Testing Preschoolers

What to know about testing for admission to private and charter schools, or early admission to kindergarten.


Published:

Testing has trickled down to the very youngest of students. While the process may involve blocks and pictures rather than pen and paper, tests for preschoolers still measure what a child knows.

The results may be required for applications to prestigious private or charter schools, or for early admission to public kindergarten. The most widely used early tests assess a child’s IQ and early reading and math skills. Most schools require parents to have their child privately tested, which can cost up to $500.

Graham Hunter, who owns QC Psychology in Charlotte, says his office frequently receives calls from parents who want to have their preschooler tested. In these cases, a staff member administers the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI), which measures IQ, as well as math and reading aptitude. The test typically begins by asking the child to manipulate blocks to match patterns.

“If you do it right, it doesn’t feel like an academic test,” Hunter says. “It’s more like playing a board game.”

 

Public and Private School Requirements

In 1997, the North Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 1099 recommending that 4-year-olds being considered for admittance to public school kindergarten score in the 98th percentile or higher on intelligence tests, function one or two years ahead of their peers, and be motivated and interested in kindergarten.

Local school systems also set their own criteria. The Wake County Public School System, for example, requires reading, writing and IQ tests; samples of the child’s work; and two letters of recommendation.

Like public schools, private schools use test scores and other factors to determine if a child is a good fit for their program. At Charlotte Latin School, all kindergarten applicants must visit the school, as well as take the WPSSI and a play-based “readiness” assessment that shows the child’s ability to complete a task, follow multistep directions and get along with others.

Mary York Oates, Charlotte Latin director of admissions, says the school looks for average to high-average intelligence on all WPSSI scales and a steady pattern of results on subtests. Charlotte Latin’s year of entry is designed for 5-year-olds, and the first year of school is tailored for kindergarten-eligible children. Oates says the school likes to accept children when they have had preschool experience that prepares them for school.

“Time is one of the most precious commodities for our youngest learners, and we believe development cannot be rushed,” Oates says.

 

The Benefits of Testing

Testing can be advantageous when children are highly intelligent, gaining them access to rigorous academic programs and other specialized educational opportunities. Jan Badger of Winston-Salem had her daughter, Maddie, tested for early admittance to public school kindergarten. By age 4, Maddie was reading, knew all of her numbers and was “very friendly and outgoing and socially older than what normal 4-year-olds were like,” Badger says.

Maddie had attended preschool, but Badger felt that her daughter would be bored at home for another year. The school system required private testing by a psychologist, and the family had to submit the results and a portfolio of Maddie’s work.

When Badger took her daughter for testing, which was done in short increments over two days, she told Maddie that a special doctor wanted to find out what she knew.

“I told her she wasn’t going to be in trouble if she didn’t do well,” Badger says. “I didn’t want to push her if she wasn’t ready. I just wanted to know if she was ready.”  

As it turned out, Maddie tested successfully for early entry into kindergarten.

There are other benefits. Testing at any level, including preschool, also offers additional insight into a student’s mind and personality that can be helpful to school admissions administrators.

“The testing often validates something else we see,” Oates says. “A child with steady scores will often have an easy time transitioning during our visit. A child that is very shy might score higher in the nonverbal areas of the normed assessment.”

A discrepancy in subtest scores may indicate that a child needs a little more time to mature, Oates says.

 

Think Before You Test

Hunter says staff members at QC Psychology, which offers a variety of psychological services in addition to early kindergarten testing, often try to talk parents out of testing for early admission if the child doesn’t appear to be in the top 2 percent.  He stresses that average intelligence isn’t a negative.

“Average is good because everything is developing normally,” Hunter says. “(But) it’s not what the public schools are looking for (in early testing results).”

Before testing a child, Hunter recommends parents consider their motives and realistically look at their child’s intelligence and social maturity.

Badger didn’t take the decision to enroll Maddie in kindergarten early lightly. She talked to her sister-in-law, whose child also started kindergarten at age 4, and considered all aspect of her daughter’s readiness for school.

“I’ve talked to other people who have perfectly smart kids who were not ready to enter school,” Badger says. “Everybody thinks their kid’s a genius, but they really have to have the personality for it, too.”

Maddie is now 9 and in fifth grade. She takes advanced math, and schoolwork comes easy for her.

“I know it would have been even worse if we had waited a year,” Badger says. “(Early testing) was worth it for us.”

 

Marty Minchin is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, where she lives with her husband and two children.


EARLY TESTING Q&A

Before having your preschooler tested, consider these things.

When is the optimal time to test for admission to school? In the spring or summer before the start of the school year in which the child would enroll.

How much does it cost? Typically between $175 and $500. An IQ test can cost $300, and early reading and writing tests will add to that cost.

Can my child prepare for the test? No. But you can make sure your child is rested and has a good breakfast.

Can I sit in? No. The test takes less than an hour. Parents are typically asked to wait outside.

What does the test measure? The Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence, which tests IQ, also measures visual-spatial processing, verbal reasoning and comprehension, fluid reasoning, memory, perception speed and concentration.

What does the score mean? A child who scores in the 75th percentile performed better than 75 percent of children of the same chronological age. Scores in the 50th percentile are average and age-appropriate.

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December 2017

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Show More...
Show Less...

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Cost: $6-$7

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Telephone: 704-866-6900
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Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Founders Hall
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More information

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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $8.95-$14.95

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View map »


Telephone: 704-825-4490
Website »

More information

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More information

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Cost: Free

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700 West C. Street
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View map »


Telephone: 704-920-4343
Website »

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
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View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
Website »

More information

Skate on more than 7,000 square feet of ice in the heart of the city.  The ice rink opens at 5 p.m. Nov. 17. See website for ongoing hours.

Cost: $10 admission; $4 skate rental

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza
400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

View gingerbread creations by both amateurs and professionals. Vote on your favorites for $1 each; all donations benefit Levine Children's Hospital. 

Cost: Free.

Where:
The Ballantyne Hotel
10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: (704) 248-4000
Website »

More information

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View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

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Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

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Cost: $12 for admission, $5 for skate rental

Where:
Symphony Park
4400 Sharon Rd
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See your favorite Christmas scenes and hear your favorite songs during this holiday dinner theater experience. See website for showtimes. 

Cost: $7-$35

Where:
The NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy. 51 N
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 704-831-8893
Website »

More information

Skate on 4,200 square feet of real ice, plus enjoy go karting, play mini golf, and have fun on the spider web. On Nov. 17 from 5-8pm Olaf will be at the Speedpark available for pictures, hugs...

