Archives for posts with tag: holidays

romantic restaurants in Raleigh. Fine dining By Leigh Hines; photos by @hinesightblog

Feb. is the time of year that Cupid strikes his bow and arrow and aims to bring out your romantic side. Greater Raleigh has exquisite options for dates, and here are five of many:

Dine at one of America’s most romantic restaurants
Raleigh is home to one of the most romantic restaurants in America. Second Empire Restaurant & Tavern (pictured above), a charming Second Empire-style mansion in, downtown, has been bestowed this honor by Open Table voters for 2015. For those who want to experience the gourmet cuisine on its formal menu, but do so in a less formal environment, the downstairs tavern at the restaurant allows diners to dine off of both menus. When Second Empire Restaurant & Tavern knows you’re celebrating a special event, expect a little something extra, so let them know those details in your reservations. Arrange for a carriage ride down Fayetteville St. before or after dinner.

chocolate at NC State Take a romantic stroll through Pullen Park and the campus of North Carolina State University (NCSU)
Dates don’t have to break the bank. Start your adventure with a little spin on the romantic and historic Victorian-era carousel at Pullen Park, enjoy a picnic basket by the lake with goodies that you bought from the nearby State Farmers Market, Raleigh, and be sure to stop by NCSU’s own Yates Mill Bakery at Tally Student Union to enjoy some NCSU-molded chocolate. Share a kiss under the striking Bell Tower that illuminates the color of love: red.

Dinner and a show
Be entertained with North Carolina Theatre’s production of Billy Elliot The Musical (2/10-15), Black Pearl Sings (2/6-22), presented by Theatre In The Park, or Casablanca (2/13-14), which will be presented on the big screen with Max Steiner’s Oscar-nominated score played live by the North Carolina Symphony. Before or after one of these shows, have a romantic dinner at Irregardless Cafe, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary and received the prestigious N.C. The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award.

Let your heart beat to a different drum
Enjoy Greater Raleigh’s live music scene. Celebrate with coffee, sweets and a show by Danny Stanley (2/14) at Lorraine’s Coffee House, or enjoy swingin’ jazz at the Halle Cultural Arts Center with Lenore Raphael and Guests (2/14). Also, catch Shelby Merchant (2/14) at My Way Tavern in Holly Springs. The Raleigh area has a vibrant music scene, so be sure to check themostnc.com for the latest performances at all of the area’s live music venues. No doubt, Greater Raleigh has the most live music in N.C.

Bring out your artistic side
Declare your love the old-fashioned way, but with a modern twist, and create handmade valentines for each other over a glass of wine or craft beer at Art Bar. At a cost of $60 per couple, you can create something from your heart while having an unforgettable experience. Every Fri., the venue hosts an Art Party. You can also buy a bottle of your favorite wine or beer from an area wine and beer shop and paint a masterpiece together at Raleigh Wine & Design. It’s also a great way for singles to celebrate Cupid’s holiday, too. There are three Raleigh Wine and Design studios in Greater Raleigh (Wake Forest, Cary and downtown Raleigh).

Leigh Powell Hines is founder of the N.C. travel community #outaboutnc on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Follow her the lifestyle and travel blog, Hinessightblog.

By Kristy Stevenson; video courtesy of the Town of Wake Forest

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” reflecting the carnival-like practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods. It begins on or after the Epiphany, or King’s Day, culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday, or the beginning of fasting for Lent. Popular practices include wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions and parades. And here are three ways you can celebrate in Greater Raleigh:

Mardi Gras Street Festival in Wake Forest
Wake Forest
will host the Mardi Gras Street Festival on Sat., Feb. 14. For both adults and children, the event invites visitors to the heart of downtown Wake Forest for music and entertainment, face painting and a walking parade. Teens and adults can participate in the King & Queen costume contest prior to the start of the parade. Judging will take place at noon and winners will serve as grand marshals and lead the walking parade. A Prince & Princess costume contest will also be offered for younger participants, as well as Best Baby, the ever-popular Bubblegum Blowing contest and more.

