Things to Do

30 Ways to Celebrate the Holidays

When it comes to the season of lights, Charlotte knows how to be merry and bright.

Charlotte Ballet

This blog is brought to you in partnership with Charlotte Ballet.

No matter how you celebrate the holiday season, Charlotte has an event to put you in the right spirit. Find an outdoor market full of local wares, see a live holiday spectacular or even join a Santa-themed trail race.

Charlotte Ballet’s “Nutcracker” – Photography by Peter Zay

1. Sipping cocoa, decorating gingerbread houses, ice skating – we all have favorite holiday traditions and this year, you can add one more to your list with Charlotte Ballet. Experience Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s “Nutcracker” at Belk Theater from Dec. 9-23. Tchaikovsky’s famous score performed live by Charlotte Symphony Orchestra will bring your favorite characters to life. Join Clara on her dreamy journey through the Land of Sweets with dancing snowflakes, delicious treats and, of course, the majestic Sugar Plum Fairy. It’s a show you don’t want to miss.

Charlotte Symphony

2. Whether you’re looking for jazz renditions of Christmas classics, synth rock or the rhythms of Motown, there are plenty of places to enjoy the sounds of the seasons live and an in-concert around the crown this holiday.

- A Motown Christmas – Knight Theater, Nov. 27
- Jazz at the Bechtler: Holiday Jazz – Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Dec. 2
- Handel Messiah – Knight Theater, Dec. 2-4
- Jazz Room Holiday Edition: Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Swing – Booth Playhouse, Dec. 8-10
- Trans Siberian Orchestra: The Ghosts of Christmas EveSpectrum Center, Dec. 10
- Leslie Odom Jr.: The Christmas Tour – Belk Theater, Dec. 12
- Charlotte Symphony: Holiday Pops – Knight Theater, Dec. 16-17
- Tosco Music Holiday Party – Knight Theater, Dec. 19
- A Christmas Cabaret with Jesse Little – Middle C Jazz, Dec. 20
- Soulful Noel – Stage Door Theater, Dec. 21-22

#CharlottesGotALot

3. Take a seat at some of Charlotte’s most renowned venues as holiday spectacles, performances and aerobatic feats take the stage.

- The Real Christmas StoryNarrowWay Theatre, Nov. 4-19, Nov. 25-Dec. 23, Dec. 28-30
- The Illusionists: Magic of the Holidays – Belk Theater, Nov. 20
- Christmas Extravaganza 2022 – Halton Theater, Nov. 27
- A Christmas Carol – Theatre Charlotte, Dec. 9-18
- Holiday Dreams: A Spectacular Holiday Cirque!Ovens Auditorium, Dec. 15
- Nutcracker! Magic of ChristmasOvens Auditorium, Dec. 16
- Charlotte Symphony: Cirque de Noel – Knight Theater, Dec. 21-23
- The Hip Hop Nutcracker – Knight Theater, Dec. 26-27

Thanksgiving Day Parade in Uptown

4. Nostalgic memories abound with parades on display, bringing floats, bands on the Big Man himself as eager viewers gather to watch the ingenuity and creativity of the procession passing by.

- Mooresville Christmas Parade – Mooresville, Nov. 22
- Novant Health Thanksgiving Eve Parade – Tryon Street Uptown, Nov. 23
- Christmas Parade – Downtown Belmont, Nov. 29
- 2022 Bristol Christmas Parade – Carnegie Boulevard (SouthPark), Dec. 2
- 40th Annual North Mecklenburg Holiday Parade – Davidson Town Hall, Dec. 3
- Christmas Parade – Waxhaw, Dec. 11
- Annual Christmas Electric Parade: A Festival of Lights – Downtown Mount Holly, Dec. 16

#CharlottesGotALot

5. Like your parade floats to float? Grab a seat shore-side for one (or all) of these annual boat parades on Lake Wylie and Lake Norman.