Cost: $12 for ice skating, includes skates. Other activities cost extra

Where:
The Speedpark at Concord Mills
8461 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-527-8464
Website »

More information

Guests of all ages can participate in seasonal science fun with daily make projects every afternoon at Discovery Place Science.  Check the online calendar for the daily schedule. Activities...

Cost: Included with museum admission (adults, $17; children, $13); excludes IMAX

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Collards + Culture is a life-size installation that explores African culture and how Africans were brought to the Americas through the Middle Passage. This program is part of the ASC Culture...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sugar Creek Library
4045 North Tryon St.
Suite A
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Children and families can stop in Spangler Library and write a letter to Santa. Send him a Wish List or just say hello-ho-ho! Stationery and a special mailbox for rush delivery will be provided!...

Cost: Free

Where:
ImaginOn, Spangler Library
300 E 7th St
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era-the Age of Dinosaurs.  See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time forgot. Observe predators stalking an armored...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Join Rutherford Rabbit for a seasonally-themed story and craft. Afterwards, children can water vegetable plants, dig for worms, explore the sensory and butterfly gardens and watch the chickens....

Cost: Cost per family (not child) is $10. Free for members.

Where:
Children's Garden at Wing Haven
260 Ridgewood Avenue
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-331-0664
Website »

More information

Join us in the Spangler Library for a holiday-themed family storytime. Hands-on activities to celebrate the winter season to follow. 

Cost: Free.

Where:
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center
300 East Seventh Street
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-416-4630
Website »

More information

Put on your pajamas and join Mrs. Claus for storytime. There will also be crafts and songs.  Register online.

Cost: Free.

Where:
York County Library System Central Library
138 E Black St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 803-981-5858
Website »

More information

Watch the Matthews Concert Band perform this free holiday concert. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Fullwood Theatre in the Matthews Community Center
100 McDowell Street
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Visit the open-air ice skating rink located across from Fountain Park in Rock Hill. See website for operating hours.

Cost: $10, includes skate rental

Where:
Founders Holiday Ice Rink
205 Saluda St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Drive (or walk!) the two miles through town of McAdenville and view more than 375 live trees, 200 wreaths, and a 46-foot wide image of Old Man Winter blowing snowflakes over the lake. ...

Cost: Free

Where:
McAdenville , NC


Website »

More information

Melissa Lynch is a Gaston County resident who loves experimenting with acrylic pours and alcohol inks. This exhibit features abstract lines and pops of color that represent a transitional time...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

This annually recurring exhibit fills the museum with model train displays, railroad memorabilia, and antique toys and games. Visitors of all ages will be enchanted as they explore the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 E. Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC  28086
View map »


Telephone: 704-739-1019
Website »

More information

The 18-piece display of animatronic bears performs classic holiday songs. The 45-minute program starts on the hour. All performances are subject to cancellation so check the website for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Founders Hall
100 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-716-8649
Website »

More information

Selections from one of the nation's most important and comprehensive collections of African-American art. This collection features a number of images from the fifty-eight-piece collection of...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

The debut of one of the most expansive collections of abstract and contemporary African-American art.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1565
Website »

More information

Explores how artists immortalize people, places and memories through the visual arts.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Website »

More information

Both mesmerizing and mysterious, Siobhan’s works represent the interactions, and sometimes conflicts, of her conscious and subconscious minds. These thoughts are characterized by stunning...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland returns to Bass Pro Shops and Concord-area families are invited to enjoy this magical Christmas village offering free photos with Santa and free family holiday activities...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

This uptown holiday event is presented as a German-inspired Christmas Market and includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Romare Bearden Park
300 S. Church St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Charlotte’s Road to Revolution Exhibition is composed of 17 original oil paintings by Charlotte artist Dan Nance, 20 interpretive panels and eighteenth-century antiques that tell the story of...

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

Bring your little one to Perfect Balance Training Center for "Tot Time" - an hour of free play in the gym. There is no instructor so parents are in charge of their children. No need to...

Cost: $5 cash or $6 with credit card (monthly special available as well)

Where:
Perfect Balance
8850 Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

Take a brief hike in the woods and then settle in next to a cozy fire. Roast chestnuts and sip on hot chocolate. Register online. 

Cost: Free.

Where:
Reedy Creek Nature Preserve
2900 Rocky River Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1119
Website »

More information

Celebrate the Christmas season with fun family activities at the Billy Graham Library. Enjoy the light displays and Christ-centered festivities with families from across the Southeast who have made...

Cost: Free; additional cost for carriage rides

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

Carowinds will be magically transformed into a winter wonderland full of enchantment and holiday cheer! Become immersed in the season’s spirit with spectacular holiday lights and...

Cost: Starts at $25.

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
Charlotte, NC  28273
View map »


Website »

More information

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is turned into a winter wonderland. Over 600,000 lights will decorate the space with sparkling fountains and twinkling trees. Also enjoy live music, shopping,...

Cost: $8.95-$14.95

Where:
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
6500 S. New Hope Road
Belmont, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-825-4490
Website »

More information

Bring your pet to Monroe Crossing to get a picture with the whole family, furry-friend included. There is also a Santa Paws Party on Dec. 19 from 6:30-7:30pm where families can bring their...

Where:
Monroe Crossing
2115 W. Roosevelt Blvd.
Monroe, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Stroll through the park or take a ride on the Winterland Express to see more than 250,000 Christmas lights. The Celebration of lights will also feature the Double Decker Carousel and performances...

Cost: Free

Where:
Village Park
700 West C. Street
Kannapolis, NC  28081
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-4343
Website »

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
Website »

More information

Skate on more than 7,000 square feet of ice in the heart of the city.  The ice rink opens at 5 p.m. Nov. 17. See website for ongoing hours.

Cost: $10 admission; $4 skate rental

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza
400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

View gingerbread creations by both amateurs and professionals. Vote on your favorites for $1 each; all donations benefit Levine Children's Hospital. 

Cost: Free.

Where:
The Ballantyne Hotel
10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: (704) 248-4000
Website »

More information

Explore the moon, stars and beyond in the new planetarium. Housed in the museum's original Charlotte A. Kelly Planetarium, the dome has been retrofitted with a new Digitarium Zeta...

Cost: $8

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Explore the term "cabinet of curiosities" with this exhibit that describes a room rather than a piece of furniture. "Cabinets" originated in the 16th century and held large...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

The Year of the Engineer is an initiative celebrating the creativity and imagination of engineers. It includes the opening of an all-new Thinker Space lab and exhibition Think it Up, along with the...

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Winter Wonderland Ice Skating Rink is an open-air holiday experience nestled between South Park Mall and Symphony Park. It features a 5,000 square for ice skating rink, a pub and a coffee shop and...

