Editors’ Picks: What To Do in Durham This Weekend

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Run a marathon in a tacky holiday sweater, stroll through festive light displays and introduce your puppy to Santa this weekend

Head to the Museum of Life and Science for holiday fun this weekend!

Compiled by Sam Edge

‘Elf the Musical’ – Thursday, 7:30pm; Friday, 8pm; Saturday, 2pm and 8pm; and Sunday, 1pm and 7pm – Kick off the holiday season at Durham Performing Arts Center with this modern day classic that tells the story of an orphan boy raised in Santa’s workshop as an elf after slipping into Santa’s gift bag on Christmas Eve. When he grows up and learns he is human, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his father, discover his true identity and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Holidays in the Park – Thursday-Sunday, 5:15-9pm – Bundle up to stroll through festive light displays and sing along to holiday tunes at the Museum of Life and Science. Enjoy its indoor and outdoor exhibits, visit the Magic Wings Butterfly House to warm up and walk among its fluttering inhabitants, and twirl in your socks on the synthetic ice rink. Visitors can also hop on the Ellerbe Creek Railway to enjoy a train ride among more holiday lights.

Durham Community Day – Friday, 10am-5pm – Durham County residents enjoy free admission and can bring up to five children during these days at the Museum of Life and Science. Don’t forget your proof of residence!

Christmas by Candlelight – Friday, 5:30-9pm – Spend the holidays as the Duke family would have on an evening candlelight tour of the 1870 Duke Homestead State Historic Site. Watch costumed interpreters bring history to life with period decorations, dancing, caroling, hot apple cider and other goodies.

Santa Paws – Friday, 6-8:30pm – Walk your dog over to the Durham Armory to get pictures of your canine companion taken with Santa. Guests are encouraged to dress up in their ugliest holiday sweaters (dogs, too!).  Enter your pooch into the ugly sweater contest, peruse items in the holiday pet market and participate in a canine food and toy drive.

Bull City Holiday Night Market – Friday, 6-9pm – Shop from more than 25 vendors at the Durham Bottling Company, an affordable coworking community located in the heart of Durham. There will also be plenty of food to purchase, raffles and free hot cocoa to warm you up.

Chefs for Change Dessert Gala – Friday, 6-9:30pm – Join Families Moving Forward for an evening of delectable treats and libations, a silent auction full of ideas for the holidays, live music, and mingling with friends new and old at The Cookery. All proceeds will benefit the nonprofit and provide support for families facing homelessness, funding for temporary housing, case management, skills education and connection to community resources to help parents and children thrive in stable homes.

Feminist Bird Trivia – Friday, 7pm – The Pinhook hosts a bird-centric trivia night led by The Feminist Bird Club, an organization that celebrates passion for the environment as well as equity in the study and admiration of it.

Chris Gethard – Friday, 7pm and 9:30pm – The comedian, actor, author and host of the Beautiful/Anonymous podcast, which was recently adapted into a 4-part series streaming on Topic, showcases his podcast in the early show and performs stand-up in the late show at Motorco Music Hall.

Ernest Turner Trio – Friday, 8pm – Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Ernest Turner performs at The Durham Jazz Workshop/Sharp 9 Gallery alongside Butler Knowles on base and Jeremy “Bean” Clemons on the drums. The trio were selected as the winner of the 2019 DCJazzPrix Competition for their melodies that seamlessly blend old school jazz with new.

Race 13.1 – Saturday, 8am – Throw on your very worst Christmas sweater and close the fall run season in style. This course offers a half-marathon route as well as a 10K and 5K option ideal for all running levels.,  If you want to participate but you aren’t the running type, the event is accepting volunteers. The race begins and ends at Johnson Volvo.

The Holly Jolly Joshua Show – Saturday, 11am – Joshua Holden takes his talent for puppets – the same that landed him a role on “Sesame Street” – over to The Carolina Theatre in this holiday show of magic and music sure to excite the kiddos and get everyone in the holiday spirit.

Downtown Durham Holiday – Saturday, 11am-10pm – Downtown Durham Inc. kicks off the holiday season with a day of shopping specials, music, live performances and the holiday tree lighting! This is also the first weekend that The Bullpen – downtown’s social district – will be in effect, so enjoy a beverage while you shop, stroll, watch and listen.

Santa Visits the Brewery – Saturday, noon-5pm – Visit The Glass Jug Beer Lab‘s beer garden in RTP for some holiday cheer! Santa pays the brewery a visit and will be available for photos (tickets required) from noon to 3pm. Nailed It DIY Studio will have Christmas ornaments that can be decorated and taken home from noon to 4pm. Rainbow Brushes and Balloons will be on hand complementary face painting and balloon twisting from 1-3pm, Stairway to Veggin’ food truck will be slinging their delicious eats, and The Glass Jug will serve hot spiced apple cider (non-alcoholic and spiked options available) and mulled wine, along with craft beer. Get a photo of your kids, your pets, your friends or your whole family with Santa in front of the brewhouse!

The Bullpen: Social District Kickoff Party – Saturday, 5-10pm – The Glass Jug Beer Lab‘s downtown location is celebrating the opening of The Bullpen by hosting a DJ on its patio from 6-8pm and a food tuck parked out front from 6-9pm so you can enjoy a beer, a glass of wine or some hot spiced apple cider outside in Durham Central Park or as you stroll through downtown Durham!

Winter Showcase 2022 – Saturday, 7pm and Sunday, 3pm – Durham Ballet Theatre performers showcase their own original choreography that highlights aerial silks, Lyra and contemporary dance at the Durham School for Ballet & the Performing Arts.

Bull City Reels on Wheels – Saturday, 8:30-10:30pm – Enjoy a drive-in showing of the movie “Elf” at Durham County Stadium, hosted by Durham Parks & Recreation. Gates open one hour prior to the show, and there will be plenty of food trucks around to supply you with your fill of movie snacks. Non-perishable food items are also being collected at check-in to support those in need in the Durham community. The event is free, but pre-registration is required for entry.

Isidore String Quartet – Saturday, 8pm – Duke Performances presents the winners of this past September’s Banff International String Quartet Competition at Baldwin Auditorium. The centerpiece of the program, which includes works by Haydn and Beethoven, will be a 2012 quartet written by Billy Childs about his emotional journey throughout his wife’s serious sickness and subsequent recovery.


For even more community events and happenings, visit our online calendar.

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