In a Buddy the Elf vs. Grinch world, which one are you? I started my Christmas decorating the day after Halloween, and I regret nothing. My house is filled with merry, cheer and pretty lights. Plus, aromas of hot chocolate brewing and chestnuts roasting over an open fire. No signs of jack frosts nipping at my nose yet, because of course this is the Carolinas. But that, I can do without.
My thoughts: Always choose to be a Buddy.
That being said, here are 14 of our favorite things to do around Charlotte/Lake Norman to celebrate Christmas and the Winter season:
(updated November 18th, 2019)
Trans Siberian Orchestra | Spectrum Center
December 7th at 3:00 and 8:00pm
Holiday on Ice | NASCAR Hall of Fame
Charlotte’s ONLY outdoor ice skating rink.
Open Nov. 15th through January 5, 2020, hours and days vary
Admission: Starting at $12
Weihnachtsmarkt | Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
A German-inspired Christmas market with over 60 vendors, and LOTS of beer. Santa is scheduled to appear on December 21 from 2-5pm.
Open three weekends in December. Friday hours are 4-9pm, Saturday hours are 2-9pm, Sundays 12-7pm
Charlotte Symphony – Magic of Christmas | Knight Theater
Decmber 14-16 and Dec 13-22, times vary
Charlotte European Christmas Village | Corner of 7th and N. Tryon
Entertainment, specialty foods and drinks, and holiday shopping from tons of vendors within cheerfully decorated Christmas displays and lights
Open November 22 through December 24th. Open daily at 11am
Speedway Christmas | Charlotte Motor Speedway
Drive-through light show with over 3.5 million lights, as well as a Christmas classics movie drive-through. Also to be included: Christmas village with a Ferris wheel, photos with Santa, food, games and fire pits for S’mores roasting and warming.
Open November 22 through January 5, 6-10pm
Holidays at the Garden | Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Everything that is Christmas, you’ll find here, including festive displays and tons of lights, holiday shopping, crackling fires for warming and/or roasting marshmallows, warm beverages, model trains, plus live music, and more.
Open November 29 through January 5, open nightly from 5-9pm (Closed on Christmas Day)
Admission: Starting at $14.95
Santa Run 8k and Snowman Dash | Romare Bearden Park
A fun run for the family with fun prizes and hats, and free hot cocoa. Choose to be Santa, an Elf, Reindeer or Snowman.
December 14th – Santa Run beginning at 9am, Snowman Dash beginning at 10:15am
Admission: $45 for Santa Run, $25 for Snowman Dash
Ugly Christmas Sweater Bar Crawl | Plaza Midwood
Voted one of the most fun and well-organized holiday crawls by Yelp 2017 – admission includes an ugly Christmas tee, koozie, and discounted themed drinks at various stops. Plus a DJ playing fun holiday music, professional photographers, and a registration party to get things started.
December 14, from 2-10pm
The Polar Express Train Ride | Spencer, NC
One of the only holiday activities you can do without having to take the time to get dressed up and make the kids presentable. Come in your pjs and enjoy a 70-minute interactive train ride set to the music from the classic movie, with hot cocoa and cookies being served aboard the train as well as a few fun gifts along the way. Plus singing, dancing, and a reading of the book.
Nov. 22-24, Nov. 29-Dec. 1, Dec 6-8 and Dec 12-22, rides from 4-8:30pm
Admission: Standard Adult: $38 Standard Child: $32, Deluxe Adult: $48 Deluxe Child: $42
Carowinds Winterfest | Carowinds
Over 5-million lights, a 70-foot tree, festive displays, plus live shows and performers throughout the park. There will also be fun holiday activities for the kids, holiday themed food and drinks, and up to 24 rides open.
Open select days from Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, times and dates vary
Admission: Adults $19.99 before Nov. 22, Varies after Nov. 22.
Gingerbread Lane | The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge
A fun gingerbread house competition with competitors ranging from kids to professionals. Something a little different from the usual light displays – a fun stroll through town to see these impressive works of art.
December 4-26 anytime
Admission: FREE! Visitors can make $1 votes for their favorite houses and proceeds will benefit Levine Children’s Hospital. Hot cocoa available for purchase!