Fat Tuesday on Fayetteville St.
For a Mardi Gras party all day long, check out Feb. 17th’s Fat Tuesday on Fayetteville St. in downtown Raleigh. The party starts at noon and will feature live music on an outdoor stage from 5-10pm, street performers, artisans and food trucks. Then check out The Big Easy for authentic, soul-satisfying Cajun and Creole recipes, plus bona fide zydeco and traditional New Orleans jazz from 8:30pm-2am.

Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball
Join the revelry of the Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball to Benefit Education and raise funds for educational programs in the process. Celebrate in Cary on Feb. 14, 7-11pm, with your best semi-formal or costume attire and enjoy a three-course meal of traditional New Orleans recipes with unlimited beverages, live music and a dance floor. VIP packages available.

Know of any other celebrations in Greater Raleigh? Submit them here!

Follow Kristy on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or visit her website here: Kristy Stevenson Creative.

The Nutcracker in Raleigh NCBy Ryan Smith; Photography by Chris Walt

The holiday season in Greater Raleigh is full of family-friendly events at which you and your kids can make everlasting memories. Here are five holi-date ideas to experience with your kids this weekend:

1. Ice skate under the stars in downtown Raleigh at Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest and grab a drinking chocolate or hot cider at Bittersweet.

2. Explore and learn at The World’s Largest Dinosaurs exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

3. For an evening excursion, head to the town of Wendell for Wendell Wonderland/the Lake Myra Christmas Lights where a huge light display is synchronized with Christmas and patriotic music.

4. Nothing says it’s the holiday season like Carolina Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker. Combining the beauty of classical ballet with a little Las Vegas magic, this holiday tradition has become an annual favorite throughout the region.

5. Bigger is better when it comes to screen size. The Wells Fargo IMAX Theatre at Marbles is the largest 3D screen in the state measuring 70-feet wide and amplifying the jaw-dropping visuals of movies like The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 3D and Island of Lemurs: Madagascar 3D.

Click here to see all events going on this weekend.

Holiday lights in Greater Raleigh NCBy Kristy Stevenson

During the holiday season, the Raleigh area is aglow with displays of Christmas lights, blow-ups and other seasonal presentations. Here are some of the best places for December pageantry:

Happyland Christmas Lights
5505 Huntingwood Dr., Raleigh. These lights twinkle in memory of Rick Moore (1986-2004), who in his short life always wanted “more lights.” Drive by Mon.-Thurs., 6:30-10pm; Fri.-Sun., 6-10:30pm. On Christmas Eve the lights will run sundown-10:30pm with the manger lit throughout the night. Free.

Piper Lights
5725 Fixit Shop Rd., Wake Forest. Drive through a display that connects yards and crosses a pond (creating beautiful reflections). Ride the train and visit the candy store for hot chocolate, popcorn and old-fashioned candy treats. You might even see Santa! Sun.-Thurs., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10:30pm. Admission is free; donations accepted.

Wendell Wonderland’s Lake Myra Christmas Lights
10 S. Cyress St., Wendell. The Town of Wendell has a spectacular light show set to music. This year’s display features 400,000 lights computer synchronized to “dance” in time to the music. The display is created by the Williams family of Wendell, who painstaking design and assemble the glowing event each year. Visitors neither walk nor ride through the exhibit–it’s more like going to the movies. You’ll park (or stand) and watch the show from the viewing area in front of the display. Each show is 30-90 minutes in length. Sun.-Thurs., 6-10pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-11pm. Admission is free; donations accepted.

Magical Winter Lights Show
Park West Village; Intersections of Chapel Hill Rd., Cary Pkwy., and Morrisville Pkwy., Morrisville. PaintScaping brings the walls of the Park West 14 Cinemas to life with 3D projection mapping and animation set to holiday music. Nightly, 6-8pm. Story time with Santa is 5:30-8:30pm, Fri.-Sun.. Plus, falling snow, train rides every night and carolers on the weekend. Free.

