Things to do

Your Guide to Uptown Charlotte’s Thanksgiving Traditions

What to do and see as the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade kicks off the Queen City’s holiday festivities

Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade

Whether you’re a local joining in one of the city’s longest running traditions or you’re hosting friends in family for Turkey Day, the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade is a quintessential Charlotte experience. But beyond that, the parade is also the start of the city’s holiday celebrations.

Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade

When: Nov. 22, 9 a.m.

Skip watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at home in favor of a much more up-close-and-personal experience with the largest Thanksgiving parade in the Southeast, aka the Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade. For more than 70 years, this lively celebration of the season has delighted Queen City revelers with floats, dancers, marching bands, and more. The parade starts at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving day and draws more than 110,000 attendees. It’s the perfect family-friendly way to celebrate before you pass the potatoes and pumpkin pie.

Pro tip: Want a little elbowroom as you enjoy the parade? Restaurants like The Asbury and McCormick & Schmick’s offer VIP reserved seating for the parade, so you can snag a perfect view of the action before enjoying a delicious meal. Added bonus: no cleanup required when dinner is done. Reserve ahead.

Holiday on Ice

Holiday on Ice

During this time of year, Holiday on Ice, the city’s only ice skating rink, turns the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza into a magical winter wonderland. Although the rink itself opens Nov. 16, the official tree lighting takes place on Nov. 25. After that, you’ll enjoy a serious dose of holiday cheer, plus rides and games. Skating and stake rental costs $14; if you bring your own skates, the entry fee is $10.

Amelie's French Bakery (NoDa) - Photo by Kyo H Nam Photography

Amélie’s French Bakery

With family in town, it’s important to show off Charlotte signatures. Escape the chill by at Amélie’s French Bakery in Uptown. The salted caramel brownie is to die for, and they’ve got plenty of tasty drinks to choose from, whether you’re in the mood for carefully crafted coffees, teas or a glass of wine. Venture in just as your toes, nose and fingers are starting to go numb. The whimsical, perfectly mismatched décor provides a cozy backdrop as you thaw.

The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte

No matter where you’re staying during your visit to the Queen City, a pit stop at the Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte is a must. During the holiday season, the elegant hotel dreams up insanely elaborate works of gingerbread art. The level of detail that goes into these gingerbread homes will have you feeling inclined to step up both your home décor and your baked good art projects.

Charlotte Christmas Village - Photo by Robert Kisiah

Charlotte Christmas Market

Add a little creativity to your holiday shopping and skip the mall parking lot madness as you do it. The Charlotte Christmas Market, happening at the corner of Seventh and North Tryon streets, is the place to go. The European-inspired market offers charming crafts and gifts that will delight even the pickiest names on your list, plus live performances, plenty of tasty food and drink options, and more. It runs from Nov. 22 through Dec 24.