Looking for a fantastic place to spend the holidays? The Charlotte area has some of the best Christmas lights in the southeast US. Plus, the weather is typically milder than the larger cities of the north.
If you’re looking for the biggest and best Christmas light events near Charlotte, here is a list of our favorites.
WinterFest is back for 2021 and is one of the largest light displays in Charlotte.
Five-million lights turn this theme park into a winter wonderland. Enjoy multiple themed performances throughout the park, an ice-skating rink, elaborate decorations, and a 70-foot tree of lights. There’s also a 9 pm larger than life parade. It winds its way throughout the park and culminates at the main stage where a dance party ensues until closing.
Bonus! Twenty three of the parks rides are open. Most are for a younger audience but some larger coasters, like Copperhead Strike and Afterburn, are open.
Read more on Carowinds WinterFest.
Speedway Christmas Lights
Over 4 million lights decorate the 4-mile driving course that you drive through. It’s pretty cool to weave your way around the racecourse (albeit slowly), infield, then under the grandstands. Enjoy quirky and cute light displays and lights dancing to the music.
Typically, Thursday through Sunday there’s a Christmas Village in the infield, with food and craft vendors, a Ferris wheel, carousel, fire pits to make smores, and more.
Plus, on those nights you can pretend you’re at an old drive-in as they show Christmas movies on the giant Speedway TV.
Read More on Speedway Christmas.
McAdenville’s Christmas Town USA
One of our personal favorites, is in a little town just west of Charlotte. Every year McAdenville transforms itself into a glowing celebration of the season. For about a mile, gorgeous big homes decorate every square inch of their façade. The centerpiece is the town’s lake, reflecting the tall, decorated trees surrounding it.
The town has received so much national recognition over the years, over 600,000 visitors descend on the tiny town every year. This causes horrible traffic, which is easily avoided with good planning.
For more details and to know the secret on how to miss the traffic, see our post on Visiting McAdenville’s Christmas Town USA, the Right Way.
Daniel Stowe’s Holiday at the Garden
Nicknamed the “Mile of a Million Lights,” Daniel Stowe’s Botanical Garden turns into a glittering garden for the holidays. They did a lot to improve it a few years ago, if it has been a while since your last visit, it’s well worth heading back. Don’t worry the big, beautiful orchid tree is still there.
The gardens are doing limited tickets, and no tickets can be purchased onsite for the 2021/2022 season.
Lights on: November 26, 2021 – January 2, 2022 | 5 pm – 9 pm| Wed – Sun | Closed Christmas
Adult Pricing: from $14.95 during advance sale
Address: 6500 S New Hope Rd, Belmont, NC 28012
Billy Graham Library Christmas Lights
Pretty little white lights bring a classic Christmas feel to the library. Horse drawn carriages ($8 for adults) are the best way to see the beautifully lit grounds.
As you make your way to the library, the large barn building, carolers harmonize their Christmas songs and hymns.
Take a peek in Billy Graham’s parent’s home before exiting to the live nativity scene. Stop to say hello to the grazing animals before heading into the library.
In the library, you can step through time in the footsteps of Billy Graham. Learn of his message and his impressive influence. You can visit the graves of Billy and his wife, Ruth, in the Prayer Garden on the grounds.
This is a fantastic place for families and couples, but it is worth noting there is no Santa here. It’s a stripped back to basics, Christian spirit of Christmas.
Before you head back into the cold, grab a bite and a few holiday goodies available to purchase at the Dairy Bar.
They also do a Christmas dinner for $25 per adult on Fridays and Saturdays. This usually sells out long before the season starts.
Lights on: November 29 – December 23, 2021| Starts at 5 pm nightly
Adult Pricing and Parking: Free
Address: 4330 Westmont Dr, Charlotte, NC 28217
Winterland Express & Celebration of Lights
Over 250,000 lights decorate Village Park in Kannapolis. You can walk the park but the best way to see the lights is on the Winterland Express, the park’s rotary train. Other features of the park include the animatronic singing bears which perform carols for 30 minutes each hour on the hour. Model train displays are set up Wednesday through Sunday nights. In addition, various shows are put on throughout the month.
- November 20 – December 30, 2021 | Closed Christmas Eve & Day |
- Sunday – Thursday: 6 pm – 9 pm
- Friday & Saturday: 6 pm – 10 pm
Adult Pricing & Parking: Free admission, Train $6 per row, Carousel rides $6 |
Train rides must be bought in advanced this year.
Address: Village Park, 700 W C St, Kannapolis, NC 28081
Looking for more Christmas fun, check out our other posts.