Holiday Light Shows Glow with Seasonal Cheer

Charlotte Motor SpeedwayHoliday Light Shows Glow with Seasonal Cheer

Speedway Christmas is one of the nation's largest light shows, featuring 3 million lights in 800 displays

Nothing captures the spirit of the holidays quite like going to see arrays of sparkling lights and ornaments. Experience the magic of seasonal light displays during boat parades, in gardens, across golf courses, at 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.


Winter Lights at The North Carolina Arboretum
Nov. 17, 2017 – Dec. 31, 2017, Asheville
Experience this three-acre nightly walking tour of the arboretum's nationally known gardens, including its Quilt Garden and Bonsai Exhibition Garden. In addition to the lighted exhibits and landscapes, animated displays are programmed to illuminate to the sounds of holiday music.

High Country Lights
Nov. 23, 2017 – Jan. 1, 2018, Ennice
Named “Best Animated Tour” by for three years, this extravaganza features thousands of LED lights choreographed to favorite Christmas tunes on a local radio station.

Chetola Resort’s Festival of Lights
Nov. 23, 2017 – Jan. 28, 2018, Blowing Rock
This 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.

Festival of Lights at Chetola Resort


Chetola Resort lights up the day after Thanksgiving through Blowing Rock Winterfest in late January

Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries
Dec. 1-2 and 8-9, 2017, Dillsboro
Beginning at dusk, this Smoky Mountain town glows with thousands of luminarias 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.


Holidays at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Nov. 17, 2017 – Dec. 31, 2017, Belmont
You and your loved ones can enjoy an elegant lighting display, a fire pit for toasting marshmallows and making s’mores, and a host of other traditions in the Visitor Pavilion. The Orchid Tree stands sentinel over the Great Hall, as children visit with Santa or make nature-based crafts with their families.

Meadow Lights
Nov. 17 – Dec. 31, 2017, Benson
The farming community of Meadow celebrates the season with a sparkling holiday display with more than 30 acres of lights. Your family will also enjoy the old-fashioned candy store, train rides, carousel rides and time with Santa.

Tanglewood Festival of Lights
Nov. 17, 2017 – Jan. 1, 2018, Clemmons
From storybook scenes to holiday themes, more than 100 displays and 1 million lights fill Tanglewood Park with bright holiday spirit. You’ll enjoy everything from giant snowflakes to tractor-pulled hayrides and horse-drawn carriages. The Holiday Gift Village has 120 exhibitors, photo ops with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, plus Throwback Nights.

Tanglewood Festival of Lights

Visit Winston-Salem

Now in its 26th season, Tanglewood Festival of Lights has grown to a route of nearly four miles

Speedway Christmas
Nov. 19 – Dec. 31, 2017, Concord
One of America’s largest holiday light shows, Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway features more than 3 million lights in 800 displays along 3.5 miles – plus a drive on the 1.5-mile superspeedway. But the drive is only the beginning. The infield Christmas Village includes live actors and animals at a Bethlehem Village, a petting zoo, games and activities in Santa’s Workshop. And on Friday and Saturday nights, you can watch holiday movies on the giant Speedway TV.

WinterFest at Carowinds
Nov. 24 – Dec. 30, 2017 (select nights), Charlotte
It's the inaugural holiday series at one of the South's most popular theme parks. Carowinds will transform into WinterFest with more than 5 million shimmering lights, a 70-foot tree, lavish displays, live shows and strolling performers, and special holiday dishes and desserts will fill the midways. Plus, there will be as many as 16 rides open.

Lights on the Neuse
Nov. 24-25, Dec. 1-3, 8-10, 14-17, 20-24, 2017, Clayton
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.

Country Christmas Train
Nov. 28-30; Dec. 4-6, 7, 11-14, 18-23, 26-27, 2017, Denton
Ride the Handy Dandy Railroad 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.

Christmas Town USA
Dec. 1 – 26, 2017, McAdenville
This small Gaston County town has been transforming into Christmas Town USA for over 60 years. Visitors can walk or drive the two-mile route at no cost to enjoy nearly 400 decorated trees, more than 200 festive wreaths, Santa and his reindeer and more.

Festival of Lights
Dec. 1, 2017, Greensboro
Savor the spirit of the season with live music, strolling carolers and Santa. Stroll along Elm Street from Center City Park and enjoy downtown Greensboro’s shops, galleries and restaurants. Stop by the community tree at Center City Park, grab a warm cup of hot chocolate and embrace the spirit of the season.


Cape Fear Festival of Trees
Nov. 20 - Dec. 31, 2017, North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher in Kure Beach
Glittering Christmas trees decorated by local businesses, organizations and individual artists transform the aquarium space into an enchanted forest. There will also be performances by local musicians, treating your ears to the sounds of harps, ukulele choirs, acapella singing and more.

North Carolina Holiday Flotilla
Nov. 24-27, 2017, Wrightsville Beach
Named one of the Top 20 “Must See Events in the Southeast,” the Holiday Flotilla has showcased decorated boats on the Intracoastal Waterway for more than 30 years. Fireworks also light up the night, and a daytime Festival in the Park features a tree-lighting ceremony, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, arts and crafts, holiday shopping, children’s activities, entertainment and more.

North Carolina Holiday Flotilla at Wrightsville Beach

The parade of decorated boats and fireworks light up the water and sky during the Flotilla

Beary Merry Christmas
Nov. 24 – Dec. 24, 2017, New Bern
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 a Mistletoe March, sledding, shopping and other activities.

Christmas Light & Train Spectacular
Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 24 – Dec. 25, 2017, Wilmington
The Railroad Museum becomes a seasonal wonderland with decorations, more than 20,000 lights, musical animations and twilight model train displays. See Santa and enjoy cider and goodies.

Enchanted Airlie
Nov. 24-25; Dec. 1-2, 8-10, 13-22, 2017, Wilmington
Gather the family for a stroll through the gardens to enjoy holiday flowers, festive lights, live music, a working model train and more. And new this year, The WOW Factor of Wilmington presents a meet-and-greet with Winter Princesses.

Enchanted Airlie trail of lights


Take a walk through Airlie Gardens and enjoy the holiday lights and displays

Island of Lights
Nov. 24 – Dec. 31, 2017, Ocean Front Park, Kure Beach
The more than a month-long celebration kicks off with “Lighting at the Lake,” the opening ceremony featuring the lighting of the displays, musical entertainment, free refreshments and a visit from Santa. Other signature events include the Christmas parade Dec. 2, a holiday tour of homes and a New Year’s Eve celebration.


There’s much to see and do in North Carolina, so read on.

Request your Travel Guide

Download or order FREE guides and maps

Discover Project Project 543

Explore unique spots across North Carolina