20+ Great Things to Do in North Carolina in January (Updated for 2023)

Last Updated on July 18, 2023

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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: Winter in North Carolina

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

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Christmas at Biltmore (Through January 8)

Things to Do in North Carolina in January
Biltmore Estate.

December is the biggest winter month for Christmas and holiday home tours, and two of them keep on moving into early January. Christmas at Biltmore wraps up after another run at America’s Largest Home.

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

Cape Fear Festival of Trees, Kure Beach (Through January 2)

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 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

Hot Cocoa Crawl, Elizabeth City (Through January 15)

Elizabeth City transforms into the “Hot Cocoa Capital of the World” from November 25 through January 15 for their 2nd 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: Eastern North Carolina (and 100+ Awesome Places to Visit)

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 that are wrapping up during the first month of the year.

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)

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

  • Nashville (January 5)
  • New Jersey (January 10)
  • Columbus (January 12)
  • Pittsburgh (January 14)
  • Vancouver (January 15)
  • Minnesota (January 19)
  • San Jose (January 27)
  • Boston (January 29)
  • Los Angeles (January 31)

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 2023 on January 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers at home in Charlotte. Including that first matchup, the Hornets have 6 home games at the Spectrum Center.

  • Los Angeles Lakers (January 2)
  • Memphis (January 4)
  • Boston (January 14)
  • Boston (January 16)
  • Chicago (January 26)
  • Miami (January 29)

Some big names will be coming through Queen City, and you can grab tickets here.

Read More: Things to Do in Charlotte

NCAA Basketball (All Month)

Men’s and Women’s college basketball really starts getting into high gear during the first month of the year. Here are some interesting games between in-state foes in North Carolina on both sides.

Men’s NCAA Division 1 Games in North Carolina

  • Duke at NC State (January 4)
  • Gardner-Webb at Campbell (January 4)
  • UNC-Wilmington at Elon (January 4)
  • UNC-Asheville at High Point (January 4)
  • Wake Forest at UNC-Chapel Hill (January 4)
  • Campbell at UNC-Asheville (January 7)
  • UNC-Wilmington at NC A&T (January 7)
  • NC A&T at Elon (January 11)
  • UNC-Asheville at Gardner-Webb (January 14)
  • Elon at UNC-Wilmington (January 16)
  • NC State at UNC-Chapel Hill (January 21)
  • Campbell at High Point (January 25)
  • High Point at Gardner-Webb (January 28)
  • NC State at Wake Forest (January 28)
  • UNC-Asheville at Campbell (January 28)
  • Wake Forest at Duke (January 31)

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

Women’s NCAA Division 1 Games in North Carolina

  • Campbell at Gardner Webb (January 4)
  • High Point at UNC-Asheville (January 4)
  • Duke at Wake Forest (January 5)
  • UNC-Asheville at Campbell (January 7)
  • Gardner-Webb at UNC-Asheville (January 14)
  • NC State at UNC-Chapel Hill (January 15)
  • Duke at UNC-Chapel Hill (January 19)
  • Elon at UNC-Wilmington (January 20)
  • High Point at Campbell (January 25)
  • Campbell at UNC-Asheville (January 28)
  • Gardner-Webb at High Point (January 28)

Read More: Fun Museums in Greensboro (Kid-Friendly, Contemporary Art, and More!)

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.

First Day Hikes, Statewide (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

Animal Park Tree Toss, Burlington (January 7)

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!)

Toy, Sportscard, Non-Sportscard & Hot Wheels Show, Raleigh (January 7-8)

Presented by Inside Pitch Promotions, vendors of vintage and new sports, toys, and hobby collectibles organize tables at the Raleigh State Fairgrounds for guests to purchase or trade.

Inside Pitch events happen throughout the year, so keep an eye out for the next ones!

Read More: 10 of the Best Museums in Raleigh (Downtown and Beyond)

MLK Day Book Drive & Community Celebration, Durham (January 16)

Book Harvest hosts its 12th annual Dream Big Book Drive and Community Celebration on Martin Luther King Jr. Day from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the historic Golden Belt Campus in Durham.

You can bring donations of new and gently used children’s books (for ages 0 to 18). Donated books will be made 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!)

Astronomy Days, Raleigh (January 28-29)

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!

Read More: Free Things to Do in Raleigh

Winterfest, Blowing Rock (January 27-30)

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

Rare & Vintage Beer Tasting, Durham (January 28)

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?

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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