During the holiday season, the Raleigh area is aglow with light displays, tree lightings and other seasonal presentations. These are some of the best places for Christmas and other holiday pageantry:


North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival

Nov. 24, 2017-Jan. 14, 2018
Be amazed as the town of Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre is transformed into a magnificent setting when the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival returns this holiday season. Enjoy holiday treats and drinks as you walk through more than 20 stunning, silk light displays and lanterns that have been featured throughout the world. The spectacular Chinese Dragon on Symphony Lake will return this year to mesmerize visitors, and a new feature will be the addition of cultural performances and artisan crafts. Performances will include traditional Chinese dance, foot juggling and vase juggling and Wushu/Kung Fu.

North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival


Downtown Raleigh Tree Lighting Celebration

Dec. 2
This year's Downtown Raleigh Tree Lighting Celebration, presented by Sheraton Raleigh Hotel, features a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, live entertainment, a 40-foot Snowzilla Slide, other amusements and activities, holiday refreshments, a Gingerbread House contest and more. The fun culminates with the Mayor's lighting of the 35-foot spruce tree.

Annual North Hills Tree Lighting Celebration

Nov. 18
North Hills hosts an Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration, located in The Commons of North Hills. This beloved holiday event features snow slopes, trackless train rides, kids crafts and activities, a bounce house and a vendor village. Stick around for a visit from Santa Claus at 6pm and watch the majestic 41-foot Christmas tree light up amidst a joyous chorus of "Santa Clause Is Coming to Town."

North Hills Tree Lighting Celebration


46th Annual Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour

Dec. 9-10
Take a walk through history this holiday season as homeowners in the Historic Oakwood neighborhood open up their homes to visitors during the 46th Annual Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour. The only intact 19th-century neighborhood in Raleigh, Historic Oakwood offers this annual opportunity to tour the interior of some of these homes. Homes are staffed with docents to enlighten you on the rich history of each property as you take in the beautiful candlelight and holiday displays.

State Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony

Dec. 6
Presented by Governor Roy Cooper and First Lady Kristin Cooper, the State Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony is set for Wed., Dec. 6, 5-7:30pm. Join in on the holiday festivities in front of the North Carolina State Capitol with activities for the whole family and live music. Museums in the area will also be remaining open for extended hours.

North Carolina State Capitol


Local Tree Lightings

For that small town, holiday feel, join one of the following towns for a local tree lighting ceremony:


Lake Myra Christmas Lights 

Nov. 22-Dec. 31
This spectacular, drive-in style light show, featuring more than 400,000 total lights synced to holiday music, was created by the Williams family of Wendell, who painstaking design and assemble the glowing (and growing) event each year. Visitors park (or stand) and watch the show—which typically runs between 30 and 45 minutes depending on the year—from the viewing area in front of the display. Admission is free and donations accepted. Join in on the fun seven days a week from Nov. 22 through the end of the year at 10 S. Cypress St. in Wendell.

Lake Myra Christmas Lights


Waverly Place Tree Lighting

Nov. 17
Join Cary’s Waverly Place for dinner and socializing, plus get into the spirit of the holiday season as DJ Gary Gibson spins holiday tunes at the Waverly Place Tree Lighting on Fri., Nov. 17. Enjoy mingling with strolling holiday characters as well as Santa’s elves as they hand out candy and stickers for children.

Park West Village's Winter Wonderland

Nov. 17-19
Share the excitement of the fast approaching holiday season with Park West Village's Winter Wonderland during the weekend of Nov. 17. Bring the family for storytime with Santa, fun train rides and live music. The Magical Winter Lights show is back this year featuring a colorful holiday light display all weekend long at Park West 14 Cinemas, where a 3D projection and mapping system will bring the walls of the theatre to life with animation set to holiday music.

Piper Lights

Nov. 24-Dec. 31
Drive through the festive Piper Lights for a display that connects yards and crosses a pond (creating beautiful reflections). Ride the train and visit the candy store for hot chocolate, popcorn and old-fashioned candy treats. You might even see Santa! Admission is free and donations are accepted. Enjoy this year’s light display at 5725 Fixit Shop Rd., Wake Forest.

Some neighborhoods are known for their cumulative effort and fantastic holiday spirit—Raleigh subdivisions; the historic district of Wake Forest; and Planter's Walk in Knightdale, for example. Check out this map of many the hot spots in the area created by Wake Forest Commissioner Jim Thompson and shared via social media. (Map updated in 2016.)