December 6, 2023

🎄 Christmas for the City

The Go-To Winston-Salem

December 6, 2023

Christmas for the City

One of the largest holiday events in Winston-Salem, Christmas for the City, is a free citywide Christmas party that fills the Benton Convention Center every December.

If it’s your first holiday season in Winston-Salem (welcome!) or if you’ve never attended the event before, read on for an overview of the event and its history.

Photos courtesy of Christmas for the City

  • Details: December 16 from 1-6 PM at the Benton Convention Center.

  • What: Christmas for the City brings together people from all walks of life in Winston-Salem. The event is made possible by a collaboration between local churches, businesses, and members of the arts community. The event features:

    • North Pole Village - a winter wonderland with Santa, Disney princesses, and activities for kids

    • Artistic performances - including live music and art demonstrations

    • The Snowball Dance - an event for special needs individuals featuring a DJ, dancing, and a photo booth

    • Art Room - where you can participate in painting a community mural

    • Lovefeast - a Moravian tradition with singing, sweet buns, and coffee

  • History: Christmas for the City was first held at the Millennium Center in 2008. It eventually outgrew that venue and moved to the Benton Convention Center.

  • Involvement: It takes hundreds of volunteers to make this event possible. If you want to get involved, you can find a list of volunteer opportunities here.

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Friday, December 8

  • The Nutcracker - Enjoy the annual performance brought to you by UNCSA students at the Tanger Performing Arts Center. Available through Sunday.*

  • Hockey Games - Cheer on the Carolina Thunderbirds as they play the Binghamton Black Bears at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds Annex Ice Rink. Also available Saturday.*

  • Big Book Sale - Find fiction and nonfiction titles, audiobooks, CDs, and DVDs at Forsyth County Central Library. Available through December 10.

  • Gingerbread House Tournament - Bring your friend and decorate a gingerbread house at The Canvas Cake Studio. 6:30 PM

  • Musical - Theatre Alliance presents Annie Warbucks, a follow-up story to the hit musical, Annie. Available through December 17.

  • Festive Family Friday - Take the kids to Kaleideum North for science, music, crafts, laser shows, and Santa. This will be the last year the event is held at this location. 6-9 PM

  • Carriage Rides - Need ideas for a romantic date night? Ride around downtown Mocksville in a horse-drawn carriage! 6 PM

  • Reynolda Tour - Go on a special Christmas tour and learn about the stories and traditions of the Reynolda House. Also available Saturday.

  • Ugly Holiday Sweater - Head to Mixxer for an ugly holiday sweater contest, ornament making, raffles, and a visit from Santa. 6 PM

Saturday, December 9

  • Shopping Experience - Head to Primm’s for a mother/daughter holiday shopping experience featuring a pop-up with Cake for Dinner and clothing for teens. 11 AM - 5 PM*

  • Water Tower Market - Find a unique Christmas gift for that hard-to-shop-for person at Radar Brewing Company. Bonus: free pictures with Santa! 12-5 PM

  • Bob Ross Painting - Learn how to paint a peaceful snowy landscape at Dabble Art Bar. 12 PM

  • Food Drive - Head to the Washington Park neighborhood for a food drive benefitting Sunnyside Ministry. There will be carriage rides, singing, and refreshments for all to enjoy. 5-7 PM

  • Advance Christmas Parade - Bands, antique cars, floats, and more! The parade starts at Shady Grove Elementary School. 10 AM

  • Kernersville Yuletide - Spend the day in historic downtown Kernersville at Körner’s Folly, the Kernersville Auto Museum, the Kernersville Museum, and the Ciener Botanical Garden. 10 AM - 9 PM

  • Flower Market - Eight local flower farmers come together to host a holiday market with wreaths, resin art, pressed and dried flower art, and more at Mossy Hill Farm. 10 AM - 2 PM

  • Blues and Toy Drive - Join the Piedmont Blues Preservation Society at The Ramkat for blues music and donate unwrapped new toys for children ages 0-13. 12-3 PM

Sunday, December 10

  • Camel City Craft Fair - Pick up a handmade item from an artist or maker at Foothills Brewing Tasting Room. Food trucks and live music will be onsite. 12-5 PM

  • Candle Lighting - Join Compassionate Friends of Winston-Salem at The Coal Pit for a remembrance event honoring the children that parents and families have lost. 7:30 PM

  • Lewisville Christmas Parade - Floats, dance and drill teams, local marching bands, and more start at the intersection of Shallowford and Lewisville Vienna Roads. 3 PM

Monday, December 11

  • Menorah Lighting - Celebrate Hanukkah at Bailey Park with crafts, a gelt drop, hot latkes, a fire truck, and more. 5 PM

  • Tabletop Games - Learn how to play tabletop role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons at the Forsyth County Reynolda Manor Branch Library. Experienced players also welcome. 3-5 PM

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Other News

  • Charity: Local non-profit greeNest is hosting Santa’s Workshop and Holiday Pop-up Store on Saturday, December 9. Proceeds from the event go toward greeNest’s ‘Made It Home’ campaign, which provides families with affordable home furnishings so they can fund other necessities.

