Charlotte, North Carolina, may provide mild winters but it certainly doesn't skimp on its Christmas light displays just because it lacks frigid temperatures and snow. The best lights in the area range from a small-but-nationally-known town of fewer than 700 people to the oval of a NASCAR Superspeedway. Some you can simply drive through while others demand to be explored on foot.
Keep in mind that many events planned for the 2020-2021 holiday season have been altered. Check the websites of organizers for updated information.
The town of McAdenville is easily the largest and most well-known light display in the region. During the holiday season, it's commonly referred to as Christmas Town USA for its annual display of more than 500,000 lights. It's been featured in Time Magazine and on "Good Morning America," among countless other local news stations. The vast majority of McAdenville residents get involved in this community masterpiece, a tradition for the past half century. Just 15 miles west of Charlotte, a trip through the tiny town is worthwhile and necessary if you're a sucker for dancing lights and hometown Christmas cheer.
The Billy Graham Library is stunning year-round, but when it's decorated for Christmas and putting on its annual live Nativity (complete with actual farm animals), caroling, carriage rides, and more, it's one of the most magical places around. Here, you can ride in a charming carriage through one of Charlotte's most beautiful displays while listening to the heartwarming sounds of caroling and holiday music. Hours are Monday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. November 30 to December 23, 2020. The event features Christmas storytime for kids of all ages every 30 minutes, starting at 5 p.m.
Speedway Christmas is one of the largest holiday light shows in the region. The famous route at Charlotte Motor Speedway is 3.75 miles long and offers a spectacular in-car LED light viewing experience of more than 3.5 million lights. Other noteworthy attractions include a realistic Bethlehem Village, a 50-foot tall Ferris wheel, marshmallow roasting pits, Santa’s workshop, photos with Santa, themed areas for children, food, and music. In 2020, the event will also feature an ice rink (admission not included with the Speedway Christmas car pass). The display will be open nightly from November 21, 2020, to January 17, 2021.
Holidays at the Daniel Stowe Garden
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden's annual Holiday Lights at The Garden is made up of about half a million lights and includes a breathtaking Christmas tree created with hundreds of orchids. Carriage rides, live entertainment, and visits from Santa are also included. Through January 3, 2021, guests can expect food trucks and marshmallow roasting over a fire, but no live entertainment and, sadly, no visits from Santa. The event is open nightly from 5 to 9 p.m.