▪ Holidays at the Garden lets you ring in the holiday season with a million twinkling lights, hot chocolate (or a glass of wine or beer), marshmallows roasting over an open fire, visits from Santa, activities for the kids, carolers and more. 5-9 p.m., and nightly through Jan. 6. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. $12.95 in advance, $14.95 at the door ($11.95/$15.95 for seniors, $7.95/$10.95 for ages 2-12).
▪ Winter cheer is in full gear at the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Holidays at the Hall, which includes Holiday on Ice — an outdoor ice-skating rink housed in the Hall’s tree-filled Plaza — along with a 39-foot tree and a festively decorated Ceremonial Garden. 5-10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday. $12 to skate; $16 if you need to rent a pair.
▪ Charlotte Motor Speedway’s annual Speedway Christmas boasts 3.5 million twinkling lights, a 50-foot Ferris wheel, live music, a Bethlehem Village, Santa, games, food, crafts, shopping and holiday drive-in movies. 6-10 p.m., and nightly through Dec. 31. $30 per car Friday and Saturday, $25 Thursday and Sunday, and $20 Monday-Wednesday (when the Bethlehem Village is closed).
▪ Charlotte Ballet: Nutcracker continues a run of performances leading up to Christmas with choreography by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, music by the Charlotte Symphony, sets and costumes that debuted in 2016, and all the charm and warmth of the productions you grew up with. 7:30 p.m. (also 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday). Belk Theater. $50-$110.
▪ For the sixth year, On Q Productions gives the holidays a contemporary spin, re-framing tradition with a blend of R&B, funk and gospel for A Soulful Noel. Directed by On Q founder Quentin Talley with musical direction from Tim Scott Jr., the musical revue was released as a collection in 2015. 8 p.m. Friday and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday. McGlohon Theater. $20.
▪ Another Charlotte holiday tradition, “The Birth,” returns for its 13th year. Adapted from the work of Presbyterian minister and Pulitzer Prize-nominated author Frederick Buechner, the Starving Artists Production combines the Christmas story with original music and dance for a dramatic reminder of the reason for the season. 7 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Duke Energy Theater. $20.
▪ As the groundbreaking Comedy Central series “Broad City” nears its end in early 2019, its 31-year-old co-creator and star Ilana Glazer takes the comedic chops she honed over a decade working on the show (and its original web series) to the standup stage for a pair of pre-holiday sets. 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday (Fridays shows are sold out). The Comedy Zone. $30-$35.
▪ Whether you’ve already seen Charlotte’s version or just want something different, The Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker harkens back to the ballet’s beginning. The venerable production — which premiered in St. Petersburg in 1892 — balances modern influence with the traditional aesthetic of the original. 3 and 7 p.m. Ovens Auditorium. $30-$70.
▪ The 10th-anniversary tour of the ’80s-set Broadway musical “Rock of Ages” prances, writhes and stage-dives into Charlotte, bringing a new cast that’ll transport the audience back in time via Aqua Net, fishnet stockings and a soundtrack with hits from Whitesnake, Styx, Poison and Twisted Sister. 7:30 p.m. (and performances through Dec. 31). $25-$74.50 ($99.50 for VIP).
▪ She went from being a young single mom doing jail time in the mid-’90s to an actress and comedian with roles in “Borat,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Hotel Transylvania.” Her album, “I Only Drink at Work” was released in September, and on the cusp of the New Year Luenell makes her debut at The Comedy Zone. 8 p.m. (and performances Dec. 28-29). $20-$25.