Discover Holiday Magic at the G

Posted on December 11, 2023

Clocktower on UNCG campus decorated in lights and wreaths for the holidays.

It’s that time of year. Finals are over, graduation ceremonies have successfully celebrated our mid-year grads, and campus gets quiet as faculty and students enjoy the holidays with their families. But for those who are fortunate to enjoy some or all of the break in Greensboro, our college town sparkles with holiday magic this time of year. Here are a few ways to love where we live this time of year.  

Downtown Gets Lit 

Man in stilts in a robot costume covered in blue lights walks down a downtown street interacting with people with holiday lights decorating storefronts in the background.

Every year on the first Friday in December, downtown Greensboro celebrates its Festival of Lights. Local organizations, businesses, and residents gathered for music, food, and holiday lights as the city unveiled its Christmas tree, beautifully trimmed in Center City Park. UNC Greensboro again sponsored the Festival of Lights with the UNCG Chariots there to sing festive tunes. UNCG esports was represented by a robot who mingled with the crowds, art students hosted a market of unique gifts at Greensboro Project Space, and all in attendance popped in and out of their favorite downtown establishments.  

Remember these shops, restaurants, and meeting places as you gather for holiday shopping and activities throughout December. There’s no better time to support local businesses and enjoy the ambiance of downtown than in December when the streets and shopfronts feel extra festive. 

Skating in a Winter Wonderland 

Looking for an active destination for holiday fun? Check out Piedmont Winterfest in LeBauer Park. The outdoor rink is open through January 28 for skating and curling. Admission is $15 and includes skate rentals for an afternoon or evening of ice skating against the backdrop of downtown’s twinkling lights. 

Traditions of Stage and Screen 

For some, the holidays can’t begin or end without a favorite show of the season, and those come in many forms in Greensboro. 

The Greensboro Opera will feature Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors” at the UNCG Auditorium on December 14 and 15. The Greensboro Ballet has several showings of “The Nutcracker” at the Carolina Theater on December 16 and 17. And if you have a favorite Christmas movie, it’s likely to be shown at the Carolina Theater on a weeknight between December 11 and 22. Just check the theater’s events listing for scheduled movie showings. 

Run, Walk or Cruise the Balls 

Sunset Hills, the neighborhood adjacent to UNCG’s campus, has become a hot spot for holiday lights in recent years. Residents hang lighted Christmas balls high in their front yard trees and the effect is dazzling. Folks come from all over the county to walk the sidewalks or cruise the neighborhood streets to see the unique decorations. 

The holiday light display is free, but donations to Second Harvest Food Bank are encouraged. Non-perishable items are collected in bins at Greenway Park throughout the season, with the largest donation coming from the Running of the Balls on December 16. 

The Running of the Balls is a festive 5K race with a course that weaves through the lighted streets. Participants range from families pushing strollers and walking pets, to groups of friends running in ugly Christmas sweaters and lighted hats and scarves. Hot chocolate is served from tents and bands play from stages at the start and finish line.  

Whether you register to run or simply come to cheer on the participants, it’s an event that entertains while giving back to the community. Since 2012, the Running of the Balls has funded over 4 million meals for Second Harvest Food Bank and its co-founder, Nick Loflin ’01, ‘23 M.A., expects to draw 5,000 revelers at this year’s race. 

Science Meets Celebration 

Another local light display drawing visitors of all ages is the Winter Wonderlights at the Greensboro Science Center. During the holiday season, the zoo and exhibit rooms are transformed into a dazzling wonderland of lights and holiday activities.  Although the animals are not out during the evening light show times, the interactive displays keep fans coming back year after year. Check the website for admission fees and hours and plan your trip today. 

Story by Becky Deakins, University Communications.
Photos by Sean Norona, unless otherwise specified.
Videography by David Lee Row and Grant Evan Gilliard, University Communications.

Photo of UNCG Christmas decorations on a tree

‘Tis the season for giving.


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