Arts & Culture

Best Holiday Celebrations In Charlotte

December 2, 2013 7:00 AM

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Photo Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Christmas is a time for getting back to the basics: spending time with family and friends, delighting in colorful displays of lights and catching a Christmas classic. Our list of holiday celebrations includes events that stretch across December, helping you find space in your busy calendar. Here you’ll find unique spots to visit with Santa, winter wonderlands of lights and activities such as ice skating that are a real treat for the whole family. And what Christmas season is complete without a performance of those holiday classics, “A Christmas Carol” and “The Nutcracker”? 
A Christmas Carol
Theatre Charlotte
501 Queens Road
Charlotte, NC 28207
(704) 376-3777

Dates: December 6 to 15, 2013.

Charles Dickens’ Christmas classic returns for its seventh consecutive year to the stage of this venerable Myers Park landmark, one of the oldest community theater companies in the state. This adaptation by John Jakes is suitable for all ages. The Tarradiddle Players, part of the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte family, will present its own version of the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the ghosts of Christmas, this one a commedia dell’arte style one-act suitable for ages five and up. The curtain goes up on “A Commedia Christmas Carol” from December 14 to 29 at the Wells Fargo Playhouse in ImaginOn.

Holiday On Ice
NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza
400 East Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 654-4400

Dates: Daily through Jan. 5, 2014 except for some Mondays and Tuesdays; hours vary (see website).

The large ice rink on the plaza in front of the NASCAR Hall of Fame hosts what has become one of Charlotte’s favorite new holiday traditions. Native Charlotteans and transplants from up north all enjoy skating to seasonal music under the open sky. Special events at the rink include live music, visits from local sports mascots and Santa and his elves and free carriage rides. You can save $3 by bringing your own skates, but skates are required.

Holidays At The Garden
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
6500 S. New Hope Road
Belmont, NC 28012
(704) 825-4490

Dates: Through December 31, 2013

Stroll through nearby Belmont’s Daniel Stowe Garden illuminated nightly beginning at 5 p.m. with over half a million lights. A new display of Christmas trees includes a 30-foot-tall Norway spruce, and, in the Great Hall, the 16-foot Orchid Tree is decorated with more than 300 orchids. On weekends and selected nights, Santa visits Daniel Stowe, along with live entertainment and a cash bar. You can tour the garden by a free tram Monday through Wednesday evenings, or by horse-drawn carriages (extra fee) Thursdays through Sundays. Other holiday activities include model train displays, free nature-based holiday crafts for kids, caroling and fire pits for making s’mores. Holiday events with separate fees include Santa’s workshops, holiday teas and a class on photographing holiday lights.

Related: A Guide To The Holiday Lights At The Garden

The Nutcracker
Blumenthal Performing Arts Center
130 N. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
(704) 372-1000

Dates: December 13-22, 2013.

Christmas wouldn’t be complete without a visit with Clara, the Mouse King and the Nutcracker Prince. The Blumenthal hosts the N.C. Dance Theatre’s annual production with choreography by the company’s artistic director Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, a cast of over 100 dancers and the Charlotte Symphony performing Tchaikovsky’s classic score live. For a less traditional version, catch “Clara’s Trip,” a contemporary retelling of “The Nutcracker” story featuring aerial dance by Caroline Calouche & Co., at the Blumenthal from December 20-21. Several other area companies also perform the beloved ballet during the holiday season, including the Charlotte Youth Ballet (Dec. 6-8) and the Matthews Ballet (Dec. 7-8), both featuring young dancers who bring charming enthusiasm to the stage.

Speedway Christmas
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Parkway S.
Concord, NC 28027
(704) 455-3200

Dates: Through December 30, 2013

Drive through one of the nation’s largest light displays at Charlotte Motor Speedway. More than three million LED lights in over 800 displays line the 3.1-mile route, which winds through the speedway campus before entering the speedway itself where guests drive around the famous 1.5-mile oval experiencing a winter wonderland of lights. In the infield, the Christmas Village (open Thursday through Sunday evenings) offers visits with Santa, food and drink, marshmallow roasting, camel rides, a gift shop and a festival of decorated trees. The Bethlehem Nativity scene, with live actors and animals, brings the spirit of Christmas to life.

Related: A Guide to the Carolina Christmas at the Charlotte Motor Speedway

With 15 years of experience covering restaurants in Charlotte and the Carolinas, and two regional guidebooks under her belt, Renee Wright examines the dining scene with enthusiasm plus a deep knowledge of food trends and outstanding local eating ops. Her work can be found at

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