Kick off December with a candlelit tour of Duke Homestead, festive displays at the Museum of Life and Science and other events in Durham
Compiled by Isabella Reilly
The Mangum Family Christmas Lights Show – Through Dec. 31, 5:30-11pm – Drive past 7510 Guess Rd. in Hillsborough, tune your radio to 90.3 FM and hear a total of 64 Christmas songs play in sync with the lights on the Durham County home between Big Horn Drive and South Lowell Road.
‘Night Waves’ – Through Sunday; artist opening Friday, 5-8pm – A short documentary based on the artist Jason Sudak‘s experience in the summer of 2019 in Armila, Guna Yala – an indigenous comarca in Panama, where the Darién jungle, Caribbean Sea and Armila River intersect – presented at the Power Plant Gallery.
‘Way Out of No Way’ Humanities Series: Javon Jackson – Thursday, noon-1pm – NorthStar Church of the Arts hosts the tenor saxophonist for a lunchtime conversation with jazz vocalist Nneena Freelon. The event commemorates the church’s official reopening following the coronavirus pandemic, with both in-person and virtual attendance options.
Virtual Walk on the Wild Side: Winter is Coming – Thursday, 2-3pm – Sarah P. Duke Gardens‘ Blomquist Garden of Native Plants curator Annabel Renwick and horticulturist Maegan Luckett lead a virtual conversation on preparing plants for winter.
Holidays in the Park – Thursday-Sunday, 5:15-9pm – The Museum of Life and Science offers festive activities for the whole family to enjoy this holiday season, with colorful light displays among its outdoor exhibits and indoor spaces in addition to an illuminating train ride along the Ellerbe Creek Railway.
Holiday Cookie Decorating Class – Thursday, 5:30-7pm – Buzzybakes‘ Jen P will teach you how to make beautiful Christmas cookies by sharing pro tips like piping, flooding, dragging, wet on wet and sugar add-ons. All supplies and refreshments of hot cocoa, coffee, cider and cupcakes from Buzzybakes included.
Live Music – Myles Travitz & John Sierra – Thursday, 6-9pm – The Glass Jug Beer Lab hosts the North Carolina-based musicians for a free live performance at its downtown location.
‘How to Fight Antisemitism’ – Thursday, 6:30-7:30pm – Bari Weiss, a former writer for The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, discusses her new book, which focuses on unveiling and pushing against anti-Semitism in identity politics, at the JB Duke Hotel.
Drop Spindle – Thursday, 6:30-7:30pm – Learn how to spin wool into yarn with instructor Hannah Smith at Leigh Farm Park. Hosted by Durham Parks & Recreation, attendees can discover the drop spindle’s historic background and receive individualized support while completing this hands-on craft.
Joe Troop & Friends – Thursday, 7pm – The multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter hailing from Winston-Salem celebrates his new solo album with a series of live musical performances featuring guest musicians and visual artists at The Fruit.
Screen/Society – ‘The Souvenir Part II’ – Thursday, 7-8:50pm – Duke Cinematic Arts hosts this free screening at the Rubenstein Arts Center at Duke University. The film centers around Julie, portrayed by actress Honor Byrne, who grapples with the aftermath of her relationship with an older man while creating her graduation film.
Kut Throat Karaoke with Rebecca Newton & David Burney – Thursday, 7-9pm – Join the duo at The Blue Note Grill for a fun evening of laughter and song.
Lauren Daigle: The Behold Christmas Tour – Thursday, 7:30pm – The Christian singer and two-time Gramm- award winner performs at the Durham Performing Arts Center. The show features Lauren’s favorite seasonal songs as well as tunes from her holiday album, “Behold: A Christmas Collection,” which marks its fifth anniversary this year.
The Nutcracker – Thursday and Friday, 8-9pm – Kick off the holiday season with this free classic performance by Duke University’s contemporary ballet company, Devils en Pointe, at the Reynolds Industries Theater.
