It’s the most wonderful time of year … the in-laws are in town and the kids are out of school. Don’t worry, we can help you plan a festive holiday itinerary that will keep everyone happy and humming holiday songs all season long! Here are some fun ways to keep your guests entertained over the holidays.
10 Charlotte Holiday Events & Attractions
Hillside Holiday Hunger Drive (Hillside Drive between Park Road and Selwyn Avenue)
One of the best holiday lights displays in Charlotte, this Myers Park street transforms into the Polar Express every year with light balls that make everyone smile. The neighbors also serve hot chocolate and collect canned goods that they personally deliver to Loaves and Fishes food pantry. SB TIP: Start from the Selwyn Avenue side – it’s a better view!
Enjoy a holiday tea or sip some adult beverages while taking in the creations from the annual gingerbread competition. The exhibit runs through Wednesday, December 27. It’s free of charge, but for $1 you can vote on your favorite, and all the money raised goes to Levine Children’s Hospital.
This 3D holiday light show dazzles kids every year and even includes a 100% chance of snow (the fake kind … ). You can mingle with Santa and Mrs. Claus, stilt-walkers and elves, all while sipping on Dean and Deluca hot chocolate. The show starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. SB TIP: Shuttles run from the Morrocroft parking deck to Phillips Place starting at 5:30 p.m.
This event at the Speedway has nothing to do with NASCAR. Instead it’s about loading up your family and driving around the Charlotte Motor Speedway track where you’ll enjoy the more than 3 million lights that are on display. In addition to the lights on the 3.5-mile course (open every night of the week), you can also enjoy a petting zoo, photos with Santa and more Thursday through Sunday. You can also catch a showing of The Polar Express every night through Christmas Eve or Frozen from December 28-30.
New this year, WinterFest transforms Carowinds. The amusement park is decked out for the first time ever with 5 million shimmering lights, a 70-foot Christmas tree and lots of other lavish displays. Live shows and strolling performers will help spread Christmas cheer. There will also be ice skating and special desserts for sale. Oh yeah! There will also be 16 amusement park rides to enjoy. Tickets start at $25, and the event runs through Saturday, December 23, and picks up again December 26-30.
Charlotte Christmas Village is back in Uptown for the second year and promises to be bigger and better. This European-inspired Christmas market with festive eats, live performances and lots of shopping will be open in Romare Bearden park every day at 11 a.m. through Christmas Eve. You’ll find classic Austrian strudels, bratwurst and glazed nuts, not to mention mulled wine, cider and hot chocolate. Admission is free.
Charlotte’s only outdoor ice rink wows people every year in the heart of Uptown. Perfect for a date night or family night, this holiday tradition is celebrating its 14th year. It’s affordable, too – just $10 if you have your own skates, $14 if you need skates. Take to the ice every day through Sunday, January 7 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Christmas Day hours are 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. SB TIP: Fill out your waiver in advance online — just email it in to save time.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is always beautiful, but especially so this time of year. The garden glows with the spirit of the season with twinkling trees and sparkling fountains and more than 600,000 lights. There’s also live music, holiday shopping and crackling fires for making s’mores. Adult tickets are $12.95 in advance, kids are $7.95 Hours are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Sunday, December 31.
Pack some hot chocolate and your patience, because traffic can get tricky on the way to McAdenville (Exit 22 off I-85), the small town in Gaston County that literally is known as Christmas Town. That’s because almost every homeowner on the 1.3-mile route gets in on the fun. The lights glow Monday through Friday, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. through Tuesday, December 26. Admission is free! SB TIP: Enjoy less traffic on weeknights.
If you don’t mind the two-hour car trip, it’s worth your while to head to the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. The famed resort does it up right this time of year, with their annual gingerbread contest (the homes are on display throughout the hotel) and singing carolers every evening in the lobby.
Enjoy your season and your loved ones at these festival Charlotte events. Happy holidays!
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