Your 5-minute guide to the best things to do in Charlotte | Sept. 21-27

Chris Daughtry, shown during his Carowinds’ concert in 2015, returns to Charlotte next week.
Chris Daughtry, shown during his Carowinds’ concert in 2015, returns to Charlotte next week. tjanes@charlotteobserver.com


▪ A Charlotte tradition, Festival in the Park brings family fun and arts of all sorts to Freedom Park for its 54th year. Walkways are flanked with artists’ tents, live music can be heard from the main stage, and children with painted faces can run and play in the family fun zone and enjoy peers on the variety stage. Whether you’re there to pick up original pottery or paintings, catch the Spongetones’ Saturday set, or for NASCAR driver Kyle Petty’s Sunday appearance, there’s something interesting for everyone. 4-9:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Free.

▪ The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra kicks off its 2018-19 season with its Gala Opening Night featuring violinist Joshua Bell,who’ll perform Brahms’s “Violin Concerto.” In addition to Bell’s anticipated return, CSO celebrates Charlotte’s 250th anniversary by debuting a newly commissioned piece by composer Nkeiru Okoye in honor of the city. 7:30 p.m. Belk Theater. $49-$249.

▪ If you’ve never seen “Halloween” on the big screen, Ayrsley Grand Cinema’s Retro Horror Series gives audiences a chance to experience the scares the way John Carpenter intended. The south Charlotte movie house begins its six-week series of weekly double features with George Romero’s original “Night of the Living Dead,” followed by Italian giallo director Lucio Fulci’s 1979 gorefest “Zombi 2” (each night at 7 and 9 p.m., respectively). The series features a new theme every week through Halloween with creature features (in 3-D), spine-tinglers (“Suspiria”), teens in turmoil (“The Craft”), and comedy (“Young Frankenstein”). $5; $8 for 3-D “Creature From the Black Lagoon.”

▪ Although it moved locations a few years ago, Visart Video is finally celebrating with a grand re-opening party this weekend. At 8 p.m. Friday, the store will host Drop Up Video.” Described as “Mystery Science Theater” meets “Pop-Up Video,” the Atlanta-based show ($10) features comedians roasting classic music videos from the ’80s and ’90s. The fun continues from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday with free screenings of “Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation” (3 and 8 p.m.), beer and wine, food, and live music.


▪ The opening of the Amazing Maize Maze at Historic Rural Hill signals the beginning of autumn as families get lost for fun in the seven-acre cornfield, which consists of two miles of puzzling paths. To solve the puzzle, locate pieces of the map along the way or roll on instinct — staff is posted around the maze to help. But walking in circles isn’t all there is to do; hayrides, mini mazes, picnicking, hiking, games and historical tours are among the other activities. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday and 6:30 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Daytime admission is $11 for ages 13 and older, $8 for 5-12; night admission is $16/$11.

▪ For the second year in a row, children can explore the campus of UNC Charlotte as they learn, discover, create and play during Charlotte Kids’ Fest. Free educational activities range from Lego robotics, yoga, magic, martial arts, music, balloon art, storytime, jugglers, stilt walkers, face painting and dance groups, as well as the introduction of the festival’s new mascot, Pinwheel Polly. History, science, technology, arts, crafts, outdoor activities and giant games are all on the syllabus. Food trucks will be on site. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. UNCC campus. Free.

▪ Controversial talk show host, political commentator and comedian Bill Maher, who revels in ruffling feathers on both sides of the political spectrum, will do a little of both when he stops at Ovens Auditorium. Thought-provoking, polarizing and funny, Maher’s timely return comes a little more than a month before the election. $49.50-$239.53.


▪ Tablao Flamenco twirls and claps its way into Booth Playhouse for a five-night run of performances. The uptown theater is transformed into a Spanish dance club, showcasing some of the world’s top Flamenco dancers and instrumentalists. The homegrown show is a collaboration co-produced by Blumenthal Performing Arts and Rhythm of the Arts. Cabaret seating with table service or theater seating is available. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $19.50-$29.50.


▪ The Charlotte Film Festival kicks off its 10th celebration of independent film with director Nia Dacosta’s “Little Woods” starring “Thor’s” Tessa Thompson. With two female leads (Thompson and Lily James) and a female director, “Little Woods” is a modern-day western told from a female perspective. The timely story follows the conflicted sisters driven outside the law by economical strife and in search of affordable healthcare across the Canadian border. 7:30 p.m. Ayrsley Grand Cinema. $10 ($9 for students).

▪ North Carolina native Chris Daughtry returns in concert for the first time in three years following the summer release of his band’s long-awaited fifth album, “Cage the Rattle.” A favorite among “American Idol” viewers, Daughtry remains one of the series’s most bankable acts thanks to his early insistence to stay true to his vocal strengths and rock roots. 7:30 p.m. Ovens Auditorium. $43-$63.