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MONDAY, DECEMBER 16
The Sweet Melodies of Christmas
Duke Mansion, 400 Hermitage Road | 6:30-8:30 p.m. | SOLD OUT | Details
Why you should go: The mansion will be decorated for the holidays, Carolina Vocal Projects is performing, and drinks are available at the cash bar.
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.
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.
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 17
Sabor New University Location Opening
9325 JW Clay Blvd. | 11a.m. to 9 p.m. | $1 tacos | Details
Why you should go: To celebrate the new store opening, Autenticos Tacos will be $1 from open to close.
[Agenda related guide: Quick list of 14 must-try tacos in Charlotte]
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.
[Agenda related guide: Coolest wine bars in Charlotte]
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18
Checkers $1 beer night
Bojangles’ Coliseum | 7 p.m. | $18+ | Details
Why you should go: The Checkers are taking on the Hartford Wolfpack, and you get a free ticket to the next home game if they win. Plus, beers are $1.
Studio Movie Grill Prosperity Village Opening
5336 Docia Crossing Road | All day | Free | Details
Why you should go: I only go to the movies to eat popcorn in an oversized recliner, so lucky for me there’s another luxury theater opening. Studio Movie Grill features recliners, 10 theaters where you can order a meal, full-service bar, and a lounge area.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 19
Pins Mechanical Company + 16-Bit Grand Opening
307 W. Tremont Ave. | All day | Free | Details
Why you should go: Expect two indoor bars with 36 taps each, a rooftop bar with 24 taps and skyline views, and four fire pits. They’ve also got12 duckpin bowling lanes, 20 pinball machines, 30+ arcade cabinets, two pong consoles, two Jenga sets, two patio pings, two giant connect 4s, two foosball tables, bocce ball, ping pong table and a giant lite-bright.
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Ovens Auditorium | 7 p.m. | Varies | Details
Why you should go: Put on your coordinating holiday outfits and take the fam to see holiday classic Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer The Musical.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20
Plaza Midwood Running of the Balls 5K
Resident Culture |$13 k-12 students, $15 adults | 7:15 p.m. | Details
Why you should go: The 5K route takes you through Plaza Midwood — starting at Resident Culture — under hundreds of Christmas light balls. Race tees are available for $15.
Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Ovens Auditorium | 7:30 p.m. | $44-$99 | Details
Why you should go: This show combines circus performances, musical entertainment, glitzy costumes, and the most festive set you’ve ever seen.
Bahamas Bowl Watch Party
NoDa Brewing Company | Noon to 4 p.m. | Free | Details
Why you should go: Grab a beer and show some support for our 49ers (who rode a five-game win streak) during their first-ever bowl appearance at the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl.
OMB’s Weihnachtsmarkt Final 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, giant cinnamon rolls, 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.
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 of 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.
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.
Looking for more things to do this holiday season in Charlotte? Here’s the full Agenda event board with 65+ biggest events and here’s an Agenda list of the 23 most festive things to do this holiday season.