Being stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina has many benefits and always having something to do is one of them. There is so much to do in this area throughout the year and Christmas is no exception. Christmas at Fort Bragg is BUSY! There are so many things to do that it’s hard to keep up with. From mid-November through January, you can find plenty of holiday activities that are perfect for the whole family.
Here is a list of Christmas activities in an around Fort Bragg that are perfect for families with kids!
Benson – Starting November 16
(This photo is courtesy of MeadowLights.com.)
Meadow Lights in Benson, North Carolina (a 40 minute drive from Fort Bragg) is known as the oldest and largest Christmas light show in Eastern North Carolina. This display, run by a local family, is one of the only Christmas attractions that honors the true meaning of Christmas. This display follows the life of Jesus from birth to His resurrection using mannequins set out in 6 different scenes.
You can enjoy the lights from the road or Meadow Lights features a train to take you through the lights, a carousel, pictures with Santa, and a concession stand. Admission to see the lights in completely free! However, bring some money for train tickets and concessions.
The family that puts on Meadow Lights, also runs The Old Country Store in Benson, which sells more than 300 kinds of Christmas and old fashioned candy. This light show begins November 16 and is a must-see holiday attraction when you are stationed at Fort Bragg!
Chinese Lantern Festival
Cary – November 23 – January 13
(This photo is courtesy of Booth Amphitheatre.)
After seeing gorgeous pictures on Instagram last year, the Chinese Lantern Festival in Cary was added to my Fort Bragg and North Carolina Bucket List. This light display begins on November 23 and runs until January 13. Tickets are $15 (adult) and $10 (child) each and include a half mile walk through the lantern displays and access to the cultural performances that take place during your visit.
The larger than life lantern displays are all crafted by Chinese artisans. They contain thousands of LED lights and hundreds of different parts. There is a performance every night on the main stage ranging from traditional Chinese dances to foot and vase juggling. There are also vendors along the way selling food and drinks. Though this display is an hour drive from Fort Bragg, it’s well worth the trip!
A Dickens Holiday
Fayetteville – November 23
(This photo is courtesy of the Arts Council of Fayetteville.)
The nerdy book-lover in me couldn’t wait for a chance to attend this festival. I adore Charles Dickens and the Christmas season, so it’s no wonder that this festival made my Fort Bragg and NC Bucket List.
The day after Thanksgiving, Hay Street in Fayetteville comes to life with horse-drawn carriages, local businesses are decorated with Victorian-style Christmas decorations, and the townspeople can be seen sporting their 19th century finest. Vendors and artisans are available for your holiday shopping needs and there’s a firework show after dark. A Dickens Holiday is the perfect kick off to your Christmas season!
Breakfast with Santa
Fort Bragg – Starting November 24
(This photo is courtesy of Eventbrite.)
Bring your little ones to Stryker Golf Course at Fort Bragg to give their list to Santa and get their picture with him! Breakfast will be provided, along with a holiday cookie and milk station. You can even get VIP tickets for a special breakfast with The Man in Red himself. Tickets include breakfast, a picture with Santa, a Christmas cookie, a special gift from Santa, and face painting! There are multiple dates for this event – November 24 & 25 and December 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, & 23. So, mark your calendars and get ready for a Merry Morning!
Festival of Lights at Lu Mil Vineyard
Elizabethtown – November 24-December 23
(This photo is courtesy of Lu Mil Vineyards.)
Get your fat pants ready for dinner at the Country Buffet and then take a drive through the Festival of Lights at Lu Mil Vineyard. The lights and decorations are synced to music that you can listen to on your car’s radio. If you’re going with a group of 20 or more, you can even rent a double decker bus to see the lights! The gift shop is open daily and offers free wine tastings.
Check out the website to see the vineyard’s accommodations for a sweet little holiday getaway. There are 9 cabins for rent, along with 2 large houses for the family. Located in Elizabethtown, almost an hour’s drive from Fort Bragg, this holiday event is worth travelling for!
The Heart of Christmas Show
Fayetteville – November 24-25
(This photo is courtesy of the Crown Complex.)
This fast-paced, Broadway-style production is celebrating 20 years in this 2018 season! The Heart of Christmas Show features 36 talented performers to beautifully portray the meaning of Christmas through song and dance. Among the performers is the popular Christian group Voices of the Heart. Fit for an audience of all ages, this show is fun for the whole family and with tickets starting at $15, it’s affordable too!
Not only is The Heart of Christmas a fun holiday event, but every dollar made from ticket sales is given to local children’s charities in Fayetteville. This show has donated $750,000 to local charities and public schools throughout the year. It’s a great show with a great cause and a must-see during this holiday season!
Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Fort Bragg – November 29
(This photo is courtesy of Fort Bragg’s MWR.)
Don’t miss your chance to see the Santa Golden Knights at Fort Bragg’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony! Located at the Main Post Parade Field, there is a list of activities taking place along with the ceremony. The activities include a Kidz Korner, Snow My Yard, food trucks, entertainment from the Poole Elementary Chorus, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and the Golden Knights Parachute Jump, of course! This event is perfect for children and families at Fort Bragg! It’s open to the public and completely free!
Holiday Lights in the Garden
Fayetteville – November 30 – December 23
(This photo is courtesy of Cape Fear Botanical Garden.)
This year’s Holiday Lights theme at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden in Fayetteville is the ‘Polar Express’. A mile-long walk through the garden and around Cypress Pond reveals synchronized music and lights. Guests can also enjoy a caroling hayride, pictures with Santa, fire pits for s’more roasting, a hot cocoa bar, scavenger hunt, and free crafts for the kids. Live entertainment is available on select nights also! The Garden Gift Shop is open every night, along with a new Santa’s Workshop – there kids can secretly buy gifts for their parents. So, grab your jackets and head over to the garden for a fun family night!
