By Kristen Moore with contributions from Maggie Janke
Hereâ€™s your guide to Charlotteâ€™s most exciting collegiate games on the gridiron in December and the festivities leading up to kickoff.
For the second year since the bowl gameâ€™s conception in 2002, the Belk Bowl will feature a matchup between an ACC team and an SEC team (previously the ACC vs. the AAC). The second seeded ACC team will be paired with the second seeded SEC team. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Dec. 30 at Bank of America Stadium and will air live on ESPN.
Tickets and Hotels
Tickets for the 14th annual Belk Bowl are on sale atÂ ticketmaster.comÂ and at participating schools.Â Group and corporate ticket packagesÂ are also available. Visit belkbowl.com forÂ accommodation optionsÂ in Charlotte.
Belk Bowl Fan Events
The family-friendly football themedÂ Belk Bowl 5KÂ presented by New Balance is a great way to kick off Belk Bowl festivities and work off all those extra calories from the holidays. The run/walk will be held on Sunday, Dec. 7 at 2 p.m. EST beginning at the Wells Fargo Plaza. Bring your family, friends and football fans for a fun afternoon run and then enjoy a post-race celebration with an awards ceremony, a DJ, beer, food and giveaways. All proceeds from the race will benefit Levine Childrenâ€™s Hospital. Registration is $30 through Dec. 4 and $25 on race day.Â
On Tuesday, Dec. 29, head toÂ Belk Bowl Fan CentralÂ at the EpiCentre beginning at 7 p.m. The official fan party, featuring cheerleaders, pep bands and mascots, is sure to get fans ready for the big game.
Belk Bowl FanFestÂ offers the perfect combination of family fun, great food, entertainment with live music, interactive games, face-painting, and official Belk Bowl and school merchandise. The cheerleaders and marching bands from each school will get you pumped up for the game. And football and country music fans alike will enjoy a special performance by superstar and seven-time GRAMMYÂ® winner Carrie Underwood. FanFest will be located at Mint and Graham streets. The free event begins at 10 a.m., with Carrie Underwood scheduled to perform at 1:30 p.m.
Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship
This year marks the sixth year that Charlotte has hosted the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship and the 11th year since the championship event began. The final showdown between the Clemson Tigers of the Atlantic division and North Carolina Tar Heels of the Coastal division will kick off at Bank of America Stadium at 8 p.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 5 and will air live on ABC.
Tickets and Hotels
Tickets to the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship game sold out in November, marking the third time the championship game has sold out in Charlotte. However, there are plenty of activities surrounding the game that fans donâ€™t want to miss out on. Some ticket packages may still be available for those looking to plan a trip.
Get in the Spirit
Get into the spirit of the season with the Uptown Charlotte Tree Lighting at the corner of Trade and Tryon streets on Thursday, Dec. 3. Before the lights glow, the ACC mascots will entertain the crowd beginning at 5:30 p.m. A family and fan favorite, the annual lighting of the tree is a great free way to kick off the ACC Football Championship festivities.
Meet some of the ACCâ€™s finest at the 11th annual ACC Night of Legends, the ACCâ€™s annual awards ceremony, on Friday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Charlotte Convention Center. The ACC will honor 14 former football standouts, including four from national championship team. Leading the 2015 class are Pitt running back Tony Dorsett, Florida State running back Warrick Dunn, Georgia Tech coach Bobby Ross and Miami running back Clinton Portis. The legends will also be honored during pregame festivities at the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship game. Tickets for the ACC Night of Legends presented by the Belk Bowl are $125. VisitÂ accfootballchampionship.comÂ for tickets.
Rally for Your Team
Head to ACC Fan Central at the EpiCentre in Uptown Charlotte Friday, Dec. 4 beginning at 7 p.m. to rally around your favorite team. Fan Central is a free celebration featuring school mascots, pep bands and cheerleaders. Â The pep bands will battle it out at 9 p.m. The event will also feature appearances by the ACC mascots, a DJ and a live performance by 20 Ride.
On Saturday, Dec.5, the Official Pregame Hospitality Party will be held from 4-7 p.m. at BB&T Ballpark, just one block from Bank of America Stadium. Tickets are $85 and include unlimited food, beer and wine, visits from the ACC mascots and 2015 ACC legends, and private performances by each schoolâ€™s marching bands. Visit accfootballchampionship.com for tickets.
On game day, start your day off with some friendly competition against fellow fans and rivals at the ACC Fan 5K and Kids Mascot Run. The race, benefiting the United Way of Central Carolinas will begin at 8 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Plaza in Uptown. A post-race party, including an awards ceremony, food, beverages and living entertainment, will be held on the Plaza after the race. Registration is $35 through Dec. 4 or $40 on race day. The Kids Mascot Run, beginning at 9 a.m., is $10 and open to children ages 3-9. Following the fun run with the 14 ACC mascots, each child will receive a t-shirt and be invited to a meet-and-greet breakfast with the mascots. There is also a combination race registration package available for those who want to participate in both the ACC Fan 5K and the Belk Bowl 5K on Dec. 27.
For the future ACC students and athletes, the ACC will host the ACC & USA Football Youth FUNdamentals Clinic at the Carolina Panthers Practice Field from 3-5:30 p.m. and the 2015 Cheer Performance, where local cheerleaders have the opportunity to perform on the field before the game.
Before the game, jam out to country music artists Tucker Beathard (2 p.m.), Dustin Lynch (3:30 p.m.) and Tyler Farr (5:30 p.m.) at the ACC FanFest at Graham and Mint streets outside Bank of America Stadium. The ACC FanFest, featuring food, drinks, live music, interactive games, contests and giveaways, ACC mascot appearances, autograph session with ACC legends and more, is free and open to the public and runs from 12-7 p.m.
This article originally ran in the December 2014 issue of Charlotte Happenings. Information has been updated for 2015.Â