Ho, ho, ho! The holiday season is upon us. Here’s 18 of the most festive events in Durham. Sorted chronologically, so you can head to them all.

Be sure to tag #bestofthebull to show us what you’re doing around town!

Listen to and see the Duke Chorale Christmas Concert

Date & Time: December 3, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Location: Duke University Chapel

Join the Duke University Chorale on Tuesday, December 3rd at 7 PM in the Duke Chapel for their annual Christmas concert! Bring one canned good for admission to help out local families in need this holiday season, and be ready to spread Christmas cheer by singing along to some of your favorite carols!

Shop at The Durham Hotel Night Market

Date & Time: December 4, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Location: The Durham Hotel

Cost: $10

Check off your to-do list with thoughtful gifts from top local retailers and makers like Big Spoon Roasters, Bungalow, and Counter Culture Coffee while you enjoy champagne and eggnog from the bar. This year’s Night Market will raise awareness and funds for non-profit, NC Field, which supports farmworker families in Eastern North Carolina.

Experience Christmas by Candlelight at Duke Homestead

Date & Time: December 6, 5:30 pm to 9:15 pm + Dec. 13th, 5:30 pm to 9:15 pm

Location: Duke Homestead State Historic Site

Head to Duke Homestead for evening candlelight tours and celebrate an old-fashioned traditional Victorian Christmas with the Duke Family in 1870. See how the lives of past Durhamites transformed dramatically in the decade leading up to Durham’s founding. You can discover the spirit and culture of enslaved people at Christmas at Historic Stagville in 1860, learn of the sacrifices and compromises local families made in the midst of the American Civil War in 1864, and the post-war celebration and growth at the start of Durham’s famed industrial founding at Duke Homestead in 1870.

Watch the American Tobacco Tower Lighting

Date & Time: December 6, 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Location: American Tobacco Campus

Cost: FREE

Countdown the start of the holidays with the 15th annual American Tobacco Tower Lighting celebration. There is always a chance of snow, along with sensational community choral groups and other surprises! And…Santa!

Then the Downtown Durham Tree Lighting

Date & Time: December 6, 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Location: CCB Plaza

The nights are getting darker, but Durham is about to get much brighter! Downtown Durham Inc. returns by popular demand to host a fanciful, danceable tree lighting at CCB Plaza (near Major the Bull). Directly after the American Tobacco 15th Annual Tower Lighting at American Tobacco Campus, follow the joyous procession up Blackwell Street to celebrate our community and light up the plaza. 

Marvel at all the lights at Christmas Tree Garden at American Tobacco

Dates: December 6-30

Location: 318 Blackwell Street 

The perfect place for a holiday stroll! American Tobacco Campus will have 20 Christmas Trees artfully designed by American Tobacco Tenants and Community Partners. Illuminated nightly from 5:30 pm -11 pm.

Head to the Winter Wonderland Festival at Duke Gardens

Date & Time: December 8, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Location: Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Cost: Advance registration is required here. Admission: free for Duke Gardens members; $5 per child for non-members. 

Gather your family together to celebrate the coming season with winter-inspired crafts, storytelling, cookie decorating and more. Enjoy sweet treats and festive music with Snowdrop, the Gardens’ snowperson. Make lasting memories with a new family tradition.

Watch It’s A Wonderful Life for Free at the Carolina Theatre

Date & Time: December 13, 7:00 pm to 9:10 pm

Location: The Carolina Theatre of Durham

Frank Capra’s heartwarming masterpiece continues to endure, and after over 70 years, this beloved classic still remains as powerful and moving as the day it was made. There are no ADVANCE TICKETS. Simply drop by the box office on day-of-show to get your free tickets.

Cheer on the Durham Holiday Parade

Date & Time: December 14, 10 am

Location: Main Street

Cheer on dynamic floats, hometown bands, drill teams, schools, and community groups as they make their way down Main Street at the Durham Holiday Parade. The procession will conclude with a guest appearance from Santa.

Then Head to FunFest & a Special Shop Durham Holiday Market

Date & Time: December 14, 1 pm- 4 pm

Location: Blackwell Street between Morehead Avenue and West Lakewood Avenue (By Durham Bulls Athletic Park)

Enjoy snow sledding, inflatable bounce houses, arts and crafts activities, visits with Santa, pony rides, train rides, and more. There will also be a special Shop Durham Holiday Market with vendors like The Parlour, Little Homestead Farm, Papermill Creative, and more!

Durham Craft Market Holiday Craft Fair

Date & Time: December 14, 11:00 am to 4:00 pm

Location: Durham Convention Center

There will be over 60 local makers and artists in attendance. Mediums range from pottery, painting, textile arts, photography, jewelry and much more!

Winter Bazaar at NorthStar

Date & Time: December 14, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Location: 220 W Geer St

One of the most direct ways that you can support local artists and makers is BUYING THEIR ART! Come get cozy at NorthStar’s Winter Bazaar and infuse our local arts scene with your dollars. There will be a few make-and-take stations, some delicious snacks and lots of great art from over 20 local makers.

Get Cheery at A Very Merry Durham!

Date & Time: December 14, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Location: Fullsteam Brewery

It’s the fifth edition of A Very Merry Durham, Fullsteam’s community-driven holiday variety show! Roving holiday carolers, a naughty-or-nice spinny wheel, a cookie decorating station, ornament crafting, stupid human tricks, appearances by the Holiday Gorilla, and a very special Santa! This is a kid-friendly event!

Visit the Durham Village Holiday Market

Dates & Times:

December 15th, 12 PM – 4:00 PM

December 16th, 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM

December 17th, 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Location: The Rickhouse

Sample independent food, beverage, and craft producers while you complete your shopping list. Each night will have a bar and a different food truck vendors for you to enjoy! 

TVF Holiday Market

Date & Time: December 22, 11:00 am to 3:00 pm

Location: Durham Armory

Get all your holiday shopping done with over 50 vendors plus enjoy some delicious vegan food.

Die Hard Movie Trivia at Durty Bull

Date & Time: December 23, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm

Location: Durty Bull Brewing Company

Yippee-ki-yay! Because it’s a Christmas movie, okay? Therefore, this is a holiday celebration. Prizes for the winning team and the best team name!

Take the kids to a Free Holiday Family Program at the Nasher Museum

Date & Time: December 26, 11:00 am to 1:00 pm

Location: Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

Get out of the house over winter break and bring the whole family to the Nasher to explore “Cosmic Rhythm Vibrations.” Make art, shake a leg and take part in other family-friendly activities all for free! The Nasher is free and open from 10 AM – 9 PM every Thursday.

Looking for more seasonal events? Check out our Best of the Bull event calendar with 50+ of the most popular upcoming events.

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Best of the Bull Staff
Author: Best of the Bull Staff

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