Winter Wonders at American Tobacco – Thursday-Sunday – Bring the whole family to the American Tobacco Campus this season for a host of holiday-themed activities. Pick out your tree, wreaths and garland (and those cute wooden reindeer!) at the TROSA tree lot, and get a selfie with Santa. Vote for your favorite tree decorated by a local nonprofit or business during the Triangle Christmas Tree Challenge. (Vote through Friday.)
Santa Train – Thursday-Sunday, 5-9pm – Climb aboard the Ellerbe Creek Railway for a journey to the North Pole at the Museum of Life and Science. Take a ride through thousands of to meet Santa and his elves before returning to the station to take part in face-painting; holiday crafts; “Science of Santa” activities including hands-on snow polymer, simple circuits and more; “skate in your socks” synthetic ice rink; complimentary hot chocolate; and more.
NC Barrel-Aged Beer Tap Takeover – Thursday, 5-10pm – Try eight of North Carolina’s finest barrel-aged beers, including the festive “Milk & Cookies” from Wicked Weed, at The Glass Jug. Although growlers will not be available during the event, they can be purchased in limited quantities in the days after the event.
Free Highlights Tour: Wrestling Ghosts of the Past – Thursday, 6pm – Let Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University gallery guide Meg Williams take you through the mysterious and intriguing stories of wrestlers throughout history as depicted in the museum’s paintings.
Gaudy or Nice: Southern Cultures Winter Issue Launch Party – Thursday, 6:30pm – Celebrate the winter issue of quarterly journal “Southern Cultures.” Join Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University Chief Curator Trevor Schoonmaker and “Southern Accent” artists Jeff Whetstone and Stacy Lynn Waddell for a gallery talk accompanied by a cash bar and Southern fare.
‘A Christmas Carol’ – Thursday-Saturday, 7pm; Saturday and Sunday, 2pm – Now in its 42nd year, Theatre In The Park’s musical comedy adaptation of the classic Dickens tale returns to the Durham Performing Arts Center with Ira David Wood III starring as Scrooge in each of the five performances, except Saturday’s matinee, when his son, Ira David Wood IV, will take the lead.
Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker – Thursday, 7pm – Visions of the sugar plum fairy will dance in your head after seeing this performance – featuring new set designs and costumes – by the acclaimed Moscow Ballet at The Carolina Theatre.
HeART of North Carolina Fundraiser Gala – Thursday, 7pm – This event celebrates our state’s cultural traditions at Motorco Music Hall. Hosted by The North Carolina Folklife Institute, it features performances by Blue Cactus, John D. Holman, Josh Moore Band and the Five Points Rounders. Square dancing, special guests and a silent auction benefiting the institute rounds out the evening.
Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham Fall Portfolio Show – Friday, 10:30am – Meet recent graduates, view their work and discuss job opportunities at this event at The Carolina Theatre.
Third Friday Live Music, Cider and Cookies – Friday, 6-8pm – Ben and Gen Palmer, a father-daughter jazz bassist duo, will perform at the Museum of Durham History. Visitors can enjoy cider and cookies, and view the exhibit “Finding Each Other in History: Stories from Durham LGBTQ+” before it closes January 15.
“Flight Lessons” – Friday, 6-9pm – Contemporary painter Kim Wheaton’s new collection of work makes its debut at Pleiades Gallery. Each piece depicts a creature or action that fits the theme of flight, including bugs, birds, boots and more.
Scrapiversary – Friday, 6-9pm – The Scrap Exchange is 25 years old! Celebrate this milestone and open a time capsule buried 50 years ago at the former Center Theater. Prior to the time capsule opening, hear from special guest speakers who will reflect on the impact of The Scrap Exchange on Durham, as well as explore Lakewood Shopping Center’s history. In the Cameron Gallery, view a show that explores the history of Lakewood and The Scrap Exchange. There will be lots of fun activities, food, drink, music and more.
4th Annual 20 Buck Chuck – Friday, 6-9pm – Bring the whole family to Spectre Arts for arts, crafts, cocoa and marshmallows courtesy of Happymess Art. Several pieces of art will be available for purchase for a flat rate of $20, and others will also be available via a silent auction with bids in $20 increments. Sales will go toward programming for Arts for Life.
