Albeit the holidays may look a bit different this year, the same historic charm and nostalgic traditions make Winston-Salem your perfect “home away from home” for the holidays. This holiday season explore historic homes by candlelight, stroll cobblestone sidewalks with fragrances of pine bough decorations, and nibble on traditional Moravian holiday treats including the whisper-thin cookies and decadent sugar cake.
Below is a listing of holiday happenings only experienced in Winston-Salem:
Experience Old World Charm:
A Tour Through Historic Homes
(historic homes listed in alphabetical order)
A historic boutique hotel in Winston-Salem, Graylyn Estate elevates your holiday getaway with rich traditions, festive decor, family-friendly activities, and even butler service. Built in 1932 by the then-president of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Bowman Gray, the 85-room estate sits on 55 acres on the pristine Reynolda Mile, just five minutes from downtown Winston-Salem.
In addition to holiday tunes filling the halls, flames crackling in fireplaces, wreaths adorning gates, garland winding staircases, and poinsettias all around, Graylyn decorates seven distinct Christmas trees that pay homage to a Gray family tradition. Today, it’s a favorite among Winston-Salem visitors and locals alike.
Schedule an unforgettable family portrait session gleaming of historic charm and holiday cheer. Make a celebration of the occasion with add-ons including catered lunches, a hot cocoa station, or even a snow machine to really make the magic come to life.
For pricing and more information, click here.
Check out our special packages page for Graylyn and other hotel offerings here.
With three stories, seven levels, and 22 lavishly decorated rooms, Körner’s Folly is often called “the strangest home in America.” And every year at this time, it is also a beautiful showcase of historic holiday charm. Körner’s Folly is nestled just 15 minutes from downtown Winston-Salem and offers self-guided tours to see the Victorian-inspired trees, garlands, and beautiful interpretations of this year’s theme of “Christmas Carols.”
The holiday season officially kicks off November 27 and includes “Christmas by Candlelight” tours, an inaugural holiday market, DIY craft workshops, and more.
To learn more and see a full calendar of events, go to https://www.kornersfolly.org/events/holiday-tours-events/.
This holiday season, Old Salem Museums & Gardens is open, but different. Stroll the charming streets of Old Salem Museums & Gardens, lined with more than one hundred original historic buildings and structures, where the fragrances of pine bough decorations greet you. While visitors won’t be able to enter the buildings, Old Salem is still the perfect place for you to escape the season’s hustle and bustle and admire the 18th and 19th century architecture and the simple, yet traditional, holiday decorations throughout the historic district. Pick up centuries-old recipes to share around your holiday table including Moravian sugar cake and the whisper-thin Moravian cookies – the bakery annex is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays and is an easy five-minute drive from Old Salem.
Be sure to make your way to the Heritage bridge for the perfect photo opp. Dozens of Moravian stars hang from the bridge making it a beautiful sight during the day or in the evening hours.
The 1917 historic home of tobacco baron, R.J. Reynolds, and wife Katharine, celebrates the holiday season in Roaring 20s fashion. Today known as Reynolda House Museum of American Art, the 34,000-square-foot country bungalow home welcomes visitors with period ornaments and fixtures, a select few of Katharine’s holiday favorites including nandina berries and Southern magnolia greenery, and live holiday tunes played on the Aeolian organ.
The nostalgia of the season continues in the adjacent Reynolda Village and Gardens. Holiday events at Reynolda Gardens include wreath decorating workshops at The Barn in Reynolda Village and a holiday plant sale. Explore and admire the original architecture and history of each of the preserved farm buildings, which are now filled with unique boutique shops and restaurants. Warm up with a handcrafted made-to-order doughnut or hot chocolate in what used to be the main barn or savor a crepe at the old blacksmith’s shop. Enjoy stress-free holiday shopping in what used to be the cattle shed, smokehouse, and many other charming cottages and buildings throughout the Village.
Reynolda Holidays 2020:
Antique Glass Ornament Display
November 17 to December 31, 2020
Included with general admission ticket
As part of Reynolda’s “year of glass,” view authentic early 20th century glass ornaments in the 1917 Reynolds family bungalow. On loan from the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA), the collection of historic Christmas ornaments includes close to 400 figural glass ornaments including santas, fruits, candies and animals. Along the way, find fun surprises among the fragile glass trim, such as miniature lamps and tobacco pipes. Reynolda will display a selection of the decorations that date as if they were hand-selected by Katharine Reynolds herself.
Enchanted Christmas Evenings at Reynolda
Friday, Dec.11 and Saturday, Dec. 12
Friday, Dec. 18 and Saturday, Dec. 19
Time: 4:30 – 8:30 p.m. each evening
For two weekends only this December, Reynolda House will open after hours with Enchanted Christmas Evenings offering visitors an opportunity to see the historic house lit up for Christmas and decorated with antique early 20th century glass ornaments on loan from the North Carolina Museum of Art. The collection of historic Christmas ornaments encompasses nearly 400 figural glass ornaments that date from 1900 to 1930.
Enchanted Evenings at Reynolda is sponsored by Taylor & Taylor Attorneys at Law, PLLC.
Advance registration required. Purchase your tickets here.
Wreath Decorating DIY Workshops
Location: The Barn at Reynolda Village
Dates: Tuesday, Dec. 1; Wednesday, Dec. 2; and Saturday, Dec. 5
Time: 12:30 p.m. each afternoon
Cost: $50 general admission
Decorate your holiday wreath to perfection thanks to some expert pointers from the team at Reynolda Gardens. Each participant will receive a large, full, natural wreath to decorate along with an assortment of natural items to adorn your wreath. You’re also welcome to bring your own decorations. Pruners and gloves are encouraged. Face coverings are required. COVID distance and sanitation precautions will be followed.