- 12th Annual Lake Norman Yacht Club Christmas Flotilla and Parade – Lake Norman Yacht Club/Hello, Sailor, Dec. 3
- 32nd Annual Lake Wylie Boat Parade – Papa Doc’s Shore Club, Dec. 10
- Northern Lights of Lake Norman Lighted Boat Parade – Apps & Taps (Mooresville), Dec. 10
- Lake Norman Lighted Christmas Boat Parade – Blythe Landing/Ramsey Creek Park, Dec. 17

Light Up Cornelius 2021

6. Light the night with performances, festivals and more as trees are illuminated during these tree lighting ceremonies, officially marking the beginning of the Christmas season.

- Panthers x Charlotte FC Tree Lighting – Bank of America Stadium, Nov. 22
- 11th Annual Light Up Cornelius – Cornelius Town Hall, Nov. 26
- Belmont Christmas Tree Lighting – City Hall (Belmont), Nov. 28
- Miracle on Main Street – Downtown Mount Holly, Dec. 2
- Huntersville Christmas – Main Street and Maxwell Street (Huntersville), Dec. 2
- Hometown Holiday Tree Lighting Celebrations – Stumptown Park (Matthews), Dec. 3
- Downtown Monroe Christmas Tree Lighting – Main Street (Monroe), Dec. 3

Light the Knights at Truist Field

7. Walk, stroll or drive through the illustrious lights displays from the 67-year-old tradition of Christmas Town U.S.A. to time on the track for Speedway Christmas.

- Light the Knights – Truist Field, Nov. 23-Jan. 6
- Holidays at the Garden – Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, Nov. 25-Dec. 31
- Christmas Wonderland of Lights – Zootastic Park, Nov. 18-Jan. 1
- Holidays at the Garden – Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, Nov. 25-Dec. 31
- Sea of Lights at Concord Mills – SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord, Dec. 1-Jan. 8
- Speedway Christmas – Charlotte Motor Speedway, Nov. 18-Jan. 8
- Christmas Town U.S.A. – McAdenville, Dec. 1-26
- Carolina Holiday Light Spectacular – Ballantyne’s Backyard, Dec. 11-31

Mistletoe Market

8. Charlotte is full of pop-up shopping experiences all season long. Shop your favorite vendors at these area finds and markets, perfect for everyone on your list.

- Southern Christmas Show – The Park Expo & Conference Center, Nov. 10-20
- VTG CLT POP – Metropolitan, Nov. 11- Dec. 9, Dec. 10-Dec. 23 (weekends only through December 10th, then open daily from 10am-7pm.)
- VTG CLT Winter Market – The Greenhouse at Savona, Nov. 19
- Charlotte Christmas Village – Truist Field, Nov. 23-Jan. 6
- Weihnachtsmarkt – The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery & Biergarten, Nov. 25-27; Dec. 2-4, 9-11, 16-18
- Shop Small Weekend Holiday Market – Downtown Huntersville, Nov. 26-27
- North Carolina Christmas Extravaganza – Cabarrus Arena & Events Center, Nov. 26-27
- Mistletoe Market – Camp North End, Dec. 3, 10, 17
- Hunnid Dollar Art Fair – Camp North End, Dec. 8-10
- Girl Tribe PopUp – Charlotte Convention Center, Dec. 10-11

Christmas Twon U.S.A. (McAdenville)

9. Nothing says “festive” like festivals and these surrounding towns have plenty of opportunities for weekends of merry-making.

- ChristmasVille 2022 – Old Town Rock Hill, Dec. 1-4
- Christmas in Davidson – Downtown Davidson, Dec. 1-3
- Christmas in Huntersville – Downtown Huntersville, Dec. 2-3
- Downtown Christmas Village – Downtown Belmont, Dec. 3
- Christmas in Cornelius – Cornelius Town Hall, Dec. 4
- 2022 Yule Log Ceremony at Christmas Town U.S.A – Legacy Park (McAdenville), Dec. 15
- 2022 North Carolina Christmas Festival – Cabarrus Arena & Events Center, Dec. 17

WinterFest at Carowinds

10. Holiday events for the whole family abound this season from shows to kid-friendly shopping and beyond.

- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical – Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Nov. 18-Dec. 22
- WinterFest – Carowinds, Nov. 21-Jan. 1
- Christmas at the Library – The Billy Graham Library, Nov. 28-Dec. 3
- The Winter Wonderland Shop – Imaginon: The Joe & Joan Martin Center, Dec. 1-3
- Merry Art Making – Camp North End, Dec. 3, 10, 17
- The Broken Crayon: Kids Club Holiday Art Workshop – Camp North End, Dec. 3, 10, 17
- !Celebra! With Criss Cross Mangosauce: A Bilingual Family Holiday Concert – The Charlotte Museum of History, Dec. 17

#CharlottesGotALot

11. Have some hands-on fun with these workshops geared towards holiday decor, cards and other DIY projects with a wintery spin.

