Share the Glow in Hillsborough for the Holiday Season and New Year

2021 is coming to an end, can you believe it?! As we approach the winter solstice, cold weather, an abundance of holidays, and as 2022 draws near; make sure you check out everything Hillsborough has to offer!

The Winter Solstice- HAC’s Lantern Walk Event

The winter solstice occurs in the northern hemisphere when the north pole reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun, and is the longest night and shortest period of daylight of the year. The winter solstice has had significance to many cultures since prehistory, and is often celebrated through festivals or rituals. This year, the winter solstice falls on Tuesday, December 21st.

In Hillsborough, celebrate the winter solstice with the Solstice Lantern Walk hosted by the Hillsborough Arts Council. This is a nondenominational event that will take place at 5:45 pm. Individuals are asked to bring a handmade lantern that lights up the night, to guide all of us along the walk.

Participants will gather at the Eno River Farmer’s Market Pavilion and be led on a procession through River Park, to the River Walk, and ending back in downtown Hillsborough.

*While this event is free to the community, registration is required to attend for the purposes of managing crowd capacities in light of social distancing.*

Homes for the Holidays Gingerbread Competition

The 2021 Homes for the Holidays Gingerbread Competition is in full swing! Take a walk along Churton and King streets in downtown Hillsborough to see the 29(!) beautiful creations in person, and don’t forget to vote for your favorites! Voting is open until December 22nd at www.homesfortheholidays2021.com. Vote for as many entries as you like, but only one vote per entry. 

Please consider making a donation with your vote. All donations will be split 50/50 between the Hillsborough Arts Council (HAC) and Orange Congregations in Mission (OCIM) to support the arts and our local food bank.

This year’s theme for the competition is ‘Favorite Structure from Around the World’.

Entries include the Great Pyramids in Giza, Egypt; the Efland-Cheeks Global Elementary Art Classroom in Efland, NC; the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France; the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France; the Crooked House in Windsor, England; and much more! Show your support for these creative gingerbread architects and cast your vote!

Take the Hillsborough Holiday Wreath Stroll

Take this tour of beautiful wreaths from eight different participants along Churton and King streets. Couple this with the above Homes for the Holidays displays, and see some true holiday creativity!

Watch Episode #5 of From the Source

Tune in to Magnolia Network or Discovery Plus to watch From the Source, a show about ingredients and the farmers that grow them, on which our very own Botanist and Barrel is featured!

Read Minnie Finds a Home

Learn about the history of Orange County through the adventures of Minnie Brown, a collie puppy with a big imagination. Minnie’s story is available at the Orange County Historical Museum and at amazon.com, as well as the Hillsborough Visitors Center gift shop!

Check out the new mural at the News of Orange County building!

Artists Richard Nickel and Chris Revels worked hard to paint a mural that represents Hillsborough, so make sure you snap a pic with the dogwoods, cardinals, sunshine, and rolling hills! The mural is located at 109 E King St. which houses the News of Orange County, our local newspaper which has been around since 1893.

Have a night out on the town for New Years Eve!

At Yonder Southern Cocktails and Beer, DJ Brisa hosts A Time-Machine New Year’s Eve Bash! Dress to the nines in your favorite 70s, 80s, or 90s glamour. Think Studio 54!


Hillsborough’s historic roots and small-town charm provide a fun and unique backdrop for holiday festivities, so explore all that Hillsborough has to offer this holiday season! Use these ideas as a jumping off point for things to do, and don’t forget to tag us in your adventures! (@visithillsborough)