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30 Free, Family-Friendly Holiday Events in Cumberland County

My son may be grown now, but I will always remember his first holidays here in Fayetteville, North Carolina. My husband and I brought him home as a preemie from Womack Army Medical Center in November, and that holiday season, we had to choose between putting propane in our tank to heat our home or buying Christmas gifts. If it hadn’t been for Army Community Services’ Angel Tree, my son wouldn’t have had any gifts under the tree at all, and I was so grateful to accept toys and groceries from total strangers.

This year, as I consider the fact that more than 53,000 people (or 15.8%) are living in poverty in Cumberland County alone, I know there are so many families like mine who are currently making a decision between paying the light bill and buying their kids gifts. Unfortunately, it’s a well known fact there’s a strong correlation between poverty and child abuse, but as the Child Advocacy Center has proven in its 30-year history, we can take action to prevent that.

Having been raised in a low socioeconomic status myself, I understand the value of the word “free,” and as a mother, I learned how to seek out and take advantage of free events that would not only create family memories, but expose my son to the arts, different cultural experiences, holiday celebrations, and more. Looking back, those experiences were worth their weight in gold compared to gifts.

For that reason, I was inspired to put together a list of holiday happenings throughout Cumberland County that are all family friendly and free this month. Whether you can use this information or not, I hope you will share this widely for those families who desperately need a little hope in what can be a bleak season for many.

Click on the event titles below to view each corresponding Facebook event for more details, such as times and addresses.

Christmas Toy Giveaway @ James Creek Club House (City of Fayetteville)

December 7, 2023

Stop by to pick up a free gift, thanks to the Zenaida Cranford Mentor Mentee Mentorship Program, for children ages 3 to 9 years old (one gift per child will be given to children who are present at the event).

A Christmas Carol @ Eastover-Central Elementary School (Town of Eastover)

December 7, 2023

Get transported back to Victorian London with Scrooge while he learns what the holidays are truly about as the Eastover Players presents the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol.

Christmas in the Park @ Arnette Park (City of Fayetteville)

December 7, 10-14 & 17-21, 2023

Enjoy a leisurely drive while taking in all the holiday lights, sights, and sounds of the season at Arnette Park–a beautiful combination of developed facilities and natural woodland, spanning 100 acres, adjacent to the Cape Fear River.

Letters to Santa @ Downtown Fayetteville (City of Fayetteville)

December 7-25, 2023

Drop off your letters to Santa in the red mailbox located at “Holiday Alley,” next to Cool Spring Downtown District’s office, and District elves will work hard to ensure all letters are fast-tracked to the North Pole.

Light Up the City @ Downtown Fayetteville (City of Fayetteville)

December 7-31, 2023

Take a self-guided walking tour of the Art and Entertainment District’s decorated buildings throughout Downtown Fayetteville to determine who has the “best dressed windows/stores”; then vote for your favorite to win the “Viewer’s Choice Award.”

Christmas Market @ Dirtbag Ales Brewery & Taproom (Town of Hope Mills)

December 8-10, 2023

Soak up the delightful ambience of the 6th Annual Christmas Market as you enjoy perusing 70+ food vendors, artists/makers, small businesses, farmers, and more (while the market and brewery facilities are all free to visit, food, beverages, and wares are not).

Singing Christmas Tree @ Highland Baptist Church (Town of Hope Mills)

December 8-10, 2023

Choose from three performances of “All Is Well: A Christmas Musical” and join Highland Baptist Church members in a special time of worship.

Rotary Christmas Parade @ Downtown Fayetteville (City of Fayetteville)

December 9, 2023

Pick your family’s ideal spot along Person Street or Hay Street to watch the beloved Rotary Christmas Parade travel from the Cumberland County Courthouse to the Railroad Station.

The Green Grump Who Stole Foo-Ville @ Downtown Fayetteville (City of Fayetteville)

December 9, 2023

Don your ugly Christmas sweaters and grinch attire and head downtown to help find “The Green Grump Who Stole Foo-Ville” on a self-guided scavenger hunt throughout downtown’s businesses.

A Very Barbershop Christmas @ The Stadium Event Center (City of Fayetteville)

December 9, 2023

Enjoy some barbershop music by your local Fayetteville Sound Barbershop Chorus as you check out local vendors, get free haircuts for your kids, and capture pictures with Santa (the first 50 kids to attend will also receive a present).

Anime Club: Holiday Party @ Beans & Things Coffee Shop (City of Fayetteville)

December 9, 2023

Unite with fellow anime lovers for a holiday party and enjoy an afternoon of watching anime films at this charming coffee shop.

Little River Days Christmas @ Little River Community Park (Town of Linden)

December 9, 2023

Mark your calendar for this enchanting event and get ready to experience the holiday spirit, with a visit from Santa Claus, heartwarming carolers, and a dazzling Christmas tree lighting.

Nativity in the Park @ Eastover Ball Park (Town of Eastover)

December 9, 2023

Watch as Lebanon Baptist Church shares the Nativity story live while you enjoy hot chocolate and cookies and music in the park.

