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24 free and cheap things to do in Charlotte: Holiday lights, movie nights, Classic Christmas

This list is curated by Charlotte on the Cheap, where you’ll find even more free and cheap things to do every day, and detailed by Denise Casalez.

Friday, Dec. 8

Christmas Toy Drive with free pizza

Location: 2900 Griffith St, Charlotte, NC 28203

Time: Through Dec. 15

Cost: Free

Triple C Brewing Company is collecting new, unwrapped toys Dec. 1-15 to drop off at the Ronald McDonald House on Saturday, Dec. 16. Leading up to drop-off day, Triple C will hook you up with a free, small one-topping pizza in exchange for your donation from the approved @rmhclt gift list. One per family per day, only valid for donations dropped off at Triple C during regular hours.

SouthPark Holiday Hop

Location: Multiple locations in SouthPark

Time: Through Dec. 10, regular hours

Cost: Free

Shopping for gifts for the perfect person? Head on over to the SouthPark Holiday Hop, where you can find special deals such 25% off of Amina Rubinacci handbags, gift cards with purchase at Bedside Manor for the first 25 customers and more. You can take a free shuttle between stores, too.

Mooresville 150: A Classic Christmas

Location: 215 N Main St, Mooresville, NC 28115

Time: 5-9 p.m.

Cost: Free

Visit local artisans, sample festive cuisine, finish your last-minute shopping and catch holiday-themed performances brought to you by local talent at Mooresville 150: A Classic Christmas. Victorian carolers, holiday shopping and photos with Santa are all part of this traditional experience.

Carolina Holiday Light Spectacular

Location: Ballantyne’s Backyard, 11611 N Community House Rd, Charlotte, NC 28277

Time: 5:30-9:30 p.m., but hours vary each day

Cost: $20 general admission

See festive lights with your family, partner or friends at the Carolina Holiday Light Spectacular, happening through Dec. 30. You can see over a million spectacular lights and displays over a half-mile walking trail and a live Santa every night.

Saturday, Dec. 9

Latinx Holiday Market: Dulce Dreams Cafe

Location: 5249 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28212

Time: 12-6 p.m.

Cost: Free

Dulce Dreams Cafe presents Latinx Holiday Market, running both Dec. 9 and Dec. 16. At the event, you can groove to a DJ, food and craft vendors, face painting and more.

Reindog Parade at Camp North End

Location: 300 Camp Rd, Charlotte, NC 28206

Time: 3-5 p.m.

Cost: Free

Bundle up your pup in their holiday best and join Camp North End for the cutest tradition: Camp North End’s 6th annual Reindog Parade. The second week of Mistletoe Market will kick off with a puppy parade through all three districts of Camp North End. It’s free for spectators to enjoy, and free for participants to walk the route.

Metro Movie Night: “The Polar Express”

Location: 3801 Beatties Ford Rd #3215, Charlotte, NC 28216

Time: 5-7 p.m.

Cost: Free

Watch a holiday classic at Metro Movie Night — “The Polar Express” — at McCrorey YMCA for a magical evening filled with holiday cheer and adventure. Immerse yourself in the heartwarming story of belief and the power of the Christmas spirit with free popcorn and drinks, plus a hot cocoa bar.

House of Krampus 2023

Location: 2501 The Plaza #1, Charlotte, NC 28206

Time: 4 p.m.- 2 a.m.

Cost: $10 per ticket

House of Krampus continues this year with a ticketed experience at Humbug. It has a one-of-a-kind drink menu, holiday snacks and many other surprises — you’ll experience a holiday party like none other. Each ticket is a 2-hour experience.

Festive Flicks: All Weekend

Location: 5336 Docia Crossing Rd, Charlotte, NC 28269

Time: Dec 8-14, selected times

Cost: $5

Watch classic holiday favorites like “Elf,” “The Grinch” and more for only $5. Grab your popcorn and your favorite snacks, and have a holiday movie night with Cinergy.

Charlotte 23rd Annual Santa Bar Crawl

Location: 222 S Church St, Charlotte, NC 28202

Time: Dec. 9, 3 p.m-1 a.m.

Cost: $10

Party at the largest holiday bar crawl in uptown Charlotte. The Santa Bar Crawl is one of the largest and longest-running events in the city, where hundreds of crawlers dress up in their favorite holiday gear and join together for a night out in Charlotte. A ticket gets you into bars, access to drink specials and more.

Sunday, Dec. 10

Photos with Santa in Myers Park

Location: Myers Park, 301 Plantation Pl, Charlotte, NC 28209

Time: 2-3:30 p.m.

Cost: Free admission

You’re invited to join this festive event with free photos with Santa Mike, along with hot cocoa and coffee from Wildroots Coffee Connection. There will also be fun activities and raffle prizes.

Hanukkah Breakfast with Clifford the Big Red Dog

Location: 5007 Providence Rd #102, Charlotte, NC 28226

Time: 9:30-11 a.m.

