Believe it or not, 2016 is coming to a close. And while the holiday spirit may have not fully set in yet for some, tree lightings, parades and festivals are fast approaching. If you need a little extra motivation to get into the holiday spirit, there are plenty of festive happenings going on in and around Charlotte this season. Here are 16 event ideas to get you started as we near the end of 2016.
Southern Christmas Show, The Park Expo and Conference Center
Find inspiration for decking your halls at the Southern Christmas Show Nov. 10-20. Christmas Tree Lane includes dozens of fresh Fraser firs decorated by designers in all different styles. Gifts and decorations fill the village shops inside Olde Towne at the show. Miniature trains, holiday choirs and Santa bring merriment to attendees of all ages.
Holiday Cooking Classes, Bar Cocoa
Cocoa Lab invites you to string up an apron and step inside Bar Cocoa at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte’s kitchen to work alongside the chefs. Holiday-themed classes include Thanksgiving Preparation on Nov. 12, Christmas Time on Dec. 10 and House Party on Dec. 17. Add holiday classics like pumpkin pie, fruitcake, gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies to your culinary repertoire.
Holidays at the Garden, Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Belmont’s Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden becomes a winter wonderland with Holidays at the Garden Nov. 18-Jan. 1. More than 600,000 lights illuminate the garden. One of the most popular features is the stunning orchid tree. Activities include marshmallow roasts, visits with Santa and holiday shopping in The Garden Store.
Speedway Christmas, Charlotte Motor Speedway
Speedway Christmas revs up the Christmas cheer Nov. 19-Dec. 31 with 3.7 miles of drive-through displays, including a portion on the 1.5-mile superspeedway. Classic holiday movies play on the 16,000-square-foot high-definition TV Thursday through Sundays. And the Egg Nog Jog kicks things off on Nov. 19 with a 5K run through the light show.
Charlotte Christmas Village, Romare Bearden Park
From Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, to Christmas Eve, Romare Bearden Park in Uptown becomes the Charlotte Christmas Village. Inspired by the German tradition of Christmas markets, vendors will sell handmade crafts, gifts and specialty foods from wooden huts. Strudels, bratwurst, German beer and mulled wine will flow freely.
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical,” Children’s Theatre of Charlotte
The world premiere of this musical comedy is adapted from Barbara Robinson’s classic book. Recommended for all ages, this play recounts the story of the time the Herdmans wreaked havoc on the Sunday School Christmas pageant. The play runs Nov. 25-Dec. 23 at McColl Family Theatre at ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center.
One Hundred Years of Christmas, Historic Latta Plantation
Learn how the holidays evolved from Colonial days to the antebellum period at Latta Plantation’s living history event Nov. 25-26. Located in Huntersville, about 30 minutes north of Charlotte, the site is a circa 18th-century cotton plantation. Re-enactors will demonstrate period preparations for the Christmas holiday.
Holidays at the Hall, NASCAR Hall of Fame
Celebrate the holidays with the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The Hall Plaza will be themed with reindeer, elves and a giant polar bear. Don’t miss the 39-foot-tall tree of twinkling lights! Other festivities include Breakfast with Santa Dec. 3 and Dec. 17, UnDeck the Hall Dec. 26, and much more.
Christmas at The Library, The Billy Graham Library
The Billy Graham Library adds to its regular offerings in celebration of Christmas Dec. 1-23. A live nativity scene tells the story of Jesus’ birth, and it even includes real, adorable animals. Visitors enjoy the attraction’s storied grounds from aboard horse-drawn carriages, while children under 12 have their imaginations ignited over story time on the patio.
Because Joseph, Mary's husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” – Matthew 1:19–21 #Advent
Christmas in Davidson, Davidson
For three nights, Dec. 1-3, downtown Davidson lights up with fun for the entire family. The adults shop for gifts at Main Street businesses and inside the Holiday Village. Kids enjoy arts and crafts as well as visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Other attractions include live entertainment, holiday treats and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Christmas Town USA, McAdenville
Each December, McAdenville, about 15 miles west of Charlotte, becomes Christmas Town USA. The tradition of homeowners decorating their houses and yards with lights dates back to the mid-1950s. Visitors can explore the 1.3-mile route via car or foot. The lights go on Dec. 1 and burn every night until Dec. 26.
Fourth Ward Holiday Home Tour, Uptown
For nearly 40 years, residents of historic Fourth Ward have opened their homes to visitors for this self-guided tour, which runs this season Dec. 2-4. The neighborhood’s signature Victorian homes are decked out in holiday finery. Horse-drawn carriages transport tour goers, and food, wine and beer samples from nearby Uptown restaurants are offered along the way.
Charlotte Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
This year’s production of the “Nutcracker” by Charlotte Ballet showcases new sets and costumes. Choreographer Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux presents this classic tale with live music from the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. The ballet runs Dec. 3-23 with a special holiday soiree, Night at the Nutcracker, on Dec. 2.
Weihnachtsmarkt, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
Sip craft beer, shop local products and indulge in freshly baked goods at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s annual Weihnachtsmarkt. The event honors the German tradition of a Christmas market, where vendors sell goods from open-air booths. This year’s event runs in the Biergarten on Fridays and Saturdays for three consecutive weekends—Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 16-17.
Gingerbread Lane, The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge
Vote for your favorite houses among the competition that lines Gingerbread Lane at The Ballantyne. The hotel holds a gingerbread house contest for professionals, amateurs and youth, and the houses are on display Dec. 8-28. Other hotel celebrations include decorating gingerbread houses and enjoying holiday afternoon tea.
Community Hanukkah Celebration, Temple Israel
Sponsored by the Temple Israel Men’s Club, Temple Israel invites family and friends to join in a special celebration of the lighting of the season’s first Hanukkah candle on Dec. 24. Bring your family menorah and candles and enjoy a Chinese-inspired dinner, a DJ, dancing and dessert.