Top 11 Kid-Friendly Christmas Lights Shows in North Carolina
Find the best Christmas lights in Charlotte, Raleigh, the Triad, the coast, and the mountains. This list will keep the kids entertained and help you create wonderful holiday memories.
When people say Santa lives “up north,” you’ll swear they are talking about North Carolina, as the Tar Heel state is home to some of the best Christmas lights in the South. With snow-capped mountains in the West and floating Christmas parades by the beach, you’ll find plenty of holiday distractions.
We organized NC’s Christmas light shows into regions for easy navigation, so click the links to find the best Christmas light show near you.
Best Christmas Light Shows in Western North Carolina
While the snow often hits after the Christmas season, the falling leaves and cool mountain air should set the mood for your little guy or girl to meet Santa.
Dazzle the whole family with a weekend trip to see one or all these Christmas lights displays in western NC.
1. Biltmore Candlelight Christmas (Asheville)
Christmas at the Biltmore is more than an annual celebration of the season. It’s a completely magical Christmas experience for all ages in North Carolina’s mountainous backyard.
Stroll around the grounds ooh-ing and aah-ing at expertly dressed, live Fraser firs, wreaths, and boughs. Enter the estate for a peek into the past of how “America’s Largest Home” would have been decorated.
The Biltmore sells tickets for two enchanting experiences: the Biltmore by day or in the evening by candlelight. In our opinion, neither is to be missed!
Location: One Lodge St., Asheville, NC 28803
Dates: November 5-January 9
2. Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum (Asheville)
The North Carolina Arboretum is a celebration of the native species in the Carolinas and nature. What better place to watch the lights glow while teaching your children about the wonders of botany?
This year, you can safely experience the bright and cheery one-mile stretch of Christmas lights from the safety of your own vehicle. Bring a thermos of cocoa and get ready to cruise slowly — you won’t want to miss a single Christmas lights display.
Location: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way Asheville, NC 28806
Dates: November 19-January 1
3. Tweetsie Railroad Christmas (Blowing Rock/Boone Area)
The Old West-themed village of Tweetsie Railroad, nestled between the winter-loving towns of Boone and Blowing Rock, NC, offers the most well-rounded Christmas experiences for kids.
Not only will your children’s eyes light up as they board the train that takes them through the Christmas light show in NC, but they’ll have a chance to meet Santa in a Gingerbread House and play with larger-than-life snow globes.
Location: 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC 28806
Dates: November 19-December 30 (only open on select evenings)
City Light Shows in and around the Triangle
Busy parents won’t need to drive far to mesmerize their kids with dazzling Christmas lights. Visit these unique and well-established festivals of lights in NC’s Piedmont.
4. Chinese Lantern Festival (Cary)
For a different Christmas experience, Koka Booth Amphitheatre hosts an absolutely dazzling display of creative paper lanterns. The Chinese Lantern Festival features colorfully crafted butterfly lanterns, dragons, and plants. Tickets are $25 for each person three or older, while children under two get in for free.
This event is a self-guided walking tour on paved walkways and is wheelchair accessible.
Location: 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary, NC 27518
Dates: November 19-January 9
5. Meadow Lights (Benson)
Get the full North Carolina Christmas light show experience at the largest and oldest Christmas lights show in Eastern NC.
At Meadow Lights, kids can snack on old fashioned candy as your family makes its way through 30 acres of light displays. Jump on the train to glide through an additional ten acres. After riding the 16-horse carousel, kids can sit pretty on Santa’s lap for a photo.
This 40-year-old light show is especially popular among religious families as their light show “honors the true meaning of Christmas” with Christian displays.
Location: 4061 Clemmons Rd., Clemmons, NC 27012
Dates: November 19-December 31
6. Tanglewood Festival of Lights (Clemmons/Winston-Salem Area)
Drive through the Tanglewood’s Festival of Lights, an amazing Christmas lights display adored from the comfort of your own vehicle. Alternatively, book a horse-drawn carriage or tractor-pulled hayrides to view the splendor of these lights.
Your children will not only love the light show, but they’ll get a chance to meet Mr. and Mrs. Claus and their helpers. Perhaps most exciting of all – kids can visit S’moresville next to the gift shop for a marshmallow roasting experience worthy of the North Pole.
Location: 4061 Clemmons Rd., Clemmons, NC 27012
Dates: November 12-January 1
7. Hill Ridge Farms Festival of Lights (Youngsville)
Food, music, and a winter wonderland light show in NC? Hill Ridge Farms makes it happen.
Your kids are guaranteed to exhaust themselves. With a covered wagon hayride through the Festival of Lights, bonfires with s’mores and hot chocolate, American food at the Chuckwagon Grill, a giant slide, cornhouse, jumping pillow, slide house, roller slight , web and pipe swing, and train rides available, there’s no shortage of Christmas spirit here.
Location: 703 Tarboro Rd., Youngsville, NC 27596
Dates: November 29-January 9
Best Charlotte Christmas Lights
8. Christmas Town USA (McAdenville)
Affectionately known as Christmas Town USA, McAdenville, NC, has been making Christmas bright since 1956. Located between Charlotte and Gastonia, McAdenville’s lights were heralded as the #2 Christmas lights display in the nation, according to a national survey by USA Today.
Best of all, you can park and walk, or drive through this Christmas light show for free!
Location: McAdenville, NC 28101
Dates: December 1-26 (5:30 PM-10:00 PM)
9. Speedway Christmas (Concord)
Drive through nearly four miles of lights at Speedway Christmas, the holiday light show at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord. This is the 12th year of the drive-through Christmas lights show, a display of more than four million lights. The 3.75-mile course includes most of the oval as well as the infield. On the weekends, you can enjoy movies on the Speedway’s giant screen (Thursday-Sunday). The Speedway Christmas display is open rain or shine.
Given the show’s popularity — especially on weekends — Speedway Christmas organizers recommend a mid-week visit if your schedule permits. For the best experience, plan to arrive early.
Speedway Christmas runs Saturday, Nov. 19, 2021 to Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. Ticket prices for 2021 have not been announced (as of 9/19/21), but last year’s tickets were $30 per car (max. 10); $50 per van (max. 36); $175 bus (max. 57).
Location: 5555 Concord Pkwy S., Concord, NC 28027
Dates: November 19-January 2
10. Zootastic Christmas Wonderland of Lights (Troutman)
Best known as a drive-through animal park, Zootastic brightens holiday evenings with Christmas light displays along the 100-acre park route. Here, you can treat the family to evening animal encounters, Christmas lights, and even an area where you can stretch your legs and walk around animal enclosures.
Location: Zootastic Park, 385 Ostwalt Amity Rd.,Troutman, NC 28166
Dates: November 19-January 2
Best Holiday Light Shows in Coastal Carolina
In North Carolina, the coast exchanges snow for white sand beaches. But that doesn’t mean Christmas cheer is in short supply. Check out these Christmas light shows for a truly memorable holiday.
11. Holiday Lights in the Garden (Fayetteville)
Visit the Cape Fear Botanical Garden in Fayetteville to impress your children with a mile-long jaunt through thousands of dazzling lights.
Snap a photo of your kids with Santa, enjoy a free caroling hayride, and let your kids make s’mores and create free Christmas crafts.
Location: 536 N Eastern Blvd., Fayetteville, NC 28301
Dates: December 3-December 23
Did we miss any of the best Christmas light shows in NC?
Where does your family make their holiday memories? Tag us @carolinatravelr on Instagram to let us know!
Top Christmas Light Displays in South Carolina