Charlotte Area Christmas Events: A Festive Guide

Nicole Leininger December 5, 2023

The Charlotte, North Carolina, area transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. The city’s streets are adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations, you can feel the festive spirit all around. From traditional celebrations to unique experiences, Christmas events in Charlotte, NC capture the magic of the season.
The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and community spirit. And North Carolina’s real expert, Nicole Leininger, is ready to introduce you to Christmas events in the greater Charlotte Area NC as the spirit comes alive and brings people together.

Importance of Christmas Events

The greater Charlotte Area Christmas events offer a blend of traditional celebrations and unique experiences, ensuring that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking the warmth of familiar customs or the thrill of discoveries, the Greater Charlotte Area’s festive offerings will fill your heart with the season’s spirit.
So, come to the greater Charlotte Area this holiday season and immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant Christmas spirit. From parades and markets to shows and lights, there’s something for everyone to create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. 

Holiday Markets Kick-off

As the weather cools and the days grow shorter, the greater Charlotte area comes alive with the festive spirit of the holiday season. A sure sign of the season’s arrival is the opening of the city’s many holiday markets and the greater Charlotte area Christmas events, where visitors can find unique gifts, delicious treats, and heartwarming experiences.

OMB Christmas Market

The OMB Christmas Market, held at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, is a beloved the greater Charlotte Area tradition dating back over a decade. This authentic German-style holiday features over 150 vendors selling handcrafted gifts, traditional holiday ornaments, and delectable food and drinks. Visitors can enjoy live music, fire pits, and traditional architecture. Bring the kids to this Christmas market, running from November 24 to  November 26.
  • Dates: Weekend 3: Saturday, Dec. 9th Weekend 4: Saturday, Dec. 16th 
  • Time: 2 PM – 5 PM
  • Location: Old Mecklenburg Brewery
  • Cost: Free

Mistletoe Market 2023

The Mistletoe Market 2023, held at Camp North End, is another beloved tradition of the greater Charlotte Area. This annual market features the annual Reindog Parade, holiday art activities, and musical performances by performers such as DJ Micki Blendz. Visitors can also enjoy food, drinks, and a show, as they will be hosting “A Christmas Story”.
  • Dates: December 2, 9, and 16  
  • Time: 3 PM – 8 PM
  • Location: Camp North End
  • Cost: –
  • Website: Official Website 

Family-Friendly Activities

The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and creating lasting memories. In the greater Charlotte Area, there are countless opportunities to enjoy the festive spirit with your loved ones, from heartwarming traditions to exciting adventures. Here are some family-friendly Christmas events in the greater Charlotte Area NC that will make your holiday season extra special:

Polar Express Train

Embark on a magical journey aboard the Polar Express Train, a captivating experience inspired by the beloved children’s book. Set against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, this interactive train ride takes you through a winter wonderland, where you’ll encounter dancing waiters, singing chefs, and, of course, Santa Claus himself. Children will receive their very own gifts such as blankets or plushie toys as a keepsake to cherish for years to come.
  • Dates: November 9th – December 31th
  • Time: Time slots available: 5:00 pm, 6:40 pm, 8:20 pm
  • Location: Bryson City, NC
  • Cost: $44 – $99
  • Website: Official Website

Santa At Birkdale Village

No holiday season is complete without a visit to Santa Claus. Santa, at Birkdale Village, makes his grand entrance in a festive horse-drawn carriage, ready to hear children’s wishes and spread holiday cheer. Capture the magic of the season with a heartwarming photo with Santa, a treasured memory you reminisce on.
  • Dates: Now  – December 24th
  • Time: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays: 10 am – 6 pm (special dates available)
  • Location: Birkdale Village
  • Cost: $45

Christmas Parades

As the holiday season approaches, the charm of the Christmas lights spreads far and wide, illuminating the waterways of Lake Norman in a dazzling spectacle. These parades capture the essence of the season and transform the serene lake into a shimmering canvas of holiday magic.

LKN Lighted Boat Parade

The LKN Lighted Boat Parade has become a cherished tradition in the greater Charlotte Area. This beloved tradition transforms the lake into a floating wonderland, captivating the hearts of spectators young and old. The parade embarks on its enchanting journey at Blythe Landing, where boats gather in anticipation of their illuminated debut. As nightfall arrives, the parade sets sail, weaving its way through the captivating coves and waterways of Lake Norman. Read all about the Lake Norman Christmas Boat Parade here
  • Date: December 16th
  • Time: 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
  • Location: Lake Norman
  • Cost: Free
  • Website: Official Website

Nighttime Spectacles

As the sun sets and the stars emerge, the greater Charlotte Area’s nighttime spectacles come alive, transforming the city into a dazzling wonderland of lights, music, and merriment. These breathtaking displays capture the essence of the holiday season, inviting visitors to embark on a journey of wonder and delight.