Neighborhoods
Some neighborhoods are known for their cumulative effort and fantastic holiday spirit–Raleigh subdivisions like Bedford, Black Horse Run and Stonehenge; the historic district of Wake Forest; and Planter’s Walk in Knightdale, for example. Check out this map of many the hot spots in the area created by Wake Forest Commissioner Jim Thompson and shared via social media.

Holiday Lights in Greater Raleigh NCWhat are some of your area favorites?

Follow Kristy on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or visit her website here: Kristy Stevenson Creative.

The Nutcracker in Raleigh NCBy Leigh Hines; Photography by Chris Walt

There’s no doubt that Carolina Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker is a Raleigh holiday classic. The stunning ballet, which we highlighted earlier this month, will be performed at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, Dec. 19-28, for its 13th year. Click for tickets.

With the curtain about to open in Raleigh, we compiled 10 amazing facts about the production:

1. The Nutcracker was the first ballet Carolina Ballet creative director Robert Weiss ever saw (when he was five years old), which led him to pursue a career in ballet. He performed every male role in New York City Ballet’s The Nutcracker (except the role of Drosselmeyer) as a student and then as dancer in the company

2. It took more than 12 yards of net or tulle to make a single tutu skirt for the production–the net is specially manufactured for tutus and comes from England.

3. There are 333 stage lights in this production.

4. The Nutcracker, the Rat King, 10 mouse heads and Calico Cat’s head were built by Robert Alsop in England who also built many of the Star Wars costumes.

5. The Mother Ginger costume weighs about 100 pounds and takes a pulley to get dancer Davy Nethercutt into it.

6. There are 126 individual roles in the show.

7. There are more than 100 yards of various fabrics and more than 200 yards of horsehair braid in the petticoats for the Lead Mother and Party Guests roles.

8. The fastest costume change in the show is for Clara, who has just 30 seconds to change out of her party dress and into her nightgown before the battle scene.

9. There are 51 buttons on each soldier costume (hand sewn on the costumes). There are 20 soldiers in the show, so there are 1,020 buttons on these costumes total.

10. There are 126 dancers in each performance, which means 252 ballet shoes are used each performance.

The Nutcracker in Raleigh NCFollow Leigh Hines on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, or visit her blog here: HinesSightBlog

Videri chocolate confections in downtown Raleigh NCBy Leigh Hines

Raleigh’s sweet chocolate secret is out.

Raleigh residents, like me, have known that downtown Raleigh’s Videri Chocolate Factory makes some of the best chocolate in the nation. The factory carefully curates its cocoa beans throughout Central and South America using fair-trade practices. It sources only the best organic cocoa beans, cocoa butter and organic sugar.

There is nothing artificial about Videri chocolate.

You can eat each bar, rich in antioxidants, and know you’re eating chocolate with whole, organic and fair-trade ingredients.

Videri Chocolate Factory in Downtown Raleigh, NCIt’s been a sweet year for Videri.

In 2014, Videri earned the coveted Good Food Award for its first single-origin chocolate bar 90% Dark Chocolate Ecuador Camino Verde. GQ magazine included the same bar among “The 50 Best Things To Eat Right Now: Chocolate to Die For” its Nov. issue.

Videri offers guests a true bean-to-bar experience. There is a fascinating self-guided tour that takes you through the chocolate making process. The trendy Warehouse District that Videri calls home is a thriving creative hot spot, and with a coffee bar inside Videri, you won’t want to leave.

Videri chocolate mocha in downtown Raleigh NCVideri’s confections make perfect holiday gifts.

This winter, Raspberry, Orange-Buttercream, Coffee and Pear-Mint. Lemon and Lavender vegan confections will be available through Valentine’s Day. Videri is also offering its first-ever 16-piece Valentine’s box in 2015, including French Martini and other seasonal flavors ($40). Six-piece boxes of any combination of truffles are available for $16.99 and individual confections are $2.50 each.

Videri Flagship Four in Raleigh NCVideri’s popular Peppermint Bars ($9.99) are a holiday season staple for the chocolate factory as well as its Flagship Four Gift Box–featuring 50% Dark Milk, 70% Classic Dark, Sea Salt and Pink Peppercorn Bars (four bars/$19.99)–and the S’mores Pack ($21.00).

