Annual Events

The holidays are here and there's plenty going on in the communities of Orange County, NC. Spend the weekend in Chapel Hill or Carrboro for the 12th Annual Carrboro Festival - weekend passes available. Several art markets featuring local artists are held in early December just in time for holiday shopping. The forecast calls for snow this year every Saturday during December as part of The Carolina Inn's annual 12 Days of Christmas now in its 20th year. Lights, lights and more lights - what can we say other than we love lights! Scroll down and plan your visit around these major events today!



Copy of Culpture in the Garden 2017

Through December 10.  Sculpture in the Garden.  Exhibit on display up to two months.  North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill. Annual display of nearly 50 one-of-a kind sculptures placed amid the native wildflowers and shrubs to delight garden visitors.  (919) 962-0522. 

November 11-December 30: The Longest Night: A Winter's Tale is a one-of-a-kind fulldome planetarium show that captures its audience with a timeless fable of courage, generosity and renewal. Its story explores the concept that winter is a time for Earth to rest, waiting for new growth in the spring. Morehead collaborated with Paperhand Puppet Intervention to develop the story and visuals. Visit website for show days, times and cost. Morehead Planetaiurm & Science Center, 250 E. Franklin St, Chapel Hill (919) 962-1236.

November 25 - December 10: Hayrides with Santa at the Maple View Agricultural Educational Center at 3501 Dairyland Road in the Hillsborough countryside. Rides are Nov 25-26, Dec 2-3; Dec 8-10.  Times available are 5:30 pm, 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm. Reservations are required so call (919) 942-6122.  Enjoy holiday story time, the scenic view of Maple View Farm in holiday lights, time with Santa, and milk and cookies for the children. or


November 4-5 & 11-12. 23rd Annual Orange County Open Studio Tour.   Orange County; Over 70 artists invite you into their studios to see where and how they work.  Sponsor: Orange County Artists Guild (919) 933-7880.  First two weekends in November.

November 14. Ladies Night Out. 6 pm – 9:30 pm. Hillsborough Merchants present: Ladies Night Out: Hats & Wraps!  Grab your friends and head to beautiful Hillsborough, NC. TREAT YOURSELF with wine, snacks, shopping, and fun. The theme is hats and wraps, so adorn your favorite and away you go. Check in will be at The Wine Company and the first 250 ladies get a free gift!

Carrboro Film Festival

November 18-19. 12th Annual Carrboro Film Festival.  Two-day festival with workshop, films and free after party. Anticipate about 45 films.  Festival at The ArtsCenter.  Saturday, Nov. 18 – 11 am – 6 pm & Sunday, Nov. 19 – 11 am – 7 pm.  Tickets are $15.00 for a 1-Day, All-Day Festival Pass (either All-Day Saturday OR All-Day Sunday), and $20.00 for a 2-Day, All-Weekend Festival Pass. Kids 12 and under are FREE all weekend long, and do not require a ticket for entry.   

November 25.  Storytelling Event: Home for the Holidays in Hillsborough. Please join the Orange County Historical Museum for an evening of holiday storytelling from 7 pm – 9:30 pm.  In addition to storytelling from local authors, there will be music, reception and laughs.  Tickets are $25.00 in advance and $30.00 day of.  Event at Merry Hill Farm, 2004 Ben Johnson Road, Mebane.  All proceeds benefit the Orange County Historical Museum, (919) 732-2201 or email ; 


12 Days of Christmas

December 1– January 2:  Enchanting decorations inspired by the traditional holiday song, The Twelve Days of Christmas will be displayed throughout The Carolina Inn at 211 Pittsboro St. Chapel Hill.  Enjoy festive meals, gingerbread house making, new holiday market, holiday express, music events and more.  or call (919) 918-2777. Be sure to tag your pics with #12DaysofChristmas.

December 1: The Gibson Brothers: North Country Christmas w/ Newberry & Verch – 8 pm -  The Gibson Brothers truly need no introduction in the bluegrass world – the accolades of these “bluegrass superstars” (The New York Times) include the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year; Song of the Year; Songwriter of the Year and Album of the Year. Born on a northern New York dairy farm, Eric and Leigh Gibson started playing banjo and guitar in middle school. From those beginnings, the brothers have joined forces with a loyal and virtuosic team of musicians to create their own distinctive mix of heritage and soaring harmony. Newberry & Verch open the evening. Tickets are $37. ArtsCenter - 300-G East Main St, Carrboro, (919) 929-2787

December 2:  14th annual Christmas Holiday Shoppe Craft Show 9 am – 4pm. Shoppers can enjoy one-stop shopping with 65 talented artisans and crafters from throughout the state. A wide variety of unique, handmade gifts and specialty items await you. Christmas music, a bake sale and a delicious hot lunch will put you in a festive mood. Free Admission.  Proceeds benefit St. Thomas More Catholic School and the enrichment of its educational programs.  Held in the elegant Friends and Family Hall of St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 940 Carmichael Street, Chapel Hill. For more information, please visit (919) 929-1546

December 2:  ELF Market 11am –5pm. The 11th Annual Elf Market, a magical festival of holiday arts and crafts, featuring over 30 local artists offering jewelry, pottery, clothing, accessories, candles, toys, and lots of unique, affordable items for all ages.  The bar will be open for holiday beverages, and festive foods will be available during the event. A kids’ zone will feature hands-on art projects and classic holiday films. Free. Also East Main Square Open House ArtsCenter - 300-G East Main St, Carrboro, (919) 929-2787

December 2.  Hillsborough Holiday Parade, Tree Lighting & Light Up the Night at 4:45 pm.  The parade starts at Corbin Street and ends at East Margaret Lane. Afterward the parade, enjoy the tree lighting on the courthouse lawn.  (919) 732-8156.

