It’s that wonderful time of year when the air is crisp and the activities plentiful.  Whether you’re looking to have fun with friends or take your family to a kid-friendly function, this post is meant to be your one stop shop for anything and everything going on around Charlotte during December.  We have it organized by neighborhood, but you’ll also see symbols letting you know a little bit more about each event.

Here’s how we’ll tell you about cost:

FREE

$ — if you’re on a budget ($20 or less)

$$ —  if you have some extra cash to spend (between $20-$50)

$$$ — if you’re a high roller (over $50)

Here’s how we’ll tell you about who’s invited

  kid centric means kid-centric

 kids welcome means kids welcome

  leave the kids at home means leave the kids at home

Let’s get started!

Uptown

Ice skaters enjoy the temporary outdoor ice rink in Uptown Charlotte over the winter holidays. WBT Holiday on Ice is located in The Green Uptown, a scenic downtown park.

Holiday on Ice is great for everyone!  Enjoy the beautiful view of Uptown Charlotte while gliding along with a hot date or teaching your kids how to skate.  This event runs until January 3rd every day except Mondays and Tuesdays at the Plaza of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

$   kids welcome

the nutcrackerWho doesn’t love dancing sugar plums and a giant rat king? Celebrate the holiday season by watching the Charlotte Ballet depict the classic tale of The Nutcracker. The ballet spotlights choreography by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and live music from the Charlotte Symphony. Dec. 10 – 23 at the Belk Theater.

$$   kids welcome

belk bowlSPORTS! The ACC Championship (Dec 5) and the Belk Bowl (Dec 30) are back and kicking off the season. If merriment means 11 men on turf, then this is definitely the best way to see “10 lords-a-leaping.” 

$$$   kids welcome

charlotte symphony orchestraThe Charlotte Symphony is sure take your breath away.  Whether it’s the Magic of Christmas or Handle’s Messiah, these talented Charlotte musicians will transform what you once thought of as commonplace seasonal tunes.  The performances boast including special guests and other surprises. Dec 5 – 6 and Dec 18 – 19

$$$   leave the kids at home

santas bag

The Children’s Theater has been hosting Santa’s Bag for 43 years!  Children 12 and under are able to purchase prewrapped gifts ranging from $1 to $5 for their family and friends. Other than presents, this event is free of charge but will only last until supplies are depleted.

FREE   kid centric

ugly sweater

Whether you’re trying to bro-out or show off your hipster hotness, Blackfinn has the perfect occasion for you to strut your stuff. Check out their Ugly Christmas Sweater Party on Friday, December 11th from 9pm until 2pm.  Best part?  The grand prize winner gets $200.

FREE   leave the kids at home

South End

ombWeihnachtsmarkt. Wait, what?  This German-inspired “Christmas Market” will take place at Olde Mecklenburg Brewery each weekend leading up to Christmas Day. And they’ve had such a huge demand that they’re expanding the market to include gifts and baked goods from 30 local vendors.  What more do you need to know?  Grab a glass of craft beer and get your shopping on.  (Oh, and they’ll have traditional German food too.)

Free    kids welcome

jingle

Who can pass up something called “Holiday Jingle Jangle?” On December 5th Ciel Gallery is hosting a holiday market filled with small works of art made by local artists.  We’re talking pottery, paintings, mosaics, jewelry, photography, textile art, and more! Get your shopping done early this year.

Free   kids welcome

15-Handmade-Christmas-Gifts-to-Start-Making-Early

Calling all craft beer lovers and DIY maniacs! Craft Growler Shop and Tasting Room is hosting a Handmade Holiday Gift Exchange with price categories ranging from $5, $15, $25, & $40+.  They only request that you bring 3-5 of your own handmade gifts. This is a Pinterest lover’s dream

Free   leave the kids at home

NoDa/Plaza Midwood

krampusSanta’s arch nemesis, Krampus, is on the prowl in the NoDa neighborhood of Charlotte.  This figure in Central European literature is the focus of the Krampus Krawl on Saturday, December 5th.  The event sounds fun and spooky and features multiple NoDa bars and restaurants.  It doesn’t matter if you’ve been naughty or nice, you’d better watch out for Krampus.

Free   kids welcome

noda-christmas-tree-lighting-2015On Sunday, December 6th the Queen City Church of Christ will be bringing the neighborhood together on the front lawn of the Johnston YMCA in NoDa for the NoDa Tree Lighting Celebration. The festivities start at 6:00 p.m. and include hot chocolate, cookies, Christmas crafts, live music, and carols in addition to the tree lighting.  We’ve heard Santa might even be there.

