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Charlotte - United States

Charlotte is a regional center for museums, art, music, theater, sports, and other cultural and entertainment activities. The city's diverse population is able to support a variety of entertainments, some of which are the envy of the entire country.

Since the team's inception in 1993, the NFL's Carolina Panthers have called Charlotte home. The Panthers wow crowds on many a Sunday on the field at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium. For basketball fans, the NBA Charlotte Bobcats and the WNBA Charlotte Sting keep audiences on their feet year round at Time Warner Cable Arena. Charlotte, of course, is one of the prime destinations for NASCAR fans. Racing enthusiasts can go hog wild at the world famous Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra has entertained the people of Charlotte for decades, performing a lengthy series of classics (from Tchaikovsky to Wagner) every year at historic Ovens Auditorium, and the architectural marvel Belk Theatre (where even the cheapest of seats are never more than 135 feet from the stage). Opera Carolina, based in Charlotte, performs four epic productions at Belk Theatre each year (from "Porgy and Bess" to "La Boheme"), as well as an annual holiday production of "Amahl and the Night Visitors," and an extensive series of Education & Outreach productions all over both North and South Carolina.

Giving Belk Theatre a run for its money, Tremont Music Hall likes to say that here, "you're never more than 50 feet from the stage." At such close range, audiences are continually bowled over by their favorite national touring rock bands (like X, MXPX, and KMFDM). The Visulite Theatre, hosts rock bands as well (such as the Reverend Horton Heat and Birdmonster), this time in a retired movie house setting. The Milestone Club provides Charlotte with easy access to the underground music scene, playing host to punk and metal bands from all over the world, not the least of which are the Melvins and Green Milk for the Planet Orange. For folk aficionados, The Evening Muse just might be a home away from home. Up-and-coming singer-songwriters like Gary Jules and Dan Bern take the stage at this intimate venue, where the walls are adorned with the works of local artists.

The Comedy Zone brings Charlotte the most sought-after national touring comedians, from Dave Chappelle to Jerry Seinfeld. The Charlotte Comedy Theater, on the other hand, is a local improve troupe dedicated to making their community laugh.

In the refurbished remains of the historic Charlotte Mint lies the Mint Museum of Art, home to a number of exciting collections, from ancient American art, to Spanish Colonial, European, and contemporary. For a more bohemian experience, one can venture into Charlotte's "NoDa" arts district, where galleries and art studios like Hart Witzen Gallery and the ArtHouse line the boulevards. On the first and third Fridays of each month, art lovers are invited to visit such establishments on NoDa's famous Gallery Crawl.

The Afro-American Cultural Center works to preserve African American art, culture, and history, and present it to audiences for educational purposes as well as sheer enjoyment. The center features two galleries which include within them the permanent John and Vivian Hewett collection of African American Art, which features over fifty works by African American artists. The center also hosts many programs throughout the year like workshops and lectures. Housed partly in the original 1936 hangar of Charlotte's original municipal airport, the Carolinas Aviation Museum is an aviation nut's dream. Their collection includes everything from a replica of the Wright Brothers' 1902 Wright Glider to the Grumman F-14D Super Tomcat, made famous by the film Top Gun. Also on display are a startling array of jets, helicopters, ordnance and missiles, rockets, and even spacecraft. The Levine Museum of the New South bills itself as an "interactive history museum," and, as such, uses a wide variety of multimedia exhibits to tell the story of the South since the end of the Civil War. The museum tells this story from many different perspectives, with an eye toward creating greater understanding and painting a more complete picture than traditional history books have attempted.

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