CHARLOTTE, N.C. – You know what December means at North Carolina’s largest entertainment venues: It’s a big beautifully wrapped package of Christmas entertainment and sports, of course.
You can’t go many of the year’s final 31 days without finding one or the other across the state, most notably productions of Hip Hop Nutcracker in Greensboro and Durham and huge musical acts and college basketball all over the place.
The Rink, a public skating event, is set up for all 31 of those days at the RedHat Amphitheatre in Raleigh. You can strap on the skates and find the smooth ice.
But first, let’s talk about the Hip Hop Nutcracker, which will be at the Steven Tanger Center for Performing Arts in Greensboro on Dec. 14 and at the Durham Performing Arts Center on Dec. 23.
This tour brings together Tchaikovsky’s music along with dancers and famed hip-hop artist MC Kurtis Blow. The “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” is sure to have a different bounce.
And this should not be confused with the traditional ballet “The Nutcracker,” which you can see performed by the Carolina Ballet on Dec. 10-11 at DPAC, as well.
The vocal group Pentatonix, known for their a cappella harmonies, will perform “A Christmas Spectacular” on Dec. 17 at the Greensboro Coliseum.
If you prefer something a little less secular, the Grammy-winning percussion and vocal group For King & Country will perform “A Drummer Boy Christmas” on Dec. 11 at Greensboro Coliseum.
The month gets off to a rip-roaring holiday start on Tuesday night at DPAC, when “Elf The Musical” opens a 6-night run. This of course is a Broadway version of the lovable holiday classic movie about Buddy the “Elf.”
That’s followed by performances of Disney’s Frozen & Encanto on Ice on Dec. 1-4 at Greensboro Coliseum and on Dec. 7-11 at PNC Arena in Raleigh.
Another holiday season staple, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, will bring the noise with “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve” on Dec. 10 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte and on Dec. 14 at the PNC Arena.
And if you want something dazzling and different, you might check out the acrobatic performance of A Magical Cirque Christmas on Dec. 19 at DPAC.
Other holiday events
- Theatre in the Park’s “A Christmas Carol” on Dec. 14-18 at DPAC.
- Charlotte R&B Music Experience isn’t precisely a holiday show, but it has been rescheduled for Dec. 15 at Spectrum Center and features Monica, Tevin Campbell, Tamar Braxton, H-Town and 112 & Next.
- Worship will have its Live Holiday Tour on Dec. 18 at the Tanger Center.
- The Kruger Brothers, with Greensboro Symphony, perform on Dec. 31 at the Tanger Center.
On the court and ice
There is plenty of sports activity, most of it centered on PNC Arena (where North Carolina State basketball and the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team call home) and Joel Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem, the homecourt of the Wake Forest University basketball team.
But the premier sports event in the state this month is in Charlotte, where the Jumpman Invitational will be staged Dec. 20-22 at Spectrum Center.
This is a unique event with games between the men’s and women’s teams from North Carolina, Michigan, Oklahoma and Florida. They play two doubleheaders each day, and they swap opponents.
UNC, Michigan and Oklahoma rank among the top 40 men’s teams nationally, and UNC women are No. 6, with Michigan and Oklahoma also in the top 26.
Wake Forest, though, plays three home Atlantic Coast Conference games among seven in December at Joel Coliseum: Duke, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech. The schedule: High Point University on Dec. 3, Appalachian State on Dec. 14, Longwood on Dec. 15, Duke on Dec. 20, Rhode Island on Dec. 22, Pittsburgh on Dec. 29 and Virginia Tech on Dec. 31.
Otherwise, your headline basketball and hockey events include:
- NC State playing three home games, including ACC dates against Pittsburgh (Dec. 2) and Louisville (Dec. 22). There’s also Furman on Dec. 13.
- The Carolina Hurricanes return home to play seven games against Seattle (Dec. 15), Dallas (Dec. 17), Pittsburgh (Dec. 18), New Jersey (Dec. 20), Philadelphia (Dec. 23), Chicago (Dec. 27) and Florida (Dec. 30).
- UNC Greensboro plays Marshall on Dec. 13 at the Greensboro Coliseum.
- The Greensboro Swarm playing Dec. 2 and Dec. 31 in the Novant Health Fieldhouse in Greensboro
The other stuff
You may recall the hit album from 1995 called “Jagged Little Pill,” by artist Alanis Morissette. Well, she collaborated with Glen Ballard, writer Diablo Cody and other artists to produce a Broadway version of her album. The show, which will be Dec. 6-11 at the Tanger Center, is said to deal “with pain, healing and empowerment.”
If you like musical stars, you have options on that, too, including:
- Country legend Reba McEntire, who has a new Christmas album, will perform with special guest Jo Dee Messina on Dec. 3 at PNC Arena.
- Christian artist Chris Tomlin X MercyMe: A Winter Tour is on Dec. 1 at PNC Arena.
- The Allman Family Revival is on Dec. 7 at DPAC, followed on Dec. 22 by “American Idol” star Fantasia.
- Bela Fleck: My Bluegrass Heart, with Punch Brothers, will be on Dec. 13 at Tanger Center, followed on Dec. 17 by Heather McMahan, The Comeback Tour.
Let’s top off everything with North Carolina A&T University, which will conduct its commencements for the fall semester on Dec. 9-10.
