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Top Annual Winter Events in the Triangle
The winter season is filled with festivals, musicals, parades and more in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Chatham County.

December

NC Chinese Lantern Festival

Nov. 17-Jan. 14

Experience the magical illuminated lanterns of Tianyu Arts & Culture at Koka Booth Amphitheatre. Hundreds of intricate, decorative lanterns illuminated with thousands of lights create a colorful setting that draws thousands of visitors from across the state each year. This showcase of Chinese culture also includes martial arts, traditional dance, drum performances and acrobatics.

Photo courtesy of Museum of Life and Science

Holidays in the Park & Santa Train

Select Nights in December 2023

Dash your way through an enchanting rainbow light tunnel at the Museum of Life and Science’s largest annual fundraising event and holiday tradition. Sip complimentary hot chocolate under thousands of lights or grab a light snack at Sprout Café. Get crafty with take-home activities, have your face painted by makeup artists and indulge in the “Science of Santa.” Skate in your socks on the synthetic “ice rink” or warm up in the Magic Wings Butterfly House. Then, climb aboard the Ellerbe Creek Railway for an illuminating nighttime train ride to the North Pole to visit Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their elves.

Kwanzaa Festival

Dec. 26, 2023

Visit the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham for this cultural community event that includes a marketplace, workshops, movement and music classes, food vendors, performers, a candle lighting ceremony and a film.

First Night Raleigh

Dec. 31, 2023

Ring in the new year in downtown Raleigh and watch the giant golden acorn drop at City Plaza – a time-honored tradition. Enjoy live concerts, the People’s Procession parade and even catch a bird’s-eye view of the city’s streets atop a Ferris wheel. If you don’t want to stay up until midnight, catch the early countdown and fireworks.

Kwanzaafest 2023. Photo by Susan Murray.

January

Kwanzaafest

Jan. 1, 2024

The African American Dance Ensemble’s annual Kwanzaa festival at the Durham Armory focuses on family, friends and the fruits of the Earth. It takes place on the seventh day of Kwanzaa, which is dedicated to Imani, or faith. The event features a children’s village, dance and drumming classes, arts and crafts, food vendors, entertainment from dance ensembles and more. Donated canned foods and toiletry items will be given to a local nonprofit.

New Year’s Day Run

Jan. 1, 2024

The Carolina Godiva Track Club’s annual 8K run that starts and finishes at Gold Park in Hillsborough, following along the Riverwalk with a turnaround loop on the Historic Occoneechee Speedway oval, is meant to get everyone moving after the holidays.

Dream Big

Jan. 15, 2024

Literacy nonprofit Book Harvest honors Martin Luther King Jr. during this 13th annual celebration of books and children at Golden Belt in Durham. Drive up with children’s books to donate, and/or bring your children to select books to take home. Stay for the indoor and outdoor community celebration featuring a partner fair and plenty of fun for the kiddos!

Photo by John Michael Simpson

Triangle Restaurant Week

Jan. 22-28, 2024

Indulge in a weeklong celebration of culinary excellence during this bi-annual event that showcases premier restaurants in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the surrounding area. Participating establishments offer special three-course menu options and fixed pricing, providing a great opportunity for residents and visitors alike to savor the Triangle’s finest cuisine.

February

American Indian Powwow

Feb. 3, 2024

N.C. School of Science and Mathematics in Durham hosts this family-friendly day of traditional American Indian dancing, music, crafts, art and food from across North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The entire community is invited to learn about and celebrate the region’s rich American Indian culture.

Powwow at NCSSM
Photo courtesy of N.C. School of Science and Mathematics

Krispy Kreme Challenge

Feb. 3, 2024

Photo courtesy of Spectacular Magazine

What started as a fun race among 10 friends is now a nationally publicized charity run. The race begins and ends at the Memorial Belltower at North Carolina State University. Runners burn 2,400 calories total as they travel 2.5 miles through historic downtown Raleigh to the Krispy Kreme located at the intersection of Peace and Person streets, where they consume one dozen original glazed doughnuts and then run 2.5 miles back to the belltower. Proceeds from the race benefit UNC Children’s Hospital.

N.C. MLK/Black History Month Parade & Block Party

Feb. 3, 2024

Gather in front of W.G. Pearson Elementary School on Fayetteville Street in Durham to celebrate North Carolina’s largest Black history month event. The Martin Luther King Jr. parade showcases  marching bands; step, dance and drill teams; antique cars; mascots; drum lines and more for spectators to enjoy as the procession makes its way toward North Carolina Central University.

Photo by John Michael Simpson

LuminoCity Festival

February-April

Enjoy an immersive lights experience at Raleigh’s Pullen Park during this special event that can be viewed in the daytime or after dark. Thousands of twinkling lights create an immersive, magical experience and illuminate larger-than-life characters with specific themes like a motion dino world and a celebration of spring.

Carolina Jazz Festival

Feb. 15-17, 2024

Catch public performances by touring bands, artists in residence, UNC Department of Music faculty and students at this festival celebrating all things jazz in February.

Rissi Palmer sings at the Big Night In For The Arts 2023. Photo by John Michael Simpson

Nevermore Film Festival

Feb. 23-25, 2024

Created in 1999, this festival is a juried competition that showcases horror, science-fiction, mystery, thriller, animated and dark fantasy movies from around the world at the Carolina Theatre. More than 1,000 features and short films have screened at the festival in its 25-year run, and it has gained an international reputation as one of the premier genre festivals in the country.

March

Big Night In For The Arts

March 7, 2024

The arts councils of Chatham, Durham, Orange and Wake counties partner with WRAL to host this fundraiser for the arts. Performances by local musicians are broadcast through the news station – watch from your home or join a live watch party with performances, drinks, food and more at the Durham Arts Council’s PSI Theatre in downtown Durham. Previously featured artists include Rissi Palmer (pictured right at The Mayton in Cary), Joe Troop and Larry Bellorín, Mike Wiley, Watchhouse, Scotty McCreery, Jaki Shelton Green, Nnenna Freelon and Ben Folds, among many others.

Art in Bloom

March 13-17, 2024

This fundraising festival of art and flowers at North Carolina Museum of Art showcases the creativity of our region’s floral designers, who use their skills to interpret the fine art within the museum and design awe-inspiring arrangements. Proceeds from the event benefit the NCMA Foundation Inc.

Photo by John Michael Simpson

Raleigh St. Patrick’s Day Parade

March 16, 2024

The 40th annual celebration in the heart of downtown Raleigh features a unique parade, dancers, bagpipers, decorated cars and floats, and more. There are many food and drink options and activities for children on Leprechaun Lane. Don’t forget to wear green!

Still not sure what you’re doing this weekend? Follow The Triangle Weekender on Instagram for the latest events and foodie news!