For the 100,000-plus expected visitors, the 48th annual Southern Christmas Show at The Park Expo and Conference Center starting Wednesday is the kickoff of the holiday season.
For Mike Walker, president of Mike Walker Creative Strategy Inc., it’s the deadline for the holiday project he started in spring. Walker is the set designer for the Southern Christmas Show. He creates visual effects to convey the theme of the show and get attendees in the holiday spirit the moment they walk through the door.
This year, showgoers will be treated to a Christmas Wonder theme. It “is our attempt to convey the excitement, anticipation and sense of joy the holiday season brings,” said Southern Shows Inc. President David Zimmerman, the show manager.
To illustrate this year’s theme, Walker placed holiday animated street scenes from New York’s Lord & Taylor department store inside giant music boxes with lids and turnkeys. “When we showcased these scenes in previous shows, they have been a visitor favorite,” Walker said.
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Also returning are more than 400 food, gift and service vendors.
“The feeling and the energy of the show is what keeps us going,” said Rob Marshall, president of Christmas Mouse, a year-round holiday ornament and gift retail store with several locations across the Southeast. “We see a lot of familiar faces.”
With new vendors and old favorites ready to delight guests, visitors will have an extra day to enjoy the show, which begins Veterans Day and runs through Nov. 22. The show continues to grow in popularity and size and attracts visitors from all over the country. “Five percent of our show guests are not from the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia or Tennessee,” Zimmerman said.
As for Walker, he will take a few moments at the start of the show to find a place near his music boxes and watch as guests take a first glimpse of his work. “I watch as they stand back and enjoy (that) they are surrounded by Christmas,” Walker said. “I enjoy being a very minor part of their yearly Christmas experience.”
Southern Christmas Show
Location: The Park Expo and Conference Center, 2500 E. Independence Blvd.
Dates: Nov. 11-22
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 10-9; Sunday-Tuesday 10-6
Tickets: Adults: $12 at the door, $10 in advance; Children (6 to 12) $3; children (6 and under) free with paying adult. Discounted tickets available for $9.50 at participating Harris Teeter locations with a VIC card. Advance tickets for $10 available online at www.SouthernChristmasShow.com.
Parking: $7 per car
Southern Christmas Show preview night
When: Tuesday 5:30-9:30 p.m.
Tickets: Adults: $18 in advance; $22 at the door (includes parking and sales tax); children: (6 to 12) $3; children: (6 and under) free with paying adult; available at the door or by calling 704-376-6594.
More details: Visit www.SouthernChristmasShow.com.