by Liz Rothaus Bertrand


It’s that time of year again: cue the lights, music, egg nog and good cheer. Amidst all the merriment and the zillion gingerbread men you’re baking, here are 6 ways to add some international flair to your celebration.

1. Visit a German-style Christmas market.

Weihnachtsmarkt at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery

The second annual Charlotte Christmas Village in Romare Bearden Park (300 S. Church St.) opens Thanksgiving Day and runs through Christmas Eve. Expect German style food, live music, trivia contests, pop-up shops and regular visits from the big guy in red.

Now in its sixth year, Weihnachtsmarkt at The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery (4150 Yancey Rd.) takes place Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 1 – 16 in the Biergarten. Browse local crafts and baked goods from more than 40 vendors while sipping the newly released Yule Bock brew or warming up with Glühwein: traditional, German-style mulled red wine.

2. Go Global With Your Cooking.



Add some zing to your holiday meals by learning how to prepare international specialties, such as traditional tamales, homemade pasta or French macarons at Sur La Table’s in store cooking classes (SouthPark Mall, 4400 Sharon Road).

3. Watch a new Holiday Movie.



Before you dive into the Christmas classics, go see the new critically-acclaimed Pixar movie, Coco. A tale of family and tradition, the film is set during the Mexican holiday, Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), and opens locally just in time for Thanksgiving.

4. Grab lunch and specialty foods at the 7th Street Public Market.


Choose from delicious crêpes at Hazelnuts Crêperie, made-to-order sushi at Bonsai Fusion, and gourmet panini at Zia Pia Imports + Italian Kitchen. While you’re there, shop for artisinal Italian foods, European Cheese at Orrman’s Cheese Shop or unique wines from Assorted Table Wine Shoppe. Top off your afternoon with a great espresso from Not Just Coffee (224 E. 7th St.).

5. Ring in the New Year with Chinese Classical Dance.


Discover one of the world’s oldest art forms in Shen Yun, a stage production celebrating 5,000 years of traditional Chinese culture through dance at Belk Theater (130 N. Tryon St.), Dec. 30 – 31.

6. Choose the perfect gift.


Open the door to a world of opportunity for someone you love with a Language Academy gift certificate. Good for the mind and soul, foreign language courses are the perfect gift for the dreamers, professionals, life-long learners or travelers on your holiday shopping list.  New courses in 7 different languages start monthly.