Top 10 things you MUST do in December

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Oh, the weather outside is… well, it’s fine, because we’re in North Carolina. But it is getting a little chilly in the mornings and evenings, which is how you know winter has officially arrived in the South! Celebrate the season with these must-do festivities in December:

(1) See the trees glow and fountains sparkle at ‘Holidays at the Garden.’

Now through January 6. $12.95 in advance, $14.95 at the door. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, 6500 S. New Hope Rd., Belmont.

Just a 30 minute drive from Uptown Charlotte, ring in the holiday season with a million twinkling lights, colorful holiday displays set to music, steaming cups of hot chocolate (or a glass of wine or beer), marshmallows roasting over an open fire, visits from Santa, food galore, activities for the kids, carolers and more. Details and tickets here.

[RELATED: Celebrate the season with ‘A Mile Of A Million Lights’ at Holidays at the Garden, Nov. 23 through Jan. 6]

(2) Head Uptown to skate under twinkling lights at ‘Holiday on Ice.’

Now through Jan. 7. Hours vary; check their calendar. $14. NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza, 400 E. MLK Jr. Blvd.

 

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Holiday on Ice is back! Head Uptown to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza to experience this outdoor ice skating rink for yourself. Admission is just $10 if you bring your own skates or $14 including skate rental. More details here.

[RELATED: 14 winter date ideas for every kind of couple, from hockey games to holiday markets]

(3) Cheer on your team at the ACC Championship Game.

Saturday, Dec. 1. Bank of America Stadium, 800 S. Mint St. 

Charlotte will welcome the Dr. Pepper ACC Football Championship game this Saturday, December 1 at Bank of America Stadium, where the Clemson Tigers will take on the Pittsburgh Panthers. From FanFest to Tailgate Central, we’ve got all the information you need to know about the weekend’s festivities right here.

(4) Party it up at Charlotte’s 250th Birthday Celebration.

Monday, Dec. 3, 11:30 – 1:30 p.m. Free. Uptown Charlotte, the Square at Trade and Tryon St.

The Queen City is turning 250 years old, so it’s time to celebrate! You can enjoy fun activities at libraries, schools and the Square at Trade and Tryon St. And don’t worry, there will be cake! More details here.

(5) Shop local artisans (and drink seasonal beers) at OMB’s German-inspired Weihnachtsmarkt.

Dec. 7 – 8 and Dec. 14 – 15, 4 – 9 p.m. Free. The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, 4150 Yancey Rd. 

 

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For the seventh year, The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery’s Weihnachstmarkt (i.e. Christmas Market) is back to kick off the holiday season! With more than 45 local vendors to shop from – some of whom will be selling goods from traditional wooden huts – as well as seasonal beer (including winter seasonal brews, Dunkel & Yule Bock) and mulled red wine to enjoy, this massive winter market will have you feeling festive in no time. Get more details here.

[RELATED: Shop local at these 25 can’t-miss holiday markets now through December]

(6) See the Charlotte Ballet perform ‘The Nutcracker’ at Belk Theater.

Dec. 7 – 23. Performance times vary. Tickets start at $25. Belk Theater, 130 N. Tryon St.

Ooh and ahh over choreography by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and music from the Charlotte Symphony at the Charlotte Ballet’s breathtaking performance of ‘The Nutcracker.’ The show premiered with totally new sets and costumes in 2016 for an even more marvelous holiday experience that makes for the perfect family outing or date night. Get your tickets here.

(7) Get a Christmas card-worthy photo of your pup(s) with Santa at Lucky Dog Charlotte.

Saturday, Dec. 1 and Saturday, Dec. 8, 12 – 4 p.m. Free. Lucky Dog Charlotte, 2220 Thrift Rd.

TWO chances to get adorable and festive photos of dogs with Santa, all for a good cause? We’re in. Make a donation to Carolina Big Hearts Big Barks Rescue, and you’ll get your pup’s photo taken with Santa. Plus, Lucky Dog will be donating 10 percent of bar sales on the days of each of these two events back to CBHBB — so even the beers you drink while you’re there contribute to a good cause. Details here.

[RELATED: 30 places you can bring your kids (or dogs) to get photos with Santa this season]

(8) Race as Santa, an elf, a reindeer or a snowman at the annual Santa Run 8K & Snowman Dash.

Saturday, Dec. 15, 9 a.m. Tickets start at $25. Romare Bearden Park, 300 S. Church St.

 

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This annual Uptown race has returned for its third year. Registration for this festive race includes a shirt and a Santa hat, Elf hat, Snowman hat or Reindeer antlers to get you into the holiday spirit. Run the Santa 8K or the one-mile Snowman Dash, then stick around Romare Bearden Park after you’ve finished the race for free hot chocolate, great giveaways and more. Find out more and register for the race here.

[RELATED: 17 races you can sign up to run from now through New Year’s]

(9) Chow down on unlimited chili at the 5th Annual Chili Cook Off at Unknown Brewing.

Sunday, Dec. 16, 2 – 6 p.m. $10. Unknown Brewing, 1327 S. Mint St.

Dozens of amateur chili cooks in the Queen City will compete for the title of Charlotte Chili Cookoff Champion 2018. Help determine who will win this year’s competition by showing up and tasting unlimited chili samples for $10, then voting on your favorite chili after you’ve tasted them all. Learn more here.

[RELATED: 15 free outdoor fall and winter activities in Charlotte, from hitting the trails to holiday markets]

(10) Cheer on the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium as they take on the Saints, then the Falcons.

Monday, Dec. 17 at 8:15 p.m. and Sunday Dec. 23 at 1 p.m. Tickets start at $59. Bank of America Stadium, 800 S. Mint St. 

Whether you opt for a good old fashioned tailgate or you stop somewhere near the stadium for food and drinks before the game, just make sure you eat something so that by kickoff you’re energized and ready to cheer on the Panthers to victory.

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