Things to Do

25 Family-Friendly Events This Holiday Season

No matter how you celebrate the season, Charlotte invites everyone to get in the holiday spirit. Participate in tree lightings, take the kids for DIY Christmas crafts, enjoy a festive performance or shop local at a holiday market. Winter in Charlotte is a great time to don your best attire for a show in Uptown, take a stroll through the festive streets of surrounding towns or slide across pop-up ice-skating rinks as you make magical and merry memories.

The Real Christmas Story

When: Nov. 5-Dec. 30
Where: NarroWay Productions

Enjoy both a traditional Christmas dinner and a performance of “The Real Christmas Story” at NarroWay Theatre. Camel rides are available before the show and are subject to weather and availability. The audience is welcome to sing along to your favorite Christmas songs, especially during the part of the show when snow falls.

The Southern Christmas Show

Southern Christmas Show

When: Nov. 10-20
Where: The Park Expo & Conference Center

Shop one of the region’s most beloved events with rows and rows of vendor booths filled with decor and gifts, perfect for getting in the Christmas spirit, complete with live shows and other whimsical attractions perfect for the whole family. Let your nose lead the way to the holiday morsels and seasonal treats at this year’s “Winter Wonderland” Southern Christmas Show. Be sure to stroll down Christmas Tree Lane, which includes dozens of fresh Fraser firs decorated by designers in all different styles. Miniature trains, holiday choirs and Santa bring merriment to attendees of all ages.


The Polar Express Train Ride

When: Nov. 11-12, 18-20 and 25-27; Dec. 2-4, 8-11 and 13-23
Where: North Carolina Transportation Museum

Inspired by The Polar Express book and movie, this holiday favorite comes to life at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. Music is played from the film’s soundtrack as passengers are served hot chocolate and cookies on board the train. To be fully-immersed in the magic of this holiday favorite, families are encouraged to wear their pajamas for the ride as children of all ages remember what it’s like to hear the bell and believe.

Charlotte Speedway Christmas

Speedway Christmas

When: Nov. 18-Jan. 8
Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway

This year marks the 12th edition of Charlotte’s spectacular drive-through lights show. Speedway Christmas revs up the holiday cheer with more than features four million lights strewn across a remarkable four-mile course, with hundreds of creative displays and lights synchronized to Christmas-themed music. It's the ultimate holiday-themed spectacle, perfect for families and fans of all ages.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical

When: Nov. 18-Dec. 22
Where: Children’s Theatre of Charlotte

This show, perfect for all ages, will be sure to bring laughter to the holiday season. Barbara Robinson’s classic story is brilliantly brought to life on stage, featuring The Herdmans, a raucous family that auditions for a Christmas pageant, showcasing hilarity and joy that ensues in this holiday classic.

WinterFest at Carowinds


When: Nov. 21-Jan. 1 (select nights)
Where: Carowinds

Gather your loved ones for a sleigh-full of fun as Carowinds transforms into a Winter Wonderland. See shimmering lights, a 70-foot tree and lavish displays, with live shows and strolling performers throughout the park, complete with the nightly Wonderland Parade and a selection of fan-favorite rides will be open and decked out in festive decor.

Light the Knights Christmas

Light the Knights

When: Nov. 23-Jan. 6 (select days)
Where: Truist Field

Enjoy on-ice activities at Truist Field’s Ice Skating and Hockey rink, trips down the 150-foot snow tubing hill and a stroll through the holiday lights show. Shop and dine as the season comes to life with the annual Charlotte Christmas Village featuring European delights along with the popular Gluhwein, hot cider, beer and, of course, hot chocolate.

Holidays at the Garden

Holidays at the Garden

When: Nov. 25-Dec. 31
Where: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden becomes a winter wonderland via the beloved Holidays at the Garden spectacular. As part of the ornate decoration, hundreds of thousands of lights illuminate the garden. One of the event’s most popular features is its stunning orchid tree. Family-friendly fun ranges from marshmallow roasts to visits with Santa and holiday shopping. Be sure to check the calendar for the full line up of events.


Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market)

When: Nov. 25-27: Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 16-18
Where: The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

Bring the kids to this family-friendly shopping tradition at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery for hot cocoa, fire pits, entertainment and the occasional visit from Santa himself. Grown-ups can sip craft beer and shop local products while letting the littles indulge in freshly baked goods. The event honors the German tradition of a Christmas market, where vendors sell goods from open-air booths, perfect for finding the perfect gift in the heart of OMB’s biergarten.

Holiday Market and Christmas in Huntersville

When: Nov. 26-27; Dec. 2-3
Where: Downtown Huntersville

Take a walk in downtown Huntersville for Shop Small Weekend Nov. 26 and 27 (complete with a visit from Santa) and come back the following weekend for holiday activities including the Friday night Town Tree Lighting. On Saturday, enjoy children’s rides, ice sculptures, live music, carolers, face painting and more.

Kids Holiday Terrarium Workshop

When: Nov. 27; Dec. 11
Where: PlantHouse Charlotte

Recommended for ages six and up, this workshop walks kids through the process of creating a Christmas-themed terrarium and how to care for it. The staff at PlantHouse will assist as kids and caregivers create a unique addition to holiday decor, complete with seasonal touches like gingerbread, candy canes and ornaments.

