November 27, 2020
The holiday season is finally upon us, which means it’s time for the many holiday light shows in the Carolinas. Sprawling from the mountains down to the sea, there are a plethora of options to choose from.
Many of the events listed below are operating at a limited capacity due to Covid-19. For the most up-to-date information on what’s open, ticketing protocols, and safety precautions, please visit the links provided with the event descriptions.
Asheville, North Carolina
8:30 a.m. – 9 p.m., Nov. 6, 2020 – Jan. 9, 2021
Another annual holiday tradition is Christmas at Biltmore from the Biltmore Estate grounds in Asheville. Prominently on display is a towering Norway spruce tree adorned in lights; it’s one of the multitudes of trees you’ll see on site. Inside the house itself are thousands of ornaments, lights, candles, wreaths, and holiday decor. Also included is the Antler Hill Village, winery, the gardens, and the general grounds of the enchanting estate.
Tickets start at $94 for a daytime visit and $114 for the evening. For more information and a video preview of the experience visit the Biltmore website.
Concord, North Carolina
Times vary. Nov. 21, 2020 – Jan. 17, 2021, closed Dec. 8, 9, and Christmas Day
Speedway Christmas returns to the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord for its 11th holiday season. The drive-thru light show features more than four million lights spread across a 3.75-mile course, which includes the Speedway oval, the infield, and the ROVAL– the new road course.
Movies will be shown on Thursdays through Sundays on the 80-by-200-foot Speedway big screen. There will also be an ice skating rink located near the main entrance open Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 4:00 to 11:00 p.m., Saturday from noon to 11:00 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 10:00 p.m.
Tickets start at $20 per car, $40 per van, and $140 per bus for the first three days. Prices on cars, vans, and buses will vary after those days. Visit the Charlotte Motor Speedway website for more information.
Drive-in movie schedule:
November 26-29 – Elf
November 26-29 – Home Alone
December 3-6 – How The Grinch Stole Christmas
December 10-13 – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 17-24 – Frozen 2
December 26-27 – A Christmas Story
Raleigh, North Carolina
5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., Dec. 16 – 27, 2020, closed Dec. 25
The City of Raleigh and WRAL/Capitol Broadcasting will put on the first annual Night of Lights Drive-Thru Light Show at Dorothea Dix Park. The show will feature illuminated trees, festive light displays, and local art installations along a 1.3-mile route that also includes a backdrop of oak trees, rolling hills, and open fields.
Tickets start at $15 for cars and pickup trucks and $30 for vehicles with more than nine people. Bikes will also be allowed at a rate of $4 per person. The event route will be modified so that bikes can enter and exit at the Hunt Drive park entrance. The full bike route will be 2.6 miles and bikers will be required to have bike lights and masks. All tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information, visit WRAL’s website for more in-depth event information.
Youngsville, North Carolina
5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., Nov. 26 – Dec. 27, 2020
Just north of Raleigh is the Festival of Lights at Hill Ridge Farms. The one-mile drive-thru is decked in a magical display of holidays lights that can be easily enjoyed from your vehicle. The pathway will have lighted guidelines on each side, so headlights can be turned off for an even better viewing experience.
Tickets are $20 per vehicle and cash payments are encouraged to speed things up. For more information, you can visit the Hill Ridge Farms website.
Charlotte, North Carolina
Lights: 6 p.m. – 10 p.m., daily
Ice Skating: Nov. 27, 2020 – Feb. 14, 2021; Mon. – Thurs. (12 p.m. – 9 p.m), Fri. (12 p.m. – 10 p.m.), Sat. – Sun. (10 a.m. – 10 p.m.)
The US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte will host a light show and an opportunity to ice skate until February of 2021. The light show is the creation of artist Meredith Connelly, and features a variety of immersive light features including webs, vines, crystals, and other natural features integrated into the Whitewater Center’s forest area. Admission is free and open to all age groups. For more in-depth information on the light show, you can visit the event’s webpage.
The ice skating area is another special feature at the Whitewater Center this holiday season. Located in the Upper Pond area, you have the opportunity to skate along an ice trail or free skate around a 17,000 sq. ft. area of open ice. In the middle of the skating area is an Airstream trailer serving hot and cold beverages for you to enjoy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, skating capacity has been reduced and timed ticketing will be utilized for this year’s event.
Admission is $20 with a single activity pass of $59 with an all-access pass; admission also includes skate rentals. Visit the ice skating webpage for tickets, time slot availability, and more information.
Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Nov. 29, 2020 – Jan. 31, 2021
Chetola Resort’s Festival of Lights is an annual tradition located in the town of Blowing Rock. The festival includes a light display of 50,000 lights focused primarily around Chetola Lake, with depictions of ice skaters, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and other classic holiday scenes spread throughout the resort grounds. You can drive through or walk the pathways winding around the lakefront.
Admission to the Festival of Lights is free of charge. Visit Chetola Resort’s website for more information.
Belmont, North Carolina
5 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 8 p.m., Nov. 27, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2021
Stroll through an illuminated holiday experience at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden’s Holidays at the Garden. From the banks of Lake Wylie outside of Belmont, you can view the lights along Piedmont Prairie and take in the blossoming cherry trees and the popular Orchid Tree exhibit. Additionally, there will be food trucks, a fire pit for s’mores, and popular holiday music.
Tickets are $14.95 for adults, $12.95 for seniors, $7.95 for kids ages two through 12, and free for kids two and under. Visit the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden website for more information
Greensboro, North Carolina
Mon. – Thurs., 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., Fri. – Sat., 5:30 – 11 p.m., Nov. 6, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2021
The inaugural Winter Wonderlights will be held at the Greensboro Science Center. The expansive holiday celebration is divided into 12 realms of shimmering lights, brilliant colors, and joyful sounds of the season. Some of the highlights include a gingerbread barn, a forest of lights, a peppermint path, and a North Pole area. The experience will be walk-through, and will feature music from the Greensboro Opera with visits from Santa.
Ticket prices vary depending on the day of the week and based on membership status at the Greensboro Science Center. For ticket prices, visit the Greensboro Science Center website.
Clemmons, North Carolina
6 p.m. – 11 p.m., Nov. 13, 2020 – Jan. 1, 2021
Outside Winston-Salem is the annual Tanglewood Park Festival of Lights in Clemmons. Featured on the five-mile drive-through route are over 100 light displays that include reindeer, Christmas trees, and more familiar holiday scenes with symbols illuminated to guide you along.
Tickets are $15 per car, truck, or van. Another alternative is by horse-drawn carriage, which you can reserve for $80, or take a tractor-pulled hayride for $150. To see the route and learn more, visit the Tanglewood Park Festival of Lights website.
McAdenville, North Carolina
5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., Dec. 1-26, 2020
Nominated by USA Today as one of the 10 best public light displays in the country, Christmas Town, USA, is a nationally acclaimed holiday light show right in the Charlotte area. Dating back to the late 1950s, homeowners on the 1.3-mile route decorate their homes with a multitude of dazzling lights and holiday decorations. You can drive or walk, and the show is free of charge.
For more information, visit the Christmas Town, USA website.
Asheville, North Carolina
5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m., Nov. 20, 2020 – Jan. 10, 2021
Another garden light show can be found at the NC Arboretum’s Winter Lights show in Asheville. Created around the natural aesthetic of the grounds, the show features glowing landscapes and light-filled displays along the woodland and garden areas. The show has added nature-themed features this year that include winter wildlife, insect lanterns, colored butterflies, and a giant daisy garden. The lights stretch for a mile in total, and the event will be a drive-thru this year due to the pandemic.
Tickets are $25 per car. Visit the NC Arboretum website for more information about the event.
Wendell, North Carolina
Sun. – Thurs., 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., Fri. – Sat., 5:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., Nov. 25 – Dec. 31, 2020
Just outside Raleigh you’ll find the Lake Myra Christmas Lights in Wendell. The massive event features over 400,000 lights and runs for 25 minutes with an intermission between shows. There will also be a mailbox to send letters to Santa. The show can be seen outside or from the comfort of your vehicle by tuning into 103.3 FM. Additionally, only 50 people at a time are allowed inside the fenced-in area due to Covid-19.
Admission is free. For the most up to date information, visit the Lake Myra Christmas Lights Facebook page.
Manteo, North Carolina
6 p.m. – 9 p.m., select dates in Nov. and Dec. of 2020, and Jan. 2021
Down in Manteo is an Outer Banks tradition called the Winterlights at Elizabethan Gardens. Stroll through illuminated garden paths and see designs shining in the light, including peacocks, butterflies, deer, and other enchanting creatures. The garden will also display more permanent exhibits, including the world’s largest bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth I. There will also be a fire to gather around on the lawn, a seasonal gift shop, and plant sales.
