Ready or not, The Holiday Season is here with bells on. From outdoor Christmas markets to a singing tree, The Queen City offers endless ways to get in the holiday spirit. Make the most of it with our bucket list of fun events for friends, family and out-of-town guests around Charlotte this holiday season. Scroll down through this week’s to-dos for the ongoing activities that will run through Christmas day and beyond.
We’ll be updating this article weekly so please bookmark it and check back. If you’re looking for some non-holiday, non-elfin fun, check out our weekly What To Do articles here or our just for Families Fun here.
CHRISTMAS EVENTS & HOLIDAY MARKETS THAT OPEN THIS WEEK
Holiday Cocktail Class
December 13 | The Ballantyne | 7 p.m.
This holiday cocktail class featuring Ciroc and Brandy will give you plenty of inspiration for your holiday spirits. Call 704.248.4100 to reserve your spot. $40 per person.
Holiday Sip N Shop
December 14 | Treehouse Vineyards | 6 – 9 p.m.
In Monroe, Treehouse Vineyards will host a sip ‘n shop with specialty vendors, raffles and wine samples.
Breakfast with Santa
December 15 | Harper’s Restaurant at Carolina Place | 8 – 10 a.m.
Kiddos will get the chance to whisper their Christmas wish to Santa himself, and the whole family will enjoy a festive breakfast. $15 for adults, $8 for children 12 and under, free for those under four. Book your reservation online or call 704.541.5255.
SouthBound and The Music Yard’s Holiday Pop-Up Shop
December 15 | The Music Yard | 12 – 3 p.m.
Carolina Makers & Company teams up with Ronald McDonald House of Charlotte and The Music Yard for this donation drive and vendor pop-up market. Donate a new and unwrapped gift to those in need (browse a list of requested items here), shop local vendors and enter to win raffle prizes.
Wilson’s Stuff The Truck Wrap Party
December 15 | Sugar Creek Brewing | 5 – 8 p.m.
Bring an unwrapped toy or donation to The Salvation Army Angel Tree, plus enjoy a performance by School of Rock Charlotte.
We Believe – Santa 5k
December 15 | U.S. National Whitewater Center | 12 – 3 p.m.
Come run the trails of the USNWC dressed in your best St. Nick attire in this two-part 5k. After the Santas run the trails, you and your four-legged friends can run the route together. Prize given for the best Santa Claus look-a-like, plus competitions and giveaways. $30+.
December 15 | NoDa Company Store | 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
NoDa’s farmers market get a holiday spin as local vendors join the line-up offering gifts perfect for everyone on your list. The farmers market goes from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., while the holiday market goes until 3 p.m.
Main Street Fort Mill Jingle Jam
December 15 | Main St., Fort Mill | 12 – 6 p.m.
Celebrate in Fort Mill with the third Main Street Jam, complete with live music, food trucks and offerings from Main Street merchants and pop-up vendors.
December 15 | Bar Cocoa | 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Create your own mini version of the Ritz Carlton’s life-size gingerbread house from icing and sweet confections. $150 class fee includes an apron, recipe book and completed gingerbread house to decorate.
Santa Run 8K and Snowman Dash
December 15 | Romare Bearden Park | 9 – 11 a.m.
Run as Santa, an elf, reindeer or snowman in this festive 8k showcasing Uptown Charlotte. Registration includes a shirt and Santa, elf or snowman hat or reindeer antlers.
Charlotte’s SantaCon 2018
December 15 | Plaza Midwood | 12 – 6 p.m.
Charlotte’s version of the popular SantaCon event invites guests to start the fun with a silent disco-style party featuring three DJs at The Rabbit Hole. Then, the Santa-wannabes will crawl from bar to bar in Plaza Midwood to enjoy drink and food specials. Free admission.
Girl Tribe Pop Up
December 15 – 16 | 2215 Thrift Rd.
Girl Tribe Pop-up is back just in time for holiday shopping. Shop over 90 women-led businesses, enjoy spirits from a cocktail bar and get in the spirit with plenty of holiday surprises. General admission: 12 – 5 p.m. both days. VIP ($20) hours: 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. on Saturday.
