Coffee in Raleigh, N.C.There’s no better time than when the weather is cool to warm your hands and heart with a good cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Throughout the Raleigh area are numerous restaurants, cafés, coffee shops and artisanal chocolatiers that take pride in serving and creating unique and flavorful creations. This holiday season have an extra marshmallow or two and take a break from the holiday shopping madness.

Hot chocolate

There’s no HERSHEY’s chocolate syrup here! Two downtown artisanal chocolate shops use their award-winning bean-to-bar chocolates and, in addition to making small bites and bars, have turned them into drinkable chocolates.

Escazu Artisan Chocolates offers a hot chocolate bar featuring historically-accurate recipes from as early as 1644. Try the Xochiaya, a pre-Columbian brew with chili, jasmine flower and other spices, or the 1692 France, made with cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla and chiles from India. If you aren’t feeling adventurous there’s always the Contemporary Hot Chocolate, made with their 74-percent-blended chocolate, milk and a small amount of sugar.

In downtown Raleigh’s Warehouse District, Videri Chocolate Factory offers not only a sipping hot chocolate, but also a frozen hot chocolate, which is a year-round favorite. Take a few extra minutes while you’re there to tour the factory and see the chocolate-making process up close.

Coffee

If a good cup of joe is more your style, try Jubala Village Coffee in Lafayette Village where each drink is made to order using single-origin coffee from Counter Culture Coffee, a local coffee roaster.

Joule Coffee, which was recently named one of the “Top 20 Coffee Shops in America” by The Daily Meal is James Beard Award-winning chef Ashley Christensen’s newest venture serving a myriad of choices on its expansive coffee menu.

See a full list of Greater Raleigh coffeehouses here, and for a list of local eatables, including chocolatiers, click here.

By Ryan Smith

A Christmas Carol in Raleigh, N.C.Artful Holiday Traditions

Jingle all the way to Greater Raleigh to create new and artful holiday traditions for your family. Take delight in two time-honored performances at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (12/19-28) and Ira David Wood III’s A Christmas Carol (12/10-14).

You’ll be captivated and fascinated by the awe-inspiring grace, grandeur and mysterious illusions of Carolina Ballet’s production of the holiday classic, The Nutcracker. This season will be spectacular as Robert Weiss again combines the beauty of ballet with a little Las Vegas magic. You can also catch one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast,” A Christmas Carol in Raleigh. Celebrate the musical comedy’s 40th anniversary as this classic performance is sure to warm hearts of all ages. Both productions are bona fide Raleigh holiday traditions and are inspiring ways for adults and children to share in the holiday spirit.

Cap off your holiday experience by grabbing your mittens, lacing up a pair of skates and visiting Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest (through 2/1). A centerpiece during the winter season, this premier holiday event features a signature outdoor skating rink and other fun-filled festivities. Can’t miss: Other holiday favorites across Greater Raleigh like It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Play (12/4-8) and “Tis the Season” (12/12) at the Cary Arts Center, Franc D’Ambrosio – Christmas in New York (12/7) at the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre and “Handel’s Messiah – Christmas Section” (12/20) at the Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex :: All Creative Genius events in December

For the Adrenaline Junkie

The fall season in Greater Raleigh means nonstop soccer on a national scale, highlighted by the return of the NCAA Men’s Soccer College Cup (12/12-14). Forty-eight collegiate teams from across the nation will fight for a spot in the final game at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary. Greater Raleigh also hosts the largest annual youth sporting event in the area’s history, featuring the Boys Showcase during the CASL visitRaleigh.com National Soccer Series (12/12-14). Can’t miss: HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational Basketball Tournament (12/26-30) at Broughton High School in Raleigh, featuring many of the top-ranked high school players from across the nation :: All Adrenaline Junkie events in December

Seasonal Treats

The holidays offer many special experiences across the Raleigh area. Children will love Brunch with Santa (12/17) at the Garner Performing Arts Center or sipping on a cup of hot apple cider at Historic Oak View County Park for their Sleigh Rides and Cider (12/6) event. Parents can enjoy a night out at the 12th Annual Gingerbread Benefit (12/7) at The Umstead Hotel and Spa, showcasing more than 25 elaborate gingerbread houses donated and created by local celebrity chefs. Can’t miss: North Carolina Symphony’s Sound Bites at the Pub (12/1) at Humble Pie. Sit back and enjoy the performance as you dine on a delicious multi-course meal :: All Foodie events in December

