My birthday, and also the first day of 2018 that Christmas music was played through the speakers at my office. Why, you ask, most likely jaw-dropped and appalled at the audacity bomb I’ve just dropped? Because it was my birthday, and I could be merry and bright if I wanted to. Yeah, in a Buddy the Elf vs. The Grinch world, I’m definitely a Buddy.
“What are you, crazy?” “Oh, here we go again.” “I’m sorry, sunshine, I just can’t do it. Give me at least until after Thanksgiving break”. The daily musings of a co-worker of mine – you could call her a ‘Grinch” type – as she would walk through the doors to hear Bing Crosby sweetly serenading me and the other Buddy’s in our office. After a couple of days of Spotify’s “Christmas Classics” and our boss man’s “Christmas Favorites” playlists, she started to come around. And her heart grew three sizes that day as she learned the true meaning of Christmas.
Moral of the story: Always be a Buddy. No one ever died from too much holiday cheer.
That being said, here are 14 of our favorite things to do around Charlotte/Lake Norman to celebrate Christmas and the Winter season:
Trans Siberian Orchestra | Spectrum Center
December 8th at 3:00 and 7:30pm
A Christmas Story Musical | Ovens Auditorium
One of the classics. Remember watching it on repeat for 24 hours every Christmas Eve and never getting sick of it? Now you can watch it in real life. And with singing, no less.
December 4-9, times vary
Admission: Starting at $25
Holiday on Ice | NASCAR Hall of Fame
Charlotte’s ONLY outdoor ice skating rink.
Open now through January 6, 2019, 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 15 from 2-5pm.
Open on various dates: Dec 1, Dec 7-8, Dec 15-16. Friday hours are 4-9pm and Saturday hours are 2-9pm.
Charlotte Symphony – Magic of Christmas | Knight Theater
Decmber 14-16 and Dec 21-23, times vary
Admission: Starting at $19
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 now daily through Christmas Eve, times vary depending on the day
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 now through December 31, times and dates vary depending on activity
Admission: Prices vary
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 now through January 6, 2019, open daily from 5-9pm
Admission: Starting at $8.95
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 15th – 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 8, 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.
Dec 1-2, Dec 7-9 and Dec 13-22, 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 now through December 31, times vary
Admission: Adults $26-35 Kids and Seniors $24
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 6-26 anytime
Admission: FREE! Visitors can make $1 votes for their favorite houses and proceeds will benefit Levine Children’s Hospital
Charlotte Ballet’s Nutcracker | Belk Theater
December 7-23, multiple showing times
Admission: prices vary