Holiday Crafts for Kids
Fayetteville – Starting December 1
(This photo is courtesy of Kid Create Studio.)
Starting on December 1st, Kid Create Studio in Fayetteville will be hosting a number of holiday-themed events. From a Mother-Daughter Holiday Create Night to an Ornament Making Party to Holiday Slime Time there is an event for kids of all ages! Make sure you check out their website for dates and prices of each event. Spending time in an art studio with the kids will be a fun way to spend the season of Christmas at Fort Bragg!
Marksmen Hockey Game – Faith and Family Night
Fayetteville – December 1
(This photo is courtesy of marksmenhockey.com.)
On December 1st, the Fayetteville Marksmen hockey team will be competing against the Peoria Rivermen. Each home game for the Marksmen has a unique theme and corresponding event. This game’s theme is Faith and Family Night. This outing is perfect for church congregations, family, friends, and youth groups! Get your group together and head over to the Crown Complex for a night of lighthearted family fun!
Reindeer Fun Run
Aberdeen – December 1
(This photo is courtesy of reindeerfunrun.com.)
40 minutes west of Fort Bragg, in the town of Aberdeen, folks will don their most festive Christmas apparel for the Reindeer Fun Run! There is a 5k and 12k run for adults and older children and the Egg Nog Jog for children 9 and under. Everyone who participates in a run receives a pair of antlers and a finisher medal. In addition to awards for race winners, there is a costume contest!
Childcare is provided for the kiddies while the parents race and there is a Kids Zone with face painting, pony rides, music, games, and Santa for family fun after the race! All proceeds are donated to the Boys and Girls Club of the Sandhills. So, get your merry running shoes on and become a part of this fun and festive event!
Raleigh – December 6-9 & December 11-16
(This photo is courtesy of the City of Raleigh.)
For a limited time in the holiday season, Raleigh’s historic Pullen Park is transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Decorated with thousands of lights, Christmas displays, and an ice covered sledding hill, it’s easy to see why Holiday Express tickets sell out so quickly! The unlimited carousel rides and visits with Santa are just icing on the cake.
Christmas in the Park
Fayetteville – December 6-20
(This photo is courtesy of Fayetteville & Cumberland Parks & Rec.)
Put on your walking shoes for a half-mile stroll through the beautiful Arnette Park. After taking in the sights and sounds of the Christmas season stop by the craft station, visit with Santa, watch a movie on the outdoor screen, ride the train, and roast marshmallows at the fire pit. Before you leave grab a bite to eat from one of the vendors and enjoy the entertainment provided by some of the local artists!
Rotary Christmas Parade
Fayetteville – December 8
(This photo is courtesy of the Rotary Christmas Parade website.)
The first Rotary Christmas Parade originally had 50 entries. That number has now grown to 110-120 entries, some of which come in from out of state! Not only is this a big Christmas parade, but each year, the parade’s Grand Marshal is a nationally known individual that all kids will love and enjoy.
Marksmen Hockey Game – Ugly Sweater and Teddy Bear Throw
Fayetteville – December 8
On December 8th, the Fayetteville Marksmen hockey team will be competing against the Birmingham Bulls. This game’s theme is Ugly Sweater/Teddy Bear Throw. The team will don their ugly sweater-style jerseys for the game. They urge the fans to bring along a stuffed animal throw onto the ice after they score their first goal!
Disney on Ice
Raleigh – December 5-9
(This photo is courtesy of the PNC Arena.)
Join Mickey Mouse and his many friends when Disney on Ice presents Mickey’s Search Party. Raleigh’s PNC Arena transforms into a magical celebration on the ice and in the air as world-class skaters and acrobats take the whole family on a Disney adventure. From the mouse himself to Moana to Aladdin to Belle, all of your favorite characters are there to put on a show you won’t forget!
Christmas in Hope Mills
Hope Mills – November 30 – December 1 & 15
On November 30, the Town of Hope Mills has their tree lighting ceremony, visits with Santa, and Christmas music as part of their Christmas at the Lake celebration. There will also be yule log and plenty of hot chocolate!
Then on December 1, Hope Mills continues the celebration with their annual Christmas parade followed by the Festival of Lights. Immediately following the parade the Christmas tree is lit again and Santa returns to visit all the good girls and boys. Hot chocolate is still a staple, along with an outdoor movie and train rides.
You can also have Breakfast with Santa on December 15!
Poe House Holiday Jubilee
Fayetteville – December 2
(This photo is courtesy of Museum of the Cape Fear.)
On December 2nd the 1897 comes to life as the 116 year-old stove is lit to do some holiday cooking. Decorated in true Victorian style, the house will be open between the musical performances. The Coventry Carolers and the Cross Creek Chordsmen will be there to perform all the Christmas classics. And don’t miss Santa for a FREE photo op! Cider and cookies will be available at this free event, you don’t want to miss it!
First Day Hikes
Spring Lake – Jan. 1
(This photo is courtesy of NCParks.gov.)
Start your New Year’s Resolution off right with the First Day Hike at Carver’s Creek State Park. Choose between a 2-mile guided hike through the Longleaf pine ecosystem or a self-guided 1-mile Story Walk. Either way you’ll kick off 2019 exercise and time outdoors!
Fort Bragg and it’s surrounding communities really get into the holiday spirit! There are so many festive things to do during this time of year!