3 FREE Family Holiday Outings

Uptown Charlotte Holiday Lights
Uptown Charlotte Holiday Lights Sara Kendall

The upcoming holidays are always greatly anticipated and often the source of some of our happiest memories. However, if you’re not careful, holiday spending can wreak havoc on your family’s budget. Wanting your family to participate in some holiday fun without emptying your wallet? Here are 3 FREE holiday activities my family has attended and thoroughly enjoyed. All it cost us was the gas to get us there!

Uptown Charlotte Tree Lighting with ACC Mascots

ACC Mascots at Uptown Tree Lighting
Meet the ACC mascots & Santa December 3 at the Uptown Charlotte Tree Lighting.

December 3 from 5:30-8:00

Uptown at The Square at intersection of Trade & Tryon Streets

Do you have any ACC fans in your family? Need that annual photo with Santa Claus? Want to see some beautiful Christmas lights? How about pleasing your ACC fans and checking off the Santa photo all in one fabulous Christmas outing? Done! Just head to Uptown Charlotte on Thursday, December 3th at 5:30 PM for the annual Uptown Tree Lighting.

The ACC Mascots will be in town to kick-off the ACC Football Championship Weekend. The mascots will arrive at this holiday celebration via an Uptown Trolley all-together prior to flipping the switch to light Uptown’s Christmas tree.

The actual tree lighting will take place around 6 PM when all the Mascots jump on stage to flip the master switch that lights the biggest tree in Uptown. Don’t be surprised if one or two mascots get sidetracked and end up on stage at the last minute because they’re parading around and trying to please all the fans.

Located on The Square, just across from the Christmas Tree, take a walk through Polk Park. This uptown park is wrapped in holiday lights, set with beautiful holiday scenes, with Christmas carols playing in the background. Here is where you will find Santa seated in a grand throne fit for the Jolly Old Saint Nick. Hop in line to get your family’s photograph taken for free. Even some of the ACC Mascots join in and get their photograph made with Santa. Just don’t forget to bring your camera.

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Drive Through Christmas Town USA

Heading into Christmas Town USA by Sara Kendall
Heading into Christmas Town USA. Sara Kendall

Tuesday, December 1 through Saturday, December 26

Monday to Friday, 5:30-9:30

Saturday & Sunday, 5:30-11:00

For 60 years, McAdenville, a small town just outside of Charlotte, has transformed itself into Christmas Town USA. The town and businesses decorate their buildings, streets, parks, and bridges with over a half-million lights and most residents add to the Christmas Spirit by decorating their homes as well. A drive through Christmas Town USA will give visitors a dazzling light display – worthy of making this an annual pilgrimage.

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Gingerbread Lane at Ballantyne Resort

Gingerbread Lane at Ballantyne Hotel by Sara Kendall
Gingerbread Lane at Ballantyne Hotel. Sara Kendall

Thursday, December 10 through Sunday, December 27

Viewing 24 hours

Ballantyne Hotel

For a truly impressive collection of gingerbread creations, head to the Ballantyne Resort this Christmas season. Here you will find a competition with categories for professional, amateur, and children. You and your family will be amazed at the amazingly high quality of work the individuals and teams put into this holiday competition. Attendees may vote on their favorite entries with $1 minimum donation per vote. Voting is optional, but all proceeds will benefit Levine Children’s Hospital, which is dedicated to caring for children and their families.

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