Pictures with the Grinch @ Green Side Up - Garden & Gift Center (City of Fayetteville)

December 9-10 & 16-17, 2023

Bring the kiddos and the fur babies to visit the Grinch, and a Green Side Up associate will use your phone or camera to capture some priceless holiday pictures for your family.

Culbreth Kids: A Drummer Boy’s Christmas @ Culbreth Memorial PH Church (Town of Falcon)

December 10, 2023

Enjoy a meaningful program from the Culbreth Kids as they present the audience with A Drummer Boy's Christmas.

The Snowman: A Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra Holiday Concert @ Cape Fear Botanical Garden (City of Fayetteville)

December 10, 2023

Take the whole family to the Garden for a holiday-themed movie and concert by the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra in the Orangery and make sure to pay a visit to Santa and the Grinch while you’re there (note a ticket is required to attend Cape Fear Botanical Garden's Holiday Lights event).

Mrs. Claus’ Craft Corner @ Dirtbag Ales Brewery & Taproom (Town of Hope Mills)

December 10 & 20, 2023

Stop by the taproom and let the kids join Mrs. Claus' Craft Corner to make a special Christmas craft together.

Winter Concert @ Holy Trinity Episcopal Church (City of Fayetteville)

December 11, 2023
Celebrate the season as a family while the Campbellton Youth Chorus performs a winter concert.

Victorian Christmas Tours of the 1897 Poe House @ Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex (City of Fayetteville)

December 13, 17, 20, 23, 28 & 30, 2023; January 3 & 6, 2023

Santa Claus Comes to Eastover Trading @ Eastover Trading Company (Town of Eastover)

December 14, 2023

Bring the kiddos to visit Santa & Mrs. Claus, enjoy some snacks, capture a family photo, and order dinner from the onsite food truck (note a professional photographer will be onsite and charging for photos, but attendees are allowed to use their own phones or cameras to take free pictures of their own).

Christmas Ice Show & Santa Skate @ Cleland Ice Skating Rink (Fort Liberty)

December 16, 2023

Watch the Airborne Ice Skating Team dazzle the crowd as they perform their Christmas Ice Show, then stay to skate with Santa after the show.

Messiah: A Collaboration with Cumberland Choral Arts @ Berean Baptist Church (City of Fayetteville)

December 16, 2023

Start a new family tradition by watching the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra collaborate with Cumberland Choral Arts to perform Handel’s Messiah at the beautiful Berean Baptist Church.

Christmas Family Fun Night @ Living Water Church (Town of Spring Lake)

December 16, 2023

Prepare for a night of family fun at Living Water Church with a Christmas movie and holiday treats.

A Village Community Christmas @ The Village Baptist Church (City of Fayetteville)

December 16-17, 2023

Grab your friends and family to experience the first-ever Village Community Christmas with group musical performances, hot cocoa and s'mores around the firepit, petting zoo, craft stations, trackless train, and more.

Holidays Around the World: A Community Concert @ Thomas Campbell Oakman Chapel (Town of Hope Mills)

December 17, 2023

Join the Artist Village Community Choir, in partnership with Hope Mills Parks and Recreation, as they celebrate the holiday season with a community concert (note admission is free, but nonperishable items, toiletries, and gently used clothing items will be accepted to benefit the Alms House of Hope Mills).

Youth Orchestra Winter Concert @ Methodist University’s Huff Concert Hall (City of Fayetteville)

December 17, 2023

Revel in the joy of performances from the Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra (FYSO) String Orchestra, FSYO Band, FSYO Saxophone Ensemble, FSYO Full Orchestra, and String Sinfonietta.

Christmas Pajama Party @ Cross Creek Mall’s Chik-fil-A (City of Fayetteville)

December 21, 2023

Head to Chik-fil-A for a cozy night filled with cocoa, crafts, and the cow (note the event is free to attend, but food must be purchased).

Christmas Eve EVE @ Crossroads Church (City of Fayetteville)

December 23, 2023

Don’t miss this night of music, activities, ugly sweaters, fun, and more as you celebrate the day before the day before Christmas with Crossroads Church.

Christmas @ Reclamation Church (Town of Spring Lake)

December 23-24, 2023

Attend the Christmas at Reclamation Church Production to experience Christmas music (including the kids’ and adults’ choirs), family-fun moments, and an inspirational message.

Night Circus: A District NYE Spectacular Feat. DJ Spinderella & Dru Hill @ Festival Park (City of Fayetteville)

December 31, 2023

End the year with a bang as a family while watching Festival Park’s stage come alive with the vibrant beats of Grammy-award winning DJ and rapper, Spinderella, along with Soul Train Music award-winning group, Dru Hill; then transition from 2023 to 2024 while watching the 18-foot-tall star being raised in the night sky and illuminated by a fireworks show.

Disclaimer: These 30 events are just a small representation of all the holiday happenings around Cumberland County, but we chose to feature the free, family-friendly ones we could find.

(This blog’s featured hero image is courtesy of Carly Cox.)