The 49th annual Southern Christmas Show that opens Thursday at The Park Expo and Conference Center pays homage this year to the beauty of the Carolinas.
“Carolina Christmas” is this year’s theme for the largest Christmas show in the country, with more than 6 acres of merchants, shopkeepers and crafters.
As soon as guests enter the show, they’ll see a waterfall and oversized photos and replicas of famous attractions, including the Biltmore House decorated for the holiday, a tobacco barn and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
The theme is fitting given that 227 of the more than 400 merchants are from the Carolinas, Southern Shows Inc. President David Zimmerman said.
The show features an Olde Towne area with shops full of gifts, ornaments and decorations; an Enchanted Village of miniature dollhouses; a display of Tiny Trains that whistle as they motor along tracks; and a Christmas Tree Lane with Fraser Firs from the N.C. mountains, each decorated by a different designer.
An entertainment stage showcases everything from holiday fashions to choirs. And the food is an attraction, too, everything from strudel and Moravian sugar cake to hand-dipped chocolates and candied pecans.
“From the consumer side, this is a successful show because it is an event,” longtime merchant Rob Marshall of Christmas Mouse said. “It is a family tradition for many folks. It is not like going to a mall. Where else are you going to find so many vendors with so many unique items all under one roof?”
Marshall’s 2,200-square-foot store features thousands of musical and nonmusical ornaments on full-size Christmas trees and walls. “We will have 26 different theme trees and approximately 5,000 different items,” said Marshall, who’s displayed at the show since 1998.
Among the new exhibitors is 9-year-old Jesse-Ann Aaliyah Ricks of Charlotte and her Jewelz by Jesse line of food-inspired scented jewelry.
She started the company by writing a business plan in crayon to her parents and with a crisp $20 bill from her grandmother for good grades. Her parents bought in, with an investment that has grown to nearly $15,000, her mom, Shani Ricks, said. “She took me,” mom kidded of her entrepreneurial daughter who’s ready to likewise dazzle visitors to the show.
Southern Christmas Show
Location: The Park Expo and Conference Center, 800 Briar Creek Road, Charlotte.
Dates: Nov. 10-20.
Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 10-9; Sunday-Tuesday 10-6.
Tickets: Adults $12 at the door, $10 in advance; Children (6-12) $3; children (5 and under) free with paying adult. Discounted tickets available for $9.50 at participating Harris Teeter locations with a VIC card. Advance tickets available online at www.SouthernChristmasShow.com.
Parking: $7 per car
Southern Christmas Show preview night
When: Wednesday 5:30-9:30 p.m.
Tickets: Adults $18 in advance; $22 at the door (includes parking and sales tax); children (6-12) $3; children (5 and under) free with paying adult; available at the door or by calling 800-849-0248.