The pandemic didn’t cancel Christmas 2020 by any means, but it sure put a damper on annual traditions in Sanford and all across the country.

Most, if not all, of those traditions return in 2021, and several of them begin this month (long before your turkeys hit the oven). Use our list below to start marking your calendars, and if you’d like The Rant to add your event to our list for our December edition, email

Nov. 7 | Downtown Sanford Holiday Open House: Downtown’s businesses go all out on Nov. 7 to help you get an early start on your Christmas shopping. Sales and deals will be abundant, and Downtown Sanford Inc. will continue its popular punch card system for a chance to win several prizes. This year’s Open House will run from noon to 4 p.m. on Nov. 7.

Nov. 13 | Holiday Artisan Fair at Sanford Farmers Market: Downtown Sanford’s Farmers Market will have a more festive look on Nov. 13, with artists and small businesses selling their holiday-themed wares in the parking lot across from Yarborough’s. The Fair will run from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Nov. 13.

Nov. 19-21 | Sanford School of Classical Ballet presents The Nutcracker: Young dancers from Sanford School of Classical Ballet will dress up as mice and toy soldiers while the teens perform classic routines to Tchaikovsky’s famous score. The Nutcracker will be held at the Mann Center on Steele Street.

Dec. 2-19 | Temple Theatre presents A Christmas Carol: Charles Dickens’ classic returns to the Temple stage for the first time since 2018. Tickets can be purchased online at

Dec. 5 | Santa Train, Tree Lighting and Fireworks: The fireworks portion of October’s StreetFest was canceled due to rain, so organizers moved the display to Dec. 5, following the arrival of Santa Claus and the lighting of the tree at Depot Park. The fun begins at 3 p.m.

Dec. 6 | Sanford Christmas Parade: Sorely missed in 2020, Central Carolina Jacyees’ annual nighttime Sanford Christmas Parade returns this year on Dec. 6. The parade will begin at 7 p.m., and those interested in learning more can visit the parade’s Facebook page.