Light The Knights Festival

Enjoy ice skating, snow tubing, shopping, holiday treats, tens of thousands of lights, decor, and more this year during Light The Knights. We can promise you, there’s no better place to look at lights than here!
  • Dates: Ends January 1st
  • Time: –
  • Location: Truist Field
  • Cost: $10 – $40

Carolina Holiday Light Spectacular

For a truly immersive experience, enjoy a magical drive-through adventure at the Carolina Holiday Light Spectacular. Over 4 million twinkling lights light up the landscape, creating a captivating journey that unfolds before your eyes. Animated displays, synchronized to music, bring the holiday story to life, while interactive elements engage visitors of all ages. Plus, kids (and adults) can enjoy the Holiday Village, the various food trucks, and the heart-racing Alpine Avalanche Snow Tube Slide. 
  • Dates: December 7th – December 30th
  • Time: Opens nightly (Time varies)
  • Location: Ballantyne
  • Cost: $10 – $30
  • Website: Official Website

Speedway Christmas

Gear up for an exhilarating drive at Speedway Christmas, where the iconic the greater Charlotte Area Motor Speedway transforms into a dazzling winter wonderland. Take in the 2.5-mile course, creating a mesmerizing spectacle that will leave you breathless. As you navigate the track, encounter animated displays, synchronized to holiday music and enjoy drive-in movies that capture the spirit of the season.
  • Dates: November 17th – January 7th
  • Time: 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Location: Main entrance: 5555 Concord Parkway, Concord, NC 28027
  • Cost: $45 – $75
  • Website: Official Website

Kannapolis Celebration of Lights

Journey to the charming town of Kannapolis and immerse yourself in the heartwarming glow of the Kannapolis Celebration of Lights. Twinkling lights sparkle across downtown, creating a magical atmosphere that will bring smiles to faces of all ages. Stroll through the beautifully decorated streets, enjoy live music performances, and savor the delights of the local shops and restaurants.
  • Dates: Now – December 30th
  • Time: Daily. Times vary for specific activities. 
  • Location: Kannapolis
  • Cost: Free, some activities have a small cost. See link
  • Website: Official Website

Tanglewood Festival of Lights

The Tanglewood Festival of Lights is a whimsical world of dazzling creatures and vibrant displays. Stroll through the forest trails, where sparkling trees, glowing animals, and captivating scenes mesmerize you. The festival also features live entertainment, refreshments, and opportunities for photos with Santa Claus, making it a perfect family outing.
  • Dates: Nov – January 1st
  • Time: 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
  • Location: Tanglewood Park
  • Cost: $20 – $118
  • Website: Official Website

Lights and Ice Skating at Whitewater Center

Embrace the winter wonderland at the Whitewater Center, where twinkling lights and exhilarating ice skating create an unforgettable experience. Glide across the ice rink, surrounded by the glow of thousands of sparkling lights. The center also offers a variety of winter activities, including festive food, and live entertainment, making it a perfect destination for a memorable winter evening.
  • Dates:  Now – mid-February.
  • Time: Varies
  • Location: Whitewater Center
  • Cost:  $25 – $149
  • Website: Official Website

Unique Celebrations

The greater Charlotte Area and its neighboring towns offer unique celebrations that add distinct touches of seasonal festivities. These events promise to unwrap the magic of Christmas in ways that resonate with the spirit of the community.

Welcome To Christmas Town USA®, McAdenville, NC

McAdenville is a small town that transforms into a Christmas wonderland every year. The town is home to millions of sparkly lights, which decorate the streets, trees, and homes. Visitors can enjoy driving through the town or taking a walk through the McAdenville Christmas Village.
  • Dates:  December 1 – December 26 
  • Time: 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Location: McAdenville
  • Cost:  –
  • Website: Official Website

Holidays at the Garden

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is a beautiful garden that is transformed into a winter wonderland during the holidays. The garden hosts a variety of events, including Enchanted Evenings in the Garden, where visitors can stroll through the garden and enjoy the lights and decorations. There is also a Christmas Village with shopping, food, and entertainment.
  • Dates:  Now – December 23rd
  • Time: Tues- Sun: 5 pm – 10:00 pm
  • Location: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
  • Cost:  $15 – $25 + tax
  • Website: Official Website

Carowinds’ Winterfest

Carowinds is a theme park that hosts a Winterfest celebration each year. The park is transformed into a winter wonderland with twinkling lights, festive decorations, and a variety of events. Visitors can enjoy rides, shows, and food. There is also a Snow Tubing Hill and a Polar Express Train Ride.
  • Dates:  Now – January 1st
  • Time: Varies
  • Location: Carowinds Park
  • Cost:  Starting at $32.99
  • Website: Official Website

Cultural Celebrations

As the holiday season descends, the greater Charlotte Area weaves together traditions, tales, and timeless stories that exceed time and borders.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical

With Christmas quickly approaching, theaters across the greater Charlotte Area come alive with the heartwarming and hilarious musical adaptation of Barbara Robinson’s beloved novel, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” This spirited production captures the true spirit of Christmas, reminding us that even the most mischievous children can teach us valuable lessons about love, acceptance, and the power of forgiveness.
  • Dates:  Now  – December 22nd
  • Time: 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm
  • Location: Imaginon
  • Cost:  $18 – $35
  • Website: Official Website

Outdoor Activities

The greater Charlotte Area offers a variety of outdoor activities for you and your family to explore. From ice skating under festive lights to enjoying festive treats and shopping at charming markets, the greater Charlotte Area’s outdoor scene is sure to bring joy to all visitors.

Birkdale On Ice

Embrace the magic of winter at Birkdale On Ice, an outdoor ice skating rink located in the heart of Birkdale Village. Glide across the rink under the glow of twinkling lights, surrounded by festive decorations and the cheerful ambiance of the holiday season. Whether you’re a seasoned skater or a curious beginner, Birkdale On Ice offers a memorable experience for all ages.
  • Dates:  November 18th  – January 28th
  • Time: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Location: Birkdale Village Plaza
  • Cost:  $18


The greater Charlotte Area’s Christmas extravaganza offers something for everyone, from traditional celebrations to unique experiences, ensuring that there is something to create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. So, come to the greater Charlotte Area this holiday season and immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant Christmas spirit.
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