Where to find free food, drinks and swag today as the light rail extension opens

Photo illustration for Light Rail Drinking story for CLT cover.

The new Blue Line extension is finally open today beginning at 10 a.m., and running from the University area though NoDa and into Uptown. From ribbon cuttings, to performances by Hugo and the Honeybees and some live music, the city is celebrating the 11 new stops along the light rail.

Here are a few ways you can join in on those celebrations and some places offering discounts along the way.

At UNC Charlotte Main Station

UNC Charlotte’s Blue Line Extension Grand Opening Celebration
9:30-11 a.m.

via UNCC’s Instagram

University is starting the celebration with a ribbon cutting, free food, drinks and t-shirts. The ribbon cutting will take place at 10:03 a.m., with the first train leaving at 10:06 a.m. heading to UNC Charlotte’s Center City Festival. Get there early, as UNCC is expecting more than a thousand people at this celebration.

At Ninth Street Station (UNC Charlotte Center City)

UNC Charlotte’s Center City Festival
10 a.m. – noon

A post shared by UNC Charlotte (@unccharlotte) on

UNC Charlotte Center City is partnering with Center City Partners, Google Fiber and 7th Street Market to offer free food, drinks and swag bags. There will also be DJs and local vendors on the back lawn. The party continues through First Ward Park to Google Fiber (301 E Seventh St) for games, vendors and a virtual reality tour of Charlotte. It finishes up at 7th Street Public Market for more food and drinks, plus some local retailers. The first 100 UNCC students receive $5 in Market Bucks, which can be used at 7th Street Market.

At 36th Street Station

NoDa celebrates
10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

This will be NoDa’s grand opening celebration. Novel NoDa, Smelly Cat Coffee, Reigning Doughnuts and Amelie’s will start your morning off right with free coffee and pastries. Around 10:25 a.m., there will be a brief ribbon cutting and the first ride by CATS and the NoDa Neighborhood Association.

via Reigning Dougnuts’ Instagram

From 10 – 11 a.m., the Honeybees, the dance team for the Charlotte Hornets, will be making a special appearance. From 5:15-6:15 p.m., the Honeybees will be back with Hugo, the Hornets’ well-known mascot.

From 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., guests will be able to partake in some food trucks and NoDa brewery tents. Some of the vendors will include My Sausage Buddy, Fish and Chips Charlotte, Free Range Brewery, Birdsong Brewery, Heist Brewery, Wooden Robot Brewery and Salud Cerveceria.

via Sausage Buddy’s Instagram

There will also be live music from 3-10 p.m. The opening band will be See Water (3-6 p.m.), followed by Swim in The Wild (6-10 p.m.).

East/West Blvd. Station

Special Food Truck Friday
5-11 p.m.

via Sycamore’s Instagram

Get off at the East/West Blvd. Station and swing by Sycamore Brewing (2161 Hawkins St) for a special Food Truck Friday light rail extension celebration. There will be food trucks, live music, craft beer, wine and cider.

Become a member of Uptown’s mysterious coffee spot

Uptown’s secretive coffee shop, Subsecreto (325 E. Ninth St.), is also offering Blue Line extension day deals. The first 31 customers who show their light rail ticket will be given free membership pins. These pins give you membership discounts, including 10 percent off on coffee orders.  After that, membership pins can be bought for just $10, down from the typical $13. Subsecreto will also be serving free 8 oz. batch/drip coffee from 7-9 a.m. and 4-6 p.m.

Photos: Charlotte Observer files, Katie Toussaint 


  1. Wonderful information, I am looking forward to using the Blue line for my mode of transportation, I enjoyed reading all about it and where it will take me. And what a party! Combine that with the student pass! Amazing.


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