- Holiday Hoop Workshop – PlantHouse, Nov. 13
- Deck Your Door Holiday Wreath and Doormat – AR Workshop Charlotte, Dec. 3
- Yule Log – Chef Alyssa’s Kitchen, Dec. 6
- Paint Your Pet Holiday Edition – Primal Brewery (Belmont and Huntersville), Dec. 8
- Holiday Gift-Making Workshop – Discovery Place Science, Dec. 10
- Holiday Gift Making Workshop – AR Workshop Charlotte, Dec. 10
- DIY Holiday Centerpiece Workshop - Veronét Vineyards & Winery, Dec. 10
- Solstice Holiday Nature Crafting – Quest at Latta Nature Preserve, Dec. 22

12. Centered on family, community and culture, these celebrations bring the principles of Kwanzaa to the community.

- 12 Days of Kwanzaa – Sheraton Charlotte Airport Hotel, Dec. 17
- Kwanzaa Charlotte – Kwanzaa Charlotte, Dec. 26-Jan. 1

13. Celebrate the Festival of Lights whether building your own menorah or attending a lighting ceremony.

- Porch Southern Fried Chanukah – Temple Beth El, Dec. 18
- Menorah Lighting at StoneCrest – StoneCrest at Piper Glen, Dec. 19
- Chanukah Celebration at Birkdale Village – Birkdale Village on the Green, Dec. 20
- Menorah Lighting in Matthews – Town Green Park, Dec. 20
- Waxhaw Menorah Lighting – The Overhead Bridge (Waxhaw), Dec. 21
- Chanukah Shabbat & Congregational Dinner – Temple Beth El, Dec. 23
- Chanukah Under the Stars – Temple Beth El, Dec. 25

Stowe Park in Belmont

14. Got a favorite holiday film? Find it playing in unique spots around the city from parks and speedways to symphony accompaniment.

- The Nightmare Before Christmas – Stowe Park (Belmont), Nov. 11
- Home Alone 2 – Charlotte Motor Speedway, Nov. 19-21
- The Polar Express – Stowe Park (Belmont), Nov. 25
- The Polar Express in Concert – Belk Theater, Nov. 25-26
- Christmas Vacation – Charlotte Motor Speedway, Nov. 25-28
- Elf – Stowe Park (Belmont), Dec. 2
- The Grinch – Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dec. 2-5
- Polar Express – Cornelius Town Hall, Dec. 4
- Christmas with the Kranks – Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dec. 9-12
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas – Stowe Park (Belmont), Dec. 16
- Elf – Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dec. 16-26
- A Christmas Story – Charlotte Motor Speedway, Dec. 30-Jan. 2

Mint Museum Uptown

15. Looking to add some science and history to your holiday? Check out these engaging events at area museums.

- Holidays Around the World – The Schiele Museum, Nov. 25-Dec. 31
- Spirit of Christmas Past – Kings Mountain Historical Museum, Dec. 3
- Date Night at the Museum – The Charlotte Museum of History, Dec. 8
- Mint to Move Cultural Dance Night – Día de las Velitas – Mint Museum Uptown, Dec. 2

Billy Sunday

16. Grab a group and get out to these dinner parties in the Queen City or make your own party at any of these group-ready restaurants.

- Eat, Gay, Love 2022 – Billy Sunday, Nov. 24
- Thanksgiving 3-Course Prix-Fixe Dinner – Church & Union, Nov. 24
- Christmas Dinner – Billy Graham Library, Dec. 3
- Sugar Plum Brunch – Hyatt Centric SouthPark, Dec. 17

#CharlottesGotALot

17. Sip on cocktails in your ugliest sweater or holiday best at some of Charlotte’s favorite pop-up bars, bar crawls and nightclubs.

