20 things to do Thanksgiving weekend, from turkey trots to tree lightings

Photo courtesy of the Charlotte Observer

Are you spending Thanksgiving at home in Charlotte? Or are you visiting someone else here in our dear city? Either way, there are plenty of fun festivities going on Thursday through Sunday to help you celebrate the holiday season:

Thursday, Nov. 22 (Thanksgiving Day)


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30th Anniversary Charlotte SouthPark Turkey Trot

8:30 – 11:30 a.m. Registration starts at $30. SouthPark Mall, 4400 Sharon Rd.

For three decades, the Charlotte SouthPark Turkey Trot has been a local Thanksgiving Day tradition. You and your loves ones can sign up for the 8K, the 5K, the one mile or the 26.2 yard “tot trot” this year — or you can register for the “TUFF Turkey Challenge” to run both the 8K and the 5K. Find out more and register here.

Turkey Dash 2018

8:30 – 11:30 a.m. Registration starts at $29. 8410 Rea Rd. 

Back for its sixth year, South Charlotte’s “Turkey Trot” is the perfect way to get your blood pumping before your Thanksgiving meal. Run or walk either four miles or one mile and you’ll feel way less guilty having that second slice of pie. Plus, proceeds benefit Beds for Kids, a Charlotte-based nonprofit that provides essential furniture and other necessities to families in transition. Learn more or register here.

University City Turkey Trot

8 – 11 a.m. Registration starts at $20. 3024 Prosperity Church Rd. 

“Wake. Run. Feast.” How can you argue with that? The University City Turkey Trot is back for its fifth anniversary. Whatever your age or speed may be, take part in this 5K run or walk on Thanksgiving morning. Register ASAP to make sure you snag your turkey t-shirt.

2018 Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade

9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Free (or pay $25 in advance to reserve VIP seats along Tryon St.). Uptown Charlotte.

The Charlotte Thanksgiving Parade has been around since 1947. 71 years later, it’s grown immensely — you can look forward to an incredible event this year featuring 17 floats, 13 marching bands, eight larger-than-life balloons and much more. Plus, there will be appearances from Miss North Carolina, the cast of Carowinds’ Winterfest and Santa himself. It’s free to watch the parade Uptown, or you can pay $25 in advance (or $30 day-of) to reserve a VIP seat along Tryon St. Details here.

Charlotte Christmas Village

Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Eve. Open daily at 11 a.m. Free. 7th St. and N. Tryon St. 

It may currently feel impossible that the holiday season is just around the corner, but after you’re done eating your Thanksgiving dinner, chances are you’ll be ready to start decking the halls. Kick off the season with a visit to the Charlotte Christmas Village, Uptown’s own quaint European-inspired market from Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. Look forward to sipping mulled wine, visiting Santa, enjoying specialty foods like glazed nuts and strudels, playing themed trivia, listening to holiday music and more. Find out more here.

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

Friday, Nov. 23 


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WinterFest at Carowinds

Weekends Nov. 23 through Jan. 1, 2019. Carowinds, 14523 Carowinds Blvd. Tickets start at $26.

Carowinds will be transformed into a winter wonderland complete with more than 5 million twinkling lights, a 70-foot Christmas tree and gorgeous holiday decorations as far as the eye can see. Enjoy live performances, hands-on holiday activities and other forms of festive fun, along with holiday dishes and desserts. More details here.

Free Christmas Trees (with a donation to Toys for Tots) at South End Station

Nov. 23 – 24, 12 – 6 p.m. South End Station, 200 E Bland St. Free.

Bring three unwrapped toys or a $25 donation for Toys for Tots to South End Station this Friday or Saturday, and you’ll get a Christmas tree as a reward for your good deed! Any trees left at the end of the day will be donated to families in need. Find out more here.

Black Friday Blowout at Resident Culture

12 – 11 p.m. Resident Culture Brewing Company, 2101 Central Ave. Free.

Resident Culture Brewing Company will be opening their doors early at noon with $6 prosecco and mimosas all day long. The Dumpling Lady will be there 3 p.m. through dinner time, DJ Jamie Overcash will be spinning jams, there will be an archive can drop from Brewer’s Stash (pending availability) and you can take 25% off all Resident Culture merch. Sound like fun? Learn more here.

‘A Mile Of A Million Lights’ at Holidays at the Garden

Nov. 23 – Jan. 6. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Hours and ticket prices here.

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—that’s what holidays are made of at ‘A Mile Of A Million Lights’ at Holidays at the Garden.

Hoppy Holidays Release at NoDa Brewing

12 – 10 p.m. NoDa Brewing, 2921 N. Tryon St. Free.

