The holiday season is in full swing with lots of area activities. Tree lightings and parades highlight many celebrations, as well as performances, films, markets, tours and more. Even Santa is scheduled to make appearances at several events.
Here’s a roundup of upcoming holiday happenings in Apex, Cary, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs and Morrisville.
Chinese Lantern Festival
The North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival is open through Sunday, Jan. 15, at Koka Booth Amphitheatre, 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary. More than 20 new displays are featured. Hours are 6-10 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday. Chinese cultural arts performances are at 7 and 8 p.m. daily. Students from Cary Elementary will participate in a Lantern Parade at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 6, at the amphitheater.
The festival is closed Mondays except for Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 3-17 and free for children ages 2 and younger. Free parking. 800-514-3849, bit.ly/1YgQHJ9, boothamphitheatre.com
The Cary theater, 122 E. Chatham St., screens a series of Christmas films through Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24. Cost: $5-$10 per film. For a schedule of movies and showtimes, go to thecarytheater.com.
Gingerbread house contest
Winning houses in the sixth annual Cary Gingerbread House Competition are on display Dec. 6-16 at the Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave. Honorable mention entries are on display Dec. 6-16 at The Mayton Inn, 301 S. Academy St. 919-319-4560, bit.ly/1GWZMCJ
Sounds of Christmas
First United Methodist Church Cary holds a series of Christmas concerts at noon Wednesdays Dec. 7-21 in the sanctuary at the church, 117 S. Academy St. Free and open to the public. A free luncheon follows at 12:30 p.m. in the church’s Fellowship Hall. 919-467-1861, firstcary.com
Holiday open house
A holiday open house is 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8, at the Cary Gallery of Artists, 200 S. Academy St. The exhibit “Twenty-Four Artists,” featuring paintings, drawings, ceramics, jewelry, wood, fiber and glass artwork by gallery artists, is on display through Wednesday, Jan. 4. carygalleryofartists.org
The 13th annual Apex Nativity Celebration, featuring Nativity exhibits from around the world, is Thursday, Dec. 8, to Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Apex Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 590 Bryan Drive. Hours are 6-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 1-9 p.m. Saturday. The event also will feature live music. Free and open to the public. apexnativity.org
The Be A Santa to a Senior program runs through Thursday, Dec. 8. Ornaments with seniors’ names and gift requests are hung on trees at participating locations. Shoppers can choose an ornament, buy the requested gift and give it back to the store for wrapping and distribution. Trees are set up in Apex, Cary, Holly Springs and Morrisville. To find tree locations, go to beasantatoasenior.com.
Holiday Artist Market
The Fuquay-Varina Holiday Artist Market and Art Extravaganza is Dec. 9-11 at 405 Broad St., the former site of Stephens Hardware. Hours are 4-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Art and crafts vendors, Santa and children’s activities will be featured. Free admission. fuquay-varina.org, bit.ly/2fMezo1
Tree lightings, parades
▪ Main Street Christmas is 6-8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at the Holly Springs Cultural Arts Center, Town Hall and various locations downtown. The free event will feature a tree lighting ceremony, Santa and Mrs. Claus, hayrides, live music, crafts and more. bit.ly/2fsSVp2
▪ The Tree of Hope lighting is 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, in Room A at the Herb Young Community Center, 101 Wilkinson Ave., Cary. Free. diamanteinc.org
▪ The Happy Holly Days Christmas Parade is 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, on Main Street in downtown Holly Springs, starting at Holly Springs Road and ending at Ballentine Street. Rain or shine. bit.ly/2fylAbb
▪ The Cary Jaycees Christmas Parade is 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, on Chatham Street in downtown Cary, starting at the corner of Ward and Chatham and ending at the intersection of Chatham and West St. bit.ly/2fekkv1
Cary Youth Voices
The Cary Youth Voices perform a holiday concert at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church, 110 SE Maynard Road, Cary. Free and open to the public. caryyouthvoices.org
A collection of short holiday shows – “Christmas All Over the Place,” “Ten Minutes Till Christmas” and “Bring on the Snow” – will be performed Friday, Dec. 9, to Sunday, Dec. 11, at various times at the Halle Cultural Arts Center, 237 N. Salem St., Apex. Tickets: $8 adults, $6 students ages 16 and under. 919-249-1120, thehalle.org
‘Songs of the Season’
The General Assembly Chorus performs “Songs of the Season” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at the Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave. Tickets: $10-$15. generalassemblychorus.org
Letters to Santa
Drop off letters to Santa through Friday, Dec. 9, at the special Santa Mailbox at Cary Town Hall, 316 N. Academy St. Include the child’s name and address on each letter in order to receive a response from Santa. For more information: 919-319-4560, bit.ly/1GWZMCJ.
