Holiday Light Shows Glow with Seasonal Cheer

Nothing captures the spirit of the holidays quite like going to see arrays of sparkling lights and ornaments. Experience the magic of socially distant seasonal light displays in gardens, at museums and resorts, and in small towns and downtowns across North Carolina. For a complete list of holiday light displays throughout the state, visit our events calendar.

Please note: Due to COVID-19, check each event's website for the most up-to-date visitor information. Additionally, please visit Count On Me NC to see participating businesses and for tips on how to stay safe when visiting North Carolina.

Mountains

1 Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum

1 Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum

Nov. 20, 2020 – Jan. 10, 2021, AshevilleSee on mapSee on map

Please note: Due to COVID-19, the 2020 exhibition is a drive-thru show with per-car ticketing.

Experience this 3-acre nightly tour of the arboretum's nationally known gardens, including its Quilt Garden and Bonsai Exhibition Garden. Designed to showcase the natural landscape, the displays feature colorful native butterflies and winter wildlife with a special insect-themed lantern exhibit on view.

2 Chetola's Festival of Lights

2 Chetola's Festival of Lights

Nov. 29, 2020 – Jan. 31, 2021, Blowing RockSee on mapSee on map

This free Blowing Rock holiday tradition features more than 50,000 lights and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Drive around Chetola Lake to view glittering ice skaters, a nativity scene, Rudolph catching a big fish and more.

3 Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries

3 Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries

Dec. 4-5, 11-12, 2020, DillsboroSee on mapSee on map

Beginning at dusk, this Smoky Mountain town glows with thousands of luminaries and twinkling lights adorning every business. The stores serve goodies, Santa sets up shop, and the streets fill up with music, entertainment and Christmas cheer. Cozy up in a horse and buggy ride – they're available each night.

Piedmont

4 Winter Wonderlights

Two women wearing masks looking at Christmas lights at Winter Wonderlights at nighttime
photo: Greensboro Science Center

4 Winter Wonderlights

Nov. 6, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2021, GreensboroSee on mapSee on map

New in 2020, Greensboro Science Center invites you to celebrate safely with loved ones at Winter Wonderlights. Featuring 12 magical realms of joyful sounds and shimmering lights such as dancing fountains, woodland wonders, a gingerbread barn, carousel dreams and more, this walk-thru experience is ticketed and timed to ensure proper social distancing. Check the calendar before buying tickets – most Mondays and Tuesdays are discounted, and you’ll find Santa and live music from the Greensboro Opera most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

5 Tanglewood Park Festival of Lights

5 Tanglewood Park Festival of Lights

Nov. 13, 2020 – Jan. 1, 2021, ClemmonsSee on mapSee on map

From storybook scenes to holiday themes, more than 100 light displays fill a nearly 5-mile route at Tanglewood Park. You’ll enjoy everything from giant snowflakes to individual-family tractor-pulled hayrides and private horse-drawn carriages.

6 Speedway Christmas

6 Speedway Christmas

Nov. 21, 2020 – Jan. 17, 2021, ConcordSee on mapSee on map

One of America’s largest holiday light shows, Speedway Christmas features more than 4 million lights over a 3.75-mile course that includes most of the oval and the new ROVAL. And Thursday through Sunday nights, you can watch holiday movies on the giant Speedway TV.

7 Taste of the Season at Carowinds

7 Taste of the Season at Carowinds

Select dates Nov. 21 – Dec. 20, 2020, CharlotteSee on mapSee on map

Due to COVID-19, Carowinds' 2020 WinterFest has been canceled. However, thanks to an extensive reopening plan, the park has pivoted to a Taste of the Season outdoor Christmas event that features samples of sweets and savories, specialty drinks, holiday décor, seasonal shows and select rides.

8 N.C. Transportation Museum in Lights and Candy Cane Train

8 N.C. Transportation Museum in Lights and Candy Cane Train

Nov. 21 – Dec. 30, 2020, SalisburySee on mapSee on map

Having canceled its Polar Express run, the N.C. Transportation Museum created a new drive-thru lights display plus a limited-capacity Candy Cane Train ride. Lights will be displayed along a 1.25-mile route with an option to visit a satellite gift shop to see Santa for a socially distanced photo. From Nov. 21 through Dec. 30, the Candy Cane Train runs on weekends and offers a from-the-rails view of the museum grounds and includes music, hot chocolate and cookies in the 1905 Back Shop.

9 Lights on the Neuse

9 Lights on the Neuse

Nov. 27-28; Dec. 4-6, 11-13, 18-24, 2020, ClaytonSee on mapSee on map

Please note: Due to COVID-19, the 2020 event will be timed and ticketed, and it will only offer hay rides and socially distant photos with Santa.