  • Volleyball: The Winter 2024 Adult Volleyball League begins the week of January 8 and runs through March. There are three different league options available based on skill level. Register your team by December 29.

  • Award: Bank of America’s Neighborhood Champion award went to local non-profit Help Our People Eat (H.O.P.E.). The award includes a grant of $50,000 distributed over two years and virtual leadership training, according to Yes! Weekly.

  • Anniversary: Bitty & Beau’s Coffee celebrates its first anniversary on December 10. Activities will include giveaways, karaoke, Santa, and more. Founded in Wilmington, this coffee shop employs individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

  • Transportation: The NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) will receive $3.5 million from the federal government. The money will be used to develop plans for creating seven railroad corridors in NC, including a connection between Winston-Salem and Raleigh. Each corridor will be allocated $500,000.

Upcoming Events

  • Wake Up Winston - Join Greater Winston-Salem at The Mast General Store on December 13 to shop unique gift ideas and traditional Mast Store staples.

  • Hobby Mega Show - Browse through 350 vendor tables showcasing comic books, vintage baseball cards and toys, DC and Marvel collectibles, and more at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds on December 15.

  • Skate with Santa - Ice skate, take a picture with Santa, and enjoy hot chocolate and holiday music at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds on December 17.

Plans for Downtown

The 2023 Downtown Plan was approved on Monday, December 4, by the Winston-Salem City Council.

Background: The goal of the 2023 Downtown Plan is to provide specific strategies and recommendations to take Downtown Winston-Salem to the next level and build upon the success of the 2013 Downtown Plan.

How: The creation of this plan took into consideration previously adopted plans and sought public input through public meetings, surveys, interviews, and extensive committee work.

Keep reading for some highlights from the Downtown Plan.

2023 Downtown Plan

A 5,000-seat amphitheater - This illustration reflects this Plan’s vision for potentially game-changing new amenities for Downtown. This is an artistic sketch, not a final design plan.

The Planning Committee broke down the Downtown Plan into three subcommittees: Growth, Connectivity, and Appearance.


  • Priorities: Promote small business, Focus on housing availability and variety, Utilize vacant office and courtroom space, Fill ground-floor vacant spaces and add storefront variety, Grow the food scene, Support new and existing festivals and events

  • Immediate Projects:

    • Re-use the vacant One Triad Park office building and Forsyth County Hall of Justice

  • What The Go-To is excited about:

    • Recruiting a full-service grocery store downtown (mid-range project)

    • Advocating for more affordable housing options downtown (ongoing project)


  • Priorities: Improve parking, Enhance public safety, Add pedestrian lighting, Promote micro-mobility, Improve pedestrian connectivity, Enhance existing parks, Create big new entertainment/recreation draws

  • Immediate Projects:

    • Review parking rates in other North Carolina downtowns

    • Improve parking access for physically disabled people

    • Create a task force to study the feasibility of additional drop-off and loading zones

  • What The Go-To is excited about:

    • Enhancing and modernizing the bridges across US 52; 3rd, 4th and 5th Streets (Mid-range project)

    • Building a downtown outdoor amphitheater with a 5,000 or more seating capacity (long-range project)

    • Creating a downtown dog park (long-range project)


  • Priorities: Leverage the legacy of outstanding architecture, Refine design standards, Upgrade sidewalk dining, Add public art, Beautify the pedestrian experience, Further brand districts, Add trees and landscaping

  • Immediate Projects:

    • Establish a percent-for-art ordinance in Winston-Salem, with 1% of bond-funded public building and park construction projects set aside for public art

  • What The Go-To is excited about:

    • Allowing flexible sidewalk dining at designated times, such as on weekends, monthly, or for special events (short-range project)

    • Requiring trees to be planted as part of new construction projects (ongoing project)

The Wrap


The Go-To Partners