By Stephanie Stebbing

November 9th. This was the first day of 2018 that Christmas music was played through the speakers at my office. Why, you ask, most likely jaw-dropped and appalled at the audacity bomb I’ve just dropped? Because it was my birthday, and I could be merry and bright if I wanted to. Yeah, in a Buddy the Elf vs. The Grinch world, I’m definitely a Buddy.

And in the spirit of spreading some of Buddy’s Christmas cheer, here are my 14 favorite things to do around Charlotte/Lake Norman to celebrate Christmas and the winter season. Merry Christmas!

Trans-Siberian Orchestra | Spectrum Center

Dec. 8th at 3pm and 7:30pm
Admission: $47.50

Weihnachtsmarkt | The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

A German-inspired Christmas market with over 60 vendors and LOTS of beer. Santa will appear on Dec. 15, 2-5pm.
Open Dec. 1, Dec. 7-8, and Dec. 15-16. Friday hours are 4-9pm and Saturday hours are 2-9pm.
Admission: FREE!

Old Mecklenburg Brewery

Courtesy of Facebook page.

Charlotte Symphony – Magic of Christmas | Knight Theater

Dec. 14-16 and Dec. 21-23, times vary
Admission: Starting at $19

A Christmas Story Musical | Ovens Auditorium

One of the classics. Remember watching it on repeat for 24 hours every Christmas Eve and never getting sick of it? Now you can watch it in real life. And with singing, no less.
Dec. 4-9, times vary
Admission: Starting at $25

Outdoor Ice Skating in Uptown | NASCAR Hall of Fame

Charlotte’s ONLY outdoor ice skating rink.
Open now through Jan. 6, 2019, hours and days vary
Admission: Starting at $12

Holidays at the Garden | Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Everything that is Christmas, you’ll find here, including festive displays, tons of lights, holiday shopping, crackling fires for warming and/or roasting marshmallows, warm beverages, model trains, plus live music, and more.
Open now through Jan. 6, 2019, open daily from 5-9pm
Admission: Starting at $8.95

Daneil Stowe Botanical

Visit Santa Claus and grab a photo at the Garden Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays through Dec. 20 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. (free with Holidays at the Garden admission)! Mrs. Claus is here reading stories Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays from 6 to 8 p.m. And if you’re looking for professional photos with Santa, register for Capture the Magic on Mondays!  Courtesy of Facebook page.

Charlotte European Christmas Village | Corner of 7th and N. Tryon

Enjoy entertainment, specialty foods and drinks, and holiday shopping from tons of vendors within cheerfully decorated Christmas displays and lights.
Open now daily through Christmas Eve, times vary depending on the day
Admission: FREE!

Speedway Christmas | Charlotte Motor Speedway

Drive-through light show with over 3.5 million lights as well as a Christmas classics movie drive-in, Christmas village with a Ferris wheel, photos with Santa, food, games, and fire pits for s’mores roasting and warming.
Open now through December 31, times and dates vary depending on activity
Admission: Prices vary

Santa Run 8k and Snowman Dash | Romare Bearden Park

A fun run for the family with prizes and hats, and free hot cocoa. Choose to be Santa, an elf, reindeer, or snowman.
Dec. 15th. Santa Run begins at 9am. Snowman Dash begins at 10:15am.
Admission: $45 for Santa Run, $25 for Snowman Dash

Ugly Christmas Sweater Bar Crawl | Plaza Midwood

Voted one of the most fun and well-organized holiday crawls by Yelp 2017. Admission includes an ugly Christmas tee, koozie, and discounted themed drinks at various stops. Enjoy a a DJ playing fun holiday music, professional photographers, and a registration party to get things started.
Dec. 8, 2-10pm
Admission: $22

The Polar Express Train Ride | Spencer, NC

One of the only holiday activities you can do without having to take the time to get dressed up and make the kids presentable. Come in your pjs and enjoy a 70-minute interactive train ride set to the music from the classic movie, with hot cocoa and cookies being served aboard the train as well as a few fun gifts along the way. Plus singing, dancing, and a reading of the book.
Dec. 1-2, Dec. 7-9, and Dec. 13-22; rides, 4-8:30pm
Admission: Standard Adult, $38; Standard Child, $32; Deluxe Adult, $48; Deluxe Child, $42.

Carowinds Winterfest | Carowinds

Over 5-million lights, a 70-foot tree, festive displays, plus live shows and performers throughout the park. There will also be fun holiday activities for the kids, holiday-themed food and drinks, and up to 24 rides open.
Open now through Dec. 31, times vary
Admission: Adults, $26-35; Kids and Seniors, $24

Gingerbread Lane | The Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge

A fun gingerbread house competition for everyone from kids to professionals. Something a little different from the usual light displays–a fun stroll through town to see these impressive works of art.
Dec. 6-26, anytime
Admission: FREE! Visitors can make $1 votes for their favorite houses and proceeds will benefit Levine Children’s Hospital.

Charlotte Ballet’s Nutcracker | Belk Theater

Dec. 7-23, multiple show times
Admission: prices vary


Stephanie is a marketing assistant with LePage|Johnson Realty Group, LLC in Lake Norman.