Raleigh, N.C.'s FREE Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest celebration kicks off the holiday season with Mayor Nancy MacFarlane's official tree lighting ceremony at 7pm this Sat., Dec. 5. Festivities run from 3-10pm with the outdoor ice rink opening at 11am that day.

And here are the top five reasons why this year's Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest will be best one yet:

1. Rare hometown performance by Raleigh's own American Aquarium.

Alternative country rock band American Aquarium will take the stage directly after the mayor's tree lighting ceremony. Don't miss this FREE show.
American Aquarium

2. Pho Nomenal Dumplings, winner of the Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race, will be serving delicious eats on site.
Pho Nomenal Dumplings

3. Indoor storytelling + gingerbread house contest.

Take a trip to the Wake County Express Library on Fayetteville St. to vote for your three favorite gingerbread houses on display. Librarian Miss Susie invites families to her gingerbread character story times at 4pm and 6pm.
Gingerbread house

4. New rides and games.

Attendees of all ages will enjoy the NEW giant super slide! Try your luck at fair games and Food Lion cart racing too.
Winterfest in Raleigh NC

5. Perfect winter weather.

This Saturday's forecast calls for sun and temperatures in the mid-50s! Bring your mittens for the perfect winter day.
Winter weather

Click here for more details about the event.

The Ipreo Ice Rink is open now through Jan. 31, 2016.

Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest photos (tree, gingerbread, Fayetteville St. and ice rink) by Carolyn Scott Photography.