Christmas is a special time of year. Surrounding us are the traditions we love and cherish; traditions that we can’t go without. These celebrations come in all shapes and sizes. They can be individually special for families, communities and towns. Within North Carolina, there are several annual, not-to-be-missed events in our towns that signify the holidays. These traditions have been around for years and are a valuable part of what makes up a Carolina Christmas.
- Christmas at Biltmore – This tradition is one of the most well known. Located in Asheville, the Biltmore Estate is famously known for their lavish Christmas celebrations. Running November through January, the 250-room estate is decked wall to wall with holiday decor and a Christmas tree in just about every room. This festive tradition is one every true North Carolinian should see at least once.
- The National Gingerbread Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn – After visiting Christmas at Biltmore, head over to the Omni Grove Park Inn, also in Asheville, to take a look at the extravagant gingerbread houses, created by professionals throughout the world. The competition is held in November, but the houses will be on display throughout the holidays. In fact, prizes total to more than $40,000!
- Festival of Lights at Tanglewood Park – Another popular event is the Festival of Lights at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons. This festivity is in our own backyard and is full of holiday cheer. Visitors drive through more than 80 light displays which brightly create scenes of the season. There is also a holiday gift store along with hot cocoa and s’mores.
- All Things Moravian – From Moravian cookies to Moravian stars, candle teas and Christmas Eve lovefeasts, the Moravian culture is alive and well during Christmastime. These are just a handful of the Moravian traditions that are located in Winston-Salem and throughout our state.
- Flotillas – Where there is water, there is most likely a flotilla. A parade 8of festive boats with Christmas lights and displays are shown from Wrightsville Beach to Lake Norman, and everywhere in between. The North Carolina Holiday Flotilla at Wrightsville Beach is celebrating its 40th year this holiday season.
- Visit Our State’s Own Christmas Town U.S.A. – Since 1996, the town of McAdenville, located near Charlotte and Gastonia, has been deemed “Christmas Town U.S.A.” From December 1st-25th, McAdenville is lit up in holiday colors and scenes. Two can’t-miss events in the town are the Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 1st and the Yule Log Ceremony on December 14th.
- Santa on the Chimney – It is not the same chimney you are thinking about; it is Chimney Rock. On December 2nd and 9th, onlookers can watch Santa Claus scale down Chimney Rock. During those two Saturdays, Santa will rappel down the 315-foot Chimney as well as visit with children throughout the park. Mrs. Claus will also be present, but she won’t be rappelling with Santa; just visiting.
- The Night Parade in Kannapolis – Full of cheer and joy, the Night Parade in Kannapolis consists of the Kannapolis Singing Bears who perform every hour, from 6 to 9 p.m. during the month of December. Talk about bringing the sounds of the season to life!
- An Outer Banks’ Old Christmas – Located on Hatteras Island, the community of Rodanthe actually celebrates two Christmases – the traditional Christmas on December 25th and Old Christmas on the first Saturday after the Epiphany. In 1752, the British Empire in colonial America changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. Eleven days had to be dropped from the year, moving Christmas to the time we know today. Celebrations include waking up to fife and drum music, oyster roasts and awaiting the arrival of Old Buck, a.k.a. a live bull, who is led into the town to welcome the visitors.
Christmas in North Carolina is a special time. New and old traditions come together and fill the air with magic which is exactly what everyone needs during the holiday season.