Cost: $12 for admission, $5 for skate rental

Where:
Symphony Park
4400 Sharon Rd
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See your favorite Christmas scenes and hear your favorite songs during this holiday dinner theater experience. See website for showtimes. 

Cost: $7-$35

Where:
The NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy. 51 N
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 704-831-8893
Website »

More information

Skate on 4,200 square feet of real ice, plus enjoy go karting, play mini golf, and have fun on the spider web. On Nov. 17 from 5-8pm Olaf will be at the Speedpark available for pictures, hugs...

Cost: $12 for ice skating, includes skates. Other activities cost extra

Where:
The Speedpark at Concord Mills
8461 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-527-8464
Website »

More information

Get one free child ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket on Tuesdays. Each additional child (ages 3-12) receives a discount as well, costing only $5 each. 

Cost: $15 for adult

Where:
Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium
8111 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 866-229-1573
Website »

More information

Guests of all ages can participate in seasonal science fun with daily make projects every afternoon at Discovery Place Science.  Check the online calendar for the daily schedule. Activities...

Cost: Included with museum admission (adults, $17; children, $13); excludes IMAX

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Collards + Culture is a life-size installation that explores African culture and how Africans were brought to the Americas through the Middle Passage. This program is part of the ASC Culture...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sugar Creek Library
4045 North Tryon St.
Suite A
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Children and families can stop in Spangler Library and write a letter to Santa. Send him a Wish List or just say hello-ho-ho! Stationery and a special mailbox for rush delivery will be provided!...

Cost: Free

Where:
ImaginOn, Spangler Library
300 E 7th St
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era-the Age of Dinosaurs.  See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time forgot. Observe predators stalking an armored...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

School is out. Come celebrate by hiking Crowders Mountain and learning about its history.  Register online. 

Cost: $25

Where:
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve
6211 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-875-1391
Website »

More information

Become a nature detective as we explore the amazing world around us through stories, crafts, and activities related to each week's topic.  This is a drop off program.

Cost: $3

Where:
Latta Plantation Nature Center
6211 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC  28078
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1129
Website »

More information

Discover nature through the eyes of your toddler through stories, crafts, and activities related to each week's topic. 

Cost: $3

Where:
Latta Plantation Nature Center
6211 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC  28078
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1129
Website »

More information

Visit the library for a free showing of the movie "Polar Express," rated G. Feel free to wear pajamas! Canned food donations are encouraged. Bring two or more and receive a special...

Cost: Free.

Where:
Mooresville Public Library, Youth Services Community Room
304 S. Main St.
Mooresville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-664-2927
Website »

More information

See all of the favorite characters from the TV special including Santa and Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph, as they...

Cost: Tickets start at $29.50.

Where:
Ovens Auditorium
2700 E. Independence Blvd.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Visit the open-air ice skating rink located across from Fountain Park in Rock Hill. See website for operating hours.

Cost: $10, includes skate rental

Where:
Founders Holiday Ice Rink
205 Saluda St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Drive (or walk!) the two miles through town of McAdenville and view more than 375 live trees, 200 wreaths, and a 46-foot wide image of Old Man Winter blowing snowflakes over the lake. ...

Cost: Free

Where:
McAdenville , NC


Website »

More information

Melissa Lynch is a Gaston County resident who loves experimenting with acrylic pours and alcohol inks. This exhibit features abstract lines and pops of color that represent a transitional time...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

Certified technicians will check and help families install carseats. No appointment necessary. Bring your vehicle, seat and if possible the child for the most assistance. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Matthews Police Department
1201 Crews Road
Matthews, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Certified technicians will check and help families install carseats. No appointment necessary. Bring your vehicle, seat and if possible the child for the most assistance. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department
Freedom Division
4150 Wilkinson Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This annually recurring exhibit fills the museum with model train displays, railroad memorabilia, and antique toys and games. Visitors of all ages will be enchanted as they explore the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 E. Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC  28086
View map »


Telephone: 704-739-1019
Website »

More information

The 18-piece display of animatronic bears performs classic holiday songs. The 45-minute program starts on the hour. All performances are subject to cancellation so check the website for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Founders Hall
100 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-716-8649
Website »

More information

Children ages 3-5 years can share stories through books, songs, and other activities. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Statesville Library
201 N. Tradd St.
Statesville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-878-3097
Website »

More information

Selections from one of the nation's most important and comprehensive collections of African-American art. This collection features a number of images from the fifty-eight-piece collection of...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

The debut of one of the most expansive collections of abstract and contemporary African-American art.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1565
Website »

More information

Explores how artists immortalize people, places and memories through the visual arts.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Website »

More information

Both mesmerizing and mysterious, Siobhan’s works represent the interactions, and sometimes conflicts, of her conscious and subconscious minds. These thoughts are characterized by stunning...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland returns to Bass Pro Shops and Concord-area families are invited to enjoy this magical Christmas village offering free photos with Santa and free family holiday activities...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

This uptown holiday event is presented as a German-inspired Christmas Market and includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Romare Bearden Park
300 S. Church St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Charlotte’s Road to Revolution Exhibition is composed of 17 original oil paintings by Charlotte artist Dan Nance, 20 interpretive panels and eighteenth-century antiques that tell the story of...

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

Bring your little one to Perfect Balance Training Center for "Tot Time" - an hour of free play in the gym. There is no instructor so parents are in charge of their children. No need to...

Cost: $5 cash or $6 with credit card (monthly special available as well)

Where:
Perfect Balance
8850 Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

What makes snow and where does it come from? Is every snowflake unique? Explore the science of snow and create a glittering snowflake decoration of your own to take home. 

Cost: Included in price of admission to museum ($8)

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Explore the Mint Museum's exhibitions.

Cost: Free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road
Mint Museum Uptown, 500 S. Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Celebrate the Christmas season with fun family activities at the Billy Graham Library. Enjoy the light displays and Christ-centered festivities with families from across the Southeast who have made...

Cost: Free; additional cost for carriage rides

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

Carowinds will be magically transformed into a winter wonderland full of enchantment and holiday cheer! Become immersed in the season’s spirit with spectacular holiday lights and...

Cost: Starts at $25.

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
Charlotte, NC  28273
View map »


Website »

More information

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is turned into a winter wonderland. Over 600,000 lights will decorate the space with sparkling fountains and twinkling trees. Also enjoy live music, shopping,...

