Skip to content
First Night Raleigh 2021 Logo - Navy blue snowy background with illustration of city skyline inside shield with white serif type

Artsplosure Partners with WRAL and Dix Park for WRAL Nights of Lights 2020

WRAL Nights of Lights

In a year of unprecedented change and disruption, Artsplosure, in partnership with WRAL and the City of Raleigh, have joined forces to provide a new holiday experience: WRAL Nights of Lights.

Taking place along a 1.3-mile route inside Dorothea Dix Park, the event aims to provide an opportunity for the community to celebrate the holidays in a safe, crowdless environment. Along the route, attendees, safe inside their vehicle, will enjoy the oaks of Dix Park wrapped in holiday lights as well as many holiday themed light installations. Artsplosure, the organizers of First Night Raleigh will also activate several local art installations along the route.

“The WRAL and CBC teams were committed to finding a way to help Triangle families experience some “holiday spirit” this year. So many traditions and experiences have been cancelled or disrupted. We worked hard to come up with a safe way to offer some “light” during a time that has been dark for many,” said Joel Davis, Vice-President and General Manager of WRAL/FOX 50. “We are so grateful that the City of Raleigh was willing to partner with us on what we hope will be a new and lasting holiday tradition. This year and every year WRAL remains committed to the people of our community.”

Safety at “Nights Of Lights”

The event is coordinated as a “COVID-safe” experience, with all tickets purchased electronically in advance and handled with onsite ticket scanners vs. paper tickets. The event is planned to run from Wednesday, December 16th through Thursday, December 31st. Ticket prices start at $10 and a portion of available tickets will be given to several Triangle area non-profits over the course of the event.

The event is strictly drive-thru. No pedestrians or cyclists are permitted on the route during Nights of Lights.

Frequently asked questions, the ticket link and map route can be found at Tickets go on sale on Saturday, November 21st at 11am.

“This holiday season is going to be unique for so many of us as COVID continues to impact our community,” said Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin. “I want to thank Artsplosure and WRAL for their forward-thinking approach to Nights of Lights. I look forward to participating and know that many, many families will as well. This is a great way to celebrate the season together while staying safely apart.”

Artsplosure and First Night Raleigh

Artsplosure will present a series of creative and large-scale commissioned light installations by local artists that will be featured throughout the event footprint. A premier large-scale collaborative installation will be created by North Carolina artists Nate Sheaffer and Mary Carter Taub that will be available for viewing only on December 30 and 31 in celebration of First Night Raleigh 2021.

“The board and staff of Artsplosure are grateful to WRAL and the City of Raleigh for the opportunity to enhance the inaugural Nights of Lights festival with elements of First Night Raleigh,” said Artsplosure Executive Director Michael Lowder. “The primary focus of First Night has always been to gather our community together in celebration of the arts and a common purpose. In the age of COVID, this platform gives us a unique setting to continue this tradition.”

On December 30 and 31, say goodbye to 2020 with a one-of-a-kind, special edition of First Night Raleigh 2021 at WRAL Nights of Lights. Experience the Raleigh Acorn like you’ve never seen it before, nestled among Raleigh’s oak trees and enhanced by a specially-commissioned, locally-made lighting installation. Throughout the evening, enjoy musical playlists curated by Raleigh creatives in the comfort of your car to celebrate the coming of a new year.

The Light Installation

The light installations and themed drive-thru design is managed by Vortex Pro Wash, a local Raleigh business that has been serving our community since 2001 and handled both residential/business holiday light installations since 2014.
Vortex Pro Wash lighting designers Nick & Melissa Rhodes plan on lighting the route with over 400 varied lit displays and over 5,000 strands of lights, including a 25-foot-tall LED Christmas tree.
“We are working vigorously to get Nights of Lights prepped and ready to go for this unique holiday season. Vortex Pro Wash is so proud to be a part of a new holiday tradition and we cannot wait to see months of planning come to fruition!” said Melissa Rhodes of Vortex.

Enjoy Holiday Music as you Drive the Route

From 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. each night, enjoy continuous commercial-free Christmas music playing while you drive through the display. Nights of Lights attendees, along with listeners across the area can tune in to “The Triangle’s Official Christmas Music Station MIX 101.5 FM” for holiday music every night of the event. Also, look for your favorite MIX 101.5 personalities broadcasting live along the Christmas light route.

“We’re honored that listeners make MIX 101.5 a part of their families’ holiday traditions as the most-listened-to radio station. Christmas music puts people in a happy place, and we could all use a little holiday cheer right now. This is the thirteenth-consecutive year WRAL-FM will provide the soundtrack for the season as The Triangle’s Christmas Station,” said Sammy Simpson, Radio Brand/Content Manager for MIX 101.5. “Our team is excited to include this new tradition to help light the night skies with the audience to make home for the holidays even more special.”

The Durham Bulls Wish the Triangle Happy Holidays

Also along the light route, expect to see a special display from The Durham Bulls Baseball Club. While the baseball season may have been interrupted in 2020, the holiday spirit of the Bulls has remained intact and ready to “play ball!”
“The Bulls may have had a challenging 2020 season, but our commitment to our community has never been stronger,” said Mike Birling, Vice President of Durham Bulls Baseball Club. “ We are looking forward to this opportunity to wish Bulls friends and fans ‘happy holidays’ this December.”

Various Presenter Logos - Artsplosure, Dorothea Dix Park, Durham Bulls, Mix 101.5, Vortex pro Wash

About WRAL-TV, Mix 101.5 and Durham Bulls Baseball Club Parent Company

Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc. is a diversified communications company which owns and/or operates WRAL-TV, WRAL Digital, WRAZ-TV, WRAZ Digital, WRAL-FM, WRAL-HD2, WCMC-FM, WCMC-HD1, WDNC-AM, WCMC-HD2, WCMC-HD3, WCLY-AM, WCMC-HD4, Microspace, CBC New Media Group and Wolfpack Sports Properties (a joint venture with Learfield) in Raleigh, NC; WILM-TV, WILT-LD and Sunrise Broadcasting in Wilmington, NC; The Durham Bulls Baseball Club, Bull City Hospitality and the American Underground startup hub in Durham, NC; and real estate interests including the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham, NC, and Rocky Mount Mills in Rocky Mount, NC; and Professional Builders Supply (an equity partnership) in Morrisville, NC.

About Dorothea Dix Park

Dorothea Dix Park is the site of one of the most exciting new park projects in America. 308-acre site blends historic architecture and rich landscapes into a unique destination in the heart of Raleigh, North Carolina. The effort to create Dorothea Dix Park is a public-private partnership between the City of Raleigh and Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy. The City owns and operates Dorothea Dix Park. The Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that exists to support the City by serving as its philanthropic partner. Learn more at

Back To Top