The Voice of Wakefield High School

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The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

The Voice of Wakefield High School

The Howler

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The holiday season comes early with these November events

As the event begins, the lanterns of paper come to life. The Chinese Lantern tradition originated during the Han Dynasty, between 206 BC and 220 AD. (Photo courtesy of Jelena Johnston)

As a crisp breeze fills the autumn air of mid-to-late November, festivals, activities and Christmas lights appear around town. Whether you’re looking to get out of the house or even begin your Christmas festivities early, there is an event perfect for you. 

For many, the chilly air of November is the first indicator that the Christmas season is coming to town. Raleigh has taken this idea to heart and is introducing two Christmas Tree Lightings before December begins.

While the main event on Friday, Nov. 17, includes the lighting of the Christmas tree, Downtown Raleigh also offers a free Santa Claus meet-and-greet, food trucks, live music performances and a local vendor market, all taking place between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. The performances include Barton Pond Elementary School Chorus at 5:30 p.m., Ladies in Red, NC State’s Premiere All Women A Capella Group at 5:45 p.m., Raleigh Youth Choir sing-a-long at 6 p.m. and Tyler Long, Michael Buble and Mariah Carey favorites playing for the rest of the evening. The main event of the tree lighting occurs at 6:30 p.m.

If you can’t make it to the Christmas tree lighting in Downtown Raleigh, no worries. The Tree Lighting Celebration at North Hills occurs the following evening, Nov. 18, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Fill your evening with some free family fun. There will be children’s crafts, food trucks, seasonal beverages, a vendor village, face painting, letters to Santa and live music. 

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The next event to check out begins on Nov. 17 and continues through Jan. 14, 2024, the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival in Cary is a captivating experience for the whole family. The central part of the festival is an illuminating half-mile loop with an intricate display of lanterns composed of bamboo, wood, wire, paper or silk –and thousands of LED lights. 

This festival offers a mesmerizing journey through Chinese culture and tradition, with lanterns of all shapes and sizes lighting up the night. This mile-long journey isn’t the only thing to do there, however. Acrobats are also performing at 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Concession stands are available every night to serve special holiday treats, and there will also be food trucks present on select nights; keep this in mind while purchasing your tickets. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and close at 10:00 p.m., so be sure to plan ahead and be on time.  

Another fun activity to get in the holiday spirit is THE RINK, presented by UNC Health at Red Hat Amphitheater. THE RINK is happening from Nov. 18 through Jan. 15, 2024, so lace up your skates and get ready to glide into the holiday season. This event isn’t just for experienced skaters; beginners and pros alike can enjoy a memorable winter wonderland experience. A new private igloo lounge is now available to book, with space for six people and exclusive food and beverage options. There are also cozy stations with lounging furniture, fire pits, games and decoration stations for the perfect photo opportunity. Themed nights such as Throwback Thursday, Flannel Friday, Holiday Market and more are only on select days, so keep this in mind when booking your tickets.

The last must-go-to Christmas event is the 79th Annual ABC 11 Raleigh Christmas Parade. Taking place Nov. 18 at 9:30 a.m., this event is an excellent opportunity to bring out your comfy chairs and blankets to line up on the side of the street and enjoy a show. Marching bands, performers, costume characters, horses, giant balloons, musical acts and more create the most beautiful and memorable parade that is perfect for all ages. 

To wrap up the holiday festivities happening through November, a Dreidel Exchange will take place Nov. 30 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. through The Jewish Federation of Greater Raleigh. This exchange is a time to connect and celebrate Hanukkah by exchanging collector dreidels, a four-sided spinning top played during Hanukkah, and share an evening to remember. The event will occur at Beth Meyer Synagogue, and you must purchase your tickets beforehand. 

Mark your calendars, gather your loved ones and make the most of the wonderful experiences awaiting you this month. From the arts to holiday festivities, November 2023 is set to be a memorable and magical time.

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