Boyette Farms creates old-fashioned family fun with its holiday light park, which visitors experience by tractor-pulled hayride. The merriment continues at the Christmas Barn, where Rudolph, Santa and a winter wonderland await. Candy, cocoa and s’mores from Santa’s Sweet Shoppe round out a festive evening.

10 Country Christmas Train

10 Country Christmas Train

Nov. 27-29; Dec. 4-6, 10-13, 18-23, 26-27, 2020, DentonSee on mapSee on map

Please note: Due to COVID-19, the 2020 exhibition is a drive-thru show with per-car ticketing.

Ride the Handy Dandy Railroad at Denton FarmPark to see the lights and enjoy a nativity movie, visit the church and sing carols. You can also explore the service station, gingerbread house, general store, doll museum, arts and crafts exhibits, and, of course, see Santa.

11 Holidays at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

11 Holidays at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

Nov. 28, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2021, BelmontSee on mapSee on map

At the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, you and your loved ones can enjoy an elegant lighting display, food trucks, a fire pit for toasting marshmallows and making s’mores, and a host of other traditions in the Visitor Pavilion. The Orchid Tree, featuring more than 300 live orchids, stands sentinel over the Great Hall.

12 Christmas Town USA

12 Christmas Town USA

Dec. 1-26, 2020, McAdenvilleSee on mapSee on map

Please note: Due to COVID-19, Christmas Town USA will be operating at a reduced scale.

In this mill town west of Charlotte, the hundreds of Christmas trees on display outnumber the households in a celebration that started in 1956 with nine evergreens. From modest (6-foot tree, 500 lights) to dazzling (90-foot tree, 5,000 lights), the displays blaze a trail to the heart of town. With about 600,000 visitors traveling the 2-mile route, be prepared to relax and enjoy a very slow ride, especially on weekends.

13 Downtown in December

13 Downtown in December

Begins Dec. 4, 2020, GreensboroSee on mapSee on map

Please note: Due to COVID-19, the city has pivoted several events to ensure a safe, socially distanced schedule of fun.

Several events bring downtown Greensboro to life for the holidays. Light the Night takes place Dec. 4-5 with a laser show and live entertainment, and the Balloon Regatta on Dec. 12-13 stands in for the parade this year. Plus, outdoor ice skating, known as Piedmont Winterfest, continues through late January.

14 Nights of Lights

14 Nights of Lights

Dec. 16 – Dec. 31, 2020, RaleighSee on mapSee on map

Aiming to provide families a way to get in the holiday spirit safely, Nights of Lights in Raleigh does just that with a 1.3-mile route of magical lights inside Dorothea Dix Park. Fill up a thermos with cocoa, stay in your car and take in the illuminated towering oaks, light installations and art installations. This event is strictly drive-thru – no pedestrians or cyclists are allowed – ensuring safety for all.

Coast

15 Beary Merry Christmas

15 Beary Merry Christmas

Nov. 27 – Dec. 20, 2020, New BernSee on mapSee on map

Beary Merry Christmas officially begins with "Light Up the Season," an annual family event that welcomes Santa and illuminates Bear Plaza with hundreds of lights. During the following days during this festive holiday celebration, you can enjoy Mistletoe Markets, a flotilla, live window displays and other activities.

16 Enchanted Airlie

16 Enchanted Airlie

Nov. 27-29; Dec. 4-22, 2020, WilmingtonSee on mapSee on map

Please note: The 2020 event is sold out.

Gather the family for a stroll through Airlie Gardens to enjoy holiday flowers, festive lights, live music, a working model train and more.

17 Lu Mil Vineyard's Festival of Lights

17 Lu Mil Vineyard's Festival of Lights

Nov. 27-29, Dec. 3-6, Dec. 10-13, 17-23, 26-28, 2020, ElizabethtownSee on mapSee on map

Tune in to the specified FM radio station in this drive-thru Festival of Lights and soak in the millions of lights and decorations that are synchronized to the music. The vineyard also transforms into a Christmas Village featuring free photos with Santa, a hot chocolate booth, a country buffet and a gift shop.

18 WinterLights at Elizabethan Gardens

18 WinterLights at Elizabethan Gardens

Through Jan. 16, 2021 (Nov. 29, 2020; Tuesdays – Saturdays in December; Fridays – Sundays in January), ManteoSee on mapSee on map

Peacocks, butterflies, deer and other enchanting creatures take up temporary residence at the Elizabethan Gardens. Created with flowers, seeds and other natural elements, the lighted displays join permanent art elements – which include the world’s largest bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Please note: Due to COVID-19, these holiday events have been canceled:

  • Island of Lights in Pleasure Island
  • Meadow Lights in Benson
  • North Carolina Holiday Flotilla in Wrightsville Beach

 

Updated December 4, 2020
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