My personal favorites are Sea Salt and the 70% Classic Dark. Who am I kidding? I’ll take one of everything, please.

Visitors are welcome at Videri Chocolate in downtown Raleigh NCVideri Chocolate Factory is located at 327 W. Davie St., Sweet 100.

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

Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest Tree. ©Luster Studios.Every weekend Raleigh has an event lineup that keeps you wanting more. They never disappoint. Here are a few events you shouldn’t miss this weekend.

Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest Celebration

Downtown Raleigh’s winter celebration brings you the grand Official Mayor’s Tree Lighting along with outdoor skating. Even more festivities will line Fayetteville St., including live music, carnival rides, a sledding hill, a beer and wine tent and the brand-new Taste of Downtown feature and Gingerbread House Competition. Learn more.

Raleigh Little Theatre’s production of Cinderella

Cozy up inside during this musical comedy production of Cinderella. Just the right mixture of comedy and romance to add the sparkle of magic to your holiday season. A visually-stunning musical combining elegant costumes and scenery with song, dance, conniving step-relatives and resourceful fairy-folk. Learn more.

Scandinavian Christmas Fair

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 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds and indulge in homemade Scandinavian foods, Nordic folk dancing, a traditional Lucia Procession and more. Learn more.

Winter Wonderland

Most absolutely can’t go without binge-watching holiday movies in Dec. Get social when you watch holiday flicks this Sat. at North Hills for its free Winter Wonderland event. Showing both Doctor Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Elf while kids activities, shopping and more transpire. Learn more.

First Friday

We couldn’t go without mentioning First Night, a monthly downtown Raleigh favorite. Visitors can experience downtown’s cutting-edge cultural hot spots tonight as local art galleries, art studios, alternative art venues and museums as they stay open late, until 9pm. Learn more.

Click through to see more events happening this weekend. Trust usthere’s a lot going on!

By Derek Allman

It's a Wonderful Life Radio Play, Cary, N.C.The Greater Raleigh town of Cary is set to deliver packages of holiday goodness this season. Immerse yourself in holiday magic at these charming Cary events:

1. It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Play

Dec. 4-8 at the Cary Arts Center. Cary Players bring the beloved American holiday classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, to the stage as a live radio broadcast. You’ll be transported back in time at this live theatre production staged as if it includes 1940s radio stars broadcasting from a studio. Add live sound effects created on-stage by a collection of hand-crafted wind machines, miniature doors and other old-fashioned “Foley-props” and more, mix in live music and animated voices, and you’ve got a rich and wonderful production. Based on Frank Capra’s holiday classic film and recreated for the stage by Philip Grecian. Click for show times and tickets.

2. Town of Cary Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Dec. 6 at Cary Town Hall. For outdoor family fun, take your blanket to the always-festive, official Town of Cary Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. The night features actors, singers and musicians, plus the unveiling of the tree with hand-crafted ornaments from more than 120 community groups. The Community Christmas Tree is a true representation of the diversity of Cary.

3. The Night Before Christmas Carol

Dec. 12 at The Cary Theater. If live theater is your style, check out The Night Before Christmas Carol from renowned Dickens scholar and author Dr. Elliot Engel and watch history, humor and the holiday come to life. Go back in time and join Charles Dickens in his study on Fri., Oct. 13, 1843. In this acclaimed performance, actor David zum Brunnen portrays Charles Dickens and 17 familiar characters; giving personal, social, and historical context to the ghostly classic, A Christmas Carol.

4. Seasonal Movies at The Cary Theater

Occurring throughout Dec. On the holiday calendar are a handful of traditional seasonal movies at The Cary Theater. From the Natalie Wood classic Miracle on 34th Street to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Muppets Christmas Carol (Kids Movie Morning), Bill Murray’s Scrooged, Will Ferrell’s Elf and the children’s classic The Polar Express, directed by Robert Zemeckis, The Cary Theatre offers a heap of holiday movie big-screen showings.

And of course there are many more reasons to visit Cary in Dec. Click through to see a full list of events.

By Kristy Stevenson. Follow her here.

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.

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