Old Crow Medicine Show – Thursday and Friday, 8pm – The Carolina Theatre hosts the Grammy-award winning folk group for two performances, with singer-songwriter Molly Tuttle opening the show.
The City: A Portal – Thursday-Sunday, 6-9pm – Duke University emeritus faculty members Tyler Walters and Julie Walters, along with Killian Manning, present a dance-related immersive experience highlighting the delights and problems within cities. On display on Duke’s East Campus, the piece includes video projections designed to inspire critical thinking about the world.
Durham Community Day – Friday, 10am-5pm – The Museum of Life and Science offers free admission to all Durham residents and allows adults to bring up to five children to share in the complimentary visit.
Christmas by Candlelight – Friday, 5:30-9pm – Join Duke Homestead State Historic Site for an 1870 Victorian-style holiday with the Duke family. The experience includes candlelight tours led by costumed interpreters as well as seasonal games, live music and holiday cookies.
Santa Paws – Friday, 6-8:30pm – Treat your pup to a visit and photo session with Santa at the Durham Armory. The pup-centric event hosted by Durham Parks and Recreation also includes a canine ugly sweater contest, holiday pet market and dog food drive.
‘Die Hard’ and ‘Gymkata’ – Friday, 7pm – Is ‘Die Hard’ a Christmas movie? See for yourself during this double feature as a part of the Retro Film Series at The Carolina Theatre.
Duke Street Dogs – Friday, 7pm – The Durham-based band, known for their ability to master diverse musical genres, performs live at The Blue Note Grill.
Duke Jazz Ensemble with guest artist Javon Jackson – Friday, 8pm – The tenor saxophonist performs a second time this weekend alongside Duke University’s jazz orchestra in the Baldwin Auditorium.
Pollinator Garden Volunteer Day – Saturday, 9am-3pm – The Glass Jug Beer Lab seeks volunteers to help expand and beautify its pollinator garden at its RTP location. All materials and tools are provided by Keep Durham Beautiful, but volunteers are encouraged to bring their favorite pair of work gloves.
2021 Nutcracker Smash Pickleball Tournament – Saturday, 9am-6pm – Dance with the Sugar Plum Fairy down to Bethesda Park for this second annual pickleball event. The dedicated doubles tournament is open to adults 18 and older.
History Hike: Hidden West Point – Saturday, 10am-1pm – Durham Parks and Recreation partners with the Eno River Association to host an on- and off-trail hike through the West Point on the Eno. The five-mile hike tours home sites, old road beds, former irrigation systems and more.
Charles Pettee – Saturday, 11am – The Carolina Theatre hosts the North Carolina native for an interactive performance inspired by music from the 1800s and the Civil War era. Charles also shares how these musical forms laid the foundation for later genres, like jazz, rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop.
Handel’s Messiah – Saturday, 2pm, and Sunday, 4pm – Presented by the Duke Chapel Choir, this approximately 90-minute performance features soloists Emily Oehrtman, Rianne Gebhardt, Kay’mon Murrah and Zaikuan Song, the Mallarmé Chamber Players, continuo Christopher Jacobson and conductor Zebulon Highben. It will be recorded live in front of an audience in Duke Chapel this weekend. The broadcast includes all of the Christmas portion of Messiah, plus selected movements from Parts II and III. The broadcast version is viewable online from Sun., Dec. 12 through Sun., Dec. 26.
APS Out & About at Glass Jug – Saturday, 3-5pm – The Animal Protection Society of Durham brings adoptable furry friends to The Glass Jug Beer Lab’s RTP location. There will also be trivia games with chances to win prizes, and a portion of beer sales benefit APS.
Baddies of NC Community Bazaar – Saturday, 3-7pm – Black women entrepreneurs show host this bazaar at Morehead Manor following a retreat experience consisting of bonding, community building, networking and developing skills to further develop their businesses.