Space is limited and advanced registration is required. Register online.
Admission to the gardens and village is free year-round. Reserved tickets are required to tour Reynolda House Museum of American Art. View the full holiday program lineup at reynoldahouse.org/holidays.
Other Holiday Happenings (In Order by Date):
Tanglewood Festival of Lights
November 16 – January 1
Tanglewood Park’s rolling countryside transforms each holiday season into a shimmering Winter Wonderland with more than a million twinkling lights aglow. Entering its 29th season, the Festival of Lights at Tanglewood Park is open nightly from 6-11 p.m. starting Nov. 16 through Jan. 1, 2021. Attendees drive through the winding countryside route taking in the spectacular sights of more than 80 displays while listening to festive tunes with original compositions from the UNC School of the Arts students.
This popular holiday event can have wait times of up to 3-4 hours. We suggest visiting on a weeknight to when crowds aren’t as large. To check out our Top Tips for experiencing the Festival of Lights, click here.
Festival Entrance Rates:
Entrance fees are paid at the gate. Cash or credit cards (VISA, Mastercard, and Discover only).
- Family Vehicle (Cars, Vans, Trucks): $15
- Commercial (Vans, Limos, Minibus): $35
- Motorcoaches & Buses: $100Due to safety concerns, riding through Festival of Lights in the back of a pick-up truck or in/on a trailer that is connected to a vehicle is prohibited.
Paul J. Ciener Tulip Light Display
November 25 – January 6, 2021
Even in the height of winter, the gardens at Paul J. Ciener Botanical Gardens (PJCBG) are in full bloom. Known for their spectacular tulip display each spring, PJCBG lights up with an equally stunning display of lit tulips during the holiday season.
Now in its second year, volunteers and garden staff have worked tirelessly to handcraft more than 3,500 tulips and hundreds of other blooms from recycled plastic bottles, each one radiating holiday cheer. Enjoy a stroll through the dazzling wisteria lights, get lost in the illuminated trees along the patio terrace and find more surprises as you stroll to the Performance Stage.
The evening light display kicks off each night from 5 to 10 p.m.
Please practice social distancing of six feet and wear a cloth face covering.
Kernersville Museum Presents: A Hometown Christmas
November 27 – January 3
Conveniently located just 15 minutes from downtown Winston-Salem is the charming and historic Kernersville Museum. Their Hometown Christmas event promises to bring the magic of your favorite holiday movies to life right in the heart of downtown Kernersville. The popular synthetic ice rink returns this year along with a display of live decorated Christmas trees scattered throughout the property. Holiday photo op anyone?!
Find the “Wish Tree” in the heart of the village. Write down your wish, hang it on the tree, and let the magic of the holidays take it from there.
While here, be sure to pick up a live, fresh Christmas wreath for sale in the village. Perfect for your front door or mantel, the 12-inch wreaths are available for $25 and 16-inch wreaths are $35.
The Museum is open for tours Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
The holiday village is open daily from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Community Arts Gift Shop
December 1 – 23
Enjoy extended holiday shopping hours at The Community Arts Gift Shop, located in the downtown Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts (MRCA). Tis’ the season for gift-giving and supporting local! From stained glass and ceramics to jewelry and handbags, shop unique finds created by local artists.
While you’re shopping, pop over to the Arboreal Gallery, also located inside the MRCA. Open for extended hours as well, admire the current exhibition of moss artworks by Mona King of Living Aura, Design Inspired by Nature. King will be onsite Thursday, Dec. 10 for artist talks throughout the day at noon, 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. Living Aura Moss Art and Décor will also be available for purchase and available in smaller artworks — perfect for Christmas gifts.
Monday – Wednesday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Thursdays 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Fridays 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturdays 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
DADA First Friday Gallery Hop LITE
Friday, Dec. 4; 7 – 10 p.m.
Meet the artists while you shop for the perfect holiday finds during the DADA First Friday Gallery Hop, hosted by Winston-Salem’s Downtown Arts District Association (DADA). Start your evening with an intimate dinner in the Arts District or glass of wine before “hopping” to the various shops and galleries open late for you to shop ’til you drop.
For a list of DADA participating shops and galleries, click here.
Candle Tea (Drive By Experience)
December 4, 5, 11, and 12
This year, a centuries-old tradition returns to Old Salem in a new fashion. Home Moravian’s Candle Tea shares with visitors the Moravian traditions and customs of the season. To many, it is considered to be the opening of the Advent and Christmas seasons.
A Candle Tea Drive-By is offered free of cost this year and is scheduled for the first two weekends in December. Drive around historic Salem Square to view and hear tableau-type scenes representing Candle Tea and the Christmas season as it was in early Salem, including candle making, hymn singing, a scene from the Salem putz, holiday wreaths, traditional Moravian stars, and a nativity scene.
Dates: December 4 and 5; December 11 and 12
Time: 2 – 5 p.m.
Note: All visitors will need to enter the historic Salem district coming northbound into the main entrance at Academy and Old Salem Road.
For more information, click here.
Grinch Bar at Kimpton Cardinal Hotel
December 13 – 23, 2020
Winston-Salem’s Kimpton Cardinal Hotel puts a spin on holiday cheer this year with a 10-day Grinch-themed event hosted on the 20th floor of this downtown historic Art Deco building. Originally the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Headquarters building, the hotel is housed in what was the architectural prototype for the Empire State Building.
Each evening from Dec. 13 to Dec. 23, enjoy house-made desserts and craft cocktails from the top floor of The Cardinal with spectacular city views. Three rooms will be decorated to replicate scenes from the Dr. Seuss movie and festive décor is sure to make for the perfect photo op.
This event is for adults ages 21+