[Jan 10, 2018, 8:49 PM]
The Queen City is poised for the arrival of 30,000 dignitaries, delegates, journalists and other interested parties as the Republican National Convention unfolds Aug. 24-27, 2020. The event returns Charlotte to the international spotlight it held in 2012 as host city for the Democratic National Convention. Since its success with the 2012 event, which yielded a $163.6 million economic impact, Charlotte is ready to showcase its heightened appeal as a business and leisure destination. Conventiongoers can appreciate a 66 percent increase in City Center hotel rooms, more than 100 new restaurants and bars, new parks, and an accelerating brewery scene. To keep up with plans, go to charlottein2020.com.
Theme park lovers will find a new mat-racing water slide and an international festival next summer at Carowinds. At the Carolina Harbor waterpark, the six-lane Boogie Board Racer will take riders through tubes, high-speed chutes and a 360-degree loop before a final drop propels them to maximum acceleration. Designed by Vancouver-based White Water West, Boogie Board Racer will be near Copperhead Strike, the double-launch roller coaster that debuted in 2019 and raised the park's coaster count to 14. Also new for 2020, the Grand Carnivale festival will celebrate global culture with a full-scale Spectacle of Color parade, lavishly costumed street performers, lively music, signature beverages and a special menu. The festival will run nightly June 13-July 5, 2020. Carowinds, a Cedar Fair park, is off Interstate 77 in south Charlotte. www.carowinds.com
In response to rapid growth, Raleigh-Durham International Airport is accelerating expansion plans by activating four more gates by April 2020. Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit will move into Terminal 1 with fellow low-fare carrier Southwest, which uses the terminal’s other five gates. The airport’s Terminal 1 has 36 gates. In 2018, RDU saw a 9.7 increase in passengers to 12.8 million. In May, Spirit became the 10th airline operating at RDU, which offers nonstop service to 66 cities. www.rdu.com
The Donald Ross-designed Course No. 2 at Pinehurst Resort will host its fourth U.S. Open in 2024. The date marks the 25th anniversary of Payne Stewart's final-round putt to beat Phil Mickelson by a stroke in the course's U.S. Open debut. Michael Campbell earned his first major title in 2005, Pinehurst's second turn as host, with a two-stroke win over TIger Woods. In 2014 Pinehurst No. 2 made history as the first to field the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open on back-to-back weekends (Martin Kaymer and Michelle Wie won). While waiting for 2024, Pinehurst will host the U.S. Amateur Championship in August 2019. www.pinehurst.com
Morehead Planetarium & Science Center, best known as the place where 11 of NASA's 12 moon-walkers were trained in celestial navigation, has announced a $5.2 million expansion of its home on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus. The #TakeUpSpace building project will reimagine the center as a modern-day, technology-advanced science hub with an interactive “maker space,” an updated science demonstration stage, and expanded galleries showcasing the advances researchers are making in science, health and technology. Completion is expected by early 2019. www.moreheadplanetarium.org