You know it’s officially the holiday season once NoDa Brewing releases the “Hoppy Holidays” IPA. Stop by to try this medium-bodied beer with hints of spruce and pine, grab food from the TIN Kitchen, take a free tour of the brewery at 6 p.m. and enjoy live music starting at 7 p.m. Details here.

Saturday, Nov. 24 


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South End Small Business Saturday

11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Historic South End. Free.

Make your way around town combatting big business by shopping small in South End. Kick off your holiday shopping season by perusing local shops, restaurants and breweries in South End at three different one-day-only pop-up markets, featuring local and handmade businesses. Find the three festival hubs at Camden Road (at W. Worthington Ave.), 2525 Distribution Street and Lincoln Street (between Church and S. Mint).

Small Business Saturday

1 p.m. – 6 p.m., Lenny Boy Brewing, 3000 S. Tryon Street. Free.

Unwind from the craziness of Black Friday at Lenny Boy Brewing by shopping small and local at this event curated by Starving Artist Market CLT. With 10+ vendors, kombucha and craft beer on tap, do as they’ve suggested and “spend the day with people who make you happy.”

Shop Local Saturday

1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Bold Missy Brewery, 601 Anderson Street. Free.

Partnering with Queen City Makers, shop small at Bold Missy Brewery. Queen City Makers put on a great show with talented vendors. Grab a pretzel and a strong-female-inspired brew.

Run For Your Espresso with Dunkin’

10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Dunkin’, 701 S. Kings Dr. Free.

Lace up your running shoes and take a one- or three-mile run down the Little Sugar Creek Greenway near Freedom Park. Then fuel back up after you’re done with free Dunkin’ espresso and donuts, as well as free Dunkin’ gift cards and swag. Sounds too good to be true, but you can sign up for free yourself right here.

Winter Wonderland Holiday Market

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Anne Springs Close Greenway, 104 Adventure Rd. Fort Mill, SC. Free for Greenway members and children under 14; $5 entry fee for non-members.

Shop more than 150 artists and crafters from the greater Charlotte area for unique holiday gifts and decorations, including pottery, jewelry, quilts, handbags, woodwork, candles and more. There will also be live music, and you can even enjoy a “Sip & Shop” bar on the grounds, where you’ll find hard cider, wine and beer from 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Tree Lighting at the NASCAR Hall of Fame

5 – 8 p.m. NASCAR Hall of Fame, 400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Free.

The whole Charlotte community is invited Uptown to watch the NASCAR Hall of Fame tree come to life with twinkling holiday lights. Festivities start at 5 p.m. (including rides, games and more), and the tree lighting itself will happen at approximately 7:15 p.m. More details can be found here.

Pie & Cider Pairing at Red Clay Ciderworks

7:30 – 9 p.m. Red Clay Ciderworks, 245 Clanton Rd. $19 per person.

Still in the mood for pie? Join cider maker Jay Bradish and baking scientist Monica Nye, PhD for four unique pie and hard cider pairings, each with their own unique seasonal flair. Find out more (and get your tickets) here.

Annual Tree Lighting at The Ballantyne

5 – 6:30 p.m. The Ballantyne, 10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy. Free.

Ooh and ahh as The Ballantyne lights up the magnificent (and massive) tree in their lobby. Hang out to enjoy Christmas carols, hot chocolate, cider and cookies, and even visit with Santa — all for free! More information here.

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

Sunday, Nov. 25


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Hot Stuff Pop-Up Market: Holiday Edition

11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Petra’s, 1919 Commonwealth Avenue. Free.

Explore what Charlotte has to offer at Plaza Midwood’s “best little pop-up.” Taking place at Petra’s Bar, this Sunday afternoon market is just what the doctor ordered. Check out Thrift MagnetPenninyayFjord13 Specimen and others for all your gift-giving needs (and of course, sip a Bloody Mary or mimosa while you shop). When you’ve worked up an appetite, you can grab some food from Lady Go-Go’s food truck.

Tailgate for GOOD with Roaring Riot for #GivingTuesdayCLT

10 a.m. Roaring Riot Tailgate. $10 donation.

Every home game, the Roaring Riot hosts Tailgate With a Purpose, the city’s largest not-for-profit tailgate party where 100% of the net proceeds benefit various charity partners.  While typically these events are only open to Roaring Riot members (and their guests), in the spirit of #GivingTuesdayCLT, this tailgate is open to all — and non-members are just asked to make a $10 donation to join the fun. Look forward to cold beverages, food from local vendors and your chance to win Two Club Level tickets to Sunday’s game.



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