Holidays Around the World

Area holiday celebrations are not limited to those of secular pop culture but include celebrations paying homage to cultures from across the globe. Take part in the rich traditions of the Nordic countries during the Scandinavian Christmas Fair (12/6) at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds and indulge in homemade Scandinavian foods, Nordic folk dancing, a traditional Lucia Procession and more. Listen to the pipes and drums, watch traditional Irish dance and shop from local Celtic vendors at the 8th Annual Celtic Christmas (12/14) at Tir na nOg; or, be part of the candle-lighting and other festivities for all ages in the 20th Annual Kwanzaa Celebration (12/20) at the Cary Arts Center. Can’t miss: Take a special holiday tour of the North Carolina Executive Mansion during the Governor’s Mansion Holiday Open House (12/11-14). Browse the decorations, which include N.C.-grown Christmas trees, whimsical gingerbread houses, ornate mantle displays and mixed evergreen arrangements :: All Lifelong Learner events in December

Let’s Jam!

Warm up with a cup of joe and a performance at a coffee shop. Stop in Lorraine’s Coffee House in Garner for evening shows by Connie McCoy Rogers and Mo’ Jazz (12/6), Diamond Creel (12/11) and Foscoe Philharmonic (12/20). You can also relax with live music at Sola Coffee & Cafe while listening to Cory Bishop and Friends (12/5), Rachel Joy Pletts (12/6), Lounge Doctors (12/12) and Erin Mason (12/19). Can’t miss: The national and world tours stopping in Raleigh at PNC Arena, including The Black Keys (12/5) and The Avett Brothers (12/31) :: All Music Maniac events in December

Even more December can’t misses

The Raleigh Acorn will be lowered at First Night Raleigh 2015 to ring in the New Year. While the acorn has become synonymous with First Night Raleigh, the festival is much more than the countdown to midnight. Your admission grants access to every performance and every venue throughout the day. That’s nearly 100 performances in more than three dozen locations across downtown Raleigh. What a bargain for just $10! This year’s theme is “Out of This World Fun.” Learn more

Holidays in Raleigh wouldn’t be the same without the Capitol Tree Lighting at the North Carolina State Capitol. The Capitol is beautiful by itself… but holiday trees make things just a little more beautiful. Seasonal music and hands-on fun highlight this evening presented by the North Carolina Museum of History.

45th Annual Fine Designer Crafts ShowUp for a little (creative) holiday shopping over Thanksgiving weekend? Be that unpredictable gift-giver this holiday season and give truly one-of-a-kind gifts. Find unique items at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds over the Thanksgiving weekend!

Maggie Joynt Ocean Jasper BraceletMaggie Joynt’s ocean jasper bracelet

The 45th Annual Fine Designer Crafts Show, held in the Exposition Center, is a three-day show and sale of crafts including more than 115 contemporary fine craft artists from across North Carolina and the U.S. Presented by the Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild (CDCG), this family-friendly event is a trusted resource for collectors and the community at large.

Fiber art by Jen SwearingtonFiber art by Jen Swearington

A rigorous two-step jury selection process draws emerging and career craft artists who are presenting craft at the highest level and reflecting a mastery of technique and originality of design. Show artists present a striking variety of fine crafts in glass, ceramics, wood, both wearable and decorative fibers, metal, leather, printmaking, photography and mixed media, as well as one-of-a-kind handmade furniture and both precious and semi-precious jewelry. A full list of 2014 artists and images of their work can be found here.

Pottery by Evelyn Ward
Pottery by Evelyn Ward

“Whether you are shopping for yourself or your favorite family member who loves local, hand-crafted treasures, you will always find wonderful ideas, gifts and treats,” said Amy Etheridge, CDCG executive director. “Meet, talk and mingle with the artists at their booths and ask questions about their process, path to proficiency and more.”

Artist Demonstrations:
Sat., Nov. 29, 2014

  • Roy Underhill, 1pm and 3pm
    When You Come to a Fork in the Wood – Take It!
    Host of the PBS series The Woodwright’s Shop and founder of The Woodwright’s School, Underhill explores how the deep structure of nature shapes our built environment.

Tai Kim, jewelerJewelry-a-Palooza:
Sun., Nov. 30, 2014

  • Janet Harriman, 12:15pm
    This jeweler will demonstrate folding and forming flat sheet metal into a hammered sculptural ring or bracelet.
  • Ginger Meek Allen, 1:15pm
    This metalsmith and custom studio jeweler will discuss the narrative power of jewelry, share stories of how her clients have used her work to honor their lives and demonstrate the assembly of a contemporary custom locket.
  • Ben Dyer, 2:30pm
    This designer goldsmith will share bench tips he’s mastered over his 39-year career as a studio jeweler.
  • Ginger Meek Allen, 3:45pm
    This metalsmith and custom studio jeweler will continue the assembly of a custom narrative locket while sharing tips on how to approach an artist to commission a personal piece of artwork.

Woodwork by Michael BrownWoodwork by Michael Brown

Collectible, handmade works, from artist-designed jewelry to sculptural furniture, are available in a wide price range.

Serving skilled artisans in this guild’s tradition for 45 years, the CDCG has grown to include more than 200 members from all over the Southeast and beyond. Annually culminating in a member showcase, the guild honors the skills it takes years to develop; recognizes the depth of knowledge and understanding of materials; and celebrates the individuality, uniqueness and innovation expressed by fine craft artists.

Written by Creative Genius Kristy Stevenson. You are invited to follow her online.

Carolina Ballet's The Nutcracker in RaleighOn the heels of two very successful fall productions that started Carolina Ballet’s 17th season, the company is ready to segue into the annual favorite, The Nutcracker. Thousands have been captivated and fascinated by the awe-inspiring grace, grandeur and mysterious illusions of this holiday classic.

Artistic director Robert Weiss combines the beauty of classical ballet with a little Las Vegas magic. Paired with a live symphony orchestra, The Nutcracker is an unforgettable experience for audience members of all ages.

Carolina Ballet's The Nutcracker in RaleighCarolina Ballet continues to expose audiences to traditional ballet by legendary masters and new works of contemporary choreographers. Weiss first presented The Nutcracker to area audiences in 2001 and the ballet was instantly hailed by the critics as “so imaginative and stunning that it’s for the history books.”

After 10 years, however, Weiss felt the need to spice up his production in 2011 to attract a larger audience from beyond the Greater Raleigh area. He conceived a plan to incorporate real magic into the Party Scene of Act I. He began a dialogue with premier magician/illusionist Rick Thomas, and together they devised a plan for illusions that the dancers in the role of Herr Drosselmeyer would be able to pull off like pros. “Magic so real, you’ll think you’re dreaming.”

Carolina Ballet's The Nutcracker in RaleighThey went to Las Vegas (where Thomas has a show), and for a week they took a crash course in magic. Thomas conceived the illusions Carolina Ballet presents, and Bill Smith of Magic Ventures built them. To keep The Nutcracker fresh and exciting, Weiss invited Thomas back to Raleigh this fall to introduce a new illusion into the Party Scene of the holiday classic.

Carolina Ballet's The Nutcracker in RaleighCarolina Ballet gave its production a facelift in other areas as well. Jeff A.R. Jones designed an elegant new set for the Act I Party Scene which takes place in the Stahlbaum’s house, as well as new scenery for the “Land of the Sweets” in Act II.

Despite these changes and additions, Weiss assures patrons that the choreography has not changed, saying, “the magic is only part of the experience, the glorious Tchaikovsky score played by symphony orchestra and the amazing artistry of the Carolina Ballet professional dancers combine to make this the one holiday show not to be missed.”

Carolina Ballet's The Nutcracker in RaleighMore than 130 children from area ballet schools have been chosen to fill the roles of Clara, Fritz, Party Scene children, mice and soldiers, gingerbread cookies, truffles, Arabian attendants and harlequins. Rehearsals have been underway since Sept., and the company sees many children come back year after year.

Carolina Ballet's The Nutcracker in RaleighShowing at Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Dec. 19-28. Click through for show times and tickets.

Written by Creative Genius Kristy Stevenson. You are invited to follow her online.