December 2-3. The Nutcracker - Carolina Ballet on December 2 at 2 pm and at 8 pm; December 3 at 2 pm at Memorial Hall on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.  Tickets $25-$79.   Returning for the 10th time in as many seasons, Carolina Ballet presents The Nutcracker for a performance that has become a Chapel Hill holiday tradition.

December 3. Downtown Chapel Hill Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony.  Join the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership for the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in downtown Chapel Hill in the Memorial Garden of University Baptist Church, 100 S. Columbia Street.  Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there to greet children and take pictures! Music. 6pm.  (919) 967-9440.

December 8.  Holiday Stroll - Chapel Hill Holiday House Tour.  The tour begins at 6 pm, with dessert party to follow at 9 pm. Guests will stroll on a candlelight tour of four distinctive private homes in the East Franklin-Rosemary Historic District enjoying wine and hors d'oeuvres at each stop. The tour will culminate at the Horace Williams House at 610 E. Rosemary Street for a festive Dessert Party for all attendants.  Check for ticket price. or call (919) 942-7818. 

December 9:  Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Big Band Holidays 8 pm. Memorial Hall, UNC Campus.  Tickets start at $49, Students $10. (919) 843-3333,

December 10. 31st Annual Hillsborough Candlelight Tour: A Salute to Hillsborough Veterans. Tour is 3 pm – 7 pm.  In downtown Hillsborough enjoy approximately 10 stops, covering Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korean War, & Vietnam War. Ticket prices are $15 purchased in advance through December 3, 2017, $20 after. Homes to be period correct, including the Christmas decorations, and in many cases a living history moment will be presented. Orange Community Players will provide Living History Moments at the stops. Classic cars will be on display at various tour stops. Participating merchants will theme their shops and restaurants with the varying time periods .  Plus Merchant Window Decorating Contest, Downtown buildings added as stops on the historical tour and pictures with Santa at the Hillsborough Visitor’s Center. Features a miniature train ride through Historic Hillsborough's neighborhoods, stops along the way. Proceeds from the Candlelight Tour ticket sales will go toward the Orange County Veterans Memorial.  Hillsborough/Orange County Chamber of Commerce (919) 732-8156.

December 14: Carrboro Cheer - Carr Mill by Candlelight and Light Up Carrboro. 6 pm – 9 pm. Experience the warmth of the Holidays as Carr Mill Mall, East Main Square and Downtown light up with luminaries! Come shop, dine, and stroll downtown Carrboro!

December 15: Transactors Improv Holiday Extravaganza at 8 pm at the ArtsCenter, 300-G East Main St Carrboro.  Admission: $15 Public, $12 Senior, $10 Student. Transactors Improv celebrates the holidays in this show. The performance is based on audience suggestions and divided into five slice-of-life episodes with live musical accompaniment by pianist Glenn Mehrbach.  (919) 929-2787

December 16: 2nd Annual Holiday Circle Show. A celebration of the best in classic American Folk and Bluegrass. The Circle Crew includes: Jan Johannson (fiddle), Julie Elkins (banjo/vocal), Hank Smith (banjo), Scott McBride (guitar/vocal), Danny Gotham (guitars/mando/vocal), LaNelle Davis (guitar/vocal), Bobb Head (bass/vocal), Jim Watson (guitar/mando/vocal), Mike Babyak (guitars/mando), Barry Gray (guitar/vocal), Rebecca Newton (guitar/mando/vocal), and FJ Ventre (bass). Special guests for this show include emcees Lee Smith and Hal Crowther; Triad-area singer-songwriter Laura Jane Vincent; Danville, VA based bluegrass legends Johnnie and Jeanette Williams; and Durham-based musical legend Jefferson Hart. 8 pm. Tickets $25. The ArtsCenter, 300-G East Main St. in Carrboro, or call (919) 929-2787

December 21. Solstice Celebration Lantern Walk. Walk along the Riverwalk with handmade lanterns which light up the night sky. The color theme for the lanterns again this year is all white. Please do not incorporate other colors into your lantern. This event is free and open to the public but all participants must register in advance and bring a handmade, white lantern with a LED light. No flames allowed. It is not mandatory for participation, but folks are encouraged to purchase a bell ($1) (new addition this year) to help add a quiet twinkle to our otherwise silent walk. Beginning at 5:30 pm, all participants must enter the Riverwalk from the Farmer's Market Pavilion only, 144 E. Margaret Lane, Hillsborough. The 30-minute walk will begin at 5:45 pm. If you want to be a spectator, view from the Eno Parking Deck where free parking is available (behind Weaver Street Market). Only individuals with lanterns will be allowed to enter the Riverwalk.  Hillsborough Arts Council, 

Click here for a complete listing of 2017 Major Annual Events