Back to Holiday Guide 2014 Index…

The holiday season is finally upon us and with it comes the annual offering of local performances, plays, lighting displays and other fun events. Keeping track of everything that’s happening in the months of November and December can become as daunting as crossing off all the items on your shopping list. This rundown of events will help keep everything on your radar so you don’t miss out on the best of the festivities.

Jazz at the Bechtler

In its fifth year, Jazz at the Bechtler has grown to become a favorite among both local jazzheads and lovers of seasonal music looking for a twist on some old holiday standards. The Ziad Jazz Quarter performs favorites such as “This Christmas,” the Herbie Hancock and Chick Correa arrangement of “Deck the Halls” and the John Coltrane version of “Greensleeves.” Snacks are provided both before and during the performance and there is also a cash bar serving beer, wine and select liquor. There are two shows, both on Dec. 5, one starting at 6 p.m. and one starting at 8:15 p.m/. Tickets, which are $8 for museum members and $14 for non-members, can be purchased at the admission desk or by calling 704-353-9200.

Holidays at the Garden

Getting lost in the Daniel Stowe Botanical garden is always a wonderful experience, but during this time of year it’s even better. Visitors will enjoy the massive light and train displays, visits from Santa, nature based family crafts and more. Holidays at the Garden runs from Nov. 21 through Dec. 31, with a free members-only preview on Nov.20, from 5-9 p.m.

Holiday On Ice

Skating in the heart of downtown, with the skyscrapers above and the lights and sounds of the city all around you, is such an iconic holiday activity that it seems to show up in just about every other Christmas movie ever made, and for good reason. There’s nothing quite like it to get you in the yuletide spirit. The ice skating rink, which is provided each year by WBT 1110 AM, will reside at the corner of Martin Luther King Blvd. and Brevard St. on the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza from Nov. 21 through Jan. 24. Those wishing to request a private party, or anyone with general questions, can contact Holiday On Ice at 704-390-3715.

A Christmas Carol at Theatre Charlotte

Back for an eighth consecutive year, Theatre Charlotte presents the Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.” The story of curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by the ghost his old partner Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future in a bid to soften the old man’s heart, is a must see experience for anyone wishing to truly get into the holiday spirit. It will play in The Eloise MacDonald, December 5-14. Tickets are $27 a piece and are available by visiting or by calling 704-376-3777.

Magic of Christmas and Messiah by Charlotte Symphony

The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra is presenting two different Christmas shows this year, with Magic of Christmas on Dec. 4, from 7:30-9:30 p.m., and “Messiah” on Dec. 17, from 7:30-10 p.m. Both will be performed at Belk Theater.

Magic of Christmas sees conductor Albert-George Schram leading the Symphony, along with the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte, the Charlotte Children’s Choir and “American Idol” finalist Melinda Doolittle. Tickets run from $25-$79.

Conductor Noel Edison will lead the Symphony and the Oratorio Singers, and others, through Handel’s choral masterwork, “Messiah.” Tickets run from $34-$89.

Tickets to both events are available through

Speedway Christmas

In its fifth year, the annual Speedway Christmas light show at Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the more impressive displays. NASCAR fans will relish the rare opportunity to drive on the track, as they wind through a 3.1 mile route, featuring 800 displays decked out in more than three million lights. It should be enough to excite even those holiday revelers who tend not to tune in on race day. In fact, it is one of the country’s largest drive thru light displays and the Charlotte Motor Speedway is promising that this year will be bigger and better than ever.

In addition to the displays, there’s also the infield Christmas village to enjoy, where attendees can get their picture taken with Santa, ride the bumper cars or check out the petting zoo. Christmas movies such as “Elf,” “The Polar Express” and “Frozen” will also be shown on the world’s largest HDTV every Friday and Saturday night during the show.

Speedway Christmas runs from Nov. 22 to Dec. 30 and is closed Christmas day. Tickets are available online through Ticketmaster or by calling the box office at 1-800-455-FANS.: :

Choruses ring in the season

Charlotte’s LGBT choral groups will present two holiday shows this season.

Ghosts of Christmas Past
Dec. 5-6, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 6, 2 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte
234 N. Sharon Amity Rd., Charlotte
Tickets: $22/advance, $27/door (Matinee: $17)

Selighbells & Sunscreen
Dec. 12-13, 8:04 p.m.
Gay Men’s Chorus of Charlotte
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church
1510 E. 7th St., Charlotte
Tickets: $20-$25

— Matt Comer