The holiday season is filled with gift giving, baking and cooking, shopping for deals, treating yourself and other things that cost money. Fortunately, there are plenty of holiday events that’ll get you in the Christmas spirit without having to break out your wallet.
Did I miss one? Let me know.
ChristmasVille Rock Hill: Filled with whimsy and good holiday cheer, this Christmas festival has more than 70 events to help you ring in the season. Some events require tickets, but admission and many activities are free. Nov. 29 to Dec. 2. Details.
Holiday Uptown Crawl at Charlotte City Center: Make a night of touring some of Charlotte’s cultural spots – you get free access to the Wells Fargo History Museum; Sozo Gallery; Poptopia Holidays: A Pop-Up Shop; Spirit Square; Levine Museum of the New South; Charlotte Christmas Village; McColl Center for Art + Innovation; Allen Tate Charlotte – Center City Home Gallery; and Sage Salon & Studio. 6-9 p.m. Nov. 29. Details.
Santa Photo Experience at SouthPark: You can buy photo packages and a fast pass to skip the line, but visiting with Santa is free. So put the kids in festive outfits and snap some pics while they share their Christmas lists. Now through Dec. 24. Times vary. Details.
Check out Christmas lights at Hillside Drive: Hillside Drive is one of Charlotte’s best-decorated streets, so fill a Thermos with egg nog, cruise through the canopy of lit trees and turn on the Christmas music. Details
Leonard Bearstein Symphony Orchestra at Founders Hall: Performed by animatronic bears, there’s a show every hour from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Now through Dec. 27. Details.
McAdenville: You can drive or walk around the area which has more than 160 decorated and decked-out homes, 265 evergreen trees with 500,000 lights. There’s also going to be a Christmas Town Festival Dec. 13 with music, a parade and hot chocolate and kettle corn. Lights come on at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 30 through Dec. 26. Details.
Gingerbread lane at The Ballantyne: Walk through rows of homemade gingerbread houses and donate at least $1 if you want to vote on your favorite. Dec. 6-26. Details.
Charlotte Christmas Village at the corner of 7th Street and North Tryon: Of course there will be plenty of treats to buy, but soaking up the holiday spirit won’t cost you a thing. Expect live performances throughout the month and visits from Santa and kids crafts on the weekends. Now through Dec. 24. 11 a.m. Details.
Lighted Boat Parades at Lake Norman: There are three different boat parades, including the 8th Annual Christmas Flotilla and Parade, The Lighted Boat Parade and 2nd Annual Christmas Light Boat Parade. Cozy up with some blankets and cocoa, and watch boats decked out in lights and holiday decor sail by to ring in the holidays. 5 p.m. Dec. 1, 8 & 15. Details.
Weihnachtsmarkt at the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery: Inspired by traditional German Christmas markets, Weihnachtsmarkt will have dozens of vendors decked out for the holidays. You can purchase beer, Gluhwein, baked goods, gift items and more, but admission is free. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1,7,8,14 & 15. Details.
North Mecklenburg Christmas Parade at the Town of Davidson: Start the day watching the parade which will feature marching bands, horses and groups. Stick around for Christmas in Davidson where you can visit Santa, do crafts, stroll around town and more. Dec. 1. 1 p.m.Details.
MoRA’s 3rd Annual Holiday Festival at Embrace Sculpture: Gather around the sculpture for free hot cocoa, raffles, a food drive and Christmas music to celebrate Embrace lighting up for the holidays. 5-7 p.m. Dec. 1. Details.
Cookies and Cocoa with Santa at the Metropolitan: Eat cookies, drink hot cocoa and get free photos with Santa. There will also be food and wine tastings, a pop-up shop and more. 1-4 p.m. Dec. 1. Details.
Poptopia Holidays: A Pop-Up Shop at Foundation for the Carolinas: A ton of local vendors will be there selling a curated selection of jewelry, clothing and more. Admission is free, so you can peruse shops and stay tuned for special surprises. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 1. Details.
Mistletoe Market 2018 at Camp North End: Check out some local vendors, sip on a warm drink, roast marshmallows and get cozy under string lights and mistletoe. There will also be a dog parade featuring pups wearing sweaters and holiday gear – all the justification you need for going. 5-10 p.m. Dec. 1. Details.
Plaza Midwood Holiday Bazaar & Workshop at Resident Culture Brewing Company: You get to create a Christmas light ball to hang on your trees so the neighborhood will be decorated in time for the annual Running of the Balls 5K. There will also be live music and visits from Santa. Noon to 11 p.m. Dec. 1. Details.
5th Annual NoDa Christmas Tree Lighting at Johnston YMCA: Watch the tree light up and then eat cookies, make ornaments, drink hot chocolate, play games and more. Dec. 2. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Details.
Mingle at the Mint – Holiday Pop-Up Shop at Mint Museum Randolph: Get access to the museum and taste free small bites from local restaurants while you peruse modern art, including the new African-Print Exhibit. There will also be more then 20 vendors to shop from if you want to cross a few things off your holiday shopping list. 6-9 p.m. Dec. 5. Details.
Winter Wonderland Holiday Light Show at Phillips Place: A six-story light show will be projected onto the The Hampton Inn & Suites and Santa will be there. You’ll also see stilt walkers and elves, snow and more. Plus, they’re giving out 60o goodie bags each night. Dec. 6 & Dec. 13. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Details.
Deck the Halls with Hops & Barley at Blue Blaze Brewing: Bring your kids and/or pets, don tacky sweaters and other holiday gear for a day of celebration and free photos with Santa. For $8.50 you can get a special holiday beer flight. Noon to 10 p.m. Dec. 22. Details.