Downtown Chapel Hill

Downtown Blog

What To Do & See Downtown This Holiday Season!

Enjoy a season full of family-friendly activities, shopping locally, and traditional holiday events in downtown Chapel Hill. 

Downtown Tree Lighting Ceremony

Sunday, November 27 | 6 pm

Join us in welcoming the holiday season in the Memorial Garden of University Baptist Church; 100 S. Columbia Street. We'll light up the tree, enjoy caroling with the church choir, and hot cocoa and baked goods will be on sale by the church's youth group to support their mission work. Bring your camera - children can meet Santa Claus & Mrs. Claus! Free and open to all. Parking is FREE every Sunday in downtown Chapel Hill. For more information please call 919-967-9440.

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FREE Parking Downtown This Holiday Season 

Shop local and enjoy downtown Chapel Hill for the holidays! Parking will be free throughout December during Saturday daytimes at all Town-owned parking lots and metered parking (2 hour time limit).  After 5 p.m. normal rates will be charged at Wallace Deck and Rosemary/Columbia Lot. On Saturday, Dec. 24 and Saturday, Dec. 31, all public parking is free. And remember...public parking is always free on Sundays year-round! Visit for a map and list of downtown parking options.

Shop Small This Season

Saturday, Nov 26 | All Day

Start your holiday shopping on Small Business Saturday, right here in your hometown and support local shops and our local economy. There are many unique locally-owned, locally-operated businesses in downtown Chapel Hill with gift buying options for all on your list. Even that uncle you swear has everything!  Our list of downtown Chapel Hill retail shops:

St. Nick Collection Kick-Off at FRANK Gallery

Friday, December 9 | 6-9 pm

The UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and FRANK Gallery collaborate every holiday season to provide art supplies to patients in the N.C. Cancer Hospital. FRANK Gallery will be collecting items. Stop by the Gallery and bring an art item to donate! For the full list of suggested supplies, visit 

The 12 Days of Christmas

Experience the Carolina Inn's enchanting decorations that are inspired by the traditional holiday song. For the month of December enjoy seasonal events like Horse Drawn Carriage Rides, Brunch & Breakfast with Santa, Afternoon Tea, and Make Your Own Gingerbread House Class for children. Registration is required for events, visit or


Saturday, Dec 31 | 2 - 6 pm

Now kids can enjoy ringing in the new year too at NIGHT LIGHTS in downtown Chapel Hill at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. NIGHT LIGHTS offers activities, interactive games, refreshments, and a kids' countdown under the stars in the fulldome theater to ring in the new year! Register at

Celebrate Thanksgiving 

Talulla's Restaurant will be serving a Turkish-inspired, three course Thanksgiving Feast. Pre-Fixe menu or al la carte dining from menu. Call 919-933-1177 or visit
The Carolina Inn is serving a Thanksgiving Day Brunch filled with traditional holiday fare. Call 919-918-2777 for reservations or visit
The Baxter Arcade is hosting the 2nd Annual Baxter-Giving for all to eat, dance, play games and give thanks. Bring a side dish to contribute to the feast. More Info.

Holiday House Tour with Preservation Chapel Hill

Friday, December 9 | 6 pm

This year guests will stroll on a candlelight tour of four private homes in the East Franklin-Rosemary Historic District while enjoying wine and hors d'oeuvres at each stop. The tour will culminate at the Horace Williams House for a festive Dessert Party. For tickets and information visit or call (919) 942-7818.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Holiday Parade 

Saturday, December 10 | 10 am

Presented by the Jaycees and the Town of Chapel Hill, the Holiday Parade is a favorite local tradition, which showcases everything from marching bands, business leaders, youth groups, and creatively decorated floats. At 10am, the parade begins in front of Morehead Planetarium and progresses through Chapel Hill on Franklin Street, ending around noon at the Carrboro Town Hall. 

2nd Friday ArtWalk

Friday, December 9 | 6-9 pm

Shop local art this holiday season for everyone on your list! Featuring galleries, retail shops, studios, and venues throughout Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Venues offer live music, food, activities, and more! 

The Longest Night: A Winter's Tale

Now Showing

This a one-of-a-kind fulldome Morehead Planetarium show explores the concept that winter is a time for Earth to rest, waiting for new growth in the spring. Morehead Planetarium collaborated with Paperhand Puppet Intervention to develop the story and visuals. For show days, times and cost visit

Home for the Holidays at DSI Comedy Theater

Fridays, Dec 9, 16, 23 | 8:30 pm

It's that time of year so get out of the house for the holidays! Come laugh at yourselves and your family. Home for the Holidays is an interactive improv show all about the holidays. Scenes are based on your suggestions, so every show could be about you and your family! 
The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership works to bring the resources of the Town, University and downtown community together to maintain, enhance and promote downtown as the social, cultural, and spiritual center of Chapel Hill through economic development. Learn more at