Head to Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough for holiday markets, music, art & craft shows, 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 2023 Holiday Events List to print. Below are highlights of several of our wonderful events to experience in December.

Visit Spring Haven Farm at 5306 Homer Ruffin Road, Chapel Hill for the Winter Wonderland with Goats, Wednesday – Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm through December 31. Find your own freshly cut tree, see the animals, hop on the Polar Express Tractor Train and sip on hot cocoa, letters to Santa and visit Santa. Create one of a kind Christmas Tree Ornaments. Tickets are $13.50 each, kids under 3 are free. Additional cost for ornament making, animal treat bags and s'mores kits.

2023  Deck the Walls Annual Holiday Show featuring works by the Orange County Artists Guild begins with an opening reception December 1 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 23. Tuesday-Saturday, 12-5 pm. 

Home for the Holidays: A Hillsborough Gingerbread Display features Gingerbread scenes in local shop windows in downtown Hillsborough with the theme "Dream Houses" from December 1 – January 1. 

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

Head to Christmas in the Groves December 2, 9 ,10 from 6 - 9 pm with free admission to shop the local vendors market in the Decorated Christmas Barn, visit with Santa, see the Live Nativity Animals, dine at local Food Trucks. Tractor Hayride through the Lighted Christmas Forest $10 per person. Visit The Grinch in the Who-ville Maze Wonderland, write a letter to Santa, make an ornament, make a s’more – all $5 each. Children under five free.  Purchase tickets on website. 3510 NC 86 N. Hillsborough.

Christmas in the Groves
Christmas Barn at Christmas in the Groves

On December 3 head to the 427 West Franklin Street Parking lot to shop at the Westend Holiday Bazaar for handmade crafts and creations from local makers, face painting, fairy hair, and mehndi from Sparkle Body Arts, and enjoy awesome eats and drinks at one of the many phenomenal neighboring restaurants, cafés, and bars, as well as hot Carrboro Coffee Roasters beverages. Noon – 5 pm. Afterwards, attend the Chapel Hill Tree Lighting at University Baptist Church Plaza at 6 pm with the community sing-a-long the Tarpeggios, remarks by leaders, holiday treats and surprises. (Westend Holiday Bazaar moved to December 10 due to inclement weather).

In Hillsborough on December 3, don't miss 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. 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. 

Running with the Elves
Running of the Elves kicks off Hillsborough Parade

The Carolina Inn is celebrating Our Favorite Things again this holiday season. On December December 3, 10 & 17  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

The Youth Center Theater Company’s A Christmas Carol is at 300-G East Main Street, Carrboro. Shows are December 6-10 and 13-17. Times are December 6-9 at 7:30 pm. December 9 at 2 pm, Dec 10 at 3 pm and Dec 13-16 at 7:30pm, Dec 16 at 2 pm and Dec 17 at 3 pm. Prices vary for adult and youth tickets.

Ice Cream is the perfect treat year round. Head to Maple View Ice Cream Country Store, 6900 Rocky Ridge Road, Hillsborough December 7, 15 & 22 to visit Santa and his Friends from the North Pole and enjoy Sundaes with Santa from 2:30 pm – 6:30 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 8 with music at the Carrboro Holiday Tree Lighting at 6 pm at the Carrboro Town Hall, 301 W. Main Street.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, featuring guest vocalist, emerging star, Ashley Pezzotti Big Band Holidays. This uplifting tradition is an ode to the most wonderful time of the year, with original arrangements of seasonal favorites. Memorial Hall, Cameron Ave, UNC Campus. 8 pm on December 9. Tickets $10.75 UNC students, general public from $74.18. 

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
Credit Luigi Beverelli

The Chapel Hill-Holiday Parade is December 9  beginning at 10 am on West Franklin Street near 140 West and ending at the Carrboro Town Hall on Main Street.

Hillsborough on Ice Holiday Show at the Orange County Sportsplex in Hillsborough at 101 Meadowlands Drive is December 15 at 6 pm and December 16 at 10:30 am. Tickets are $15. Call (919) 644-0339.

New this year is Elfland Christmas Festival December 15-16 featuring  Elfland Christmas Village, Santa’s workshop with arts, crafts, children’s and holiday gifts, Hayrides, Interactive holiday scenes from your favorite holiday memories (A Christmas Story, Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch and more for amazing photo opts), Outdoor lights, entertainment, field of Christmas trees and much more. Hosted at The Barn at Lloyds Dairy, 227 North Lloyds Dairy Road, Efland, NC 27243 with the Efland United Methodist Church from 6 pm – 9 pm. $10 per person 13 and older, $5 ages 4-12 and 3 and under free.

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 at 5 pm, will  again feature a Solstice Market with local artists, live music, hot drinks and warm food to be enjoyed before and after the walk. Registration is required. Event is free but there is a suggested donation of $5 per person.

Solstice Lantern Walk in 2022
Solstice Lantern Walk by Yuma Kobayashi

Celebrate Hanukkah Thursday, December 7– Friday, December 15 and Kwanzza Tuesday, December 26 – Monday, January 1.

Header photo  Credit Spring Haven Farm.