Free   kid centric

Ballantyne

menorahMenorah Lighting Celebration: “A giant balloon Menorah will be lit. Donuts, Latkes (potato pancakes that are a Hanukkah tradition) and drinks will be served and there will be crafts and games for the kids.”  We’re quoting this from the website because there’s really no better explanation of how awesome this is. Tuesday, December 8th, 2015, 5:30 p.m.  at Stonecrest/Piper Glen.

Free    kid centric

ballantyne viallage santa

Ballantyne Village is hosting their second annual Holiday Open House on December 12th from 11am until 4pm.  Attractions include crafts, live bunnies, free digital photos with Jolly ol’ St. Nick, and the last day for the angel tree.  This event is sponsored by the Village Kids program and promises to be fun for children and adults alike.  Bunnies!

Free   kid centric

Gingerbread Lane at Ballantyne Hotel by Sara KendallThe Ballantyne Hotel is bringing back the ever-popular Gingerbread Lane where artists battle to the death for the honor of gingerbread master.  Okay, we may be exaggerating a bit.  However, if you attend this event, you will be able to see some impressive masterpieces, and you’ll be able to vote on your favorite entries with a $1 minimum donation benefiting Levine Children’s Hospital.

Free   kids welcome

Lake Norman Area

nativityThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Huntersville is hosting the 8th Annual Community Nativity Festival on December 5th from 10:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Family activities include viewing 400+ nativities, musical performances, make-and-take children’s crafts, dressing in nativity costumes and taking a photo for your family Christmas card.

Free   kid centric

davidsonEnjoy the last day of Davidson’s three day festival on December 5th from 6pm – 9pm.  Christmas in Davidson is the perfect place for your family to enjoy a variety of Christmas activities. Santa’s house, hayrides and carriage rides, ugly sweater contests, live music and dance performances, dog fashion shows, Christmas trees, holiday crafts and more. Honestly, the list is too long, but you can find more here. 

Free   kids welcome

hope-for-the-holidaysHopeLKN is presenting Hope for the Holidays at Birkdale Village on December 5th 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.,  This is sure to be a treat for those who love live holiday music.  Performances will be held by a variety of local and regional musicians and singers. On top of the spectacular talent, the event creates awareness awareness for local non-profits by offering donation based gift wrapping for shoppers.

Free   kids welcome

latta-plantation-christmasMost Charlotteans know the Historic Latta Plantation is home to beautiful grounds and remarkable sites.  But many are unaware of the Candlelight Christmas on December 5th from 6pm – 9pm. There’s truly no better way to celebrate the holidays while learning at the same time.  Take a stroll through the candlelit property. Take a peek inside Nancy Latta’s holiday wedding (thanks to talented historical interpreters). You and yours can even go caroling

$   kids welcome

nmccFree Christmas Concert? Great for the whole family? Sign us up! The North Mecklenburg Community Chorus is performing “Sing the Wonders” Christmas Concert three times (Dec 7th, 12th, 14th) throughout December, and all of them are free of charge.  Check out the different locations here.

Free   kids welcome

nmccIf you’re feeling active this holiday season, the Huntersville Christmas is right for you. The free festival includes sledding in real snow in Winter Wonderland, giant ferris wheel, climbing walls, swings, bounce houses, to name only a few. It takes place Saturday, December 12th from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in downtown Huntersville.

Free   kids welcome

mooresvilleThe quaint downtown area of Mooresville is perfect any time, but the Holiday Light Spectacular is a special treat that only comes once a year.  On Friday, December 11 & 18 from 6 – 8 p.m. you can enjoy the holidays in downtown Mooresville with music, Santa visits, strolls along Christmas Tree Lane, wagon rides, and more.

Free    kids welcome

Concord/Kannapolis

The Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) Boulevard of Lights holiday event is one of the largest holiday light shows in the United States. More than 3 million LED lights glow along four miles at the speedway, where visitors can experience in-car LED light viewing. The annual holiday lights event includes visits with Santa, tours of Santa's Workshop, marshmallow roasting pits, a Festival of Trees and a realistic Bethlehem Village scene. Were you thinking to yourself, “Hey self, I really want to see 3 million Christmas lights on a motor speedway sometime this season.”  Well self, look no further than Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  Not only will you be pleasantly blinded by the numerous light displays, but welcome to enjoy an outdoor ice skating rink, Christmas movies on the 16,000 square-foot TV screen, a petting zoo, and much more!  Speedway Christmas is open through December 30th and the Christmas Village is Thursdays through Sunday.