Parties for the Park: Fifth Annual Brunswick Stew and Soulful Tunes – Saturday, 4-9pm – Warm up at Durham Central Park with all-you-can-eat traditional and vegetarian Brunswick stew, plus a pint of locally brewed beer (or lemonade for those younger than 21). The party also includes live music from Butcher and the Tin Man, El Jefe, Midnight Gladness and The Simple Joy.
Roost + Revelry 2021: A Night-In with Farmer Foodshare – Saturday, 7-8:30pm – Join Farmer Foodshare for an evening of local food, wine and music from the comfort of your home. This farm-to-table virtual fundraiser supports small businesses, artists and BIPOC / women-owned farms. You can purchase a ticket just to the virtual concert featuring country soul artist Kamara Thomas or purchase a concert pass and a meal kit with locally sourced ingredients for dinner and dessert, with an option to add a bottle of a paired red or white wine. Recipes and preparation ideas are included!
Diane Carter – Saturday, 7:30pm – The Blue Note Grill hosts the Raleigh-based vocalist, who has sung alongside Aretha Franklin, Jeffrey Osbourne, Gladys Knight, The O’Jays and Bette Midler.
Holiday Pops – Saturday, 7:30pm – Presented by the Durham Symphony Orchestra, sing along to holiday favorites at this concert and silent auction, which will be emceed by Anthony Wilson of WTVD-ABC11 and features a world premiere from composer Amy Scurria at the Durham Armory. DSO’s Maestro William Henry Curry will be joined by members of United Strings of Color, Kidznotes, the Community Music School of Raleigh and North Carolina Central University’s Jazz Studies program.
Chicago – Saturday, 8pm – The Grammy award-winning rock band performs at the Durham Performing Arts Center as a part of their annual tour. Hailed as one of the “most important bands in music since the dawn of rock and roll,” Chicago landed the No. 10 spot on Billboard Magazine’s Top 125 Artists of All Time.
The Fab Four – The Ultimate Beatles Tribute – Saturday, 8pm – Follow Abbey Road down to The Carolina Theatre, and enjoy your favorite Beatles tunes performed by this Emmy Award-winning tribute band.
Christina & Michelle Naughton, Piano Duo – Saturday, 8pm – The sister pianists perform Beethoven’s “Grosse Fuge Intermission,” Ravel’s “La Valse,” and other symphonies by John Adams and Mozart during this show at Baldwin Auditorium presented by Duke Performances. The New Jersey natives have been lauded “master pianists” by Gramophone, and The Washington Post claimed the pair must “be heard to be believed.”
The Steel Wheels – Saturday, 9pm – The Americana group performs at Motorco Music Hall as part of their album tour for “Everyone A Song,” a unique collection of tunes commissioned by fans.
Golden Belt Holiday Market – Sunday, 10am-4pm – The artists at Golden Belt host a market with local creatives, outside vendors and food and drink.
House of Coxx Drag Brunch – Sunday, 11am-2pm – Counting House hosts this festive weekend meal complete with performances from Vivica Coxx, Naomi Dix, Stormie Daie, Dustin Reams and DJ Luxe Posh.
Holiday Market at Glass Jug RTP – Sunday, noon-4pm – Get a head start on holiday shopping with the help of Triangle Pop-Up at The Glass Jug Beer Lab‘s RTP location. Browse from a selection of art, home goods, seasonal gifts and more while sipping on a craft beer, hot apple cider or mulled wine.
The Patchwork Holiday Market – Sunday, noon – Shop from 55 local makers as this annual event returns to the Durham Armory.
Blacker the Berry – Sunday, 2-6pm – Kick-start the holiday season at Durham Central Park with live music, shopping, food trucks, spirits and hot apple cider.
Chris Botti – Sunday, 8pm – One of the largest-selling American instrumental artists, Chris embodies a form of creative expression that begins in jazz and expands beyond the limits of any single genre. He performs inside Fletcher Hall at The Carolina Theatre.