southernchristmasApparently, if you’re living in Charlotte and are looking to earn the right to call yourself Southern, it’s basically a prerequisite to go to the Southern Christmas Show every year.

And, I’m here to let you in on a little secret:

It. Is. Glorious.

As a native of Cleveland, I’m sure you can only imagine what I was expecting from this yearly Christmas extravaganza. To me, when someone says something is “Southern,” I assume it has big hair, a distinctive linguistic accent, makes some mind-blowing cornbread, sips sweet tea, shops at Belk and is covered in Carolina-style barbeque sauce.

In reality? Turns out Christmas caught a bug and barfed tinsel, glitter and merriment on the Park Expo & Conference Center. And, oh boy oh boy oh boy, it was super fun. No joke. I heart the Southern Christmas Show times a million.

Christmas shopping in CLTThis year, I attended for my third time in three years during a preview night with a Southern Christmas Show virgin. She thought we were on our way to some rinky-dink, church-style holiday bazaar.

Her mind? Blown.

If you can, for just a minute, imagine six ACRES of Christmastime magic coming from more than 400 merchants. Yes, four hundred.

Vendors range from old ladies hand-painting glass ornaments to craftsmen hand-carving wooden canvases. There’s dog clothes and doll clothes, apparel for kids and even more for ladies.

Ya’ll (see what I did there), this is the LARGEST Christmas show in the United States. It’s b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

img_3663Need a fancy holiday wreath? They’ve got like 5,478,409. Looking for a new cheese ball for your holiday party? They’ve got a vendor (or five) for that. In the market for a holiday-themed headband that boasts six-inch tall ornaments adorned on top? Got it. Is someone on your gift list a huge sports fan? They’ve got vendors who sell sports-themed ornaments, flags, artwork, outerwear and even jewelry.

All the merchants are located in three buildings within the complex. So, after you’ve finished shopping the first (and massive) building, don’t assume you’re done for the day. Because, just as your feet are about to give out on you, you suddenly realize you have two more BUILDINGS filled with Christmasy delight begging for your shopping perusal.

Some vendors take over entire retail stores within the conference center, while others hawk their awesomeness from standard-sized booths.

You need this.Sure, there are a few head-scratching crafty items that’ll leave you asking, “Who in the world would buy such a thing?” (SPOILER ALERT: A lot of people.] But, for the most part, there are really beautiful, hand-crafted items and gifts that, frankly, you’ll never find beng sold big-box retailers. To be honest, I’d much prefer to purchase Christmas gifts from the little shops and incredibly talented artists at this show than from a store that has a whole lot of “Made in China” crap.

Shopping isn’t the only thing you can do at the show. There’s a whole slew of live entertainment ranging from choirs to dance teams. You can get decorating inspiration from Christmas Tree Lane and even do a little wine tasting. Better still, Santa sets up shop for its duration.

Thankfully, there’s a smorgasbord of food options to keep you sustained mid-shopping break. And, for realz, you’re totes going to need it. [Along with a sturdy shopping bag–trust me.]

img_3658This is the 49th year for the show. So, of course, you Charlotte natives are no stranger to this holiday extravaganza. But if you’re a newb, get here. Just make sure to where comfortable shows, plan to spend the day, pack your patience and bring some cash.



Here are the details:

November 10-20, 2016

Adults: $12.00 at the door

Youth: $3.00 (Ages 6-12) Children under 6 free with paying adult

Advance Tickets: $10.00

Groups: (20 or more; Advance Only) $9.50

Click here for more information on the Group Ticket offer.

General Parking: $7.00 at the gate. Cash only.

Valet Parking:  $18. Cash only.

Discount tickets available for $9.50 with VIC Card at Harris Teeter stores beginning October 20. A listing of store locations can be found at this link: Harris Teeter Store Locations

Need more information on the show? Visit