New Magic sponsored by WRAL-TV

Photos courtesy of Chris Walt Photography

 

A Christmas Carol, theatre in Greater Raleigh I think there is something magical about Greater Raleigh during the holidays. I moved here 14 Decembers ago. I still remember the holiday lights and residents walking the streets with holiday cheer, and it made me so happy to call Raleigh home. A family tradition for many is Theatre In The Park’s charming musical production of A Christmas Carol. Now in its 40th year, the musical comedy will be adding one extra performance date at Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts to celebrate the milestone.

Holidays, Theatre in Greater Raleigh, A Christmas Carol Ira David Wood III’s beloved musical comedy, A Christmas Carol, has been performed annually since 1974 and has been named one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast.” Cited as “one of the most successful shows in North Carolina theatre history,” A Christmas Carol has enjoyed critically-acclaimed tours to England and France.

With more than one million people having experienced the magic of A Christmas Carol throughout the years, the show regularly sells out, so get your tickets now!

This holiday musical created and started in Raleigh, N.C., is like none other.

Theatre in the Park, Greater Raleigh Holidays, Arts, Enjoy the laughs and get your family into the holiday spirit by seeing a performance of A Christmas Carol. Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane has proclaimed that Dec. 7-13, 2014, shall be known as “A Christmas Carol Week” by City of Raleigh.

Performances will be held Dec. 10-14, 2014. There will be four evening performances and two matinee performances.

Greater Raleigh Holidays, Christmas Performances, A Christmas Carol, Show times are as follows:
Dec. 10-13, 7pm
Dec. 13-14, 2pm.

Photos courtesy of Theatre In The Park 

Follow Leigh Hines on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog

Disney on Ice, Frozen, Anna and Elsa

Courtesy of Feld Entertainment

I had about 20 little girls come to my door on Halloween night dressed as Disney’s Frozen ice queen, Elsa. Some even chanted, “Let it go! Let it go!” as they paraded to the next house.

And now this month, I’m planning a Frozen birthday party for a soon-to-be five-year-old. What’s next? I’ll be front and center as PNC Arena in Raleigh turns into the wintry world of Arendelle.

The Academy Award-winning animated movie Frozen is Feld Entertainment’s newest ice show extravaganza for Disney On Ice. You and your little ones will be able to sing along to those songs we all now know so well. In this magical production, royal sisters Anna and Elsa, the cute snowman Olaf, Kristoff, his loyal reindeer Sven and the mystical trolls will take you along on their journey to discover that true love is ultimately the most magical power of all!

Disney on Ice, Frozen, Anna and Elsa

Courtesy of Feld Entertainment

Disney On Ice’s Frozen will open in Raleigh on Dec. 10 and will run through Dec. 15 at PNC Arena. Ten shows will be presented during the five-day run. Tickets start at $20, and there is a parking fee per vehicle.

Nicole Feld, producer for Disney On Ice, says, “In our 35-year history of Disney On Ice, we’ve been waiting for this film.”

I’ve been to a few productions of Disney On Ice throughout the years, and felt it was money well spent and great entertainment for families. I have a feeling that this production is going to be spectacular.

Little girl as ElsaI bet we’ll see a lot of little ice queens there. For tickets and showtimes, visit PNC Arena’s website.

Follow Leigh Hines on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog

10669293_859113087440943_9187540353162933279_oThe 70th Annual WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade is on its way! It’s slated for Sat., Nov. 22–the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday.

616594_859109500774635_2445693884707511340_oAccording to the event’s Facebook page: “It’s a tradition here in Raleigh that is 70 years old. The parade started 70 years ago when Fayetteville St. was filled with merchants and was the shopping destination in Raleigh. The merchants wanted to give a gift back to the community by organizing a Christmas parade.”

10562571_859109367441315_5662818007782061870_o“They chose the Sat. before Thanksgiving as they were busy running their businesses after the Thanksgiving holiday. So, as with tradition today, the parade is still organized by local merchants volunteering their time as a gift back to the community.”

10547346_859110134107905_5447877236141366094_oThe WRAL Raleigh Christmas Parade is celebrating its 70th year and is the largest of its kind between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. As the presenting organization, the Greater Raleigh Merchants Association has made this parade map available for attendees.

