Hanukkah Party – Thursday, 4-8pm – Time to celebrate the Festival of Lights at Durty Bull Brewing Co. Bring your friends and family to spin the dreidel, enjoy some gelt and show off your ugly Hanukkah sweater – prizes for the winners! There will also be latkes to order with Niko from Starpoint Brewing.
41st Annual Santa Train – Thursday-Sunday, 5-9pm – Take the family to the Museum of Life and Science to experience a moonlit ride to the North Pole by way of the Ellerbe Creak Railway. Skate in your socks on a synthetic ice rink, create Christmas crafts, sip on hot chocolate and have you face painted by Paint Savvy. Don’t miss out on the the snow polymers during the “Science of Santa” activities.
Holiday Open House – Thursday, 6-8pm – Santa is coming! Join Empower Dance Studio for their annual holiday party and have a mini-session of photos with Santa by First 28 Photography. A portion of these proceeds will benefit the Empower Dance Foundation.
Morgan Imports Open House – Thursday, 6-9pm – Tag along for a festive evening of music, snacks and holiday shopping! Ten percent of all proceeds during this event will benefit Senior PharmAssist.
(con)TEXTURED Opening Reception – Thursday, 6-9pm – Head to The Carrack for this solo painting exhibition: “The photograph has become synonymous with truth. Freed from context, the mind is forced to fill in the blanks likely forming falsehoods in place of realities. In the age of the artificial image ‘are we reading too much into it?'”
‘A Fool For Christmas’ – Thursday, 7pm – Come out to The Regulator Bookshop for its treasured holiday tradition of Hillsborough author Allan Gurganus performing his heartwarming tale, “A Fool for Christmas,” which shares the story of a socially awkward loner named Verne who manages a pet shop in a mall off an interstate, somewhere in North Carolina, who befriends a pregnant teenager. Every time he tells the story he changes it up a bit – don’t forget some tissues!
In the Jazz Tradition: Catherine Russell – Thursday, 7pm and 9pm – Duke Performances hosts this New York native, one of jazz’s most versatile and dynamic performers at Durham Fruit & Produce Company.
‘ELF: The Broadway Musical’ – Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 3pm and 8pm; Sunday, 1pm and 6:30pm – Treat yourself and the kiddos to a night at DPAC for this hilarious tale of Buddy, a young orphan child who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. It’s a modern-day Christmas classic and will surely bring out your inner elf.
Durham During the Great War closing – Friday, 6-8pm – The Museum of Durham History as wraps up its World War I exhibit with guest lecturer and Duke professor Dr. Adriane Lentz-Smith, who will give a talk on African-American service during WWI and their perceptions of the war. There will be a Q & A following the talk, and light refreshments will be provided.
Holiday Open Studio and Sale – Friday, 6-9pm – Enjoy a treat and a glass of wine or Champagne as you stroll through the studios at Liberty Arts, where each of the local artists will have their studios open for a one-of-a-kind holiday shopping experience.
Christmas by Candlelight – Friday, 6:45-9:15pm – Visit Christmases past at Duke Homestead where you can see what the holiday were like in the 1870s. Costumed interpreters will lead a candlelit tour of the historic area where Washington Duke first grew tobacco. Enjoy Victorian-styled decorations, traditional storytelling, hot cider, cookies and caroling around the fire.
Revolutionaries in the Dark – Friday, 7pm – Dress in all black and head to the Reality Ministries Ballroom for this annual gala supporting ShaLeigh Dance Works. This one-of-a-kind fundraiser, which benefits the company’s future, accessible outreach programs, living wages and continued artistic innovation, begins with guest speakers followed by performances, wine tastings and hors d’oeuvres, a wellness raffle, silent auction and an artist after party.
Beer Dinner with The Dankery – Friday, 7-9pm – Grab your friends and come try some curated pairings of Durty Bull‘s craft beer selection alongside The Dankery‘s shrimp burgers, chicken wings, tenders and bacon-queso fries. Enjoy the weekly open mic stand-up comedy show in the barrel house from 8-9:30pm while you eat!
In the Jazz Tradition: Jazzmeia Horn – Friday, 7pm and 9pm – A brave new voice for jazz’s vocal resurgence and a mighty clarion for its future, this Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition winner takes the stage in a Duke Performances show at Durham Fruit & Produce Company.
New York Polyphony – Friday, 8pm – Hear one of the world’s most sought-after male quartets, perform “Sing Thee Nowell” at Baldwin Auditorium in a Duke Performances concert. These four singers will present a program of cherished Christmas music that spans nine centuries, from early polyphonic works by Pérotin and Byttering to Basque carols to the first Christmas music written in North America and beyond.
Race 13.1 Durham – Saturday, 8am – Sign up for the fourth annual holiday-themed Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina half-marathon, 10K, 5K and kids fun run on December 8 at Northgate Mall. The fun is free with a suggested donation of $5 to the charity partner, or an unused toy that will be donated to Duke Children’s Hospital patients. Highlights include a holiday sweater contest, Santa hats for all runners, a free post-race beer from R&D Brewing and visits with Father Christmas himself.
GeekCraft Holiday Market – Saturday and Sunday, 10am – Got some nerdy family and friends on your holiday list? Don’t miss the this holiday market at the Durham Armory. Bring the family! There will be make-and-take crafting activities, and cosplay is highly encouraged.
Holiday Parade and Fun Fest – Saturday, Parade: 10am; Fun Fest: 1-4pm – Join the City of Durham on Main Street for this annual parade as dynamic floats, hometown bands, drill teams, schools and community groups all make their way through downtown – and, of course, there will be a special appearance by Santa! Jazz Master, Grammy Award‐winning saxophonist and Tony Award nominee composer Branford Marsalis along with Mayor Steve Schewel will kick-off the parade, which starts at Main and Dillard streets and concludes at Main and Buchanan Boulevard (Duke’s East Campus). The Fun Fest on Blackwell Street features snow sledding, a Santa meet and greet, inflatable bounce houses, arts and craft activities, pony and train rides, music and other festive fun!