Holiday Pop Up Shop at Winter Wonderland
December 15 – 16 | Symphony Park
Shop this weekend-long pop-up with local vendors and your favorite Frozen characters on Saturday, plus a hot cocoa bar and ornament making on Sunday.
Handmade Holiday Market
December 15 – 16 | Twenty-Six Acres Brewing Company, Concord | 1 – 6 p.m.
From 1 – 6 p.m. each day, shop from local vendors offering pottery, jewelry, accessories, paintings, pet supplies and more.
Ballantyne Village Pop Up Gift Event
December 16 | Ballantyne Village | 12 – 4 p.m.
Wrap up your holiday shopping with the help of local vendors and tenants offering home goods, jewelry, unique boutique finds and more.
Shop Drop ‘N Roll Winter Market
December 16 | NoDa Brewing Company | 12 – 6 p.m.
This seasonal market will include a lineup of handmade, local vendors, craft beer, giveaways and more. A portion of proceeds will benefit a local charity.
Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Show
December 13 | Phillips Place | 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.
SouthPark’s fourth annual holiday light show transforms The Hampton Inn & Suites at Phillips Place into a six-story canvas for dramatic 3D holiday joy. In addition to the two shows each night, visitors will also enjoy visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, festive entertainers, a guaranteed snowfall and goodie bags for the first 300 kids per show. Free and open to the public. Please bring an unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots Charlotte.
TREES THAT ARE ALREADY LIT BUT FUN TO VISIT
Charlotte Ballet’s Nutcracker
December 7 – 23 | Belk Theater
The classic tales and music come to life in Charlotte Ballet’s The Nutcracker. Don’t miss their Night at the Nutcracker on December 9, when the theater transforms into The Land of Sweets with children’s activities in Snowflake Village, seasonal cocktails, desserts and hors-d’oeuvres. Tickets start at $25.
Teddy Bear Tea
December 8 – 16
Make plans to have high tea for a cause at The Westin. Weekends during December, guests can enjoy bottomless mimosas, tea sandwiches, dessert displays and a special kids menu. The fun continues with visits with Santa, story time with Mrs. Claus, cookie decorating, adoptable Build-a-Bears and ornament crafting. $58 for adults, $38 for children and free for those under two. A portion of all proceeds benefits families in medical crisis at the Hospitality House of Charlotte. Call 704.335.2103 to reserve.
Holiday on Ice
November 16 – January 6 | NASCAR Hall of Fame
Uptown’s outdoor ice rink returns to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza on November 16. Ice skating is $10, ice skating plus skate rental is $14. Don’t miss the lighting of the Hall’s 39-foot tree on November 24, complete with rides, games and the big reveal around 7:15 p.m.
Winter Wonderland SouthPark
Opening November 17, open thru January 22, 2019 | Symphony Park
SouthPark’s Winter Wonderland offers fun for the whole family, from a 142-foot ice rink, music, festive fare, a pub for the adults and even a daily snowfall. Expect special events to follow after the November 17 grand opening.
Charlotte Christmas Village
Through December 24 | New Location: Corner of 7th and Tryon
This uptown holiday event is presented as a German-inspired Christmas Market and includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming such as local musical performances. Closed Mondays.
November 18 – December 31 | Charlotte Motor Speedway
Start your engines for the ninth annual Speedway Christmas, where attendees can drive around the oval through displays consisting of more than 3.5 million lights set to music. Off the track, enjoy activities, rides, a visit to Bethlehem village, photos with Santa, fire pits and drive-in holiday movies on select nights.
Christmas Wonderland of Lights
Through January 1 | Zootastic Park
Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire and more.
Select nights November 18 – December 31 | Carowinds
Experience Carowinds in a whole new way as the park transforms into a magical winter wonderland for select nights through December 31. Expect live shows, strolling carolers, festive holiday fare, a towering 70-foot tree and up to 24 rides open for the special event.
Holidays at the Garden
November 23 – January 6 | Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden comes alive with musically-orchestrated light displays, illuminated gardens a 15-foot orchid tree, holiday shopping, bonfires, live performances and more. Open 5 – 9 p.m. each evening, closed Christmas Day.
Holiday Light Spectacular
Through December 28 | Downtown Mooresville | 5:30 – 10 p.m.
Now through December 28, drive by or visit Downtown Mooresville’s Holiday Light Spectacular. The 150,000-light show includes twinkling snowmen, trees and more set to festive music.
