As the Spectrum Center prepares to host first- and second-round NCAA tournament games in uptown Charlotte this weekend, basketball is just one thing that will make for a busy few days in the Queen City.
And whether you’re traveling from nearby in Chapel Hill to root for UNC, or coming from out west to cheer for Kansas State or Texas A&M, there’ll be plenty happening in Charlotte this weekend to attract your attention.
Here are just a few activities to keep you busy when your team isn’t playing:
Opening of light-rail extension
The start of the first round of games Friday coincides with a much anticipated day in Charlotte: The opening of the city’s light-rail extension.
The extension connects uptown Charlotte to UNC Charlotte, northeast of uptown. The opening of the light-rail extension should give fans an easy commute into the city to watch the games.
You can celebrate the extension’s opening at Sycamore Brewing. Located near one of the light-rail’s existing stops, East/West Station, in Charlotte’s South End neighborhood, the brewery is hosting a Food Truck Friday event Friday night.
St. Patrick’s Day
No March Madness games are scheduled Saturday in Charlotte, which can give tournament-goers an opportunity to participate in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day activities.
Fans can kick the day off at the 22nd annual Charlotte St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which starts at 11 a.m. Saturday and winds through uptown.
If you’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in Charlotte, it will be hard to miss Rich & Bennett’s 18th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl. The event attracts thousands of people into the city every year, each wearing an identical green T-shirt. The event boasts that it’s one of the world’s largest pub crawls.
St. Patrick’s Day is a great opportunity to drink beer, and in Charlotte, there’s definitely enough to go around.
The Queen City has earned a reputation for its craft beer scene, and there are dozens of breweries to pick from if you’re stopping in town for the NCAA tournament.
Aforementioned Sycamore Brewing will also celebrate the day with live music and the release of an Irish red ale.
If you’re looking for somewhat of a break from basketball and the city’s beer scene, the U.S. National Whitewater Center is a viable option this weekend. One of Charlotte’ premier outdoors locations, the center is hosting its Green River Revival on Saturday.
The event features yoga, a 5K run where joggers are hit with green dye (it is still St. Patrick’s Day, after all,) and live music.
Fans can stop by the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market as well. The market is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday near the Billy Graham Parkway. The market has everything from fresh produce and grass fed beef, to flowers.
LaVendrick Smith: @LaVendrickS