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Great Things to Do in North Carolina in January 2024

Looking for Things to Do in North Carolina in January?

Let’s dive into all the fun things to do in NC this January, starting with the mountain region; then, we’ll go into the Piedmont to the Coastal Region.

Things to Do in North Carolina in January 2024

Boy Snow Tubing

Ski Resorts in North Carolina
Snow Tubing in North Carolina

Mountain Region

✅ First Day Hikes | January 1

Address: Various NC State Parks

There is no better way to start the new year with some good physical fitness and fresh air. Every year, on January 1, the North Carolina State Parks offer free guided hikes through most of the parks around the state. 

A free guided hike will take place at Elk Knob State Park in the Mountain Region of North Carolina starting at 1:30 p.m. with a 1-mile hike along the Beech Tree Trail. Check online for more details and starting points. Be sure to dress warmly, wear good hiking shoes, and bring water. 

✅ New Years Resolution Runs 5K and 10K | January 1

Address: Downtown Asheville, NC 

Are you searching for an excellent way to ring in the new year? The New Year’s Resolution Run includes a 5K and a 10K in downtown Asheville that draws in fitness enthusiasts, families, and others looking for a physically fun way to kick off 2024. Both runs start at 10 a.m. and can be entered with a small fee (kids under 12 are free).

Downtown Asheville NC Map

✅ New Year’s Sunrise on Grandfather Mountain | January 1

Address: Mile High Swinging Bridge, Grandfather Mountain, 2050 Blowing Rock Hwy, Linville, NC 28646

One of the most popular New Year’s events in the area is the gorgeous New Year’s Sunrise that takes place at the Mile High Swinging Bridge on Grandfather Mountain. The view is guaranteed to be epic, and there is just something about bundling the family up to witness a spectacular moment together in the new year. 

This year, the sunrise is at 7:38 am, and gates will open at 6:30 am. Due to overcrowding, tickets for the event must be purchased ahead of time, and only those with tickets are welcome to the swinging bridge.

Currently, tickets for the 2024 event are sold out, but send an email to be put on the waiting list and get ahead for next year! Remember to dress warmly, wear good hiking shoes, and bring a flashlight and water bottle. 

View from Grandfather Mountain

✅ Christmas at the Biltmore | January 1-7

Address: 1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803

There is no better way to celebrate the end of the holiday season than by witnessing the magic of Christmas at the Biltmore one last time. The famous Biltmore Hotel is one of the most enchanting and remarkable places to see during Christmas. 

The hotel is entirely adorned with thousands of twinkling lights and decorations as festive music plays softly and fireplaces create the coziest atmosphere. This is the last week to enjoy the holiday at the Biltmore, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity. 

Biltmore Estate Christmas Library

✅ Winter Trails Day | January 3

Address: Sugar Mountain Resort, 1009 Sugar Mountain Drive, Banner Elk, NC 28604

Are you looking to try something new this winter? Winter Trails Day is a great place to start. Winter Trails Day invites children and adults to try snowshoeing for FREE from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with 45-minute guided tours and free snowshoe rentals. This is the perfect way to get the family outdoors with fun physical fitness and a new sense of appreciation for the snowy outdoors.

✅ Winter at The Biltmore | January 8 – March 24

Address:  1 Lodge St, Asheville, NC 28803

Winter at the Biltmore tends to be the most relaxing, most peaceful, least crowded, cheapest, and some of the most beautiful times at the hotel. The Biltmore welcomes guests to visit the grand hotel on 8,000 acres for the vacation of their dreams. Winter activities include red wine and chocolate tastings, 90-minute tours of the hotel, guided bike rides, nature strolls, group activities, and lots more. 

Biltmore Estate is a must stop from Charlotte to Asheville NC

✅ Festival of Lights at Chetola Resort | through Jan 28

Address: Chetola Resort, 185 Chetola Lake Dr, Blowing Rock, NC 28605

Witness the magic of the Festival of Lights at the Chetola Resort for their last days open through the end of January. This free, dazzling experience welcomes guests to stroll or drive around Chetola Lake, where they will find spectacular light displays, decorations, ice skaters, strolling carolers, and more festival holiday scenes. 

Timberlake's Restaurant at Chetola Resort

Read More: 50+ Great Things to Do in Blowing Rock NC

✅ Family Day at Cataloochee Ski Area | January 10 – March 27 on Wednesdays 

Address: Cataloochee Ski Area, 1080 Ski Lodge Rd, Maggie Valley, NC

Encouraging young ones to get out during the colder months to exercise, have fun in the snow, and explore their natural surroundings is essential and a great way to get out of the house. Cataloochee Ski Area offers a family day every Wednesday from January 10th to the end of March. This family day is from 9:00 am to 10:00 am, and any child under 17 can get a free lift ticket by purchasing an adult lift ticket. 

Overlooking Cataloochee Valley

✅ Blowing Rock WinterFest | January 25-28

Address: Chetola Resort, 185 Chetola Lake Dr, Blowing Rock, NC 

For over 25 years, the Blowing Rock Winterfest has been bringing extra winter fun to this gorgeous part of the North Carolina mountains. Come out and take a Polar Bear Plunge or simply watch others take the exhilarating dip in the frigid waters. There are also amazing ice carving demonstrations, a beer garden, and more.

There is also a special event called “WinterFeast,” which is a culinary experience featuring food from some of the best restaurants in the High Country. Blowing Rock Winterfest is a truly fantastic event in WNC.

Welcome to Blowing Rock NC Sign

✅ NC Smokies Ice Fest | Jan 26 – Jan 28

Address: Maggie Valley Festival Grounds, 3374 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC

Have a fun-filled weekend at the NC Smokies Ice Fest, a great way to end the coldest month of the year with dazzling ice sculptures, interactive ice games, ice skating, dinner specials, and more! Events will occur all weekend in Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Cataloochee Ski Area, and Canton Recreational Park. Tickets to Maggie Valley’s Ice Festival

Ice Sculpture

✅ Snow Fest at 4118 | January 27 – 28

Address: Kelsey Hutchinson Founders Park Pine Street, Highlands, NC 28741

Bring your friends and family for a guaranteed winter fun experience at an elevation of 4,118 feet (courtesy of snow blowers if necessary). Enjoy a snowball toss, a snow tube merry-go-round, a snow slide, an ice-skating rink, and more, all waiting for their enjoyment. Takes place between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. and is a free event, except for ice skating, which is $5.

Piedmont Region

✅ First Day Hikes | Jan 1

Address: Various NC State Parks

In the Piedmont Region, there are plenty of beautiful state parks that will also be joining the guided first-day hike extravaganza. Hikes will occur at Lumber River State Park, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, Lake Norman State Park, and Jones Lake State Park. Bring your high spirits and good hiking shoes to soak in the fresh winter air! 

Lake Norman State Park Short Turn Trail Sign

✅ Outdoor Ice Skating at “Camp North Pole.” | Through Jan 7

Address: Ford Factory at Camp North End, 400 Camp Road, Charlotte, NC 28206

This year, for the first time ever, Camp North End in Charlotte is hosting a grand ice skating rink for everyone to enjoy! The sizeable ice skating rink opens on November 22, 2023, runs until January 7, 2024, and will be open daily unless there is inclement weather. After your fun skate, you can visit the lodge to warm up, drink yummy warm beverages, and have some food. 

Fun Things to do in Charlotte NC include spending time at Camp North End

✅ Speedway Christmas | Through Jan 7

Address: 5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord, NC 28027

Speedway Christmas is truly the best and biggest drive-through Christmas light show in America. At the legendary Charlotte Motor Speedway, guests are invited to the four-mile road course adorned with over five million festive lights, decorations, holiday shows, and more. 

As you make your way through the course, make a pit stop and visit the infield for even more Christmas spirit with Santa’s workshop, an ice maze, a lighted tree pathway, and food vendors. The first week of January is the last week to enjoy the remarkable Christmas display, so make sure you don’t miss out! 

Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas Lights

✅ Dutch Art in a Global Age | through Jan 7

Address: North Carolina Museum of Art, 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607

This exhibition delves into the profound impact of international travel and trade on Dutch art and society. It showcases the masterpieces of renowned painters such as Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Gerrit Dou, Jacob van Ruisdael, Rachel Ruysch, and other celebrated artists, alongside various prints and decorative arts. 

✅ Cirque du Soleil: BAZZAR | through Jan 14

Address: 5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord, NC 28027

Cirque du Soleil is coming to the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord this January for another magnificent show! If you have not yet witnessed the awe and wonder that comes with a Cirque du Soleil performance, now is your chance, and you don’t want to miss it. 

The circus brings performers who seem to defy all laws of human physics with outstanding dances, gymnastics routines, aerial shows, and more. Tickets will sell out, so be sure to get yours ahead of time. 

✅ North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival | through Jan 14

Address: Koka Booth Amphitheatre, 8003 Regency Pkwy, Cary, NC

One of the region’s most beloved holiday traditions is back with the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival. Chinese artists work diligently to design and create more than 40 larger-than-life light displays with animatronics, captivating performances, and beautiful colors.  

NC Chinese Lantern Festival Dragon Boat in the water

✅ Outdoor Ice Skating Birkdale on Ice | Through Jan 28

Address: Birkdale Village, Birkdale Commons Pkwy, Huntersville, NC 28078

Birkdale on Ice opens just in time for the holiday season and sticks around to keep January exciting with outdoor ice skating. This premium, “Rockefeller-inspired rink” is an excellent place for skaters of all ages to enjoy a little more holiday spirit. Tickets should be purchased ahead of time. Tickets 

Birkdale on Ice Skating Charlotte North Carolina

Read More: Great Things to Do in Huntersville NC

✅ Outdoor Ice Skating US National Whitewater Center | Through mid-Feb

Address: 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway, Charlotte, NC 28214

One of the most thrilling and beautiful ice skating rinks in the whole state is the one at the US National Whitewater Center. This 24,000 sq. foot rink is split into four distinct skating areas with bridges, paths, and two skate-free regions, all decorated in twinkling lights. 

For those looking to take skate breaks, there is a lovely, converted Airstream in the middle of the rinks, serving guests hot chocolate and other cold beverages. 

US National Whitewater Center Ice Skating

✅ Jurassic World Live Tour | Jan 5, 6 & 7

Address: Spectrum Center, 333 E Trade St, Charlotte, NC 28202

Jurassic World Tour will be a unique, interactive experience that is full of action and shocking family entertainment! Watch the live show as scientists unravel a corrupt plan to save dinosaurs from a terrible fate. With exclusive arena floor seating, you and your family have the chance to be directly in the center of all the action for even more thrills and up-close entertainment!  Tickets

✅ Shen Yun | Jan 5, 6 & 7

Address: Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center | 130 N Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202

This year, the famous and most beautiful Shen Yun will join guests for a weekend at the Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte, NC. The show consists of magical fairies, traditional Chinese dancing, stunning costumes, and stories of love, loss, harmony, humor, and heroism. This vibrant show is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Tickets

✅ Elton John & Billy Joel Face 2 Face: The Tribute Concert | Jan 6 & 7

Address: The Fillmore Charlotte, 820 Hamilton St, Charlotte, NC

Celebrate two of this generation’s most extraordinary piano men, Elton John and Billy Joel, in an exciting Face 2 Face tribute concert. The jaw-droppingly accurate players will play all your favorite classics, filling the large theater with heart-warming songs and familiar tunes. Tickets

✅ FantasticRealm Film Series | Jan 12 – Jan 18

Address: The Carolina Theatre, 309 W Morgan St, Durham, NC

90s movies, movies that shaped your childhood, movies of nostalgia, realistic entertainment, comedy, and emotions with all your favorite villains and superheroes, can once again be shared and enjoyed with all your family and friends. Over a dozen movies will play from January 12 through the 18th at the Carolina Theater in Durham

✅ Brews & Cruise Car Show | Jan 20

Address: Lake Norman Brewery, 1753 Triangle Cir, Denver, NC

This small-production brewery outside Charlotte puts on a Brews & Cruise Car Show that takes place the third Saturday of each month and has become a local favorite tradition over the past couple of years. The brewery invites guests of all ages to see classic cars of all kinds and taste delicious craft beers. 