Holly Jolly gingerbread
The public can vote Dec. 9-10 on entries in the Holly Jolly Gingerbread Contest. The contest is sponsored by the Coworking Station and is a fundraiser for the Holly Springs Arts Council. For more information, go to bit.ly/2eg36ji.
The United Methodist Men hold a Community Christmas Breakfast at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, in the Christian Life Center at White Plains United Methodist Church, 313 SE Maynard Road, Cary. Free and open to the public. A Christmas carol sing-a-long will follow. For more information and to RSVP, go to bit.ly/2fxtcxD. 919-467-9394, wpumc.com
Four family Cookie Houses programs are scheduled Saturday, Dec. 10, at West Regional Library, 4000 Louis Stephens Drive, Cary. Free. Registration requested. To register and for more information on times available, go to bit.ly/1TGAywa or call 919-463-8500.
The Mistletoe Madness Holiday Market is noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Ballentine-Spence House, 109 E. Spring St., downtown Fuquay-Varina. Free admission. The event also is a fundraiser for 4 Paws for Ability and the Fuquay-Varina Emergency Food Pantry. bit.ly/2eZxtqB
Pet Photos with Santa
Wag in the holiday season with programs supporting Independent Animal Rescue. Dress your pet in holiday attire and have photos taken with Santa from 1-4 p.m. Saturday Dec. 10 and 17 at Petco West Cary, 7121 O’Kelly Chapel Road, Parkside Town Commons shopping center. A cat adoption event is 2-4 p.m. Dec. 10. 919-403-2221, animalrescue.net
Grinch Candy Cane Hunt
The Grinch Candy Cane Hunt is 1-2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at Bond Park, 801 High House Road, Cary. For ages 6-12. Cost: $10 per child. Pre-registration required. 919-469-4100, townofcary.org
Ride with Santa
The Wagon Ride with Santa program is 3-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at Harris Lake County Park, 2112 County Park Drive, New Hill. Cost: $2 per person. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Advance registration required. For more information and to register, go to bit.ly/1YF8gC1. 919-387-4342, bit.ly/213kQMG
Rockin’ Reindeer Hop
Apex Specialized Recreation and Inclusion Services holds the Rockin’ Reindeer Hop from 7-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Apex Community Center, 53 Hunter St. For teens and adults with disabilities ages 14 and older. Cost: $5 cash per person. For more information, call Allie Prelaske at 919-249-3507. To register, go to bit.ly/2fWomtS and enter code 4804.
Triangle Wind Ensemble
The Triangle Wind Ensemble presents “’Tis the Season” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave. Tickets: $5-$15. trianglewind.org
The Concert Singers of Cary present “Holiday Pops” at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, at the Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave. Tickets: $23-$25. concertsingers.org
The Friends of the Page-Walker Concert Series opens its season with a holiday concert by the Cary Youth Voices at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11, in the Main Gallery at the Page-Walker Arts and History Center, 119 Ambassador Loop. Tickets: $16.50. For more information and tickets, go to bit.ly/2fPZ2HG. caryyouthvoices.org
The 18th annual Live Nativity is 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, and Wednesday, Dec. 14, at Saint Francis United Methodist Church, 2965 Kildaire Farm Road, Cary. The event will feature costumed Biblical characters, live animals, music, children’s activities, a display of Nativity exhibits and more.