Tunde Wey: A Discussion About Race – Friday, 6-9pm – Meet on The Durham Hotel mezzanine as Nigerian chef and writer Tunde Wey leads an open discussion about the challenges of identity, experience and perspective.
Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen – Friday, 9pm – A treat for the ears and feet, Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen’s music will make you move at the newly opened The Bullpen! $1 of every draft pint sold is donated to the Hillsborough Music Maker Relief Foundation.
Hip-Hop House Party – Friday, 10pm – Wish Arcana a happy first birthday by dancing the night away to DJ PlayPlay’s blend of house, club, footwork and hip-hop tunes.
Sketching in the Galleries – Saturday, 10am-noon – Join artist Rachel Goodwin at Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University for a demonstration, followed by a morning of sketching in the museum galleries. Drawing pencils provided.
Ciderday – Saturday, noon-6pm – If you’ve been eagerly awaiting the new Bull City Ciderworks location, King’s Sandwich Shop has the cure: a pop-up shop featuring 10 of Bull City’s original ciders. Dogs welcome!
Pet Photos with Santa – Saturday, 1-4pm – Bring your furry friend for a portrait with Saint Nick at one of three Petco locations: Eastgate (Chapel Hill), South Square and Renaissance Parkway (Durham), and West Cary, to benefit Independent Animal Rescue.
Holiday Lights Bike Ride – Saturday, 4pm – Drop by the Durham Bike Co-op for hot cider and a group cycling tour. Holiday costumes and bike lights are encouraged for this tour of Duke Park, which will end at a downtown bar.
A Celestial Christmas – Saturday, 8pm – Enjoy a special performance of Sir Karl Jenkins’ boundary-pushing music by VOICES, the Chapel Hill Chorus, at The Carolina Theatre. Soprano soloist Andrea Edith Moore accompanies the chorus, along with several strings, percussion, trumpet and keyboard players.
Rez Abbasi’s Invocation – Saturday, 8pm – A music group with roots in Southern Indian tradition, Invocation takes notes from jazz influences from around the globe to create a fused sound evocative of both Coltrane and South Asia. This Duke Performances concert at Baldwin Auditorium also features Vijay Iyer, Rudresh Mahanthappa and Dan Weiss.
Akua Allrich – Saturday, 8pm and 10pm – Experience the finesse and charisma of this engaging jazz vocalist during back-to-back shows at Beyú Caffé celebrating her new album, “Soul Singer.”
The Wusses – Saturday, 8:30pm (doors 7:30) – Let the sounds of this nine-piece local legend wash over you at Motorco Music Hall. The Beauty Operators and Billy Sugarfix & The Early Girls open.
Party Illegal Presents: H.B.I.C. Takeover – Saturday, 10pm (doors 9pm) – Four DJs, including BabyBoiJodi of Raleigh and Bitchcraft of Durham, will take over The Pinhook for a night of hip-hop and dance.
Museum Highlights Tour – Sunday, 2pm – This free tour of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University provides an hour-long glimpse at some of the museum’s finest works on display.
Russell Lacy School of Music – Sunday, 3:40pm – This showcase at The Pinhook features songs from the Yep Roc catalog by Nick Lowe, Tift Merritt and Jukebox the Ghost! as well as original covers from Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Weezer and Sara Bareilles.
Merry Making – Sunday, 5pm – Learn to make your own Christmas ornaments out of folded paper at The Makery. Warm holiday cocktails and a movie are also on the agenda.
Marcus Anderson – Sunday, 5pm and 7pm – With three albums to his name in the past two years, the smooth and spirited jazz saxophonist isn’t slowing down. He shares his songs for the holidays in dual performances on the Beyú Caffé stage.
Everyday Magic & The Zen Succulent Holiday Party – Sunday, 5pm – New merchandise, live music, a photo booth, tarot readings, custom tea and oil blends, complimentary gift wrapping and deliciousness from the Soomsoom Pita Pocket food truck await you at this seasonal soiree.
A Very Merry Durham – Sunday, 7pm – An “exuberant and absurd” holiday party sure to make your spirits bright, this variety show at Fullsteam features everything from poetry to dancing crayons, and of course, beer!
Film Screening: The Voice of God – Sunday, 7pm – Screened at UNEXPOSED, this collection of seven short films will encourage reflection on connections between varied topics, including childhood, dreams, math and the environment.