Lake Norman Brewing

Read More: Great Things to Do in Denver NC

✅ Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Concert | Jan 27

Address: Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian Street, Durham, NC 27701

Enter the wizarding world of Harry Potter once more for a unique experience to see your favorite characters on screen again, accompanied by a live symphony orchestra. The three-hour captivating event will be great for the whole family to bond over the Harry Potter movie that started it all, presented in a way you’ve never seen before. Tickets

✅ The Rink Presented By UNC Health | Jan 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

Address: 500 South McDowell Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

Experience the exhilaration of ice skating in a picturesque winter setting right in the heart of downtown Raleigh! Presented by UNC Health, ‘THE RINK’ boasts a natural ice skating rink with breathtaking views of the Raleigh skyline. And for those not interested in skating, there will be delightful wintry snacks and entertainment, too!

This year, they are introducing an exciting new feature: the Igloo Lounge! It offers a snug and private retreat for groups of six, complete with food and beverage packages featuring seasonal delights and exclusive merchandise. We highly recommend making advance reservations due to limited availability.

Carolina Hurricanes Hockey Games | Jan 6, 11, 13, 15, 19, 21, 25 & 27

Address: PNC Arena, 1400 Edwards Mill Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607

One of the hottest tickets in all of North Carolina’s professional sports is those for the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team, who play their home games at PNC Arena in Raleigh. The Canes were the first North Carolina-based professional team in any sport to win a Championship when they hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2006.

You can catch one of their home games in January against other NHL teams, such as the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, and more!

Charlotte Hornets Basketball Games | Jan 8, 10, 19, 20, 26, 27, 29 & 31

Address: Spectrum Center, 333 E Trade St, Charlotte, NC 28202

Join the basketball season action as the Charlotte Hornets take on other NBA teams like the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs, and more! The Spectrum Center is THE place for sports entertainment, and you will surely catch a thrill.

Spectrum Center Outside

Charlotte Checkers Hockey Games | Jan 12, 16, 17, 20, 21

Address: Bojangles Coliseum, 2700 E Independence Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28205

It’s hockey season, and the beloved home team, the Charlotte Checkers, has a handful of home games in January that you can catch at the Bojangles Coliseum. Join the thrill as you watch the Checkers face other AHL minor league teams, including games against the Rochester Americans, Toronto Marlies, and the San Jose Barracudas. 

Bojangles Coliseum

✅ Queen City Outdoor Classic | Jan 13

Address: Truist Field, 324 S Mint St, Charlotte, NC 28202

The Charlotte Checkers AHL minor league hockey team takes on the Rochester Americans in what will be the first-ever professional outdoor hockey game hosted in Charlotte. The game will take place at Truist Field, home of the Charlotte Knights minor league baseball team. So, if you are interested in checking out a first-ever experience in Queen City, you should get your tickets now.

Truist Field

Carolina Thunderbirds Hockey Games | Jan 5, 6, 11, 19, 20

Address: Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex, 414 Deacon Blvd, Winston-Salem, NC 27105

The Carolina Thunderbirds are an FPHL minor league hockey team that plays their home games at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds. Witness the action live this January as they host games against the Mississippi Sea Wolves, Wytheville Blue Ridge Bobcats, and Port Huron Prowlers. 

Coastal Region

✅ First Day Hikes | Jan 1

Address: Various NC State Parks

The Coastal Region of North Carolina is surprisingly filled with some of the state’s most majestic state parks. Over five parks in the Coastal Region celebrate First Day Hikes and encourage you to get outdoors and enjoy the coastal beauty. 

Here are all the parks in the region you can consider hiking in. 