A food drive for Dorcas Ministries also will be held during the event; participants are asked to bring spaghetti sauce (glass jars will be accepted) and packages of pasta. A complimentary hot dog dinner is 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room. 919-362-4107, saintfrancisumc.org, bit.ly/2gApjoX
The Cary Ballet performs “The Nutcracker” Dec. 15-18 at the Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave. Performances are 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets: $20-$25. bit.ly/2gaWeEB, caryballet.com
The group also performs a special one-hour version at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 16, and Saturday, Dec. 17, at the center as part of the 2016-17 Marvelous Music Family Series. Tickets: $7-$8. For ticket information, go to bit.ly/21AaGHR.
Holiday craft fair
The Holiday Craft Fair and Open House is noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15, at Preston Pointe retirement center, 1995 NW Cary Parkway. Parking is available in the Food Lion shopping center at 9567 Chapel Hill Road, Morrisville. A free shuttle to the center will be available. 919-460-8141
‘White Christmas’ sing-along
The Cary theater, 122 E. Chatham St., holds a “White Christmas” movie sing-along Friday, Dec. 16, to Sunday, Dec. 18. Cost: $10 per show. For more information and showtimes, go to thecarytheater.com. 919-462-2055
Winter Wonderland in The District is 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, to Sunday, Dec. 18, in front of Stone Theatre at Park West Village, Village Market Place, Morrisville. Free. The event will feature two sledding hills, a children’s snow play area, train rides, music and story time with Santa. Non-perishable food items for the North Carolina Food Bank and monetary donations for Toys for Tots will be accepted. For more information and to sign up for sledding, go to bit.ly/2fuiXHz.
Suggly Sweater 5k
The third annual Suggly Sweater 5K, Fun Run and Christmas Celebration is 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at Sugg Farm Park at Bass Lake, 2401 Grigsby Ave., Holly Springs. Participants can dress in their favorite ugly sweater. The event, which also will feature music, refreshments and photos with Santa, is a fundraiser for Meg’s Smile Foundation. For more information and to register, go to sugglysweater5k.com.
Wreaths Across America
The Wreaths Across America ceremony is noon Saturday, Dec. 17, at Hillcrest Cemetery, 608 Page St., Cary. Boy Scout Troop 213 is organizing the outdoor ceremony, which will honor fallen veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces. Free and open to the public.
A holiday gift-wrapping fundraiser for Second Chance Pet Adoptions is noon to 9 p.m. Dec. 17-23 beside the Men’s Warehouse store at Crossroads Plaza shopping center, 213 Crossroads Blvd., Cary. The event will be from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24. secondchancenc.org
The Concert Singers of Cary perform part 1 of Handel’s “Messiah” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, at the Halle Cultural Arts Center, 237 N. Salem St., Apex. Tickets: $25. concertsingers.org
The Campaneria Ballet Co. performs “Journey to the Nutcracker Suite” and the KMJ Jazz Co. performs “My Favorite Things” at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 20-22 at at the Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave. Tickets: $16. campaneriaballetschool.net
Wreaths and trees
The ninth annual Halle Hall of Wreaths and Trees Exhibit and Auction runs through Wednesday, Dec. 21, at the Halle Cultural Arts Center, 237 N. Salem St., Apex. Free. The event is a fundraiser for Western Wake Crisis Ministry. bit.ly/2eg7pvh
The 22nd annual Cary Kwanzaa Celebration is 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, at the Cary Arts Center, 101 Dry Ave. This year’s theme is “It’s a New Dawn, It’s a New Day.” The event will feature a performance by the Kuumba Dance Co., a vendor market, children’s activities and more. 919-460-4969, bit.ly/2fS1RHc
Email your holiday event to firstname.lastname@example.org.