You might recognize Thomasville as home to the “Big Chair” and headquarters of the beloved fast-food chain Cook-Out. Maybe that’s why Santa Claus feels right at home in this welcoming Tar Heel town, where he makes an extravagant annual appearance.
With a host of free festive events from November to December, the town of Thomasville exemplifies the ingredients of tradition and togetherness so essential to the spirit of the holiday season.
Made With Love
Handmade gifts show that you’ve put careful consideration into selecting or making something that suits the recipient, and you’re sure to find something uniquely tailored to your loved one’s style and interests at the 46th Annual Craft Fair in Thomasville.
While Amazon items are mass-produced and crammed into boxes before being unleashed in a shipping frenzy, each treasure at the Craft Market has a touching story behind the maker.
Take 911 telecommunicator Julie Smith, who carries on the crafting tradition learned from attending the Craft Fair as a child with her grandmother. Smith uses recycled wine bottles to create mesmerizing light displays, while long-time vendor Betty Watford is joined by her daughters in selling crocheted towels, footie pajamas, and blankets, among other cherished items.
In addition to procuring jewelry, clothing, baked goods, and other handmade items, you can enter to win raffle prizes announced at the event's culmination, which takes place on November 11 from 9 AM to 2 PM at the Central Recreation Center in Thomasville.
Light Up The Holidays
Join the locals of Thomasville for one of the most anticipated holiday events of the season. Light Up the Holidays transforms downtown Thomasville into a festive wonderland on November 18 from 5-8 PM.
Bring the kids for an inside peek into “Santa’s Magical Workshop” at Thomasville Antique Emporium, where mechanical display designer Lou Nasti and his team have reinvigorated new life into twelve 1960s storefront elves (recently “rescued” after being scattered about town).
Equipped with new motors, the elves gesticulate about the workshop with toy-making tools in hand. Watch in awe as they appear to carve toys from wood, apply paint, sew, and package them for Santa’s sleigh!
As the sun sets, attendees can nosh on delicious holiday treats and embark on a free illuminated train ride throughout the downtown area, passing a live nativity scene as the angelic voices of Christmas carolers croon the crowd into a merry mood. The event crescendos with the Christmas tree lighting, performed by a posse of sagacious Thomasville elders who signal to Santa the precise moment to “throw the switch” to light the tree.
Elves On Parade
Experience Thomasville’s favorite family-friendly holiday tradition – the Thomasville Christmas Parade! The parade will occur at the Visitors Center in downtown Thomasville on December 9 at 11 AM.
Keep your eyes peeled for elves tossing handfuls of candy into the crowd while clapping and stomping to the upbeat performances from local marching bands and dance troupes. You might even catch live camels alongside costumed characters recreating the journey to Bethlehem.
It’s also worth mentioning that the South’s largest drive-thru nativity experience – the Journey to Bethlehem – takes place in Thomasville, recreating many live scenes from the biblical account of the Christmas story.
This self-guided drive-thru is a free family-friendly event that runs from November 29 to December 3 from 6-9 PM nightly, and guests can reserve trolley rides ahead of time to experience the Journey to Bethlehem more intimately.
Christmas In Thomasville: A New Family Tradition For The Holidays
If you’re looking to switch up your family’s routine this Christmas, consider booking a long weekend in Thomasville. With affordable accommodations and a smattering of eateries within walking distance of the main holiday events, you’ll feel like you whisked your family away to the set of a Hallmark Christmas movie!
Budget-friendly options are found at the newly remodeled Comfort Inn Thomasville I-85. For larger groups, we recommend a stay at the 1936 Brookshire home, located in the heart of historic downtown Thomasville and suitable for up to ten guests.
You’ll be close to popular destinations like the 40,000-square-foot Antique Emporium, where you can spend hours perusing the aisles of well-preserved – if not somewhat peculiar – items. Cast iron cookware, seasonal decor, vintage skis, funky salt-and-pepper shakers…we have a hankering that Santa might get some of his toy-making inspiration from this Thomasville time capsule!
After a heart-pumping shopping spree, scoot into one of Thomasville’s quaint restaurants for a mid-day meal. JJ’s Side Street Deli is inside the emporium, serving delicious sandwiches and sides for under $10. Conveniently on the other side of the Emporium, Main Street Cone & Coffee marks the spot for those seeking a sweet concoction.
The T’Ville Diner – originally housed within an old dining car from the Southern Railway – has been named one of the top five diners in the Tar Heel State and will surely delight excitable youngsters. One of the town’s newest restaurants – Cross Ties – is our top pick for a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day reservation. Choose from surf and turf, bourbon chicken and shrimp, and seafood stuffed flounder, among fresh salads, flatbreads, and appetizers.
On December 15, the town of Thomasville unites for Chair City Christmas. Starting at 5 PM, attendees can enjoy live professional Christmas caroling while Santa gives out free toys to children. Sip on hot cocoa and listen to the annual reading of “The Christmas Story” under the twinkling lights of the Thomasville Christmas tree.
The Christmas spirit will be alive and well in Thomasville this year. Nowhere else in the Carolinas will you find a community of people so intent on preserving the essence of the season: the joy and wonder of childhood innocence, the gift of generosity and gratitude, and the resonance of stories that have captivated us for generations.