Simply Carolina: Holidays in Winston-Salem



It’s the most wonderful time of the year! During the holiday season, there are lots of things to do, including cooking, decorating, shopping, and wrapping presents. But, there is also another important part to the season – participating in some of the traditions throughout Winston-Salem. Growing up, some of the events below were must-dos to complete the holidays. Here are the can’t miss events for the holidays in Winston-Salem.

  • Holidays at Old Salem- As an alumna of Salem College, the holidays at Old Salem was always one of my favorite times of the year. I loved the decorations in the Square and buildings. Some of the events at the historic site include Saturdays with St. Nicholas, Christmas Lovefeast at St. Philips, and the Candle Tea. My favorite, the Candle Tea, is sponsored by the Women’s Fellowship of Home Moravian Church. The event is held in the Single Brothers’ House and is made up of singing Christmas carols, learning how the Moravian beeswax candles are made, enjoying Moravian coffee and sugar cake, and hearing about the history of Salem. Visitors will also experience what life was like in early Salem through hearing stories and viewing the putz, which is the miniature replica of the town. Lastly, the meaning of Christmas will be shared through the lighted Nativity putz.
  • Tanglewood Festival of Lights- Open nightly from November 18th to January 1st, the Tanglewood Festival of Lights is now in its 25th season and is one of the largest light shows in the Southeast. The 4 mile route has over 100 light displays that you can drive past. In addition, attendees can shop the festival’s gift village, have a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and warm up by the fire at S’moresville. Hayrides and carriage rides through the Festival of Lights are also available.
  • The Winston-Salem Jaycees Holiday Parade and the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting- For many, the holidays don’t begin until this evening occurs. This year, the Winston-Salem Jaycees will host it’ 26th holiday parade through downtown Winston-Salem. Businesses, organizations, school groups, Boy and Girl Scout troops, and many more will march down the parade route as we welcome the holidays and you guessed it, the guy in the big red suit, Santa Claus! Many parade go-ers will then attend the next event, the annual Christmas tree lighting, hosted by the Jaycees’ event partner, the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnerships. The tree lighting will take place directly after the parade. This year, the event will be held on Saturday, December 3rd at 5p.m. with the parade route starting on Fourth Street on Poplar Street and ending at the intersection on Liberty Street.
  • UNC School of the Arts Presentation of The Nutcracker Ballet- the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA)’s performance of The Nutcracker has been a holiday staple in the Camel City for decades. Each year, students from the university put on 10 performances of Tchaikovsky’s world-famous ballet, complete with the Sugar Plum Fairy, Nutcracker Prince, Clara, and the Mouse King. The matinée and evening shows will be performed daily December 9-10 and 14-18. Tickets are currently on sale.
  • A Bethabara Christmas- Venture back in time to the 1753 Moravian settlement of Bethabara. On Saturday, December 3rd, visitors can experience holiday traditions of the historic site. There will be music by Downtown Sounds, beeswax candle demonstrations, and other Christmas traditions.
  • Fox8/Old Dominion Holiday Concert- This Winston-Salem holiday tradition is a musical way to spread holiday cheer and get in the spirit of the season. Fox 8 news anchors hosts a concert by the Winston-Salem Symphony, filled with a carol sing-along. This year’s concert is Saturday, December 17th at 7:30pm and is free with a canned or non-perishable food donation. The donations will be given to the Salvation Army Food Banks throughout the Piedmont Triad.
  • Handel’s Messiah– Another musical way to ring in the holiday season with the Winston-Salem Symphony is their annual performance of Handel’s Originally written for Easter, George Handel’s classic musical work made its debut in Dublin in 1742. Now, known as a Christmas piece, Messiah is performed throughout the world, including right here in Winston-Salem. This year’s productions will be on December 13th and 14th at Centenary United Methodist Church with conductor Robert Moody and special guests.

Article originally published in Forsyth Magazines. 

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