Cost: $8.95-$14.95

Where:
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
6500 S. New Hope Road
Belmont, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-825-4490
Website »

More information

Join us for some mid-week cheer from 5-8 pm at Waverly! Start a new holiday tradition with us that includes a night full of entertainment including music, shopping, sweet treats, cookie...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waverly
Ardrey Kell and Providence Road
Charlotte, NC  28277
View map »


Telephone: 704-665-5608
Website »

More information

Enjoy fire, s'mores, fun, and friends at a McDowell Nature Preserve campfire. Meeting place will be at McDowell Campground to spend the evening learning about fire safety, making...

Cost: Free

Where:
McDowell Nature Center
15222 York Rd.
Charlotte, NC  28278
View map »


Sponsor: McDowell Nature Center
Telephone: 980-314-1128
Website »

More information

Stroll through the park or take a ride on the Winterland Express to see more than 250,000 Christmas lights. The Celebration of lights will also feature the Double Decker Carousel and performances...

Cost: Free

Where:
Village Park
700 West C. Street
Kannapolis, NC  28081
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-4343
Website »

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
Website »

More information

Skate on more than 7,000 square feet of ice in the heart of the city.  The ice rink opens at 5 p.m. Nov. 17. See website for ongoing hours.

Cost: $10 admission; $4 skate rental

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza
400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Birth is a collection of dramatic performance, dance and live music, designed to bring the Christmas story to life in a unique way. Present by: Starving Artist Productions.  See...

Cost: $16-$24

Where:
Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square
345 N. College St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

View gingerbread creations by both amateurs and professionals. Vote on your favorites for $1 each; all donations benefit Levine Children's Hospital. 

Cost: Free.

Where:
The Ballantyne Hotel
10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: (704) 248-4000
Website »

More information

Explore the moon, stars and beyond in the new planetarium. Housed in the museum's original Charlotte A. Kelly Planetarium, the dome has been retrofitted with a new Digitarium Zeta...

Cost: $8

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Explore the term "cabinet of curiosities" with this exhibit that describes a room rather than a piece of furniture. "Cabinets" originated in the 16th century and held large...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

The Year of the Engineer is an initiative celebrating the creativity and imagination of engineers. It includes the opening of an all-new Thinker Space lab and exhibition Think it Up, along with the...

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Winter Wonderland Ice Skating Rink is an open-air holiday experience nestled between South Park Mall and Symphony Park. It features a 5,000 square for ice skating rink, a pub and a coffee shop and...

Cost: $12 for admission, $5 for skate rental

Where:
Symphony Park
4400 Sharon Rd
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibit features more than 40 of Mexico's leading photographers. The photographs in the museum, ranging from just a few inches to floor-to-ceiling murals, explore an assortment...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibit features 21st century long gowns, from cocktail attire to wedding dresses. Featured creations by Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Issey...

Cost: $6-$15; free for children 4 and under

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

See your favorite Christmas scenes and hear your favorite songs during this holiday dinner theater experience. See website for showtimes. 

Cost: $7-$35

Where:
The NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy. 51 N
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 704-831-8893
Website »

More information

Skate on 4,200 square feet of real ice, plus enjoy go karting, play mini golf, and have fun on the spider web. On Nov. 17 from 5-8pm Olaf will be at the Speedpark available for pictures, hugs...

Cost: $12 for ice skating, includes skates. Other activities cost extra

Where:
The Speedpark at Concord Mills
8461 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-527-8464
Website »

More information

Guests of all ages can participate in seasonal science fun with daily make projects every afternoon at Discovery Place Science.  Check the online calendar for the daily schedule. Activities...

Cost: Included with museum admission (adults, $17; children, $13); excludes IMAX

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Collards + Culture is a life-size installation that explores African culture and how Africans were brought to the Americas through the Middle Passage. This program is part of the ASC Culture...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sugar Creek Library
4045 North Tryon St.
Suite A
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Children and families can stop in Spangler Library and write a letter to Santa. Send him a Wish List or just say hello-ho-ho! Stationery and a special mailbox for rush delivery will be provided!...

Cost: Free

Where:
ImaginOn, Spangler Library
300 E 7th St
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era-the Age of Dinosaurs.  See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time forgot. Observe predators stalking an armored...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

School is out. Visit the Nature Center, Raptor Center, and Historic Plantation all in one day. Get a tour and see behind the scenes. Dress for the outdoors.

Cost: $25

Where:
Latta Plantation Nature Center
6211 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC  28078
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1129

More information

Come join us for a very Grinch Christmas celebration. 

Cost: Free

Where:
For Mill Public Library, Meeting Room
1818 2nd Baxter Crossing
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 803-547-4114
Website »

More information

Celebrate the shortest day of the year with a family campfire. Make s'mores and stargaze. Register online. Dress for the weather. 

Cost: Free.

Where:
Latta Plantation Nature Preserve
6211 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-875-1391
Website »

More information

The Hampton Inn and Suites at Phillips Place will transform into a 3D light show. There will be goodie bags for the first 300 children to each show, complimentary hot chocolate, snow, holiday...

Cost: Free

Where:
Phillips Place
6800 Phillips Place Ct.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-714-7656
Website »

More information

50 of Russia's brightest ballet stars will bring this classic ballet to life. 

Cost: $35-$55

Where:
Knight Theater
430 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: (704) 372-1000
Website »

More information

Watch a showing of the holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life."

Cost: Free

Where:
The Charles Mack Citizen Center
215 N. Main St.
Mooresville , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-662-3334
Website »

More information

Visit the open-air ice skating rink located across from Fountain Park in Rock Hill. See website for operating hours.

Cost: $10, includes skate rental

Where:
Founders Holiday Ice Rink
205 Saluda St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Drive (or walk!) the two miles through town of McAdenville and view more than 375 live trees, 200 wreaths, and a 46-foot wide image of Old Man Winter blowing snowflakes over the lake. ...

Cost: Free

Where:
McAdenville , NC


Website »

More information

Enjoy a moment with your smallest, and together, experience a story about being little. What does a “wee” one have to give? PlayPlay! Theatre performances are simple plots made...

