MONDAY, DECEMBER 2
Christmas Town USA Tree Lighting
212 Wesleyan Drive, McAdenville| 5 p.m. (arrive early) | Free | Details
Why you should go: McAdenville aka Christmas Town USA is back in action. Residents set up more than 500,000 lights, creating a display that attracts national attention — it’s been going on for 64 years. The official tree lighting to kick off this season starts at 5 p.m. Then everyone will turn their lights on at 6 p.m.
David Sedaris Live
Ovens Auditorium | 7:30 p.m. | $33+ | Details
Why you should go: Don’t miss the chance to see the comedian and author live.
Charlotte Motor Speedway | 6-10 p.m. | $20-$30 | Details
Why you should go: Nothing says Christmas in the Carolinas like 4 million lights arranged around a race track. Expect a Ferris wheel, Bethlehem village, photos with Santa, fun foods, games, fire pits for s’mores roasting, and drive-in style Christmas movies, too. Note: The village is only open Thursday-Sunday.
Whitewater Center Ice Skating
U.S. National Whitewater Center | Agenda Preview
Why you should go: This new ice skating rink includes 17,000 square feet of ice on the Upper Pond of the whitewater river, and it’ll have three areas (free skate, winter sports and a 600-foot ice trail). The skating area will also have a skate-up bar where you can buy craft beer, hot chocolate, and coffee.
Winter Wonderland at SouthPark
SouthPark Mall | 3-11 p.m. | $12-$17 | Details
Why you should go: The open-air ice rink returns for another season. If you have your own skates, it’s $12 for two hours and it’s $17 for two hours of skating and skate rental.
Holiday on Ice
NASCAR Hall of Fame | 5 p.m. | $12+ | Details
Why you should go: Skate your way past Christmas trees and sparkling lights while drinking hot cocoa in Uptown.
Holidays at the Garden
Daniel Stowe, 6500 S New Hope Road, Belmont| 5-9 p.m. | $14.95+ | Details
Why you should go: Stroll through the gardens and see a mile of lights. Roast a marshmallow by a crackling fire, shop, visit Santa and Mrs. Claus, and listen to holiday music, too. Santa Claus will be available for professional photos with families from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Or you can opt for personal photos (as in using your own phone/camera) with Santa from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays December 3-19 for free.
[Agenda related guide: 23 must-do festive holiday events in Charlotte]
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3
The Beauty Boost Charlotte Launch Party
Lenny Boy Brewing Co. | 7-9 p.m. | $10 | Details
Why you should go: This new women empowerment group is kicking off with a meetup for those who’d like to join. Your ticket includes a swag bag and one beer, and there will be massage, braid, and nail stations on site.
Charlotte Christmas Village – Christkindlmarkt
Corner of Seventh & North Tryon streets | All day | Free | Details
Why you should go: The annual European-inspired Christmas Market is back. Expect the usual speciality foods, Glühwein in a souvenir village mug, cider, hot chocolate, vendors, photos with Santa, and holiday performances. The market is open now through December 24, and is closed on Mondays.
McGill’s Winter Wonderland
Rosie’s Wine Garden | 4-10 p.m. | Free | Details
Why you should go: They have lights, hot chocolate, and s’mores now through December, plus you can still purchase the usual wine and beer. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots if you’re feeling generous.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4
Live at the Mint | MercuryCarter
Mint Museum Uptown – 500 S. Tryon St. | 6-9 p.m. | Free | Details
Why you should go: Relax and unwind with internationally renowned bass vocalist MercuryCarter. The museum will also have a pop-up makers space where you can explore your own creativity, inspired by the Mint’s exhibits. Pro tip: Get there a little early, the cash bar opens at 5:30 p.m.
101 N. Tryon St. | 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Free | Details
Why you should go: Shop from 14 of the area’s favorite shops surrounded by holiday cheer, music, “insta-llations” specials, and more. There will be happy hour specials from Coco and the Director every day from 2-4 p.m., and the event runs through December 7.
Taste of Cuba Live
Discovery Place Science | 6:30-9:30 p.m. | $45 | Details
Why you should go: The evening will feature performances throughout the night, Cuban food and cocktails, and an opportunity to explore ¡Cuba! the exhibition. This event is for ages 21+.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5
Power 98 Winter Block Party featuring DaBaby
Bojangles’ Coliseum | 8 p.m. | $61-$180+ | Details
Why you should go: The local rapper who recently skyrocketed to fame returns to his hometown.
Small Works Show + Holiday Pop-Up at Anne Neilson Fine Art
532 Governor Morrison St. | 6-8 p.m. | Free | Details
Why you should go: Looking for the perfect gifts for the sophisticated, art-loving people in your life? The annual Anne Neilson Holiday Pop-Up features work by new artists and gallery favorites and vendors Laura James Jewelry and Jillian Gray Collection will be there, too.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 6
Eight + Sand Grand Opening
135 New Bern St. | 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. | Free | Details
Why you should go: They’re giving out free cookies and free hot chocolate from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. to celebrate opening. They’ll also debut their new seasonal menu and brunch specials — plus festive holiday decorations will be up.
OMB’s Weihnachtsmarkt Weekend
OMB | 4 p.m. | Free | Details
Why you should go: OMB’s annual Weihnachtsmarkt Weekend is back with 40-plus vendors for you to shop from. Expect tons of lights, Gluhwein (spiced wine pronounced “Gloo-vine”), holiday music, hot cocoa, festive food, fire pits, and tons of beer. It’s open every Friday-Sunday from December 6-22.
Charlotte Ballet’s Nutcracker
Belk Theater | 7:30 p.m. | $25+ | Details
Why you should go: One of the beloved holiday traditions in the city, the “Nutcracker” is a Christmas classic that never gets old. The show runs Friday-Sunday, with the last show on December 23.
Gingerbread Lane at the Ballantyne Hotel
The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge | All day | Free | Details
Why you should go: 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. But you can pay $1 to vote for your favorite house, with all proceeds benefitting Levine Children’s Hospital.
The Polar Express Train Ride
N.C. Transportation Museum| 4 p.m. | $37 kids, $43 adults | Details
Why you should go: I remember the first time I saw “The Polar Express” in theaters and I’m not sure I’ve experienced greater magic. So treat your inner child (or actual child) to a holiday train ride. Rides are every weekend, Friday-Sunday, from mid-November through December.
WinterFest at Carowinds
Carowinds, 300 Carowinds Blvd. | $20+ | 5-10 p.m. | Details
Why you should go: They’ve got a 70-foot tree, 5 million twinkly lights, live shows, performers all around, and festive hands-on activities — plus some the usual rides. I’m a sucker for reusable cups, so I’m eying the $12 WinterFest mug which gets you free hot cocoa the first time + $1 refills after.