Tickets are $11 for adults, $9 for kids (ages 6 to 17), $6 for kids six and under, and $2 for dogs. Dogs get their own free admission WOOFstocking event on Dec. 2, with $1 of each ticket sold donated to the Outer Banks SPCA. For more information, you can visit the Elizabethan Gardens website.
Columbia, South Carolina
5 p.m. – 9 p.m., select dates in Nov. and Dec. 2020
Columbia’s longest-running holiday tradition is the Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo. The zoo will be illuminated with close to one million lights and animated images. There will also be Santa’s Village through Dec. 23, a Candy Cane Carousel, and North Pole Express available at an additional fee. Some night owls may be available to see at the zoo, but most animals will be asleep and unavailable.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for kids ages two through 12, with kids under two being admitted free. For more information and a map of the festivities, visit the Riverbanks Zoo website.
Salisbury, North Carolina
6 p.m. – 10 p.m., Nov. 27 – 29, Dec. 4 – 6, 10 – 13, 15 – 23, 26 – 30, 2020
Outside of Charlotte in Salisbury is the NC Transportation Museum in Lights: A Drive-Thru Experience. The event will allow visitors to enjoy the museum illuminated with thousands of holiday lights from the comfort of their vehicles. The 1.25-mile tour will also include the museum’s antique railroading equipment and historic structures. The museum’s gift shop will also be open, providing s’mores, shopping opportunities, and a chance to get your picture taken with Santa (in a socially distanced fashion).
Tickets are $15 for 12-15 passenger vans, mini-buses, or shuttles, and $8 for cars. Members will receive a voucher for free admission. For more information, visit the NC Transportation Museum’s website.
Clayton, North Carolina
Hours vary. Nov. 27 – 28; Dec. 4 – 6, 10 – 13, 17 – 24, 2020
For a rustic holiday celebration, visit the Lights on the Neuse at Boyette Farms in Clayton, right outside of Raleigh. The feature attraction is a one-mile-long hayride with more than a million lights going all the way down to the banks of the Neuse River. Other attractions include a sweet shop, cookie decorating station, and the opportunity to visit Santa.
Tickets are $10 for ages 3 and up, which includes the hayride and a picture with Santa. Kids 2 and under get in free. Visit the Lights on the Neuse website for more information.
Elizabethtown, North Carolina
6 p.m. – 10 p.m., Nov. 27 – 29. Dec. 3 – 6, 10 – 13, 17 – 23, 26 – 28, 2020
In between Fayetteville and Wilmington is Lu Mil Vineyard’s Festival of Lights in Elizabethtown. The show is a drive-thru celebration with lights and decorations– including a 30-ft Santa– synched to holiday music. Other attractions include a candy shop, gift shop, wine tasting, Santa, and a country-style dinner for $12.
Tickets are $10 per person with a $100 maximum per vehicle (vans and buses). Open top buses can be reserved for $200. For more information, visit the Lu Mil Vineyard website.
Denton, North Carolina
Fri. – Sat., 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m., 4:30 p.m. – 11 p.m. all other days, Nov. 27 – 29, Dec. 4 – 6, 10 – 13, 18 – 23, 26 – 27, 2020
Drive through the Christmas on the Farm at Denton Farmpark for a country holiday showcase. Located in between Greensboro and Charlotte, Christmas at the Farm features a light extravaganza and live nativity scenes. Additionally, there will be handcrafted gifts for purchase, a food truck, and an opportunity to speak with Santa.
Tickets are $20 for cars and minivans, $25 for commercial vans and minibuses, and $100 for motor coaches and buses. For more information, visit the Denton Farmpark website.
In this article
- A Drive-Thru Experience
- Blowing Rock
- Capitol Broadcasting
- charlotte motor speedway
- Chetola Lake
- Chetola Resort
- Christmas at Biltmore
- Christmas Lights
- Christmas on the Farm
- Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
- Denton Farmpark
- drive in
- Drive-Thru Light Show
- Elizabethan Gardens
- Festival of Lights
- Greensboro Science Center
- Hill Ridge Farms
- Holidays at the Garden
- ice skating
- Lake Myra
- Light Shows
- Lights Before Christmas
- Lights on the Neuse
- Lu Mil Vineyard
- Meredith Connelly
- NC Arboretum
- NC Transportation Museum in Lights
- Night of Lights
- north carolina
- Riverbanks Zoo
- social distance
- Speedway Christmas
- Tanglewood Park
- us national whitewater center
- Winter Lights
- Winter Wonderlights