Cost: $12

Where:
Levine Jewish Community Center
5007 Providence Road
Charlotte, NC  28226
View map »


Website »

More information

Melissa Lynch is a Gaston County resident who loves experimenting with acrylic pours and alcohol inks. This exhibit features abstract lines and pops of color that represent a transitional time...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

This annually recurring exhibit fills the museum with model train displays, railroad memorabilia, and antique toys and games. Visitors of all ages will be enchanted as they explore the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 E. Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC  28086
View map »


Telephone: 704-739-1019
Website »

More information

The 18-piece display of animatronic bears performs classic holiday songs. The 45-minute program starts on the hour. All performances are subject to cancellation so check the website for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Founders Hall
100 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-716-8649
Website »

More information

Selections from one of the nation's most important and comprehensive collections of African-American art. This collection features a number of images from the fifty-eight-piece collection of...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

The debut of one of the most expansive collections of abstract and contemporary African-American art.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1565
Website »

More information

Explores how artists immortalize people, places and memories through the visual arts.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Website »

More information

Both mesmerizing and mysterious, Siobhan’s works represent the interactions, and sometimes conflicts, of her conscious and subconscious minds. These thoughts are characterized by stunning...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland returns to Bass Pro Shops and Concord-area families are invited to enjoy this magical Christmas village offering free photos with Santa and free family holiday activities...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

This uptown holiday event is presented as a German-inspired Christmas Market and includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Romare Bearden Park
300 S. Church St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Charlotte’s Road to Revolution Exhibition is composed of 17 original oil paintings by Charlotte artist Dan Nance, 20 interpretive panels and eighteenth-century antiques that tell the story of...

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

Bring your little one to Perfect Balance Training Center for "Tot Time" - an hour of free play in the gym. There is no instructor so parents are in charge of their children. No need to...

Cost: $5 cash or $6 with credit card (monthly special available as well)

Where:
Perfect Balance
8850 Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

Get a quick thirty minute free tour of one of the following museums: Harvey B. Gantt Center, Mint Museum Uptown and Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Locations vary
, NC


Website »

More information

Celebrate the Christmas season with fun family activities at the Billy Graham Library. Enjoy the light displays and Christ-centered festivities with families from across the Southeast who have made...

Cost: Free; additional cost for carriage rides

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

Carowinds will be magically transformed into a winter wonderland full of enchantment and holiday cheer! Become immersed in the season’s spirit with spectacular holiday lights and...

Cost: Starts at $25.

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
Charlotte, NC  28273
View map »


Website »

More information

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is turned into a winter wonderland. Over 600,000 lights will decorate the space with sparkling fountains and twinkling trees. Also enjoy live music, shopping,...

Cost: $8.95-$14.95

Where:
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
6500 S. New Hope Road
Belmont, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-825-4490
Website »

More information

Drive the 3.5 mile course to see over 3 million lights. Then visit with Santa in the village for a special photo opportunity. The village also includes a petting zoo, a live nativity,...

Cost: $25-$30 per car when village is open; $20 per car when village is closed

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 800-455-3267
Website »

More information

Stroll through the park or take a ride on the Winterland Express to see more than 250,000 Christmas lights. The Celebration of lights will also feature the Double Decker Carousel and performances...

Cost: Free

Where:
Village Park
700 West C. Street
Kannapolis, NC  28081
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-4343
Website »

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
Website »

More information

Skate on more than 7,000 square feet of ice in the heart of the city.  The ice rink opens at 5 p.m. Nov. 17. See website for ongoing hours.

Cost: $10 admission; $4 skate rental

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza
400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Birth is a collection of dramatic performance, dance and live music, designed to bring the Christmas story to life in a unique way. Present by: Starving Artist Productions.  See...

Cost: $16-$24

Where:
Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square
345 N. College St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

View gingerbread creations by both amateurs and professionals. Vote on your favorites for $1 each; all donations benefit Levine Children's Hospital. 

Cost: Free.

Where:
The Ballantyne Hotel
10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: (704) 248-4000
Website »

More information

Explore the moon, stars and beyond in the new planetarium. Housed in the museum's original Charlotte A. Kelly Planetarium, the dome has been retrofitted with a new Digitarium Zeta...

Cost: $8

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Explore the term "cabinet of curiosities" with this exhibit that describes a room rather than a piece of furniture. "Cabinets" originated in the 16th century and held large...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

The Year of the Engineer is an initiative celebrating the creativity and imagination of engineers. It includes the opening of an all-new Thinker Space lab and exhibition Think it Up, along with the...

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Watch as Clara encounters an epic battle between the Mouse King and Nutcrackers, a snowfall, jumping candy canes and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Choreography by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and music from the...

Cost: $25-$125

Where:
Charlotte Ballet, Belk Theater
130 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

Winter Wonderland Ice Skating Rink is an open-air holiday experience nestled between South Park Mall and Symphony Park. It features a 5,000 square for ice skating rink, a pub and a coffee shop and...

Cost: $12 for admission, $5 for skate rental

Where:
Symphony Park
4400 Sharon Rd
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibit features more than 40 of Mexico's leading photographers. The photographs in the museum, ranging from just a few inches to floor-to-ceiling murals, explore an assortment...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibit features 21st century long gowns, from cocktail attire to wedding dresses. Featured creations by Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Issey...

Cost: $6-$15; free for children 4 and under

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

See your favorite Christmas scenes and hear your favorite songs during this holiday dinner theater experience. See website for showtimes. 

Cost: $7-$35

Where:
The NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy. 51 N
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Telephone: 704-831-8893
Website »

More information

Skate on 4,200 square feet of real ice, plus enjoy go karting, play mini golf, and have fun on the spider web. On Nov. 17 from 5-8pm Olaf will be at the Speedpark available for pictures, hugs...

Cost: $12 for ice skating, includes skates. Other activities cost extra

Where:
The Speedpark at Concord Mills
8461 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-527-8464
Website »

More information

Guests of all ages can participate in seasonal science fun with daily make projects every afternoon at Discovery Place Science.  Check the online calendar for the daily schedule. Activities...

Cost: Included with museum admission (adults, $17; children, $13); excludes IMAX

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Collards + Culture is a life-size installation that explores African culture and how Africans were brought to the Americas through the Middle Passage. This program is part of the ASC Culture...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sugar Creek Library
4045 North Tryon St.
Suite A
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Children and families can stop in Spangler Library and write a letter to Santa. Send him a Wish List or just say hello-ho-ho! Stationery and a special mailbox for rush delivery will be provided!...

Cost: Free

Where:
ImaginOn, Spangler Library
300 E 7th St
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era-the Age of Dinosaurs.  See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time forgot. Observe predators stalking an armored...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

Why not consider Earth-friendly gift wrap for your gifts this season? Enjoy creating some festive upcycled gift wrap here at Latta Plantation Nature Center. See what you can do with newspapers,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Latta Plantation Nature Center
6211 Sample Road
Huntersville, NC  28078
View map »


Telephone: 980-314-1129
Website »

More information

Join us in The Block for a special movie and popcorn! This week's movie is "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

Cost: Free

Where:
ImaginOn, Spangler Library
300 E 7th St
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Visit the open-air ice skating rink located across from Fountain Park in Rock Hill. See website for operating hours.

