INDIAN TRAIL – Going to the mall in hopes of sitting on Santa’s lap is a tradition older than the forgotten fruitcake in the back of your refrigerator.
A cooler way to celebrate the holidays is at outdoor community ice rinks. They can be found in several communities across the region. Here are some we found:
1. Winter Wonderland at SouthPark Mall
Ice skating and shopping at the SouthPark Mall means you can check two things off your holiday to-do list at the same time. Winter Wonderland opens Nov. 29 at 11 a.m. and features a daily afternoon snowfall, holiday lights and decor, as well as attractions like Santa’s Pub, live music and visits from Santa and other characters.
• Where: Between SouthPark Mall and Symphony Park; located behind Dick’s Sporting Goods at 4400 Sharon Road, Charlotte
• Hours: 3 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 p.m. to midnight Fridays, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays through Jan. 20, 2020 (see website for Black Friday, Christmas and New Years hours)
• Cost: $12 for two hours if you bring your own skates, $17 for two hours with skate rental or $149 for unlimited skating and skate rentals all season long
• Details: www.winterwonderlandsouth park.com or 704-931-3551
2. Snow Flake Lake at Carowinds
Experience a holiday tradition with the backdrop of the Intimidator behind you as you skate Snow Flake Lake, one of the many attractions at Carowinds WinterFest.
• Where: In front of Intimidator near Harmony Hall at Carowinds, 14523 Carowinds Blvd, Charlotte
• Hours: 2 or 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (depending on when the park opens) on select nights through Dec. 31
• Cost: $15 for 45 minutes with skate rental (must buy park admission separately)
• Details: www.carowinds.com or 704-588-2600
3. Holiday on Ice at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza
Glide across the ice as fast as Dale Earnhardt Jr. drives at Uptown Charlotte’s only outdoor skating rink, located right in front of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. There will be special events at the rink throughout the season, including the “Holiday on Ice” tree lighting at 5 p.m. Nov. 30, photos with Santa Claus and a New Years Eve celebration.
• Where: NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza at 400 East Martin Luther King Blvd., Charlotte
• Hours: Open through Jan. 5, 2020 (hours vary, see website)
• Cost: $12 if you bring your own skates, $16 with skate rental or $40 to $50 for a season pass
• Details: www.holidayonicecharlotte.com or 704-572-4588
4. U.S. National Whitewater Center
At 17,000 square feet, this is one of the largest outdoor ice skating surfaces in the country. Guests can skate on an ice trail that conforms to rock outcroppings and is surrounded by water, or free skate throughout. There’s even an on-ice Airstream serving hot and cold beverages.
• Where: U.S. National Whitewater Center, 5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy., Charlotte
• Hours: Open through February 2020 (hours vary, see website)
• Cost: Available with the annual pass (kids 9 and under $189, $219 adults ages 10+), day pass ($59) or single-activity pass ($20)
• Details: www.usnwc.org/activity/ice-skating or 704-391-3900
5. The Ice at Sun Valley Commons
Avoid the hustle and bustle of the city and skate under the open sky at “The Ice,” the first outdoor rink in Union County thanks to a joint venture between Extreme Ice Center, Seasonal Ice Rinks and The Moser Group Inc. In addition to open skating, “The Ice” offers $35 lessons for beginners ages 4 to 12 years old ($25 after the first lesson) and Santa and Mrs. Claus will even stop by on select days.
• Where: Sun Valley Commons, 6467 Old Monroe Road, Indian Trail
• Hours: 3 to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3 to 10 p.m. Fridays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays until special hours start Dec. 20 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day until Jan. 5 (see website for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Years Eve hours)
• Cost: $12 with or without skate rental
• Details: www.seasonalicerinks.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Founders Holiday Ice Rink
Travel just across the South Carolina border to skate in the heart of downtown Rock Hill. Wednesdays are buy one, get one free and there are special events like “Christmasville,” described as a four-day festival of all things Christmas, from Dec. 5 to 8. There’s also a “Harry Potter Night” from 6 to 9 p.m. on Jan. 11, where wizards and muggles alike can enjoy a magical night on the ice.
• Where: Fountain Park, 205 Saluda St., Rock Hill, S.C.
• Hours: Open through Jan. 20, 2020 (hours vary, see website)
• Cost: $10 for two hours with or without skate rental
• Details: www.onlyinoldtown.com/icer ink or 803-336-3886