Graduate student commencement will be at 3 p.m. on Dec. 9 in the Novant Health Fieldhouse, and the general commencement will be at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 10 in the Greensboro Coliseum.
Both events require tickets, and you can check out NC A&T’s website for a lot more information.
The full list
Here’s a deeper list of events, with links to sites where you can learn about times, tickets, parking and other information.
333 East Trade St., Charlotte
Dec. 1: Sebastian Maniscalco, Nobody Does This Tour
Dec. 6: Daddy Yankee, La Ultima Vuelta World Tour
Dec. 10: Trans-Siberian Orchestra, “The Ghost of Christmas Eve”
Dec. 15 (rescheduled): Charlotte R&B Music Experience, featuring Monica, Tevin Campbell, Tamar Braxton, H-Town, 112 & Next
Dec. 20-22: Jumpman Invitational, men’s and women’s college basketball teams from North Carolina, Michigan, Oklahoma and Florida
Visit the Spectrum Center website for more event details and ticketing information.
Greensboro Coliseum Complex
1021 West Gate City Blvd., Greensboro
Dec. 1-4: Disney’s Frozen & Encanto on Ice, in Greensboro Coliseum
Dec. 2: Greensboro Swarm vs. Maine, in Novant Health Fieldhouse
Dec. 2-4: Greensboro Importers & Wholesalers Jewelry & Accessories Expo, in Special Events Center
Dec. 8: Jinjer P.O.D., in Piedmont Hall
Dec. 9: NC A&T Graduate Student Commencement, at Novant Health Fieldhouse.
Dec. 10: Cheersport Cheerleading Competition, in Special Events Center
Dec. 10: NC A&T Commencement, in Greensboro Coliseum
Dec. 11: For King & Country, A Drummer Boy Christmas, in Greensboro Coliseum
Dec. 13: WFMY Holiday Blood Drive, in Special Events Center
Dec. 13: UNCG vs. Marshall, men’s basketball, in Greensboro Coliseum
Dec. 16: FOX8 Old Dominion Triad Holiday Concert and Food Drive in Greensboro Coliseum
Dec. 16-18: United Futsal – Greensboro Regional Showcase, in Special Events Center
Dec. 17: Pentatonix: A Christmas Spectacular, in Greensboro Coliseum
Dec. 28: WWE Live Holiday Tour, in Greensboro Coliseum
Dec. 29-30: Holy Angels Wrestling Invitational, in Special Events Center
Dec. 31: Greensboro Swarm vs. Capital City, in Novant Health Fieldhouse
Visit the Greensboro Coliseum website for more event details and ticketing information.
Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts
300 North Elm St., Greensboro
Dec. 6-11: “Jagged Little Pill,” Broadway series
Dec. 13: Bela Fleck: My Bluegrass Heart, with Punch Brothers
Dec. 14: Hip Hop Nutcracker
Dec. 17: Heather McMahan, The Comeback Tour
Dec. 18: Worship, Live Holiday Tour
Dec. 31: The Kruger Brothers, with Greensboro Symphony
Visit the Tanger Center website for more event details and ticketing information.
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St., Durham
Nov. 29-Dec. 4: Elf The Musical
Dec. 7: Allman Family Revival
Dec. 10-11: Carolina Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
Dec. 14-18: Theatre in the Park’s “A Christmas Carol”
Dec. 19: A Magical Cirque Christmas
Dec. 22: Fantasia
Dec. 23: Hip Hop Nutcracker, with Mc Kurtis Blow
Visit the DPAC website for more event details and ticketing information.
Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum
2825 University Parkway, Winston-Salem
Dec. 3: Wake Forest vs. High Point University, men’s basketball
Dec. 14: Wake Forest vs. Appalachian State, men’s basketball
Dec. 15: Wake Forest vs. Longwood University, men’s basketball
Dec. 17: FOX8 Old Dominion Holiday Concert and Food Drive
Dec. 20 Wake Forest vs. Duke, men’s basketball
Dec. 22: Wake Forest vs. Rhode Island University, men’s basketball
Dec. 29: Wake Forest vs. Pittsburgh, men’s basketball
Dec. 31: Wake Forest vs. Virginia Tech, men’s basketball
Visit the LJVMC website for more event details and ticketing information.
1499 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh
Dec. 1: Chris Tomlin X, MercyMe Winter Tour
Dec. 2: Pittsburgh vs. NC State, men’s basketball
Dec. 3: Reba McEntire, with special guest Jo Dee Messina
Dec. 7-11: Disney’s Frozen & Encanto on Ice
Dec. 13: Furman vs. Nc State, men’s basketball
Dec. 14: Trans-Siberian Orchestra, “The Ghost of Christmas Eve”
Dec. 15: Seattle Kraken at Carolina Hurricanes
Dec. 17: Dallas Stars at Carolina Hurricanes
Dec. 18: Pittsburgh Penguins at Carolina Hurricanes
Dec. 20: New Jersey Devils at Carolina Hurricanes
Dec. 22: Louisville vs. NC State, men’s basketball
Dec. 23: Philadelphia Flyers at Carolina Hurricanes
Dec. 27: Chicago Blackhawks at Carolina Hurricanes
Dec. 30: Florida Panthers at Carolina Hurricanes
Visit the PNC Arena website for more event details and ticketing information.
Red Hat Amphitheater
500 South McDowell St., Raleigh
Dec. 1-31: THE RINK
Visit the Red Hat Amphitheater website for more event details and ticketing information.