19 must-do festive holiday events in Charlotte

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It’s never too early to start planning ahead for the holiday season. In fact, it’s already underway. Here’s what to look forward to this season, in chronological order…

Eye on Tryon

The 80-foot ferris wheel lights up at night and offers beautiful views of Uptown.

Location: corner of N. Tryon and E. 7th streets
Date: Daily beginning November 2-10
Time: Weekdays 6-11 p.m., Friday and Sunday 3-11 p.m., Saturday 1-11 p.m.
Price: $3 kids, $6 adults

Southern Christmas Show

The city’s largest holiday shopping event features holiday gifts, decor, entertainment and more.

Location: The Park Expo & Conference Center, 800 Briar Creek Road, Charlotte NC 28205
Date: Daily November 8 – 18
Time: Sunday and Tuesday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., All other days 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Price: $4 kids 6-12, $13 adults
Tickets

Holiday on Ice

10,000 gallons of water turn NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza into an ice rink throughout the holiday season.

Location: NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza, 400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Charlotte NC 28202
Date: Opens for the season November 16 (stay tuned for schedule announcements)
Price: $10 admission, $14 admission + skate rental (2017 pricing; stay tuned for season updates)

The Polar Express Train Ride

The classic children’s book comes to life with a magical train ride to the North Pole. The interactive show last about 70 minutes and passengers receive hot chocolate, a sweet treat and a silver bell souvenir.

Location: NC Transportation Museum, 411 S. Salisbury Avenue, Spencer NC 28159
Date:
November 16-18, 23-25; November 30 – December 2, 7-9, 13-22
Time:
Trains run 4-8:30 p.m. Check the schedule here
Price:
$32-$42 kids, $38-48 adults
Tickets

VTGCLT Winter Market

Knock out your holiday gift buying with 60+ of the region’s best vintage and handmade retailers setting up shop at The Fillmore. They’ll also have coffee and food vendors on site to keep you charged.

Location: The Fillmore, 820 Hamilton Street, Charlotte NC 28206
Date: November 17
Time: Early bird 10 a.m.; General hours 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Price: $7 early bird entry at 10 a.m., $2 general admission

Carowinds WinterFest

Location: Carowinds
Date: Select nights November 18 – December 31
Time: Sunday – Friday 5-10 p.m., Saturday 2-10 p.m., NYE 5 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Price: $26-$35 adults, $24 kids and seniors
Tickets

Speedway Christmas

The 3.5-mile drive-through holiday light display features 3 million lights and choreographed illuminated displays as well as a drive-in movie theater showing classic holiday films and a festive holiday village with food, beverage and gift vendors.

Location: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Date: November 18 – December 31
Time: 6-10 p.m.
Price: $20-$30 per car
Tickets

Panthers Tree Lighting

Location: Bank of America Stadium, corner of Mint and Graham Streets
Date: Tuesday, November 20
Time: 6-7:30 p.m.
Price: Free

Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade

The annual tradition celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

Location: Uptown on N. Tryon Street from Stonewall to 9th
Date: November 22
Time: 9 a.m.
Price: Free for general admission; VIP and reserved seating is available for purchase here

Charlotte Christmas Village

The European-inspired Christmas market features food and gift vendors, live performances and plenty of Glühwein, a warm spiced wine.

Location: corner of N. Tryon and E. 7th streets
Date: November 22 – December 24
Time: Open daily at 11 a.m.
Price: Free

Holidays at the Garden

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden will transform into a winter wonderland with a mile of a million twinkling lights and illuminated displays aglow throughout the grounds. They’ve also got live music performances, a holiday gift shop and activities for kids.

Location: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, 6500 South New Hope Road, Belmont NC 28012
Date: Daily November 23 – January 6 (closed Christmas Day)
Time: 5-9 p.m.
Price: $8.95 kids 2-12, $13.95 seniors 60+, $14.95 adults (buy online to save $2)
Tickets

South End Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is the local response to big box retailers’ Black Friday mayhem. South End will be celebrating local businesses with self-guided maps, pop-up markets and more throughout the district.

Location: Camden Road
Date: November 24
Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Price: Free

Winter Wonderland Craft Fair

Shop handmade pottery, jewelry, quilts, clothing, candles and more from 150+ artisan vendors at the gorgeous Dairy Barn at Anne Springs Close Greenway.

Location: Anne Springs Close Greenway, 288 Dairy Barn Lane, Fort Mill SC 29715
Date: November 24
Time: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Price: Free for members, $5 for non-members; $5 parking per vehicle

Weihnachtsmarkt at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

A traditional German-inspired Christmas market featuring 60 vendors and plenty of beer. Santa will be there November 30 4:30-8 p.m. and December 15 2-5 p.m. Yule Bock release Friday, November 30 to kick off the celebration.

Location: The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, 4150 Yancey Road, Charlotte NC 28217
Date: November 30 – December 1, December 7-8, 15-16
Time: Friday 4-9 p.m., Saturday 2-9 p.m.
Price: Free

courtesy of OMB

Christmas Town USA

McAdenville, a tiny 600-person town located less than 30 minutes west of Charlotte, transforms into Christmas Town USA. Residents set up more than 500,000 lights creating a citywide display that attracts national attention. 

Location: McAdenville, NC
Date: November 30 – December 26
Time: Weekdays 5:30-9:30 p.m., Weekends 5:30-11 p.m.
Price: Free

Gingerbread Lane at the Ballantyne Hotel

The Ballantyne hosts an annual gingerbread house competition for amateurs, pros and kids. The houses will be on display most of December and are free to view.

Location: The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway, Charlotte NC 28227
Date: December 6-26
Time: Any time
Price: Free; visitors can make $1 votes for their favorite houses with all proceeds benefitting Levine Children’s Hospital

Fourth Ward Holiday Home Tour

Take a self-guided walking tour through the most beautifully decorated private homes in Charlotte’s quaintest neighborhood. You’ll find carolers, bell ensembles and horse-drawn carriage rides along with tasting stations and free samples at select stops. Hands down one of my favorite Charlotte traditions.

Location: Fourth Ward
Date: December 7-9
Time: 5-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday
Price: $35
Tickets

Charlotte Ballet’s Nutcracker

The classic holiday performance features fresh sets and costumes debuted in 2016.

Location: Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon Street, Charlotte NC 28202
Date: December 7-23
Price: $25-$125
Tickets

Girl Tribe Holiday Pop-Up

Put a dent in your gift list shopping your way through dozens of women-owned businesses.

Location: Fleming Labs, 2215 Thrift Road
Date: December 15-16

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Katie Levans
| @katie_levans |
Co-Founder and Creative Director