All across the state, towns are preparing their Christmas markets, parades, lights, and more! Santa can be found taking pictures at the local mall, but he can also be found visiting the various towns and attractions in North Carolina. It can be overwhelming to try and find the highlights in the state, which is why we’ve compiled a few of the best ones we found in our research.

Bundle up, turn up the Christmas music, pour the hot chocolate/eggnog, and bring the whole family to:

McAdenville, North Carolina (McAdenville) - Every year (since 1956!), the entire town of McAdenville transforms into a Christmas wonderland. Ranked in the top 20 holiday lighting displays in the nation, each house is set to amaze visitors. Plus, it’s free to walk or drive around the town to see the lights! More information can be found on their website.

Scandinavian “Julmarknad” a.k.a. Christmas Fair (Raleigh) - Happening on December 1 at the Holshouser Building on the State Fairgrounds, the Scandinavian Christmas fair draws on the authentic traditions of Scandinavian countries like Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. Visit Tomten (Santa) and watch the Lucia Procession where adults and children dress up and perform in the traditional, old-world style. Enjoy delicious food and candy; Scandinavian songs, folk dances; a fashion show; and more! If you haven’t experienced Christmas like the Scandinavians do, this one is a definite must-try!

Charlotte Christmas Village (Charlotte) - Located on 7th St. & N. Tryon in Uptown Charlotte, the Christmas Village transforms Romare Bearden Park into a must-visit. Get your Glühwein (traditional German mulled, spiced wine) in a souvenir mug, see Santa, get your shopping done, and enjoy the various offerings the village has to offer. Admission is free!

Greensboro Holiday Parade (Greensboro) - Happening on December 1, this parade features enormous balloons like the ones you see at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. These balloons have been featured internationally and is the only parade in North Carolina to have these balloons. Click here for more information on the various “Downtown in December” activities Greensboro has to offer aside from the parade!

Christmas at Biltmore (Asheville) - Nothing beats a visit to America’s Largest Home during the holiday season. Take pictures with the beautifully adorned Christmas trees, and take part in the beauty of Candlelight Christmas Evenings (reservation only). Of course, the entire city of Asheville has a lot more to offer in the way of Christmas decorations and sceneries. The magic of the Blue Ridge Mountains is unparalleled in the winter time.

GeekCraft Expo RDU 2018 Holiday Market (Durham) - For the geeks and nerds in your life, you may want to visit the GeekCraft Holiday Market. It’s free if your register online, and they encourage visitors to come in cosplay. The market boasts that everything is made by hand by artists, so there is no shortage of nerdy gifts for those who go.

Chinese Lantern Festival (Cary) - Enjoy beautiful, jaw-dropping Chinese lantern displays at the Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. 15,000 LEDs light up the entire park. Cultural performances, food trucks, and souvenirs can be found around the area. Try the spiked hot chocolate as you walk around!

NC Christmas Tree Association - If you are still looking for a Christmas tree, this website compiles tree sellers from around the state. A useful resource for those wanting a fresh tree in their home this year.

Whether you want to stay in the area or are looking to make a trip out of it, North Carolina has plenty to offer in the way of Christmas attractions. Lights, parades, Christmas markets—they all have a way of getting people in the Christmas spirit. Don’t let the rising costs of healthcare dampen or weaken your spirit. We at the NC Coalition for Fiscal Health work to keep you in the know.

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