Autism-Friendly Performance of ‘ELF: The Broadway Musical’ – Saturday, 10am – In an effort to allow all families in the Triangle to enjoy the magic of live theater, this special performance at DPAC is for individuals on the autism spectrum, as well as anyone who may benefit from a more relaxed, supportive environment.
Holiday Market at the Art Market at Vega Metals – Saturday, 10am-2pm – Finish up your holiday checklist at this 10th annual outdoor market in Durham Central Park where there will be arts and crafts, free refreshments, live music, food trucks and lots of holiday cheer!
Black Santa – Saturday, 10am-5pm – Bring the kiddos to visit Santa at Hayti Heritage Center. This day is pet day, too!
Shop Second Saturday – Saturday, 11am-3pm – Make sure to support downtown retailers this weekend! Participating stores in this Downtown Durham Inc. event offer unique programming and giveaways on the second Saturday of every month. Look for the banners to find them!
‘The Nutcracker’ – Saturday, 11am and 3pm – The 24th season of this classic Russian ballet by the Triangle Youth Ballet presents a full-length production with a cast of 100 dancers on stage and 36 professional musicians in the orchestra at The Carolina Theatre.
‘Tis the Season for Sparkling – Saturday, 4-5:15pm – Sample a broad range of sparkling wine at Bar Brunello with owner/wine director Esteban Brunello as he leads the class through tastings of sparkling rosé, Italian sparkling wine and Champagne.
Home for the Holidays Adoption Event – Saturday, noon-6pm – Come out to Durty Bull Brewing Co. to knock out some holiday shopping while supporting the Animal Protection Society of Durham, who will be on-site with animals who are looking for a home. Enjoy food by Adobo Joe Food Truck and live music by Barrett Brooks while you peruse goods from local vendors like DirtyDurham, Makin’ Whoopie Kitchen, Studio 1 at The Carrack and more.
Durham Bazaar Holiday Market – Saturday, noon-5pm; Sunday, noon-4pm – Presented by GhostKitty designs, this handmade and vintage market at The Pinhook will have more than 15 local vendors each day and DJs, pizza and cocktail specials to top it off.
Christmas at Stagville – Saturday, noon-4pm – Learn about the history of Christmas at one of North Carolina’s largest plantations, Stagville State Historic Site. Explore the dangers and celebrations of Christmas for enslaved African-Americans, and the Christmas traditions of the Bennehan and Cameron families and enjoy historic decorating, tours of historic buildings and hands-on activities.
In the Jazz Tradition: NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble – Saturday and Sunday, 1pm – Named “best choir” at the annual HBCU Awards ceremony, this group takes the stage at Durham Fruit & Produce Company, presented by Duke Performances. The ensemble will perform works by composers such as Nina Simone, Miles Davis, Abbey Lincoln, Duke Ellington/Ella Fitzgerald and more.
Jonkonnu Lantern Tours – Saturday, 5:15pm – Stagville State Historic Site invites you to this Afro-Carribbean holiday tradition featuring local students, drummers and dancers. Celebrated by former enslaved families on the plantation, it is one of the few sites in the country with a documented Jonkonnu tradition. Holiday refreshments included.
In the Jazz Tradition: René Marie – Saturday, 7pm and 9pm – Catch this Grammy-nominated jazz singer on stage in a Duke Performances show at the Durham Fruit & Produce Company. A composer, arranger and theatrical performer, she has recorded 11 albums that draw on a wide swath of genres to create a distinctive and captivating hybrid style.
Feast from the Furnace – Saturday, 6-9pm – Enjoy small-plated appetizers by Nanasteak chef Tyler Vanderzee and a glass of wine while watching designer Elijah Leed create beautiful, hand-blown glass art at the Liberty Arts studio.
Annual Holiday Market – Saturday, 4-8pm – This evening affair at The Mothership is perfect opportunity to continue your holiday shopping with incredible crafts from local makers while you enjoy mulled wine and holiday tunes.
Eastcut & Hope Animal Rescue Adoption Event & Fundraiser – Saturday, 2-5pm – Come hang in the heated garden space at Eastcut Sandwich Bar and meet wonderful animals that are up for adoption! One dollar from every pint of beer sold will be donated to Hope Animal Rescue.
Holiday R&B Paint for a Cause – Saturday, 8pm-midnight – Get your tickets for a fun night at the Durham Ballroom (410 W. Geer St.) with live R&B performances, comedy, painting and a DJ playing music all night! This event is 21 and older and will showcase local small businesses while giving to local causes such as Mission Epilepsy, Music Is Life, Big Sister Talk and Motiv8 Inc.
Winter Wonderland Festival – Sunday, 2-4pm – Gather your family together at Sarah P. Duke Gardens to celebrate the season with wintery crafts, storytelling, cookie decorating and cultural activities from around the world. Enjoy sweet treats and festive music with Snowdrop, the Gardens’ snowperson. Space is limited, so hurry up and reserve your seat and start a new tradition!
NC Jazz Ensemble Holiday Concert – Sunday, 4pm – Founded in 1980 by Stanley Baird and Oliver Hodge, the 17-piece group takes the stage at Hayti Heritage Center to perform song guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.
In the Jazz Tradition: Kate McGarry – Sunday, 6pm and 8pm – The Grammy-nominated singer applies consummate jazz techniques to a songbook inspired by folk music at Durham Fruit & Produce Company, presented by Duke Performances.