Celebrate the season’s holiday events in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough, NC. It’s the perfect time for family and friends to experience holiday markets, music, art & craft shows, meet & great Santa, parades, tree lightings, gingerbread house displays, ice skating shows and see the glow of lighted lanterns on the first day of winter. Celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanzaa as well.

With so many events happening this season, too many to list here, we’ve created a list to print.  Below are highlights of fifteen of our wonderful events to experience in December.

Every Thursday and Friday 6 pm – 9 pm and Saturday 4 pm – 9 pm until December 24, head to Christmas in the Groves to shop the local vendors market in the Decorated Christmas Barn, visit with Santa, see the Live Nativity Animals, take a Carriage Ride and dine at local Food Trucks. The Grinch will take Santa’s place on December 3, December 16-17 and December 24. General Admission $10 includes the Nativity with Animals, Writing a Letter to Santa, Making a Christmas Ornament, and Visiting Santa. Horse carriage rides through the lighted Christmas Forest, available from 6 – 9 pm at $15 per person. Carriage holds up to 6 people per ride, select time slot when purchasing ride ticket. 3510 NC 86 N. Hillsborough. 

Visit Spring Haven Farm at 5306 Homer Ruffin Road, Chapel Hill for the Winter Wonderland with Goats, Wednesday – Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm through December 23. Find your own freshly cut tree, see the animals, hop on the Polar Express Tractor Train and sip on hot cocoa. Create one of a kind Christmas Tree Ornaments at Santa’s Workshop. Tickets are $13.50 each, kids under 3 are free. Additional cost for ornament making and animal treat bags. 

2022 Holiday Blog Wonderland with Goats
Credit Spring Haven Farm

2022 Deck the Walls Annual Holiday Show featuring works by the Orange County Artists Guild begins with an opening reception December 2 from 6-9 pm at the Eno Arts Mill Gallery at 437 Dimmocks Mill Rd., Hillsborough with music, food trucks, mead, local brews and kid’s activities. See exhibit through December 28 Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5 pm. 

Home for the Holidays: A Hillsborough Gingerbread Tradition features Gingerbread scenes in local shop windows in downtown Hillsborough from December 2 – January 1. Learn more from the Hillsborough Arts Council. 

2022 Holiday Blog Gingerbread House in Hillsborough
Alexander Dickson House Gingerbread House credit VisitHillsboroughNC

National Endowment for the Arts “Jazz Master” and five-time Grammy Award-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves and emerging 22-year-old vocalist Samara Joy, winner of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, join the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra for a Big Band Holidays Concert at UNC’s Memorial Hall, 8 pm on December 2. Tickets $10-$124.

2022 Holiday Blog Dianne Reeves
Dianne Reeves by Jerris Madison

Kick off December with the return of the parade and tree lighting in downtown Chapel Hill. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Community Parade is December 3 from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm beginning on West Franklin Street near 140 West and ending at the Carrboro Town Hall on Main Street. Head back downtown on Sunday, December 4 for the Chapel Hill Tree Lighting at University Baptist Church Plaza at 6 pm. Music by The Tarpeggios. 

Southern Village’s Miracle on Market Street on the Village Green offers the popular Polar Express movie, hot chocolate, holiday music, tree lighting and Santa Claus on December 3 at 6 pm.

The Carolina Inn is celebrating Our Favorite Things this holiday season. On December 4 & 18 from Noon – 4 pm, shop The Carolina Inn’s Holiday Market for handcrafted gifts including chocolates, jewelry, ornaments and more from vendors from all over the state on the Inn’s Front Porch. Under a tent in the Anne Hill Courtyard enjoy the Bier Garten and sip craft beers, mulled wine and signature cocktails while feasting on sweets and treats.

2022 Holiday Blog Carolina Inn Holiday Market
Holiday Market at The Carolina Inn by Chapel Hill Magazine

End the day on December 4 at the Light up the Night Hillsborough Holiday Parade beginning at 4 pm. The downtown parade will travel south on Churton Street from Corbin Street to Margaret Lane, and end at the intersection of Margaret Lane and Cameron Street. Former UNC Basketball Great Phil Ford is the Grand Marshall. Lighting of the Tree and Community Sing immediately following the parade on the Old Courthouse Lawn and the fun Running of the Elves is right before the parade.

2022 Holiday Blog image Hillsborough Tree Lighting
Hillsborough Tree Lighting by VisitHillsboroughNC

Ice Cream is the perfect treat year round. Head to Maple View Ice Cream Country Store, 6900 Rocky Ridge Road, Hillsborough December 8, 16 & 22 to visit Santa and his Friends from the North Pole and enjoy Sundaes with Santa from 2:45 pm – 7:30 pm. Maple View is also collecting diapers, baby wipes, pull-ups, gift cards for Sam’s Wish Find at Kids Path of Hospice.

All are invited to join members of the Town Council along with local schoolchildren to kick off the season December 9 with music at the Carrboro Holiday Tree Lighting at 6 pm at the Carrboro Town Hall, 301 W. Main Street.

This traditional Holiday Circle Show is back  including all your favorite Circle musicians December 9 at The ArtsCenter, 300-G East Main Street, Carrboro at 8 pm. Tickets $25.

2022 Holiday Blog Holiday Circle Show
Holiday Circle Show from ArtsCenter

Nutcracker on Ice at the Orange County Sportsplex in Hillsborough at 101 Meadowlands Drive is December 16 at 6 pm and December 17 at 11 am. Tickets are $15. Call (919) 644-0339.

Each December, the Winter Solstice on December 21 marks the beginning of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere, and the longest night of the year. Individuals are asked to bring a handmade lantern that lights up the night, to guide all of us along the walk. Participants will gather at the Eno River Farmer’s Market Pavilion at 144 E. Margaret Lane and be led on a procession through River Park, to the River Walk, and ending back in downtown Hillsborough.​ This year the Solstice Lantern Walk  from 4:30 pm - 7 pm will feature more local artists, live music, hot drinks and warm food to be enjoyed before and after the walk at the first event Solstice Market. Registration is required to participate. Viewing the walk is free but there is a suggested donation of $5 per person.

2022 Holiday Blog Solstice Lantern Walk
Solstice Lantern Walk by Donn Young

Celebrate Hannukkah Sunday, December 18 – Monday, December 26 and Kwanzza Monday, December 26 – Sunday, January 1.

Header photo Chapel Hill-Carrboro Holiday Parade by CHOCVB