FREE – $   kids welcome

bass proThis year, Santa’s workshop is at Bass Pro Shops in Concord Mills.  Santa’s Wonderland features free photos with Santa, as well as crafts and games for the little ones.  Festivities run through December 24th.  “Bass Passes” are also available to a limited amount of patrons to skip the line and come back to see Santa at your own convenience.  Santa knows your busy, and lines are for Grinches. 

FREE-$    kid centric

kannapolis lightsWho knew that Kannapolis had its very own little North Pole?  The Celebration of Lights and Winterland Express is happening in Village Park every night through December 30th (but closed Christmas Eve and Day).  Enjoy a stroll through the park filled with over 250,000 lights or take a ride on the Winterland Express!  If you aren’t feeling like a train ride, than maybe a visit to Santa or roasting marshmallows is up your alley!

FREE-$   kids welcome

Scenes from the Kannapolis Christmas Parade Saturday night along Main Street in Kannapolis. (photo by Michael Knox)

Saturday, December 12th, marks the 77th Annual Kannapolis Christmas Parade.  Kannapolis has a long tradition with this parade.  Though now held on Saturday nights, it used to be a Tuesday afternoon event where local businesses would close down to enjoy the festivities.  The parade begins at 6 pm and goes through the streets of downtown Kannapolis. 

FREE   kids welcome

tubaLooking for a worldwide Christmas tuba event?  (I mean who isn’t.)  Tuba Christmas has your back.  on Saturday, December 12th at 2 pm, Concord Mills is hosting a section of an event that is happening around the globe.  For 42 years, tuba players have gathered to play Christmas songs and spread cheer.  Baby got brass.

FREE   kids welcome

South Park/Myers Park

billy grahamThe Billy Graham Library hosts a number of Christmas themed attractions and activities, including a live nativity with real people and animals, horse-drawn carriage rides, and a Christmas dinner.  Events will be happening Monday through Thursday 9:30 am to 9 pm, Friday and Saturday 9:30 am to 10 pm.  Did we mention that you can pet the nativity animals?

FREE-$   kids welcome

philips placeThursday nights in December, through the 17th, come see a free light show at Philips Place from 7 to 9 pm.  Each Thursday offers a new experience, with visits from Santa, stilt walkers, and more.  No one can say “no” to free hot chocolate.

FREE   kid centric

hannukah at south park mallCome celebrate Hanukkah at South Park Mall on Sunday, December 6th, at 5 pm.  There will be a giant Menorah lighting, as well as traditional Hanukkah treats, music, and children’s activities.  What a great way to begin Hanukkah.

FREE   kids welcome

West Charlotte

daniel stoweThis holiday season at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, come see the magic of natural beauty illuminated with lights and festive sparkle!  Holidays at the Garden is a family friendly tradition full of events and activities for people of all ages.  The festivity will be going on until Christmas Eve.  Check out their website for more information.

$   kids welcome

It May Not Be Charlotte But’s It’s NC

usaMcAdenville, NC, is Christmas Town.  So much so that it is even in the running on USA Today’s Top 10 Christmas Destinations.  Other runners include Prague, Nuremberg, and New York City.  For 60 years, this town, a mere 16 miles away from Charlotte, has been hanging hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights and displaying one of the most beautiful holiday scenes in the country.  The lights are on though December 26th every night; Monday-Friday 5:30-9:30 pm and Saturday and Sunday 5:30-11 pm.  The town recommends coming earlier in the week to avoid big crowds and to even leave your car to have a pleasant stroll through winter wonderland!

FREE   kids welcome

Holiday Fun in the Queen City

Reed’s Gold Mine

Reed Gold Mine’s Golden Christmas is happening this Saturday, December 5th in Midland, NC, a little less than an hour away from Charlotte.  Ever wonder what an underground mine would look like if Santa lived there?  Well you’re in luck!  This mine is decorated for the holidays and special themed tours will tell you how Christmas has been celebrated over the years at the mine.  Come join good music, food, and plenty of holiday activities, including games, basket weaving, and hayrides.  Tours run from 10 am to 4 pm. 

$   kid centric

And that’s it.  We hope you were able to find something to make this holiday season bright and merry!

Yours Truly,

The Team Members of Charlotte Homes and Happenings

written by Laura Antanaitis