Free family Thanksgiving events in Raleigh, Durham and Fayetteville 2017
Matt Lambert YouTube

The week of Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for gatherings and feasts with family and friends in Raleigh, Durham, and Fayetteville, North Carolina. There will be several free and family-friendly events that you can enjoy during the holiday week in 2017. Check out all the fun-filled happenings in the area with fun for kids and adults this year.

 73rd Annual ABC11 Raleigh Christmas Parade
Nov. 18 @ 9:40 a.m.
State Capitol, Raleigh, NC 27601

The annual Christmas parade will be presented by the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association & Shop Local Raleigh. About 60,000 spectators will attend the festive parade, which will last about 2.5 hours. The entire family will enjoy the spectacle, which will kick off the festive holiday season. The parade will be broadcast on ABC11 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. on Nov. 18 and will be rebroadcast on Christmas Morning.

Annual Tree Lighting Celebration
Nov. 18 @ 3:30 p.m.
Commons of North Hills, 4158 Main at North Hills St., Raleigh, NC 27609

The Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration will be a festive event which will include a vendor village and fun for the family. There will be activities to entertain children, including a bounce house, trackless train rides, snow slopes, and fun. Santa Claus will arrive at 6 p.m. to light the 41 ft. Christmas tree to the merry song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” The family-friendly event will be free to the public.

2017 Durham Art Walk Holiday Market
Nov. 18-19
120 Morris St., Durham, NC 27701

Take the family for a day of fine arts and crafts at the Durham Art Walk Holiday Market on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Artisans will be selling their works at many downtown sites. The market will also feature live music and entertainment. There will be food available for purchase at food trucks and from area restaurants. Start at the Durham Arts Council to pick up an Art Walk Map and start your art tour. The market will be free to attend and open to the public.

22nd Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration
Nov. 18 @ 11 a.m.
5 East Edenton St., Raleigh, NC 27601

The Indian Heritage Celebration will be a gathering of North Carolina’s eight state-recognized tribes. The family-friendly events will feature American Indian dancers, musicians, artists, authors, and storytellers who will offer their unique perspectives of their cultures. Activities will include games, crafts, and more. The North Carolina Museum of History has proudly announced that that Jana Mashonee, two-time Grammy nominee and nine-time NAMA winner will perform at the opening of the festival. The festival will be free to attend and open to the public.

Lighting of the Tree 2017
Nov. 18 @ 3 p.m.            
Lafayette Village, 5401 North, Raleigh, NC 27615

The entire family will have fun at the Tree Lighting ceremony at Lafayette Village. The festive event will include free horse and carriage rides, which will pick up and drop off at the Chocolate Boutique. The entertainment will include music by the Oakwood Carolers, a performance by the City Ballet, WUMC Ignite Choir, and more. Bring your camera to take pictures of the Meet & Greet with Santa Claus. The Jolly Old Elf will light the holiday tree at 6 p.m.

Messiah Sing-Along at Duke University Chapel
Nov. 19 @ 5:15 p.m.
Duke University Chapel, 401 Chapel Dr., Durham, NC 27705

Everyone will be welcome to join in at the Messiah Sing-Along at Duke University Chapel. Join in the chorus and raise your voices to this great musical masterpiece by Handel. The event will also feature choral and solo highlights. The Messiah Sing-Along will be free to attend, and no tickets will be required. Parking at the Bryan Center Parking Garage will be $5.

A Dickens Christmas
Nov. 24 @ 1 p.m.
301 Hay St., Fayetteville, NC 28301

The 18th annual A Dickens Holiday will take the family back to the era of Dickens’ famous story “The Christmas Carol,” with Victorian decorations, horse-drawn carriages, Father Christmas, and Ebenezer Scrooge. As the sun sets, join the townspeople for the candlelight procession to the Market House and a firework show.

Holiday Flotilla
Nov. 24-25
Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

The Holiday Flotilla will showcase festively decorated boats on the Intracoastal Waterway and will illuminate the sky with fireworks at night. During the day there will be a Festival in the Park, arts, and crafts for holiday shopping, children’s activities, and visits the Santa and Mrs. Claus. A tree lighting ceremony will be held on Nov. 24 @ 5:30 p.m.

NOT FREE BUT STILL FUN

North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival
Nov. 24-Jan. 14 (Closed Mondays)
Booth Amphitheatre, Cary, NC 272511

The North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival will be a stunning walk-through display of lights. Holiday treats and beverages will be available for purchase. Tickets will be $10-$15, free for children 2 and under.