Christmas at the Library

When: Nov. 28-Dec. 23 (Closed Sundays; Christmas activities begin at 5 p.m. nightly)
Where: The Billy Graham Library

Get a photo with the live nativity scene, complete with real animals, at The Billy Graham Library. Explore the Library’s storied grounds from a horse-drawn carriage. Children can participate in story time and everyone is welcome to sing along with the carolers filling the air with merriment.

The Winter Wonderland Shop

When: Dec. 1-3
Imaginon: The Joe & Joan Martin Center

Children 12 and younger are invited to experience the best part of Christmas: giving. Register for a time slot and volunteers will help your child shop for everyone on their list. The gifts are low-cost and pre-wrapped, making gifting easy. While the children shop, caregivers can enjoy refreshments, write Christmas cards and enjoy a preview of the upcoming Children’s Theatre of Charlotte season.


Christmas in Davidson

Date: Dec. 1-3
Location: Downtown Davidson

One weekend each year, downtown Davidson lights up with fun for the entire family. Shop for gifts at Main Street businesses and inside the Holiday Village as you enjoy the live music and entertainment from Breakfast with Santa to the 40th Annual North Mecklenburg Holiday Parade.

Christmas Town USA

Date: Dec. 1-26
Location: McAdenville

The whole family will marvel as McAdenville, aka Christmas Town USA, is illuminated for this Christmas tradition entering its 67th year. Explore the 1.3-mile route of resident’s homes decked out for the holidays via car or foot, with events dotting the calendar beginning with the annual tree lighting on Dec. 1.


Holiday Tea

Date: Dec. 1-30 (Thursdays-Sundays)
Location: The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge

Enjoy an elegant afternoon of tea, complete with live music, at The Ballantyne. Tea will be served alongside sweet and savory bites for an upscale celebration of the holiday season in one of Charlotte’s most luxurious hotels.

Mistletoe Market at Camp North End

Mistletoe Market

When: Dec. 3, 10, and 17
Where: Camp North End

Check out this festive nighttime market from 4-8 p.m. over three consecutive Saturdays. Experience vintage shops, small businesses, fire-side marshmallow roasting, live music and more.

Downtown Christmas Village

When: Dec. 3
Where: Downtown Belmont

The city of Belmont celebrates the Christmas season by turning its charming downtown into an incredible Christmas village. Explore the Main Street shops, listen to Christmas carols, visit with Santa and savor hot chocolate and s’mores before taking a walk through Stowe Park’s Festival of Trees.


Charlotte Ballet's "The Nutcracker"

When: Dec. 9-23
Where: Belk Theater

Each holiday season, the Charlotte Ballet presents its take on the Christmas favorite “The Nutcracker.” Elaborate sets and costumes along with phenomenal choreography are accompanied by live music from the Charlotte Symphony. Seeing this performance dazzle at Belk Theater is a staple of each year’s celebrations.

Ice Skating at the USNWWC

Ice Skating at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

When: Mid-Nov. through Mid-Feb.
Where: U.S. National Whitewater Center

Take a spin around the rink with your family this holiday season. There are two open skating rinks and ice trails to explore at the U.S. National Whitewater Center’s annual winter attraction. When you get cold, hit the center of the rink where the vintage airstream bar serves up hot chocolate, beer and snacks.

Chanukah Celebration at Birkdale Village

When: Dec. 20
Where: Birkdale Village

Celebrate the third day of Chanukah at Birkdale Village with the Chabad of Lake Norman. Enjoy hot food, drinks, engage in group activities, and have a memorable evening with your family.

8th Annual Waxhaw Menorah Lighting

When: Dec. 21
Where: Waxhaw

Hosted by the Ballantyne Jewish Center, enjoy an evening full of hot drinks, donuts, latkes, crafts, music and more at this Menorah lighting for the whole family!

Chanukah Concert

When: Dec. 24
Where: Epstein Family Chabad Center

Come out for the seventh night of Chanukah for a time of music and celebration. Yoel Sharabi will perform, refreshments will be served and a Menorah lighting will take place.

Chanukah Under the Stars

When: Dec. 25
Where: Temple Israel

Celebrate Chanukah at Temple Israel. The Festival of Lights will feature a Menorah lighting, complete with a reservations-only dinner and programming perfect for the whole family.

See Holiday Classics Live

There are certain holiday classics that are just better to experience on the big screen or live on-stage. Relive your favorite moments with tickets to see any of these shows at Belk Theater, Knight Theater and Ovens Auditorium.

Nov. 25-26 The Polar Express in Concert (Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center)

Nov. 27 – A Motown Christmas (Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center)

Dec. 2-4 Handel Messiah (Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts)

Dec. 8-10 – Jazz Room Holiday Edition: Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Swing (Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center)

Dec. 15 – Holiday Dreams: A Spectacular Holiday Cirque (Ovens Auditorium)

Dec. 15-20 – Clara’s Trip (Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center)

Dec. 16-18 – Holiday Pops (Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts)

Dec. 21-22 – Soulful Noel (Booth Playhouse at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center)

Dec. 21-23 – Cirque De Noel (Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center)

Dec. 26-27 – The Hip Hop Nutcracker (Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts)