The Charlotte region is a wonderful destination for holiday travel, whether you come to visit friends and family or just to enjoy the many holiday attractions in the city. Holiday concerts and theatrical performances, displays of lights, parades, tree lightings and numerous other festive events crowd the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. And, if your favorite activity is shopping, Charlotte has some of the best in the South, ranging from high-end malls with nationally known stores such as Neiman-Marcus and Macy’s to locally owned shops and markets offering one-of-a-kind objects. For some don’t-miss attractions to interest every member of the family, see our related story “Guide For Thanksgiving Weekend Visitors To Charlotte.”
Where To Stay
Charlotte has several destination hotels where the holidays are celebrated with special style. Choose one of these properties for your stay, and the festivities will come to you.
The Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge
10000 Ballantyne Commons Parkway
Charlotte, NC 28277
Charlotte’s premiere resort pulls out all of the stops for the holiday season with lots of special events, including Ballantyne’s famous Thanksgiving and Christmas brunch buffets and sit-down dinners in the four-star Gallery Restaurant, Charlotte’s only establishment to earn this prestigious award from Forbes, plus afternoon teas, hot toddies in the lobby, wine tastings and more. The hotel’s elegant decorations feature the annual Gingerbread Lane competition, with local professional and amateur chefs presenting their finest confectionary creations. Just across the street, Ballantyne Village offers numerous dining, shopping and entertainment options.
Great Wolf Lodge Concord
10175 Weddington Road
Concord, NC 28027
If your holidays are all about the kids, head for the kid-oriented Great Wolf Lodge where the annual Snowland event brings Santa’s Village to life and you can dine inside a real gingerbread cottage. Amenities include many activities for kids including the North Pole University with visits to Santa, the Scoops Kids Spa, MagiQuest, family dance parties and the kids-only Cub Club, plus the hotel’s unique indoor water park. Families can book Wolf Den, KidKamp or KidCabin suites where kids get a private cave to sleep in equipped with a flat screen TV. The Great Wolf Lodge is conveniently located in between the great shopping and entertainment options of Concord Mills, home of the Disney Store and Sea Life Aquarium, and the Speedway Christmas drive-through light show at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Related: Guide To A Long Weekend In Charlotte
Where To Eat
The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte
201 E. Trade St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
What could be more festive than a shop dedicated to chocolate? This cafe in the Ritz-Carlton offers decadent desserts and delightful gifts made in the adjacent Cocoa Lab. Be sure to have a cup of hot chocolate (or a cocktail) in the lobby of the Ritz, specially decorated by the culinary staff every holiday season. Past years have featured an edible full-size gingerbread house, a sleigh pulled by chocolate reindeer and an eight-foot tree made of French macarons.
7th Street Public Market
224 E. 7th St.
Charlotte, NC 28202
This market in the Center City is one of Charlotte’s favorite places to grab a bite or shop for local foods. The building is filled with delicious dining options including a creperie, sushi bar, organic pizza stand, bakery, cheese shop, chocolatier, wine bar, coffee shop and raw juice bar all under one roof. You’ll also find a beer bar pouring 12 taps of local brews, locally grown produce, a top-quality butcher and shops offering eco-conscious gifts. The market is adjacent to the LYNZ light rail line and also validates parking in the deck above it.
What To Do
Christmas at the Library
Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC 28217
Date: Dec. 1-23, 2014
This Christian-themed attraction goes all out during the holiday season, hosting a live nativity scene, caroling, a petting zoo, a holiday light display and horse-drawn carriage rides. In addition, you can take a free tour of the Graham Library and enjoy holiday goodies including hot apple cider, Mother Graham’s pound cake and cinnamon rolls in the Dairy Bar. Make reservations to have a holiday meal here, Thursday through Saturday. The Library is open daily, except for Sundays, with Christmas events beginning at 5 p.m., December 1 through December 23, 2014. Most of the festivities, including parking, are free.
Christmas Town U.S.A.
McAdenville, NC 28101
Date: Dec. 1-26, 2014
Celebrating its 59th year in 2014, the McAdenville holiday light display is famous around the world, earning this little mill village just southwest of Charlotte on I-85 the title of Christmas Town U.S.A. Beginning with just nine trees in 1956, the display has grown into nearly 400 decorated trees, a live nativity scene and many more decorations spread throughout the village and surrounding the town lake. People travel many miles to drive or walk the route, which is free for all. The tradition begins with the lighting of the town tree on December 1 and continues every night through December 26, the day after Christmas.
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 Examiner.com.