Cost: Free for children, $10-15 for adults

Gather at the Sandra and Leon Levine Jewish Community Center for a Hanukkah celebration featuring a morning filled with breakfast, activities and lots of fun with Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Christmas Concert with Charlotte Harps

Location: 9925 Providence Rd W, Charlotte, NC 28277

Time: 3 p.m.

Cost: Free

Get in the spirit of the season with holiday music. Charlotte Harps, the Charlotte Chapter of the American Harp Society, is presenting a free concert at Ballantyne Presbyterian Church.

Free pancake breakfast, Christmas Brunch & Shop

Location: 210 E Trade St C244, Charlotte, NC 28202

Time: 12-4 p.m.

Cost: Free for the first 100 kids

Enjoy a free pancake breakfast for the first 100 kids and indulge in mouthwatering pancakes and turkey sausage at The MilliUp Event Center. There is also a Christmas Brunch & Shop, where you can feast on breakfast that includes chicken and waffles, and fruit while having the chance to socialize and browse.

Brian Kilmeade celebrates TEDDY AND BOOKER T

Location: 3327 Pineville-Matthews Rd, Charlotte, NC 28226

Time: 4 p.m.

Cost: Free

Come and celebrate the New York Times best-selling author of “George Washington’s Secret Six” and “Thomas Jefferson and The Tripoli Pirates” at the Barnes and Noble in Pineville. Limited copies will be available, and it’s a signing-only event.

Monday, Dec. 11

A night with Santa and the Grinch

Location: 5380 Village Dr NW, Concord, NC 28027

Time: 4-8 p.m.

Cost: ½ off pizza, free photos with donation

Join Afton Pub & Pizza from 4-8 p.m. to grab pizza for half off, have professional pictures done with Santa that are free with donations and visit with the Grinch. All sales from hot chocolate and freshly squeezed lemonade will go toward helping a family in need for Christmas.

Coffee at Neighborhood Coffee Roasters

Location: 3646 Central Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205

Time: 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

Cost: Varies

If you’re looking for a hot cup of coffee that “makes you feel at home,” then head on over to Neighborhood Coffee Roasters. This cafe inside Project 658, an organization that assists refugees, creates an inviting space where you can hang out and meet new people.

Tuesday, Dec. 12

Now Showing: “Christmas with the Kranks”

Location: 300 E 7th St, Charlotte, NC 28202

Time: 4-6 p.m

Cost: Free

If you’re looking for a holiday movie to watch, ImaginOn is hosting a movie night showing “Christmas with the Kranks.” Light snacks will also be provided.

Miracle on Main: 158 on Main

Location: 158 N Main St, Mooresville, NC 28115

Time: 5 p.m.-midnight

Cost: Varies

The Miracle on Main pop-up is running through Dec. 31 with holiday-themed cocktails, food and a great time. Remember to wear your festive sweaters and enjoy cocktails such the Snowball Iced Fashioned or the Christmapolitan ($16).

OneBand Concert

Location: 3701 N Davidson St Suite #203, Charlotte, NC 28205

Time: 6:30-9 p.m.

Cost: Free

Join Divine Barrel Brewing for its final OneBand Concert, a community concert series featuring passionate musicians who jam together. Guests can enjoy an eventful concert, delicious Mexican cuisine from Fat Burritos and connect with some of Charlotte’s most creative minds.

Wednesday, Dec. 13

Drop In Art at Mint Museum Randolph

Location: 2730 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC 28207

Time: 4-8 p.m.

Cost: Free

All ages are invited to drop by the Art Room at Mint Museum Randolph for self-directed, creative fun. Explore drawing, clay, collage and painting stations. A museum educator will be on hand to provide encouragement and helpful tips.

NoDa Run Club

Location: 150 W 32nd St, Charlotte, NC 28206

Time: 6-7:30 p.m.

Cost: Free entry

Get active this holiday season and join NoDa Run Club on Wednesdays, when you can run its 1-, 3- and 5-mile routes that are color-coded.

Thursday, Dec. 14

Lights for Levine’s Children Hospital

Location: 1000 Blythe Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28203

Time: 6-8 p.m.

Cost: Free

Experience the Annual Lights for Levine’s Children Hospital, where everyone is invited to shine a light on the kids at Atrium Health Levine Children’s Hospital. Everyone will shine flashlights, make cards for the kids, drink hot chocolate and more.

Sam on Sunday at Devil’s Logic Brewing

Location: 1426 E 4th St, Charlotte, NC 28204

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $8-15

Sam on Someday, an ongoing live music series hosted by Devil’s Logic Brewing, brings together diverse songwriters and musicians in collaborative performances. The show shines a spotlight on songwriting, whether it’s freshly minted songs by local songwriters or favorite covers. Musical guests include fan favorites from the Charlotte and North Carolina music community, as well as touring bands and artists.

Visit Charlotte on the Cheap for an expanded list of things to do in Charlotte every day. You’ll find festivals, kids’ activities, date night ideas, art, trivia and much more. You can sign up for a daily email that will keep you in the loop.