Cost: $10, includes skate rental

Where:
Founders Holiday Ice Rink
205 Saluda St.
Rock Hill, SC
View map »


Website »

More information

Drive (or walk!) the two miles through town of McAdenville and view more than 375 live trees, 200 wreaths, and a 46-foot wide image of Old Man Winter blowing snowflakes over the lake. ...

Cost: Free

Where:
McAdenville , NC


Website »

More information

Enjoy a moment with your smallest, and together, experience a story about being little. What does a “wee” one have to give? PlayPlay! Theatre performances are simple plots made...

Cost: $12

Where:
Levine Jewish Community Center
5007 Providence Road
Charlotte, NC  28226
View map »


Website »

More information

Melissa Lynch is a Gaston County resident who loves experimenting with acrylic pours and alcohol inks. This exhibit features abstract lines and pops of color that represent a transitional time...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

This annually recurring exhibit fills the museum with model train displays, railroad memorabilia, and antique toys and games. Visitors of all ages will be enchanted as they explore the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 E. Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC  28086
View map »


Telephone: 704-739-1019
Website »

More information

The 18-piece display of animatronic bears performs classic holiday songs. The 45-minute program starts on the hour. All performances are subject to cancellation so check the website for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Founders Hall
100 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-716-8649
Website »

More information

Selections from one of the nation's most important and comprehensive collections of African-American art. This collection features a number of images from the fifty-eight-piece collection of...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

The debut of one of the most expansive collections of abstract and contemporary African-American art.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-374-1565
Website »

More information

Explores how artists immortalize people, places and memories through the visual arts.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Website »

More information

Both mesmerizing and mysterious, Siobhan’s works represent the interactions, and sometimes conflicts, of her conscious and subconscious minds. These thoughts are characterized by stunning...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
View map »


Telephone: 704-547-3700
Website »

More information

Bring your toddler each week for free play at the Statesville Library. We will play music, read a short story and have different activities for your little one to explore. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Statesville Library
201 N. Tradd St.
Statesville, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-878-3097
Website »

More information

Santa’s Wonderland returns to Bass Pro Shops and Concord-area families are invited to enjoy this magical Christmas village offering free photos with Santa and free family holiday activities...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd
Concord, NC  28027
View map »


Website »

More information

This uptown holiday event is presented as a German-inspired Christmas Market and includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Romare Bearden Park
300 S. Church St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Charlotte’s Road to Revolution Exhibition is composed of 17 original oil paintings by Charlotte artist Dan Nance, 20 interpretive panels and eighteenth-century antiques that tell the story of...

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-568-1774
Website »

More information

Bring your little one to Perfect Balance Training Center for "Tot Time" - an hour of free play in the gym. There is no instructor so parents are in charge of their children. No need to...

Cost: $5 cash or $6 with credit card (monthly special available as well)

Where:
Perfect Balance
8850 Monroe Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-299-8445
Website »

More information

Get free entry to the Schiele Museum every second Tuesday of the month from 4-8pm and every fourth Friday of the month from 1-5pm. 

Cost: Free

Where:
The Schiele Museum
1500 East Garrison Boulevard
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-866-6900
Website »

More information

This family-friendly event features craft brews, wine, cider, live music and the best food trucks in Charlotte. Bring the whole family, including your dogs. Along...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sycamore Brewing
2161 Hawkins St.
Charlotte, NC  28203
View map »


Sponsor: Sycamore Brewing
Contact Name: Katelyn Carpenter
Website »

More information

Celebrate the Christmas season with fun family activities at the Billy Graham Library. Enjoy the light displays and Christ-centered festivities with families from across the Southeast who have made...

Cost: Free; additional cost for carriage rides

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
View map »


Telephone: 704-401-3200
Website »

More information

Carowinds will be magically transformed into a winter wonderland full of enchantment and holiday cheer! Become immersed in the season’s spirit with spectacular holiday lights and...

Cost: Starts at $25.

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
Charlotte, NC  28273
View map »


Website »

More information

The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is turned into a winter wonderland. Over 600,000 lights will decorate the space with sparkling fountains and twinkling trees. Also enjoy live music, shopping,...

Cost: $8.95-$14.95

Where:
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
6500 S. New Hope Road
Belmont, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-825-4490
Website »

More information

Drive the 3.5 mile course to see over 3 million lights. Then visit with Santa in the village for a special photo opportunity. The village also includes a petting zoo, a live nativity,...

Cost: $25-$30 per car when village is open; $20 per car when village is closed

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 800-455-3267
Website »

More information

Stroll through the park or take a ride on the Winterland Express to see more than 250,000 Christmas lights. The Celebration of lights will also feature the Double Decker Carousel and performances...

Cost: Free

Where:
Village Park
700 West C. Street
Kannapolis, NC  28081
View map »


Telephone: 704-920-4343
Website »

More information

Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-245-6446
Website »

More information

Skate on more than 7,000 square feet of ice in the heart of the city.  The ice rink opens at 5 p.m. Nov. 17. See website for ongoing hours.

Cost: $10 admission; $4 skate rental

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza
400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Birth is a collection of dramatic performance, dance and live music, designed to bring the Christmas story to life in a unique way. Present by: Starving Artist Productions.  See...

Cost: $16-$24

Where:
Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square
345 N. College St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

View gingerbread creations by both amateurs and professionals. Vote on your favorites for $1 each; all donations benefit Levine Children's Hospital. 

Cost: Free.

Where:
The Ballantyne Hotel
10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: (704) 248-4000
Website »

More information

Explore the moon, stars and beyond in the new planetarium. Housed in the museum's original Charlotte A. Kelly Planetarium, the dome has been retrofitted with a new Digitarium Zeta...

Cost: $8

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Explore the term "cabinet of curiosities" with this exhibit that describes a room rather than a piece of furniture. "Cabinets" originated in the 16th century and held large...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-922-7681
Website »

More information

When the worst kids in the history of the world find out there are free snacks at Sunday School, they take it upon themselves to audition for the annual Christmas pageant. Will a group of kids who...

Cost: $12+

Where:
Children's Theatre of Charlotte, McColl Family Theatre
300 E. 7th St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-973-2828
Website »

More information

The Year of the Engineer is an initiative celebrating the creativity and imagination of engineers. It includes the opening of an all-new Thinker Space lab and exhibition Think it Up, along with the...

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Take the train to the North Pole to meet Santa with a live reading of the story The Polar Express, complete with songs from the movie. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served. Open on...

Cost: $30+

Where:
North Carolina Transportation Museum
411 S. Salisbury Ave.
Spencer, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-636-2889
Website »

More information

Watch as Clara encounters an epic battle between the Mouse King and Nutcrackers, a snowfall, jumping candy canes and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Choreography by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and music from the...

Cost: $25-$125

Where:
Charlotte Ballet, Belk Theater
130 N. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-1000
Website »

More information

Winter Wonderland Ice Skating Rink is an open-air holiday experience nestled between South Park Mall and Symphony Park. It features a 5,000 square for ice skating rink, a pub and a coffee shop and...

Cost: $12 for admission, $5 for skate rental

Where:
Symphony Park
4400 Sharon Rd
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibit features more than 40 of Mexico's leading photographers. The photographs in the museum, ranging from just a few inches to floor-to-ceiling murals, explore an assortment...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

This exhibit features 21st century long gowns, from cocktail attire to wedding dresses. Featured creations by Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Issey...

Cost: $6-$15; free for children 4 and under

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-337-2000
Website »

More information

Skate on 4,200 square feet of real ice, plus enjoy go karting, play mini golf, and have fun on the spider web. On Nov. 17 from 5-8pm Olaf will be at the Speedpark available for pictures, hugs...

Cost: $12 for ice skating, includes skates. Other activities cost extra

Where:
The Speedpark at Concord Mills
8461 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-527-8464
Website »

More information

Guests of all ages can participate in seasonal science fun with daily make projects every afternoon at Discovery Place Science.  Check the online calendar for the daily schedule. Activities...

Cost: Included with museum admission (adults, $17; children, $13); excludes IMAX

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St
, NC
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Telephone: 704-372-6261
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Collards + Culture is a life-size installation that explores African culture and how Africans were brought to the Americas through the Middle Passage. This program is part of the ASC Culture...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sugar Creek Library
4045 North Tryon St.
Suite A
, NC
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Children and families can stop in Spangler Library and write a letter to Santa. Send him a Wish List or just say hello-ho-ho! Stationery and a special mailbox for rush delivery will be provided!...

Cost: Free

Where:
ImaginOn, Spangler Library
300 E 7th St
, NC
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Travel back in time on a journey through the Mesozoic Era-the Age of Dinosaurs.  See full-bodied models of incredible creatures that time forgot. Observe predators stalking an armored...

Cost: $6-$7

Where:
The Schiele Museum of Natural History
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC  28054
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Telephone: 704-866-6900
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Visit the open-air ice skating rink located across from Fountain Park in Rock Hill. See website for operating hours.

Cost: $10, includes skate rental

Where:
Founders Holiday Ice Rink
205 Saluda St.
Rock Hill, SC
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Drive (or walk!) the two miles through town of McAdenville and view more than 375 live trees, 200 wreaths, and a 46-foot wide image of Old Man Winter blowing snowflakes over the lake. ...

Cost: Free

Where:
McAdenville , NC


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Enjoy a moment with your smallest, and together, experience a story about being little. What does a “wee” one have to give? PlayPlay! Theatre performances are simple plots made...

Cost: $12

Where:
Levine Jewish Community Center
5007 Providence Road
Charlotte, NC  28226
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Melissa Lynch is a Gaston County resident who loves experimenting with acrylic pours and alcohol inks. This exhibit features abstract lines and pops of color that represent a transitional time...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
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Telephone: 704-922-7681
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Eat a pancake breakfast, enjoy festive crafts, watch a movie, ice skate and get a photo with Santa.

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame
400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Charlotte, NC  28202
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Telephone: 704-654-4400
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This annually recurring exhibit fills the museum with model train displays, railroad memorabilia, and antique toys and games. Visitors of all ages will be enchanted as they explore the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 E. Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC  28086
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Telephone: 704-739-1019
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The 18-piece display of animatronic bears performs classic holiday songs. The 45-minute program starts on the hour. All performances are subject to cancellation so check the website for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Founders Hall
100 N. Tryon St.
, NC
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Telephone: 704-716-8649
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Selections from one of the nation's most important and comprehensive collections of African-American art. This collection features a number of images from the fifty-eight-piece collection of...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
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Telephone: 704-547-3700
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The debut of one of the most expansive collections of abstract and contemporary African-American art.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
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Telephone: 704-374-1565
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Explores how artists immortalize people, places and memories through the visual arts.

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
The Harvey B. Gantt Center
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
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Both mesmerizing and mysterious, Siobhan’s works represent the interactions, and sometimes conflicts, of her conscious and subconscious minds. These thoughts are characterized by stunning...

Cost: $7-$9

Where:
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture
551 South Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC  28202
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Telephone: 704-547-3700
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Santa’s Wonderland returns to Bass Pro Shops and Concord-area families are invited to enjoy this magical Christmas village offering free photos with Santa and free family holiday activities...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shops
8181 Concord Mills Blvd
Concord, NC  28027
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Lakeshore Learning Stores provide fun, free crafts every Saturday from 11am to 3pm. Visit Bit.ly/freecraftsforkids for the featured craft of the week or call your local Lakeshore Learning store for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lakeshore Learning Store
10005 E. Independence Blvd.
Matthews, NC  28105
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Sponsor: Lakeshore Learning Store
Telephone: 704-849-2450
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This uptown holiday event is presented as a German-inspired Christmas Market and includes traditional German foods and treats, homemade crafts and gifts, and other featured programming...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Romare Bearden Park
300 S. Church St.
, NC
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Come to family storytime at Barnes & Noble. Activities to follow. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble, Morrison Place
4020 Sharon Road
, NC
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Telephone: 704-364-0626
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Charlotte’s Road to Revolution Exhibition is composed of 17 original oil paintings by Charlotte artist Dan Nance, 20 interpretive panels and eighteenth-century antiques that tell the story of...

Cost: $7-$10

Where:
The Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Drive
, NC
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Telephone: 704-568-1774
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​Santa will be roaming the mall on these special days handing out treats and stopping for photos. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Charlotte Premium Outlets
5404 New Fashion Way
, NC
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What makes snow and where does it come from? Is every snowflake unique? Explore the science of snow and create a glittering snowflake decoration of your own to take home. 

Cost: Included in price of admission to museum ($8)

Where:
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Road
, NC
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Telephone: 704-372-6261
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Come to BLACKLION for free photos with Santa. Fun backdrops for selfies and a few of Santa's friends will also be there. Feel free to bring your personal cameras. 

Cost: Free

Where:
BLACKLION
10635 Park Rd
, NC
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Telephone: 704-541-1148
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Celebrate the Christmas season with fun family activities at the Billy Graham Library. Enjoy the light displays and Christ-centered festivities with families from across the Southeast who have made...

Cost: Free; additional cost for carriage rides

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
Charlotte, NC  28217
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Telephone: 704-401-3200
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Carowinds will be magically transformed into a winter wonderland full of enchantment and holiday cheer! Become immersed in the season’s spirit with spectacular holiday lights and...