- Sippin’ Santa at The Royal Tot – The Royal Tot, Nov. 11-Dec. 30
- Miracle – Backstage Lounge, Nov. 23-Dec.31
- Christmas Bar – Billy Sunday, Dec. 1-Jan. 2
- Roaring 20s Holiday Ball – Bazal Gallery Nightclub, Dec. 2
- Official Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl – Uptown Charlotte, Dec. 3
- Ugly Holiday Sweater – Speakeasy at Supperland, Dec. 3-Jan. 7
- The 5th Annual Toys for Tots Bar Crawl – World of Beer, Dec. 10
- Charlotte’s 22nd Annual Santa Bar Crawl – Ink N Ivy, Dec. 10

#CharlottesGotALot

18. Hop aboard for train rides and displays decked out in holiday spirit.

- The Polar Express – North Carolina Transportation Museum, Nov. 11-12, 18-20, 25-27; Dec. 2-4, 8-11, 13-23
- 20th Annual Toys, Games & Trains Exhibit – Kings Mountain Historical Museum, Nov. 25-Dec. 31
- 11th Annual Light Up Cornelius – Cornelius Town Hall, Nov. 26

Ice Skating at U.S. National Whitewater Center

19. Slide, glide and skate your way into the winter wonderlands of these pop-up ice skating rinks for a winterfull of fun.

- Birkdale on Ice – Nov. 19-Jan. 16
- Ice Skating on the Upper Pond – U.S. National Whitewater Center, Nov.-Feb.
- Winterfest – Carowinds, Nov. 21-Jan. 1
- Charlotte Christmas Village and Light the Knights – Truist Field, Nov. 23-Jan 6
- ChristmasVille 2022 – Old Town Rock Hill, Dec. 1-4

Triple C Brewing

20. Grab a Brew Badge and conduct your own crawl for the holiday and seasonal beers at participating breweries.

- Blue Blaze Brewing – Sherpa Winter Porter
- Divine Barrel Brewing – Chai-Jacked
- Free Range Brewing – Softly Covered in Darkness
- Lenny Boy Brewing Co. – Festbier
- NoDa Brewing Company – Hoppy Holidays
- Pilot Brewing Company – Oktoberfest
- Suffolk Punch Brewing – Dark Horse
- Traust Brewing – Nüptial
- Triple C Brewing – White Blaze

#CharlottesGotALot

21. Feel the joy of the Christmas Queens commanding the stage at these holiday-themed drag shows.

- Robyn & Charlotte present: YULE,Y’ALL! – Neighborhood Theatre, Dec. 2-3
- FriYAY'S Holiday Drag Brunch – TGI Fridays, Dec. 10
- Buff Faye’s “The B@#!TCH WHO STOLE XMAS” Drag Brunch – Midtown Tavern, Dec. 10
- Buff Faye’s “HO HO HO” Drag Dinner – Dilworth Neighborhood Grille, Dec. 16
- ‘Twas the Drag Show Before Christmas – The Fillmore, Dec. 17
- Buff Faye’s “VERY MARY” Drag Brunch – Oh My Soul, Dec. 17-18
- Buff Faye’s “CANDY LAND” Drag Brunch – Kounter, Dec. 18

#CharlottesGotALot

22. These seasonal comedy shows will make your holidays jolly.

- Holiday Laughs & Lights Tour – Funny Bus, Nov. 25-Dec. 23 (select days)
- Robyn & Charlotte Present: YULE, Y’ALL! – Neighborhood Theatre, Dec. 2-3
- Holiday Improv Comedy Show – Acting Out Studio, Dec. 10
- The OTC Improv Holiday Show – Fort Mill Community Playhouse, Dec. 10
- Hot Chocolate & Jokes – Comedy Zone, Dec. 14

Charlotte Ballet’s “Nutcracker” – Photography by Peter Zay

23. Looking for sensory-friendly and accessible events this holiday? From dances to performances, check out these accommodating activities.