1072374_859111360774449_5603590698142551658_oBeginning at the corner of Hillsborough and Saint Mary’s Sts., the parade will proceed to the North Carolina State Capitol, turn right onto Salisbury St., turn left onto Morgan St., turn right onto Fayetteville St. and continue to Lenoir St. where it will disband. Start time is 9:40am, although spectators have been known line the streets hours in advance in order to get a good view.

10636829_859118980773687_2033373692906216220_o10551510_859116970773888_5288719532104434477_oMore than 250,000 will watch the event live from home and more than 60,000 will attend the parade in person. The festivities include more than 115 entries with the route stretching approximately 1.4 miles and the event lasting about 2.5 hours with something for the whole family.

10626235_859113304107588_2879481412376768759_oWritten by Kristy Stevenson. You are invited to follow her online.

Photos courtesy of Nancy Thomas Photo

Elizabeth's Home and Garden Shop in Cary, Gardens shops in Greater Raleigh Greater Raleigh’s downtown Cary is quite the charmer.

The town’s attitude of “revitalize and they will come” has certainly worked. The other day, I popped in one of the town’s coffee shops on Chatham St. for a latte and to chat with Gather’s owner and textile designer, Michelle Smith.

Gather photoSmith handpicked downtown Cary to locate her co-working space that also doubles as a coffee shop, a DIY classroom and boutique for curated, locally crafted goods.

Gather“I chose Cary because it’s a very walkable town, and I felt downtown was the perfect spot for what I wanted to bring to Greater Raleigh. I love being in the foundation for an area that will change even more in the next few years,” remarked Smith as she began planning for the 2014 holiday season. Her husband’s own Peppermint Bark, which will be featured in Martha Stewart’s Holiday Gift Guide is just one example of the local goods she has curated for her store.

Gather productsDowntown Cary can even be described as a shopping destination.

Gather CaryI spent two hours in Ashworth Village alone perusing the local boutiques, art galleries, consignment shops and eateries.

From Elizabeth’s Home and Garden Shop to Cute Buttons Gift and Paper Boutique, it’s easy to get lost in retail cuteness.

Cary_Visit Raleigh storyPaisley Boutique is a new clothing store owned and operated by former clothing buyer Lauren King, who said she decided to locate her boutique in Cary so that people could find great fashion closer to home. She opened for the first time this fall, and she carries North Carolina-based clothing and jewelry designers in addition to small, Southern brands.

Cary_PaisleyThe Purple Polka Dot on Academy St. combines fashion and design. From monograms to fancy tea towels, you will be hard-pressed to walk out empty-handed here.

Cary Purple Polka DotPut downtown Cary on your list for holiday shopping, and there are also plenty of places to enjoy lunch or dinner. The downtown Cary shops are gearing up for the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Cary will host its annual Ole Time Winter Festival on Dec. 6. The annual town Christmas parade will be held on Dec. 13.

Follow Leigh Hines on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog

530411_758287057531665_19791696_n2Are you ready to get your holiday shop on? Then check out all the seasonal arts and crafts shows Greater Raleigh has to offer. Make your list and check it twice to celebrate the magic of the season while shopping for that special something for everyone.

At this time each year, the area boasts holiday fairs aplenty! So treat yourself to a wonderful shopping getaway as you treat loved ones to heart-filled gifts this season.

a shopping spreeA Shopping SPREE!, Oct. 30-Nov. 2, Raleigh Convention Center, Raleigh
Celebrating its 30th year, the Junior League of Raleigh’s event has been a tradition for many in Raleigh and the surrounding communities since 1985. An annual four-day shopping fundraiser that showcases more than 160 juried regional and national exhibitors offering the latest in fashion and home decor trends, unique presents and holiday merchandise. Every shopper will receive a reusable SPREE! shopping bag to fill with fantastic finds. The Weekend Wake-Up event is Sat., Nov. 1, 8:30-10:30am, featuring gourmet coffee and complimentary beverage tumblers. And take part in Family Day on Sun., Nov. 2, 1-4pm. This fun-filled event was planned with the smallest SPREE! shoppers in mind. Special entertainment, local team mascots and a visit with Santa Claus are sure to be a hit.

856811e4_photo__2_Southeastern Seminary Craft & Bake Sale, Nov. 1, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest
At this annual event, students, student wives and staff from Southeastern Seminary utilize their talents and gifts to present unique crafts, delicious baked goods and much more! Part of the Women’s Life initiative. With more than 50 vendors. Free admission and open to the public.

st paulsSt. Paul’s Annual Arts and Crafts Festival, Nov. 1, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cary
This one-stop shopping extravaganza features home and garden décor, wearable art, clothing and jewelry and unique handmade gifts … there’s something for everyone on your holiday list! Who knows, you might even find that perfect something for you. Fill up on great food from two popular local food trucks or the festival coffee bar and bake sale. Bid on impressive silent auction items and enter to win prizes from a raffle and 50/50 drawing.

visions 2011 067Visions of Sugarplums, Nov. 6-8, Quail Hollow Swim Club, Raleigh
Celebrating its 40th year, this locally supported show includes artists and crafters featured by invitation only. The result is high-quality, hand-crafted items at reasonable prices. Start your holiday  shopping early! Shop for truly unique gifts for everyone on your holiday list. Free admission. Special anniversary surprises.

mistletoe marketMistletoe Market, Nov. 15, Wakefield High School, Raleigh
Now in its 14th year, the Wakefield PTSA presents nearly 200 vendors offering handmade arts and crafts, gifts, jewelry, fresh-cut wreaths, garland and Christmas trees from Western N.C., a bake sale, basket raffle and food court. This community event is highly anticipated and frequented by many of the same shoppers year after year. “The 2014 Mistletoe Market has expanded to include 17 outdoor vendor booths offering everything from reclaimed wood art sculptures and furnishings, to original prints and paintings displayed by the artist, to mosaic sculptures for home and garden,” said vendor coordinator Lynn Stuchel.

christmas41-e1411656815947Mistletoe Madness Holiday Market, Nov. 15, Ballentine-Spence House, Fuquay-Varina
A holiday showcase event with a variety of unique vendors and crafters to liven up your shopping experience! Vendors include everything local, from handmade crafts to art and gifts galore; there truly is something for everyone. A concert pianist will provide live holiday and seasonal music and holiday refreshments will be served throughout the event.

Vend Raleigh’s Holiday Sip and Shop, Nov. 21, Cobblestone Hall, Raleigh
A girl’s night out! Vendors are all Vend Raleigh members (moms with businesses)–either direct sales items or handmade goods such as jewelry, skin care, purses, home décor, kitchen gadgets, personalized gifts, candles and baby items and more. The evening includes door prizes, a wine cash bar and appetizers. Grab your girlfriends, mothers and sisters and come on down to the Moore Square District in downtown Raleigh.

ncsuCrafts Center Holiday Fair & Sale, Nov. 22, North Carolina State University, Raleigh
Featuring work by the Craft Center’s own artists and craftspeople. Enjoy complimentary refreshments while shopping for unique items during this 30th annual event.

christmas carouselThe Christmas Carousel, Nov. 28-30, North Carolina State Fairgrounds, Raleigh
One of the largest collections of arts, crafts and holiday gifts with more than 250 exhibitors from across the Southeast. Going strong for 27 years and showcasing thousands of one-of-a-kind items and unique gifts including crafts, jewelry, art, pottery and holiday foods. Santa will be there and admission is good all three days! Thanksgiving weekend at the Jim Graham Building.

CDCG45th Annual Fine Designer Crafts Show, Nov. 28-30, North Carolina State Fairgrounds, Raleigh
Presented by the Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild, this premier, three-day show and sale of fine craft held at the Exposition Center Thanksgiving weekend includes more than 100 contemporary craft artists from across North Carolina and the U.S. Meet the artists and find glass, clay, wood, wearable and decorative fibers, metal, leather, printmaking, photography, mixed media, one-of-a-kind furniture and precious and semi-precious jewelry.

cary academyHoliday Shoppe, Dec. 4-6, Cary Academy, Cary
Finish last-minute gift-buying at this one-of-a-kind annual shopping experience as more than 100 vendors put their wares up for sale. Back for its 12th year, this event includes artisans, hand-crafters, clothing vendors and delicious food for immediate tasting or gifts! No tax is charged on Holiday Shoppe purchases.

2013 ChristmasFair 044Scandinavian Christmas Fair, Dec. 6, North Carolina State Fairgrounds, Raleigh
Featuring Scandinavian favorites like homemade foods, unique crafts and entertainment, as well as cultural exhibits and children’s activities. Come and enjoy a traditional Scandinavian Christmas, certain to get you in the spirit. Entertainment includes folk dancing, folk music and the popular Lucia-procession. The food court will have Swedish meatballs, salmon and homemade breads. Sponsored by SWEA (Swedish Women’s Association) and VASA (Swedish-American organization). In the Gov. James E. Holshouser Building.

st nicholas7th Annual St. Nicholas European Christmas Market, Dec. 6, Sts. Cyril and Methodius Parish, Cary
Decorative items, gifts and vintage collectibles from Poland, Germany, Ukraine, Slovakia, Italy, Ireland, Scandinavia and Mexico. Enjoy a hot Slavic lunch of piroghi, cabbage rolls, kielbasa and paprikash; the Little German Band; plus delicious traditional European Christmas baked goods. Preview night pre-sale and Market Stroll with St. Nicholas and popup vendors Fri. evening, Dec. 5, from 7-9pm. Come share a traditional Christmas and shop Europe right in the heart of Cary!

Holly Days, Dec. 6-7, Sanderson High School (SHS), Raleigh
A holiday shopping extravaganza with more than 150 vendors offering jewelry, crafts, holiday décor, food and commercial goods. Plus performances by SHS Vocal Ensembles.

Posada Navideña, Dec. 7, North Carolina State Fairgrounds, Raleigh
A Hispanic holiday celebration with international bands performing and booths offering health professional services as well as traditional Christmas related items. In Dorton Arena. Free admission.

Last Minute Christmas Shopping Expo, Dec. 20, North Carolina State Fairgrounds, Raleigh
In a bind and still searching for the perfect gift? Try your luck and come shop for those pesky last minute seasonal gifts at the Gov. James E. Holshouser Building on the Sat. before Christmas. Free admission.

And while you’re here, check out more than 20 Greater Raleigh shopping areas featuring big name retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Saks 5th Avenue. The Raleigh area also offers local indie boutiques, specialty stores, festively-lit shopping centers, small-town main streets, downtown areas and more. All for you in Greater Raleigh this shopping season!

Written by Kristy Stevenson. You are invited to follow her online.

Kings Bowl, the ultimate entertainment experience combining great food, cocktails and bowling, opened in North Hills this month. This is the first of its kind in North Carolina.

And I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. It’s pretty spectacular. One could say that it’s 30,000 square feet of retro awesomeness.

luxury bowling at Kings North Hills, entertainment complex in Greater Raleigh Bowling was at its peak in the ’50s and ’60s, but this is not your average “Laverne and Shirley” bowling alley. Kings has taken the retro vibe from that time period and given it a modern twist that centers on gourmet cuisine, classy cocktails and craft beer.

Gourmet food is focus at Kings Bowl in North Hills, Dining in Greater Raleigh There’s music. There are 50 TVs, plenty of bowling lanes, billiard and ping pong tables, dartboards and so much more. Kings brings to the spotlight games that provoke interaction and conversation. You will not find high-tech video games here that you play alone.

Pool at Kings Bowl of North Hills, Sports Bar in Greater Raleigh Have an evening like in the good ol’ happy days, and enjoy your family and friends’ company with good ol’ fashioned game competition.

It’ll make the Fonz proud.

places for entertainment, cocktails in Raleigh, North Hills, Heyyyyyy! Let’s not forget about the cocktails.

“The Dude,” which is Kings’s take on a White Russian, the main character’s favorite cocktail in the movie “The Big Lebowski,” is pure heaven at every sip.

There are pink cocktails with Pop Rocks and fancy food bites.

Kings is a sports bar and restaurant, so you don’t have to bowl or play games to dine.

You may want to go just for the desserts. With a Fountain Shoppe menu, there is something sweet to please everyone in your party.

dessets at Kings Bowl in North Hills, Ice Cream in Greater Raleigh Starting at 6pm, the venue is open for ages 21 and older only. Families are welcome before 6pm, so keep that in mind as you plan your next entertainment outing. Kings also hosts private parties and kids’ parties.

Bowling in Greater Raleigh, Music, games,  barsKings Bowl is located at 141 Park at North Hills St., Ste. #120.

Follow Leigh Hines on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog

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