CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s a sign that football season is just around the corner: Panthers Fan Fest.

Thousands of die-hard Panthers fans will pack Bank of America Stadium Friday as the team holds its annual public practice in uptown Charlotte, as well as a major light show and performances from the Purrcussion and TopCats.

But there are a few things you need to know before Friday’s big event

There is an admission fee for the first time

For the first time in team history, the Panthers are charging for Fan Fest. Tickets went on sale last month for reserved seating. All tickets were just $5, and team officials said 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit Carolina Panthers Charities. Team officials said the ticket charge was due to overwhelming demand and general precautions for fan safety.

“I do feel the $5 deterred a few folks away this year, but $5 to go support your local hometown team, that’s not too much to ask, either,” said one fan.

There are still a few tickets available online, but hurry, seating is limited. Click here to see available tickets.

What time does it start?

Fan Fest doesn’t really get going until 6:53 p.m. That’s when PurrCussion will take the field and whip the fans into a frenzy just minutes before the players come out for warmups at 7:15.

Gates open at 6 p.m. and fans are encouraged to arrive early to give themselves plenty of time to clear security and find their seats.

Panthers Fan Fest Schedule

6 p.m. -- Gates open

6:53 p.m. -- PurrCussion performance

6:57 p.m. -- TopCats performance

7:02 p.m. -- Sir Purr with the Black & Blue Crew

7:15 p.m. -- Players take the field

7:30 p.m. -- Practice begins

9:30 p.m. -- Fireworks, lasers and interactive light show

What’s new this year?

At 9:30, the traditional fireworks and laser show will begin. But the Panthers have added an all-new interactive light show for this year’s event. And everyone with a smartphone can participate.

All you have to do is download the Panthers app and show up. When the show begins, you’ll be instructed to open your Panthers app, which will detect the music playing in the stadium, bringing thousands of phones together in unison to wrap up the football extravaganza.

Click here for a link to download the official Carolina Panthers app.

What can I bring inside the stadium?

Normal stadium policies will be in place. So only transparent, plastic, vinyl, or PVC bags smaller than 12” x 6” x 12” will be allowed inside Bank of America Stadium after inspection at the gates.

The following items will not be allowed inside the venue: All balls, balloons, folding chairs, outside food and beverages, umbrellas, pets, selfie sticks, and weapons of any kind. For a full list of prohibited items, click here.

What will the weather be like?

You can expect temperatures to be in the lower 80s around 6 p.m. with about a 20 percent chance of a shower or storm until 8 p.m. There’s a possibility of a stray shower, so you might want to pack a poncho, just in case.

By 9 p.m., temperatures should fall into the upper 70s with partly cloudy skies, making for a nice night for fireworks and football.