Holiday Afternoon Tea
December 1 – 30 | The Ballantyne
Mark the holiday season with a special tea at The Ballantyne complete with seasonal blends by rare Tea Company, savory sandwiches, traditional treats, live entertainment and the option to add Champagne for $10. Served Tuesday – Sunday December 1 – 30 from 1 – 4 p.m. $58 for adults, $25 for ages 5 – 12 and $15 for children under five. Bring a new and unwrapped toy to donate to Levine Children’s Hospital.
Santa’s Workshop at Blakeney
Through December 23 | Blakeney Shopping Center
Visit Santa’s brand new workshop on the Village Green at Blakeney Shopping Center this holiday season for portraits with Santa Claus from November 17 through December 23! Blakeney will host two pet-friendly Paws & Claus Saturdays on December 8 and 15 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Don’t worry, humans are still welcome during these two dates!
Winter Wednesdays at Waverly
Dec 5 – Dec 19 | Waverly | 5 – 7:30 p.m.
Fill up on mid-week cheer with music, shopping, treats and visits from Santa every Wednesday through December 19. Visitors can also expect special appearances from favorite characters and the chance to win a $100 Waverly restaurant gift card each week.
Gingerbread Lane at the Ballantyne Hotel
December 6 – 26 | The Ballantyne
Stroll through Gingerbread Lane to view an array of gingerbread creations and vote for your favorite with $1 donation per vote. All proceeds will benefit Levine Children’s Hospital, A Children’s Miracle Network Hospital, dedicated to caring for the physical and emotional needs of children and their families.
Christmas at the Library
November 29 – December 22
The Billy Graham Library will celebrate the season with a live nativity, horse-drawn carriage rides, story time in Ruth’s attic Bookstore and more. They will also offer a Christmas Dinner on select nights for $22.95 and $9.95 for children 4 – 10. Open Monday – Thursday 9:30 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday – Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. Admission and parking are free.
McGill’s Twelve Days of Christmas
November 29 – December 21| McGill Rose Garden 5 – 9 p.m.
On weekends in December, take a stroll through McGrill Rose Garden as it’s transformed into a winter wonderland complete with s’mores and hot chocolate. Admission is $3 with snacks and beverages available for purchase.
November 30 – December 15
For three weekends, the biergarten at OMB transforms into a Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) complete with more than 45 vendors, spiced wine, beer, bonfires and more. Fridays 4 – 9 p.m. and Saturdays 2 – 9 p.m.
Christmas Town USA
November 30 – December 26 | McAdenville, NC
Back for its 63rd year, the town of McAdenville will turn into Christmas Town USA beginning on November 30. Drive or walk along the 1.3-mile route to see homes and businesses aglow with thousands of holiday lights and decorations. The town’s annual tree lighting ceremony will be on November 30. Monday – Friday 5:30 – 9:30 p.m., Saturday – Sunday 5:30 – 11 p.m.
A Very Merry Mansion: Songs of the Season
December 17 | The Duke Mansion | 7 p.m.
Experience the beauty of the decked-out Duke Mansion and the cheerful sounds of Carolina Vocal Projects in this festive evening complete with a cash bar. $15 general admission.
Ugly Sweater Christmas Party
December 18 | The Broken Spoke | 7 p.m.
The Broken Spoke’s inaugural Ugly Christmas sweater event includes festive cocktails and eats, holiday music and visits from Santa. A VIP ticket will include access to the buffet, one free glass of wine, beer or bubbles and access to the VIP area located in the mezzanine. General admission includes entry and one free wine, beer or bubbles.
Hops & Shops South End Holiday Market
December 21 | The Barrel Room at Triple C | 4 – 8 p.m.
Check off everyone on your holiday shopping list and give back to great local causes at the Hops and Shops market. Browse goods from local vendors, enjoy craft beer and a donation-based gift wrapping and more benefitting Families Forward Charlotte and Go Jen Go.
Holiday Cookies Class
December 22 | Bar Cocoa | 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
This extended class focusing on seasonal cookies includes hands-on instruction from the Ritz Carlton’s pastry team. Participants will enjoy a box lunch, instruction and three dozen cookies of each flavor to take home. $200 per person.