The Triangle area celebrates the winter holidays in many ways.  From the outdoor activities that keep Jack Frost nipping at your toes to numerous music and theater performances, there is something for everyone – young and old.  Here are just a few suggestions for anyone leading an active adult lifestyle to enjoy.

Outdoor Activities

The holidays are kicked off in the Triangle with ABC 11 Raleigh Christmas Parade.  The parade starts at 9:40 a.m. on Nov. 18th in downtown Raleigh. The parade is full of classic cars, holiday-themed floats, marching bands and giant helium balloons. Go to the website for details.

The Historic Oak View County Park hosts the Sleigh Rides and Cider event from 5:00-7:30 p.m. on  Dec. 2nd, 5-7:30 p.m.  The activities include horse-drawn carriage rides, hot apple cider, live music, Ol’ Saint Nick, holiday activities, handmade crafts and much more! Check the website for details.

A tractor hayride through a holiday lights extravaganza is what Lights on the Neuse delivers. This event is open on select nights from Nov.24th to Dec. 24th.  The rides take place on the Boyette Family Farm in Clayton, 6:00-9:00 p.m. The evening also offers a sweet shop and a visit with Santa in his sleigh. Check the website for hours and to purchase advance tickets (recommended).

Numerous outdoor activities are available each evening at Hill Ridge Farms’ Festival of Lights in Youngsville Nov. 23-Dec. 31.  A covered wagon hayride through the holiday lights, bonfires, a giant slide, smores/hot chocolate/apple cider, and music are all available.  Times and admission prices vary depending on the day of the week so check the website when planning a visit.

For something completely different see the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival at Booth Amphitheatre in Cary Nov. 24-Jan. 14.  The light displays illuminated by thousands of LED lights are open 6:00-10:00 p.m., Tue-Sun (closed most Mondays).  The festival also features cultural performances and artisans. For the complete schedule and to purchase advance tickets (recommended) check the website.

Christmas at Historic Stagville in Durham on Dec. 2, 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.presents Christmas traditions of enslaved and free people in North Carolina. Starting at 5:00 p.m., tour the houses by lantern light and enjoy a performance in the culture of Jonkonnu, the West African fusion tradition celebrated by enslaved people at Stagville.  Purchase advance tickets (recommended) by calling 919-620-0120. Click here to see the full schedule.

Most towns have tree lighting events, parades, and festivals.  Check the website for your city or one near you for dates and information.

Performing Arts

A classic comes to the stage when the Cary Players present “A Christmas Story” Dec. 1-4 at the Cary Arts Center. Check out the website for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

The classic holiday ballet “The Nutcracker” is scheduled to be performed in several locations by different companies.  Find a performance near you.

Cary Ballet Company Dec. 15-17 at the Cary Arts Center. See website for performance times and to purchase tickets.

Carolina Ballet Dec. 2-3 at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill; Dec. 9-10 at the Durham Performing Arts Center; Dec. 15-24 at Raleigh Memorial auditorium See the websites for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

For a new twist on this classic check out The Durham Performing Arts Center production of “Hip Hop Nutcracker” Nov. 24 at 2 and 7 p.m. For tickets click here.

A classic animated special comes to life with Theatre in the Park’s production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” Dec. 1-10 at Theatre in the Park. See the website for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

Theatre in the Park’s production of “A Christmas Carol” is Dec. 6-10 at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium and Dec. 14-17 at the Durham Performing Arts Center. This original musical comedy adaptation celebrates its 43rd Anniversary this year.  See the website for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

“The Santaland Diaries” is a one-man show reliving an out-of-work, young actor’s brief stint as an elf in Macy’s ‘Santaland.’ Dec 15-24 at Theater in the Park. See the website for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical” will be flying high at Fletcher Theater Nov. 24-Dec. 24. A stage musical with all those songs from the animated holiday special you remember from childhood.  Check website for information and tickets.

A holiday sugar plum production of “Cinderella” is presented by Raleigh Little Theatre Dec. 1-17. See the website for showtimes and to purchase tickets.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra presents “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” in Greensboro (Greensboro Coliseum) on Dec. 10 and Raleigh (PNC Arena) on Dec. 13.  For schedule and tickets go to

There are so many more events.  Check out the website Carolina Parent for a comprehensive list of events.

For a great community for people leading active adult lifestyles, check out The Tapestry, an age-targeted community in Garner, NC.