This time of year we often feel like we don’t have enough time. The calendar reminds us every day there are so few days left in 2023. As soon as we emerge from our Thanksgiving feast haze we start rushing around decking the halls, buying gifts, attending school functions, addressing cards, going to work parties, neighborhood parties, cookie-swap parties… but wait! Don’t forget to slow down and really savor the season. Whew. Enjoying this magical time of year can really be a lot of work.
Whether you’re looking for a holiday-themed cocktail, a place to take the family or a way to give back, we curated a few ideas to help you navigate this joyous season.
Holiday date night
Put down the to-do list and enjoy a festive night out with your honey.
Rosie’s Coffee & Wine Garden is a charming little oasis in between Uptown Charlotte and NoDa. The rose garden is decorated in twinkling lights for the holidays and there are plenty of little spots to enjoy a glass of wine or tea and a sweet treat. Visiting the garden is free. You can buy drinks and snacks there or bring your own.
Visit one of the holiday pop-up bars in Charlotte. The BackStage Lounge in South End requires a password to get in (hint: they post in on Instagram). It’s totally decked out in Christmas decorations and features more than 12 festive cocktails. The Royal Tot in the Belmont neighborhood has a Sippin’ Santa pop-up bar. According to Charlotte’s Got A Lot, you can sip tiki-style cocktails in the decorated bar or on the rooftop next to a fire pit gazing at the Uptown skyline. Tinseltown at Billy Sunday in Optimist Park features cocktails named for classic holiday movie lines, including “Be Sure to Drink your Ovaltine” and “Son of a Nutcracker.” You can also have s’mores by an outdoor fire pit.
Holiday family outing
Grab your coats and pile the family in the SUV, there are so many fun things to do around Charlotte this time of year. Here are a few popular events.
Stroll through the Carolina Holiday Light Spectacular at Ballantyne’s Backyard. This place is a feast for the senses. There are more than one million lights and displays on a half-mile walking trail. New this year, all paths are concrete, decked or gravel, safe for strollers and wheelchairs. There’s music, oversized snowglobes, hundreds of decorated trees, a snow tube slide and interactive magical wand elements throughout. Check out the website for the food truck schedule and to buy tickets in advance. It’s even open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The Light the Knights Festival is now open at Truist Field in Uptown. There’s something for everyone here, including an NHL-sized outdoor rink where you can ice skate and even learn how to play hockey. The popular 150-foot snow tubing hill has more lanes this year. While the adventurous ones in the family do that, you can grab a drink, stroll through the holiday lights walkthrough, enjoy a choreographed light show set to holiday music and shop the Market. An assortment of local businesses will be set up in the outfield, selling trinkets, baked goods, clothing and more.
Holiday giving back
There’s so much to be thankful for, the holidays often inspire us to give our time and money to others less fortunate. The Charlotte Ledger recently asked its readers to share their favorite local charities and what makes them special. You can read the full list, but here are a few worthy organizations.
InReach: This organization provides a wide variety of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. They focus on each individual’s unique needs to provide the right support at the right time.
Roof Above: Providing shelter, meals, laundry, showers, transportation and more, this interfaith charity helps more than 1,200 people a day. In addition to providing emergency needs, they help people achieve permanent housing.
Theatre Gap Initiative: This organization helps high school graduates overcome hurdles to realize their dreams of a professional career in theatre. It’s a rigorous program that promises to help, “America’s next generation of Black and Brown actors, musicians, playwrights and directors.” The goal is to help them successfully apply to Bachelor of Fine Arts programs.
Here are some fun places to get the gifts you need that are unique to the Queen City.
Mistletoe Market happens at Camp North End the first three Saturdays in December. It’s more than just holiday shopping; it’s an experience. There are shops across all 76 acres, ice skating, musical performances, art activities, and plenty of food and drinks. There will be festive decorations and many photo ops.
Visiting Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Christmas market is like stepping into a festive little town in Germany. There are more than 140 vendors, fire pits, music and lots to eat and drink. Adults can enjoy Yule Bock holiday beer and Christmas cocktails. Kids can sip on hot chocolate and get their photo taken with Santa.
Show off your Charlotte pride with a gift from the 704 Shop. This local business was founded by three former UNC Charlotte roommates. They have exclusive collections featuring the Charlotte FC and the Charlotte 49ers as well as clothing and hats with the Charlotte crown and 704 area code. You can shop online, in person and even at a pop-up in Charlotte Douglas International Airport.