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Rejoice! The holidays aren't canceled: Here are a few of Charlotte's holiday festivities

Preparations are underway to bring the holidays to life. From ice-skating rinks, to holiday light displays, there are many outdoor options for families to celebrate.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — COVID-19 is not canceling the holidays. In fact, preparations are underway across Charlotte to bring the holidays to life. 

From ice-skating rinks to holiday light displays, there are many outdoor options for families still looking to celebrate this holiday season.

“It’s been such a tough year and Holidays at the Garden is such a cherished event,” said Jim Hoffman, the Interim Executive Director at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens in Belmont.

All week, staff and volunteers have been stringing hundreds of thousands of lights, all in preparation of the Garden’s annual Holidays at the Garden light display, set to run November, 27 through January 3.

Presale tickets are on sale now, with just three timeslots available per day this year. Also, because of Covid-19 restrictions, the Garden will not host live entertainment and Santa will not be in attendance.  

“You’ll still be able to come here and roast marshmallows by the fire, you’ll still be able to get a cup of cocoa,” said Hoffman, who said the Garden still offers adult beverages and will feature food trucks.

At Charlotte-Motor Speedway, crews were busy this week rolling out the ice-skating rink, part of its Speedway Christmas festivities. The 11th edition of Charlotte’s spectacular drive-through light show features more than 4 million lights over a 3.75-mile course, according to the event’s website.

Speedway Christmas runs Saturday, November 21, 2020 - Sunday, January 17, 2021.

This week, finishing touches also underway at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte.

Their ice rink expected to open Wednesday, November 11.

“We’re opening about a week and a half earlier than last year,” said Jesse Hyde, the Brand Director at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, “We had such a great response last year, that we’ve been working hard to make it available a little sooner this time around.”

Hyde said visitors aren’t required to have a reservation but said they’re recommended and available for purchase online.

“We are going to be monitoring the capacity on the ice at all times,” he said.

Hyde said the airstream will also be back this year, offering skaters a ‘skate-up bar’ serving hot chocolate, craft beer, malt wine and other winter offerings.

“To be able to have an amenity like this in the charlotte community so that people can break away from all of the things that have been going on, it definitely excites us, it energizes us,” said Hyde.

And mark your calendars, even COVID-19 isn’t keeping Santa away.  Reservations to meet him are now open at most locations.

The jolly fellow in red will be making stops at eight Charlotte-area malls and also at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s beginning Saturday, November 7, with new safety precautions in place.

Bass Pro Shops said kids will experience a contactless visit, thanks to a ‘magic Santa shield,’ and that Santa and his elves will all be wearing face shields, with sanitizing practices occurring between each family.  

Like everything else – the holidays may look a little different, but the feeling of joy they bring, that is just right around the corner.

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