What is there to do in Charlotte this weekend? Here’s our experts’ picks on everything from entertainment – movies to music to performing arts – along with restaurants and Christmas- and New Year’s-related fun...
If you waited until the last minute to see the big guy, it’s not too late for a free visit and photo with Santa. (Yes, we said free.) He’ll be at the Bass Pro Shops in Concord Mills Mall from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Free crafts are also offered both afternoons. – CB
People who rightly complained the 2016 Oscars were too white won’t have a gripe this year. Multiple films with African-Americans will earn nominations, and “Fences” is one. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis give riveting performances as a trash collector in 1950s Pittsburgh and the long-neglected wife who stands between this angry father and his rebellious son. Also on the slate for this weekend: the buoyant animated musical “Sing,” with Matthew McConaughey as a koala hosting an amateur night for animals with dreams of stardom, and “Passengers,” a science-fiction story in which Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence emerge by mistake from cryogenic sleep – or IS it a mistake? – way too early on an interstellar voyage. – LT
S.O. Stereo’s pre-Christmas show at Amos’ Southend marks the first live appearance by this once-buzzing Charlotte quartet in more than a year. At its peak, it won over fans with a Dave Matthews-meets-Coldplay mesh of emotional alt-rock. It’s safe to say life and distance got in the way of musical pursuits since the group appeared on “The Vampire Diaries” in 2011, but this rare re-grouping gives fans a chance to look back. – CD
Are you making a reservation list and checking it twice? If you’re smart, you’ll get on it soon. A few of the holiday dinner options:
▪ On Christmas Eve, RockSalt is doing a Feast of the 7 Fishes menu (four courses, including brandade, anchovy, oysters, tuna tartar, octopus and scallops; $65 or $100 with wine pairings).
▪ At Stoke in the Marriott City Center, they’re already booked for the special Christmas Day menu, but you can get it on Christmas Eve: Four courses with executive chef Chris Coleman’s takes on “festive home cooking” (like deviled eggs, Carolina Gold rice bisque and beef tenderloin, plus a chocolate/peppermint rendition of his becoming-famous giant Doughnut). It’s $50.
▪ And there are New Year’s Eve dinners coming up at Heritage (it’s also Paul Verica’s birthday, so he’s celebrating with a 7-course tasting menu for $80), 5Church (four-course menu ranges from $75 early in the evening to $120 for the 8 p.m.-midnight seating) and Vivace (four-course menu from $42 early in the evening to $55 after 7 p.m.). – KP
Help yourself to a gift off one of the many NASCAR-themed Christmas trees during the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s “UnDeck the Hall” event. Items include autographed souvenirs and memorabilia, ornaments, die cast cars, race tickets. Doors open at 10 a.m. but arrive early to snag the best stuff. A general admission ticket to the hall is required to access the event. – CB
Watch “Jonas Restaurant: Family Style,” at 7 p.m. on the Food Network. The special will look at the family behind the Jonas Brothers and their struggle to open Nellie’s Southern Kitchen in downtown Belmont. – KP
“The Hip-Hop Nutcracker” opens its run at Knight Theater, setting Tchaikovsky’s music to modern choreography. A dozen dancers, an MC, a DJ and digital scenery come together in this show, which has become an annual presentation through Blumenthal Performing Arts. Performances through Dec. 30. – LT
Asheville-based Jamie Laval, winner of the U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Championship in 2002, brings “A Celtic Christmas Concert” to Fullwood Theater, 100 McDowell St., Matthews at 7:30 p.m. The show includes music, dance, poetry and stories related to the Christmas and Winter Solstice traditions in Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and Iceland; it features step dancers, Highland dancers, singing, and performances on harp and bassoon. – LT
Dec. 31: Le Meridien is planning what it’s calling the largest New Year’s Eve party in the Southeast, the Southern Skyline Grand Ball. From 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., they’ll have four stages with live entertainment, hors d’ouevres from executive chef Oscar La Fuente. Prices start at $130 for drinks, appetizers and entry to three of the four stages, and go up to $400 for two VIP tickets, entry to everything and a room at the hotel with a bottle of champagne. Black tie optional. – KP