18 Raleigh NC Things to do this Winter

Raleigh is a Southern metropolis climbing the ranks for quality of life. One reason its booming as a place to live and visit? The city offers so much to inspire, invigorate, or entertain you. This list of 18 Raleigh NC things to do can help you plan for fun with family and friends, no matter whether “the weather outside is frightful” or not.

Now that we’re stuffed with turkey, we’ve started to think about what to do in Raleigh NC for the holiday season. We’ve got 10 fun things for you to think about. Then, we offer 8 suggestions for a great way to enjoy the winter into the New Year too.

Holiday Things to do in Raleigh NC

There are many holiday things to do in Raleigh NC. If you want to enjoy some of the city’s historic architecture, check out The Holiday Open House at the North Carolina Executive Mansion. This Samuel Sloan designed mansion, completed in 1891, is decorated for the holidays and features N.C.-grown Christmas trees and floral displays in addition to its year-round collection of 18th- and 19th-century art and furnishings. Dec 12 – 15.

The State Capitol Tree Lighting Ceremony is Dec. 12. After the local choral groups sing their seasonal show and the tree is lit, you can tour the Capital building decked out in garland and wreaths.

For another taste of Raleigh history, and one of the city’s beautiful neighborhoods, plan to attend the Dec 14-15 candlelight tour of historic Oakwood. About a dozen of these 18th- and 19th-century homes are open to the public with docents offering stories about the Victorian architecture.

Raleigh is also a cultural city. You might take the family to see Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical, based on the beloved TV special. Kids are sure to enjoy seeing Rudolph, Hermey. Yukon Cornelius, and Santa and Mrs. Clause onstage at the Duke Energy Center, through Dec. 24.

If they’re more interested in seeing Clara and her Nutcracker and the Mouse King come to life, you can enjoy Carolina Ballet’s The Nutcracker at Duke Energy Center Dec. 18 -29.

Or try the North Carolina Symphony. They have a busy month performing Handel’s Messiah Dec 6-7, Holiday Pops Dec 13-14 and ending off the year with New Year’s Eve: Vienna With a Twist on Dec 31.

For a gospel music experience, enjoy The Justice Theatre Projects performance of Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity. The Dec 15 – 17 performances are made memorable by the show’s more than 70 singers, dancers and musicians.

Theatre in the Park presents A Christmas Carol from Dec. 11 – 15. This musical comedy is in its 45th year.

Note: The Holiday Express at Pullen Park is wildly popular. Tickets sell out when they go onsite in mid-July. So, we’re mentioning this miniature train ride through the park for you to put a reminder in your phone now!

If you’re thinking ahead to New Year’s Eve, the biggest Raleigh celebration is the WRAL First Night Raleigh 2020. The city center is filled all day with crowds enjoying live music and entertainment across 35 venues. All while looking forward to a giant copper acorn dropping at midnight. Why an acorn? It’s a tribute to Raleigh’s being the City of Oaks.

Things to Do in Raleigh Throughout Winter

North Carolina’s Chinese Lantern Festival is a not-to-be-missed event. Outside of Raleigh in nearby Cary’s Koa Booth Amphitheatre, this fifth annual festival features more than 20 larger-than-life lanterns made up of thousands of LED lights. When you’re not taking spectacular selfies with these gorgeous displays, you can take in traditional Chinese dancing, acrobatics, drum performances and martial arts performances.

You don’t have to be feeling Christmas cheer to find fun things to do in Raleigh NC. This city is a hockey town, so you can find ice skating year round. City Plaza is a natural outdoor skating rink open to the public through the end of January. On Friday nights there’s even a live DJ. If you want to skate inside, check out the Raleigh Ice Plex or Polar Ice House.

The downtown skating is only one part of Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest. You can also enjoy carnival rides, a Beer and Wine Garden, live music and more through January 31.

If you want to get in on the hockey action, you can enjoy amateur or professional sticks in Raleigh. The Carolina Hurricanes take to the ice at PNC Arena. With the Pick Three Holiday Plan you can get good prices to tickets for home games in January and February.

Or be a little warmer at the North Carolina Museum of History. In January it hosts its annual African American Cultural Celebration bringing together storytellers, dancers, chefs, historians, musicians and more for a kickoff of Black History Month. Admission is free!

To get warmer still, and maybe a little fuzzy, you could also take the Raleigh Beer Trail. You can download a map of the 30+ breweries, get stamps, and win prizes.

Because we don’t want you to go hungry while exploring all these things to do in Raleigh, some restaurants to look into include:

  • Clyde Cooper’s BBQ, first established in 1938
  • Brewery Bhavana, which was named a Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit in 2017
  • Poole’s Diner, a retro-chic Southern diner
  • Boxcar Bar + Arcade, where you can play air hockey, pinball and Mario Kart and eat
  • Jose and Sone, for Mexican comfort food

Or just enjoy a sweet snack at Videri Chocolate Factory. Take a self-guided factory tour then visit the chocolate counter to purchase hot chocolate, cocoa tea, chocolate bars and more.

Now that you’re so aware of what to do in Raleigh, the only question that remains is what you will you do first?

When you’re living in Raleigh, you’ll have months to decide. McNeill Burbank has homes for sale in Briar Chapel in Chapel Hill, Trinity Creek in Holly Springs and 751 South in Durham. We also build new homes in select infill locations inside the beltline in Raleigh.

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