The Christmas season is a magical time of lights, song and joy. If you’re a resident of Charlotte, NC, or you’re visiting the area, you’ll find that there are so many activities and events scheduled during December that you’ll scarcely have time to catch your breath. Here are some highlights you might want to take care not to miss.

Time with Santa

Children and adults alike will enjoy spending time with the jolly old man who brings Christmas cheer each season. Santa plans a sleepover every year at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and this year is no different. He’ll be at the Hall of Fame on Friday evening, Dec. 18, giving children and parents the opportunity to stay up all night to investigate all the exhibits and enjoy a special showing of “The Polar Express.”

The next morning, Santa has a pancake breakfast planned for families as well as an ornament-decorating activity. After a viewing of the original “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” in the NASCAR Hall of Fame High Octane Theater, children can share their wish lists with Santa and have their photo taken with him. It’s a great way for you and your family to get ready for Christmas.

If you’d like to visit Santa’s village, you can find it at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Check out Santa’s favorite animals at the petting zoo and then marvel at the live nativity scene on the grounds. After your children have visited with Santa and had their picture taken, you can experience a horse-drawn wagon ride, roast marshmallows over a blazing fire or take some time to enjoy driving through the Christmas lights on the grounds that are synchronized to music.

Christmas Lights

One of the most enjoyable parts of Christmas is looking at the thousands upon thousands of decorative lights, whether they are part of a commercial display or spring from the imaginations of homeowners.

McAdenville is known as Christmas Town USA. Located about half an hour west of Charlotte, McAdenville has dressed itself up in Christmas finery since 1956, thanks to the hard work of its merchants and residents. Until the night after Christmas, visitors can tour the town by car or on foot to enjoy the lights displays of residences and the downtown commercial area, as well as around the local lake. Community groups throughout the season offer musical accompaniment of voice and instruments such as bells which add to the holiday spirit. McAdenville welcomes visitors from just after sunset until 9:30 pm on weeknights and until 11 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Perhaps you don’t want to travel quite so far to see spectacular Christmas lights. Several individual homes and neighborhoods in and around Charlotte have been decorated magnificently for the holiday season. It’s easy to find a list of homes in your area that are worth taking a drive to see. Simply search online for a list of the most spectacular Christmas light displays in the Charlotte area.

Other Special Events

Even nature puts on a special display of finery for the Christmas season. At the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, you can enjoy thousands of lights in the trees as you and your family visit the special displays that make the holiday season so enjoyable. Whether your preference is the holiday model train display, seasonal crafts or special music that are a part of the garden tours, you’ll come away with plenty of Christmas cheer.

Charlotte has so many events and activities to offer to you and your family during the Christmas season that you likely won’t have time to enjoy them all. However, you’re sure to find several that will become a yearly tradition for you and your family.