this year-round attraction.

Read More: Things to Do with Kids in Wilmington

Christmas at Biltmore in Asheville

2024 Event Dates: Through January 7, 2024
Event Info

Things to Do in North Carolina in January
Biltmore Estate.

December is the biggest winter month for Christmas and holiday home tours, but Christmas at Biltmore is also one of the best things to do in Asheville in January.

The massive event wraps up after another run at America’s Largest Home and we are sad to see it go. Of course, there are only 10 more months until the next one!

Read More: 80+ Great Things to Do in Asheville (The Asheville Bucket List)

Hot Cocoa Crawl in Elizabeth City

2024 Event Dates: Through January 15, 2024
Event Info

Elizabeth City transforms into the “Hot Cocoa Capital of the World” for its annual Hot Cocoa Crawl.

More than 30 local businesses create a trail of hot chocolate treats and cocoa-inspired experiences to savor. It’s the perfect event for the whole family.

Read More: 10+ Great Places to Visit in Camden County NC

More Christmas Lights Festivals

Things to Do in North Carolina in January Speedway Christmas Charlotte Motor Speedway NC
Speedway Christmas.

Those are not the only flashy things to do in North Carolina in January. Here are more holiday lights festivals wrapping up during the year’s first month.

Read More: Unique Things to Do in North Carolina (The NC Bucket List)

Things to Do in North Carolina in January (Winter Sports)

Winter sports are on full display during January in North Carolina. We start with the hardest-hitting teams in the business.

Hockey (All Month)

Things to Do in Raleigh NC Carolina Hurricanes Game

Seeing the Carolina Hurricanes is one of the best things to do in Raleigh. Here’s how their home schedule looks in January 2024:

  • St. Louis Blues (January 6)
  • Anaheim Ducks (January 11)
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (January 13)
  • Los Angeles Kings (January 15)
  • Detroit Red Wings (January 19)
  • Minnesota Wild (January 21)
  • New Jersey Devils (January 25)
  • Arizona Coyotes (January 27)

Carolina Hurricanes Ticket Info

Minor League Hockey will also be in full swing in January and throughout the winter months. Keep an eye out for these teams’ home games this January:

Read More: Things to Do in Fayetteville

NBA Basketball (All Month)

Not to be overshadowed by the NCAAs, watching NBA basketball’s Charlotte Hornets is one of the best things to do in North Carolina in January.

The Hornets will kick off 2024 with home games at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte throughout January.

  • Chicago Bulls (January 8)
  • Sacramento Kings (January 10)
  • San Antonio Spurs (January 19)
  • Philadelphia 76ers (January 20)
  • Houston Rockets (January 26)
  • Utah Jazz (January 27)
  • New York Knicks (January 29)
  • Chicago Bulls (January 31)

Charlotte Hornets Ticket Info

NCAA Basketball (All Month)

Spring in North Carolina College Basketball Duke

If you know North Carolina, then you know that Men’s and Women’s college basketball starts getting into high gear with conference play during the first month of the year.

  • American Athletic Conference (AAC)
    • Charlotte 49ers
    • East Carolina Pirates
  • Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
    • Duke Blue Devils
    • NC State Wolfpack
    • UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heels
    • Wake Forest Demon Deacons
  • Atlantic Sun Conference (ASun)
    • Queens Royals
  • Atlantic 10 Conference
    • Davidson Wildcats
  • Big South Conference
    • Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs
    • High Point Panthers
    • UNC-Asheville Bulldogs
  • Coastal Athletic Association (CAA)
    • Campbell Fighting Camels
    • Elon Phoenix
    • North Carolina A&T Aggies
    • UNC-Wilmington Seahawks
  • Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC)
    • North Carolina Central Eagles
  • Southern Conference
    • UNC-Greensboro Spartans
    • Western Carolina Catamounts
  • Sun Belt Conference
    • Appalachian State Mountaineers

There are always some interesting conference games during January between in-state foes in North Carolina on both sides. UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State, Duke, and Wake Forest are the largest universities with intense rivalries.

We typically use Ticketmaster.com to buy tickets to basketball games in NC.

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

More Things to Do in North Carolina in January

Here are more things to do in North Carolina in January that aren’t related to Christmas, the holidays, or sports.

Statewide First Day Hikes (January 1)

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 in Western North Carolina near Chimney Rock State Park (and Chimney Rock Village), nearby South Mountains State Park (home to High Shoals Falls), or at Carolina Beach State Park near Wilmington, there’s a hiking trail for you.

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

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

MLK Day Book Drive & Community Celebration in Durham

2024 Event Dates: January 15, 2024
Event Info

Book Harvest hosts its annual Dream Big Book Drive and Community Celebration on Martin Luther King Jr. Day from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 pm at the historic Golden Belt Campus in Durham.

You can donate new and gently used children’s books (for ages 0 to 18). Donated books will be available to families in Durham and beyond through Book Harvest’s many programs.

The organization provides books and literacy support to children starting at birth.

Read More: Independent Bookstores in North Carolina (25+ of the Best!)

Animal Park Tree Toss in Burlington

2024 Event Dates: January 20, 2024
Event Info

Have you ever wondered what happens to all those leftover Christmas trees? In Burlington, many trees are donated to the Conservator 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!

Read more: 30+ Awesome Things to Do in Greensboro (Truly Unique Places!)

Blowing Rock Winterfest

2024 Event Dates: January 25-28, 2024
Event Info

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.

Read More: Things to Do in Blowing Rock

NC Rare & Vintage Beer Tasting in Durham (January 28)

2024 Event Date: Saturday, January 27, 2024
Event Info

January Events in NC Rare and Vintage Beer Tasting Image

The annual NC Rare & Vintage Beer Tasting celebrates new and exciting flavors in hops. Attendees learn about the 50 to 55 beers being poured, while enjoying local eats, too!

This event will raise funds and awareness for The Michael James Jackson Foundation for Brewing & Distilling.

Read More: Craft Breweries in Durham: The Go-To Guide for a Bull City Pint

Ready for These Things to Do in North Carolina in January?

January 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 North Carolina things to do in January will you attend?

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

Note: If you’re reaching out on behalf of a business, PR agency, or DMO, please visit this page.

More Things to Do in North Carolina in January (and Beyond)

We’ve featured these North Carolina things to do in January in many of our NC Travel Guides. Here are a few of them.

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