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Coming Attractions 

Upcoming Events in the Q.C.

THURSDAY, DEC. 20 Wonders never cease. This time they come in the general direction of the Far East. Holiday Wonders is billed as "A Chinese Cultural Event." Dramas, epic tales, myths, and legends have been visualized in large-scale dance sequences. The drums tell the story as they pound out a beat of celestial melodies. Get swept away into an enchanted realm of sight, sound and dance 5000 years in the making. The highlight are the handmade costumes and digital three-dimensional backdrops. 7:30 p.m. $38-$78. Ovens Auditorium, 2700 E. Independence Blvd. 704-522-6500. www.ticketmaster.com.

FRIDAY, DEC. 21 Home to artists of every skill, style and vocabulary, this "friendly" competition yanks the audience out of their comfort zone and takes its participants on a quest to capture that winning flow. I'm still in the "Roses are red, violets are blue" field. But I can remember the feeling that runs down my spine every time I watch Love Jones and Larenz Tate's Darius Lovehall recites "A Blues For Nina." 2007 National Poetry Slam Champion Bluz will handle hosting honors. This is SlamCharlotte, ya'll. 8 p.m. $7. McGlohon Theatre, Spirit Square, 345 N. College St. 704-372-1000. www.blumenthalcenter.org.

SATURDAY, DEC. 22 It's one-night-only for Amahl & The Night Visitors. The television is back for its fifth consecutive year with a new production headed by local fave, Andrew Griner, Jr. He stars as the crippled boy prone to crying wolf with exaggerated tales that learns the real meaning of Christmas. Ashley Kerr, Dan Boyle, Dale Bryant and George Washington III co-star. This year also marked the death of Amahl's composer, Gian-Carlo Menotti, who founded Charleston's Spoleto Festival. 7 p.m. $10-$16. Halton Theater, CPCC, 1206 Elizabeth Ave. 704-330-6534. www.operacarolina.org.

SUNDAY, DEC. 23 It's December. Time to crank out every movie that even implies it's holiday-related. However, Robert Zemeckis' The Polar Express is a different kind of Christmas movie. For one, Tom Hanks plays three characters and one looks just like him, thanks to a pioneering performance capture technology. The main character called "Hero Boy" is at a crossroads: grow up and put childish notions like Santa Claus behind him or hang on for one more year. All this leads up to his mysterious train ride on Christmas Eve where he learns valuable lessons, meets the most inspired little girl ever (voiced by Nona Gaye), and meets the Man in Red face-to-face. $9-$11. Discovery Place, 301 N. Tryon St. 1-800-935-0553. www.discoveryplace.org.

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  • On Saturday, Oct. 21, hundreds gathered at Camp North End on Statesville Avenue for Charlotte's first black alternative music festival. We captured some of the bands in action on stage, but mostly we surveyed the grounds as fans, families, vendors and more lounged around the sprawling, colorful Camp North End site. It was a great day of music, food, fun, and sweet, autumn sunshine. (Photos by Mark Kemp)
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