  • Fort Macon State Park
  • Jockey’s Ridge State Park
  • Carolina Beach State Park
  • Hammock Beach State Park
  • Merchants Mill Pond State Park
  • Lake Waccamaw
  • Singletary State Park
Aerial view of Jockey's Ridge Dune State Park
Jockey’s Ridge State Park

✅ Penguin Plunge | January 1

Address: W Atlantic Blvd, Atlantic Beach, NC 28512

The Penguin Plunge is a tradition in Atlantic Beach and an exhilarating way to start the new year! Join people from all over the area as they come out to dash into the chilly winter ocean waters for fun and charity. Wear a costume, as the person wearing the best costume wins a prize! 

✅ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade and Commemoration | January 16

Address: N Third Street from Hanover Street to Princess Street, Wilmington, NC 28401

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a way to honor the legendary man and remind ourselves there is hope for a more peaceful and better future. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Wilmington is an excellent way to commemorate the man himself and to get together to celebrate where we are today.

The parade takes place in downtown Wilmington and starts at 11 am. There will also be many yummy food trucks, entertainment, a gospel concert, banquets, and speeches.  

✅ Wine and Brine Seafood Festival | January 19

Address: Southern Salt Seafood Company, 701 Evans St, Morehead City, NC 28857 

The Wine and Brine Seafood Festival is a popular event that hundreds attend each year as they celebrate the North Carolina Oyster Trail. This unique program provides an oyster tourism experience to teach people about the supply and demand of oysters in North Carolina. Attendees of the Wine and Brine Festival can meet shellfish growers, taste samples, and dine on delicious local wines paired with each dish. The festival welcomes people of all ages.

✅ East Coast Shag Classic | Jan 25-28

Address: Courtyard by Marriott, 100 Charlotte Ave, Carolina Beach, NC 28428

Relax on the beach and enjoy an entire weekend of music, dance lessons, comedy shows, luaus, mixers, beach walks, and more with the East Coast Shag Classic! Live bands will play each night with a specific theme (dressing according to each theme is highly encouraged), and there will be many other fantastic activities to enjoy. It won’t feel like January at all with white sands, dancing, and uplifting tunes.

✅ The Sky Tonight | Jan 4-6, 11-13, 18-20, 25-27 

Address: Ingram Planetarium, 7625 High Market St, Sunset Beach, NC

Enjoy a live star presentation every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 3 – 4 p.m. The presenter will project the night sky onto the planetarium‘s dome ceiling, guiding you through a tour highlighting our region’s stars, planets, and constellations. Subsequently, you can confidently identify the celestial wonders gracing the skies while strolling along the beach on a pristine, clear night.

✅ Fayetteville Marksmen Hockey Games | January 5, 6, 19, 20, 21

Address: Crown Coliseum, 1960 Coliseum Dr, Fayetteville, NC

The Fayetteville Marksmen are a veteran-owned and operated SPHL minor league hockey team that plays at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville, North Carolina. There is no better place to watch an exciting match with reasonable prices, great snacks, beer, and a lively environment.

Fayetteville Marksmen

North Carolina in January: FAQs

📌 Is January a good time to visit North Carolina?
January in North Carolina is usually a quiet time with fewer visitors. Although it is not a popular time to visit the state, this can make it one of the best times to visit, as it is less crowded at many attractions, and there are still various fun activities to do.

📌 How cold is North Carolina in January?
The daily average temperature across North Carolina in January is anywhere from 34 to 52 degrees F. It tends to be cooler in the Mountain Region and slightly warmer in the Piedmont and Coastal regions. 

📌 What is the coldest month in North Carolina?
January is the coldest month in North Carolina.

📌 Will North Carolina get snow in January?
Parts of North Carolina often see snow in January. It is typical in the Mountain Region to see snowfall during January, and sometimes the Piedmont Region does as well. It’s not unheard of for the Coastal Region to get snow, though it is much more rare.

Final Thoughts

January in North Carolina presents a delightful array of activities, blending outdoor adventures with cultural festivities. Whether it’s embracing the crisp air on First Day Hikes in the mountains, enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of downtown Asheville runs, or experiencing the unique festivities like the New Year’s Sunrise at Grandfather Mountain and the enchanting Christmas at the Biltmore, there’s something for everyone. 

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