- Playful Storytime: “Bear Says Thanks” – The Atrium Waxhaw Community Room, Nov. 19
- The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical - Sensory Friendly Performance – Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Dec. 4
- Charlotte Ballet’s The Nutcracker – Belk Theater
- TR: Dance - Retro Holiday – Tyvola Senior Center, Dec. 16
- Clara’s Trip: A Cirque & Dance Nutcracker Story – Booth Playhouse, Dec. 17
- Gingerbread Sensory Storytime – North County Regional Library, Dec. 21

#CharlottesGotALot

24. Take a tour by bus or on foot and take in the illumination of Charlotte and the surrounding area’s lights with historic holiday tours.

- Holiday Laughs & Lights Tour – Funny Bus, Nov. 25-Dec. 23 (select days)
- Fourth Ward Holiday Sip & Stroll – Fourth Ward (Uptown Charlotte), Dec. 1-3
- Historic Tour of Old Town Rock Hill – Warehouses on White, Dec. 2
- Candlelight Christmas House Tour – Historic Rosedale, Dec. 11

#CharlottesGotALot

25. Charlotte’s mild winter climate makes it easy to get out in nature any time of year and there’s plenty of holiday fun to be had at farms and nature preserves around the city.

- Holiday Magic – Rea Farms, Nov. 19
- Nature Holiday Celebration – Reedy Creek Nature Preserve, Dec. 10
- Historic Holiday Open House – Wing Haven, Dec. 11
- Solstice Holiday Nature Crafting – Quest at Latta Nature Preserve, Dec. 22

NASCAR Hall of Fame

26. Race into the season with these car-themed events in the heart of NASCAR country.

- Holidays for Heroes – NASCAR Hall of Fame, Nov. 11-Dec. 19
- Carolina Christmas Car Show – PowerCurve Motorsports, Dec. 3
- Stocks for Tots – North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame, Dec. 6
- Undeck the Hall – NASCAR Hall of Fame, Dec. 27

Santa Trail Race and Dog Jog at the USNWWC

27. Looking to race on foot instead? Walk, run or enjoy the festivities of these active events from the heart of the city to the natural surroundings.

- Charlotte Turkey Trot – SouthPark Mall, Nov. 24
- Christmastown 5K – McAdenville, Nov. 26
- We Believe – Santa Trail Race and Dog Jog – U.S. National Whitewater Center, Dec. 10
- 2022 Jingle Bell Run – Truist Field, Dec. 10
- New Years Eve Trail Race – U.S. National Whitewater Center, Dec. 31

The Toys for Tots Bar Crawl

28. It’s great to give any time of year and these holiday-themed events are a great way to give back.

- Christmas Wishes – Kounter (Rock Hill), through December 1
- Fezziwig Ball – The White Home, Dec. 3
- Annual Nonprofit Holiday Gala & Toy Drive – Champagne Manor, Dec. 10
- CANDYLAND: 14th Annual Twirl to the World - Celebration of Giving – Blackbox Theater, Dec. 10
- Show Up – Summit Seltzer, Dec. 10
- The 5th Annual Toys for Tots Bar Crawl – World of Beer, Dec. 10
- Christmas Tea – Vesuvius Vineyards, Dec. 11

29. If you’ve got a furry friend who’s been a very good girl or boy this year, celebrate being on the nice list with Santa for photos and more.

- Holiday Photos – Pet in the City, Nov. 19; Dec. 4
- Santa Paws at Lucky Dog Charlotte – Lucky Dog Bark & Brew, Nov. 26
- Yappy Holidays – Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel, Dec. 8
- We Believe – Santa Trail Race and Dog Jog – U.S. National Whitewater Center, Dec. 10

Bojangles Entertainment Center

30. Whether you’re looking to celebrate day or night, greet the New Year with these New Year’s Eve events and New Year’s Day celebrations to kick off 2023 with a bang.

- New Year’s Eve Around the World – The Schiele Museum, Dec. 31
- The Avett Brothers – Bojangles Coliseum, Dec. 31
- 2023 Charlotte New Year’s Eve Party – Gatsby’s House – Hilton Charlotte Uptown, Dec. 31
- CLT New Year’s Eve – Levine Center for the Arts, Dec. 31
- New Year’s Eve at Blackberry Ridge Farm – Blackberry Ridge Farm (Huntersville), Dec. 31
- Ring in the New YearAnne Springs Close Greenway, Jan.1