Cost: Starts at $25.

Where:
Carowinds
14523 Carowinds Blvd.
Charlotte, NC  28273
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The Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden is turned into a winter wonderland. Over 600,000 lights will decorate the space with sparkling fountains and twinkling trees. Also enjoy live music, shopping,...

Cost: $8.95-$14.95

Where:
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
6500 S. New Hope Road
Belmont, NC
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Telephone: 704-825-4490
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Drive the 3.5 mile course to see over 3 million lights. Then visit with Santa in the village for a special photo opportunity. The village also includes a petting zoo, a live nativity,...

Cost: $25-$30 per car when village is open; $20 per car when village is closed

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy.
Concord, NC
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Telephone: 800-455-3267
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Stroll through the park or take a ride on the Winterland Express to see more than 250,000 Christmas lights. The Celebration of lights will also feature the Double Decker Carousel and performances...

Cost: Free

Where:
Village Park
700 West C. Street
Kannapolis, NC  28081
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Telephone: 704-920-4343
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Visit with Santa, take a pony ride, pet animals, and roast marshmallows over a fire. Even feed a tiger! Sun.-Thur., 6-9pm; Fri.-Sat., 6-10pm.

Cost: $7 per person

Where:
Zootastic Park
385 Ostwalt Amity Road
Troutman , NC
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Telephone: 704-245-6446
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Skate on more than 7,000 square feet of ice in the heart of the city.  The ice rink opens at 5 p.m. Nov. 17. See website for ongoing hours.

Cost: $10 admission; $4 skate rental

Where:
NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza
400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
, NC
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The Birth is a collection of dramatic performance, dance and live music, designed to bring the Christmas story to life in a unique way. Present by: Starving Artist Productions.  See...

Cost: $16-$24

Where:
Duke Energy Theater at Spirit Square
345 N. College St.
, NC
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Telephone: 704-372-1000
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View gingerbread creations by both amateurs and professionals. Vote on your favorites for $1 each; all donations benefit Levine Children's Hospital. 

Cost: Free.

Where:
The Ballantyne Hotel
10000 Ballantyne Commons Pkwy.
, NC
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Telephone: (704) 248-4000
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Explore the term "cabinet of curiosities" with this exhibit that describes a room rather than a piece of furniture. "Cabinets" originated in the 16th century and held large...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gaston County Museum
131 W. Main St.
Dallas, NC
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Telephone: 704-922-7681
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When the worst kids in the history of the world find out there are free snacks at Sunday School, they take it upon themselves to audition for the annual Christmas pageant. Will a group of kids who...

Cost: $12+

Where:
Children's Theatre of Charlotte, McColl Family Theatre
300 E. 7th St.
, NC
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Telephone: 704-973-2828
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The Year of the Engineer is an initiative celebrating the creativity and imagination of engineers. It includes the opening of an all-new Thinker Space lab and exhibition Think it Up, along with the...

Cost: $13-$17

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St.
, NC
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Telephone: 704-372-6261
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Stop by for some hot beverages and relaxation with crafting. We will be cutting paper snowflakes and coloring beautiful winter scenes before the bustle of the holidays. Registration required for...

Cost: Free

Where:
McDowell Nature Center
15222 York Rd.
Charlotte, NC  28278
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Sponsor: McDowell Nature Center
Telephone: 980-314-1128
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Watch as Clara encounters an epic battle between the Mouse King and Nutcrackers, a snowfall, jumping candy canes and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Choreography by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and music from the...

Cost: $25-$125

Where:
Charlotte Ballet, Belk Theater
130 N. Tryon St.
, NC
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Telephone: 704-372-1000
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Winter Wonderland Ice Skating Rink is an open-air holiday experience nestled between South Park Mall and Symphony Park. It features a 5,000 square for ice skating rink, a pub and a coffee shop and...

Cost: $12 for admission, $5 for skate rental

Where:
Symphony Park
4400 Sharon Rd
, NC
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This exhibit features more than 40 of Mexico's leading photographers. The photographs in the museum, ranging from just a few inches to floor-to-ceiling murals, explore an assortment...

Cost: $10-$15

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St
, NC
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Telephone: 704-337-2000
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This exhibit features 21st century long gowns, from cocktail attire to wedding dresses. Featured creations by Roberto Cavalli, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, Marc Jacobs, Missoni, Issey...

Cost: $6-$15; free for children 4 and under

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
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Telephone: 704-337-2000
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Skate on 4,200 square feet of real ice, plus enjoy go karting, play mini golf, and have fun on the spider web. On Nov. 17 from 5-8pm Olaf will be at the Speedpark available for pictures, hugs...

Cost: $12 for ice skating, includes skates. Other activities cost extra

Where:
The Speedpark at Concord Mills
8461 Concord Mills Blvd.
Concord, NC
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Telephone: 704-527-8464
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Sit on Santa's lap, ride his horse, play on the farm playground and pat and hold bunnies, pig, sheep, goats, chicken, duck, cows, and puppies. Have your camera ready to take Christmas pictures!...

Cost: $7 per person; $5 kids horse rides.

Where:
Whispering Hope Farm
1405 Crowders Creek Road
Gastonia, NC
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Attendees can share Santa’s love for marine life with Scuba Claus dives, engage in classic Christmas tales during holiday story time with Sharky and participate in seasonal favorites such as...

Cost: Included in admission to museum ($10.95-$19.95)

Where:
SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord
8111 Concord Mills Boulevard
Concord, NC
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Guests of all ages can participate in seasonal science fun with daily make projects every afternoon at Discovery Place Science.  Check the online calendar for the daily schedule. Activities...

Cost: Included with museum admission (adults, $17; children, $13); excludes IMAX

Where:
Discovery Place Science
301 N. Tryon St
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 704-372-6261
Website »

More information

Collards + Culture is a life-size installation that explores African culture and how Africans were brought to the Americas through the Middle Passage. This program is part of the ASC Culture...

Cost: Free

Where:
Sugar Creek Library
4045 North Tryon St.
Suite A
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Children and families can stop in Spangler Library and write a letter to Santa. Send him a Wish List or just say hello-ho-ho! Stationery and a special mailbox for rush delivery will be provided!...

Cost: Free

Where:
ImaginOn, Spangler Library
300 E 7th St
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Annual Guides

GPS [Go. Play. See.]

Your guide to raising kids in the Queen City, plus our 2017 Readers' Favorites for places to play, explore and learn with the kids.

Education Guide

This comprehensive guide covers preschool, private, charter and public schools in Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Union and York counties.
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