Get your fill of all things festive at Light the Knights. Catch a musical light show, walk through the tunnel of lights, snow tube, ice skate, shop at the Holiday Market and more. Tickets start at $10.
Put on your matching Christmas pajamas, pour some hot cocoa and hop in your cars. These are the 14 must-see Charlotte-area holiday light displays.
This list includes streets, individual homes, and organized displays like the Speedway. Listed in no particular order.
Editor’s note: This guide is updated every year and was most recently updated Dec.1, 2023.
When: Dec.1-Dec. 26, 5:30-10pm.
Where: McAdenville (use 212 Wesleyan Drive for the GPS).
Details: Every December, more than 600,000 people head to McAdenville, AKA “Christmas Town USA,” located about 30 minutes west of Uptown. 100+ homes go all out on the holiday decorations — it’s a tradition that’s been happening for 68 years. You’ll also see more than 250 evergreens covered in half a million red, white and green lights.
- Lights are on seven days a week from 5:30-10pm.
Pro tip: Go on a weekday and arrive before sunset. And if you’re walking, grab a beverage before or after at taprooms 115 Craft and The River Room.
Bonus: Attend McAdenville’s annual Yule Log Parade on Dec. 14 at 5pm. It starts on the lawn of the Pharr corporate office.
When: Holiday garden starts Dec. 1; Open Monday-Thursday, 7am-10pm and Friday-Saturday, 8am-11pm and Sunday 8am-10pm.
Where: 940 N. Davidson St.
Details: During the holidays, the rose garden transforms into a cozy winter wonderland, making it a solid spot for everything from a happy hour to a date night.
- Rosie’s has a new winter menu and a drink special nearly every night of the week, like half-off select bottles on Wednesdays and $5 spiked coffee on Fridays — check out the weekly lineup here.
Note: Outside food is welcome.
When: Select nights Nov. 17 through Jan. 1, 2024.
Where: 300 Carowinds Blvd.
Details: Carowinds is ringing in the season with its immersive holiday experience, Winterfest. Expect millions of lights, alongside live shows, ice skating and activities like cookie decorating. Plus, some of the parks’ rides are running, too.
Chanukah Laser Show at StoneCrest
When: Dec. 7 at 5:30pm.
Details: Holiday lights, but make them lasers — that’s what you can expect at the Chanukah Laser Spectacular, presented by The Ballantyne Jewish Center. The event will also feature a menorah lighting, a balloon artist, plus latkes and doughnuts.
Where: StoneCrest Shopping Center (7824 Rea Road).
Carolina Holiday Lights Spectacular at Ballantyne’s Backyard
When: Dec. 7-30, 5:30-10pm unless otherwise noted.
Details: Explore an outdoor walking trail jam-packed with Christmas magic, including over one million holiday lights, hundreds of Christmas trees, several larger-than-life installations and interactive elements. You’ll also find a holiday village with boutiques, shops and rotating food trucks.
Note: There’s a live Santa nightly through Dec. 23 and live performances on select nights.
Price: General admission begins at $15.
When: Lights should be up and running the first week of December, per the Hillside Ave. Facebook page.
Where: Enter from Park Road and Selwyn Ave.
Details: This street-long light display is one of the hallmarks of Charlotte’s Christmas. Some of the houses are decorated, but nearly all of the trees are adorned with giant Christmas lights – it’s the definition of magical.
- Along Hillside, there’s a food drive where you can make a cash or food donation to Loaves and Fishes.
Where: A subdivision in Ballantyne, not far from Blakeney. If you need a street address for your GPS, plug in Wheatfield Road.
Details: Expect hundreds of Charleston-style homes decked out in classic Christmas decor (think: garland, white lights, and wreaths). You can drive around, or park and stroll.
When: Now through Jan. 1. Hours vary by day — view the calendar.
Where: Truist Field (324 S. Mint St.).
Details: Light the Knights is a walkthrough holiday experience of over 10,000 lights, Christmas trees and seasonal displays at Truist Field. This year, expect ice skating, a tubing hill, visits from Santa and holiday treats.
Price: $10 for admission, $40 for admission + activities (ice skating and snow tubing) and $129 for a season package.
Holidays at the Garden at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
When: Now through Dec. 23; Tuesday-Sunday 5-10pm. Closed Mondays.
Details: The annual Holidays at the Garden is back at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Enjoy dazzling lights, sparkling fountains and holiday décor as you stroll through the one-mile walk. Afterward, you can purchase ingredients to make tasty s’mores by their fire pit or grab a bite to eat at one of the multiple food trucks (check online to see who’ll be there).
Price: Timed tickets can be purchased online; limited tickets are available at the door. Tickets are $25 for adults, $23 for seniors (60+) and $15 for children 2-12. Children under 2 are free. Members get a 25% discount.
Details: Similar to Hillside, this is another street in Charlotte that’s decked out in Christmas lights and decor for an overall festive, scenic drive.
Where: Montibello neighborhood, off Carmel Road
When: Nightly through Jan. 7, 6-10pm. Closed on Christmas Eve.
Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, 5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord
Details: Nothing says Christmas in the Carolinas like four million lights arranged around the four-mile race track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
- Plus, every Thursday through Sunday, visitors can enjoy a bustling Christmas village, a tubing hill and catch holiday classics like The Grinch, A Christmas Story and Home Alone.
Note: Turn your radio dial to 101.3 FM to hear the Christmas music that goes along with the lights.
Price: Tickets start at $35 per car on Monday-Wednesday. On Thursday-Sunday, it’s $40 per car.
Traffic tip: Go Sunday-Thursday for cheaper admission and to avoid out-of-towner traffic.
When: Now through mid-February.
Where: U.S. National Whitewater Center (5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy).
Details: There are a couple of ways to enjoy the seasonal decor at Whitewater Center this winter. With an activity pass, you can use suspension bridges, ziplines and rope bridges to explore the Canyon that’s illuminated with Christmas lights.
- Or, Grab a walking buddy and explore the illuminated Canyon night trail for free.
Ice Skating: While you’re there, get a $25 single activity pass for ice skating. The 24,000-square-foot ice rink has four skating areas, including two ice trails and two free skate zones. You’ll also find an on-ice Airstream serving hot and cold beverages.
Price: A single activity pass for the zipline is $30. An all-access pass (which includes all activities) is $79 for adults and $69 for kids.
- It’s $12 for a day parking pass or get an annual parking pass for $40.
When: Starts Dec. 1; nightly from 6-10pm. Check the Facebook page for updates.
Where: 10223 Summer House Ct.
Details: This south Charlotte residence puts on a holiday light display that gives the Griswold house some serious competition. The Harbin family puts on a dazzling display each year to raise money for Make-A-Wish.
Zimnowski Light Show (Huntersville)
When: Happening now; nightly from 6-10pm. Check the Facebook page for updates.
Details: If you’re in the north Charlotte area, or heading up there for other light displays, be sure to swing by this house. It’s another great one with synchronized lights and music. And, Swifties, it looks like you might just be in luck this year.
Note: Be sure to follow the five asks for visitors. Stay off the front lawn, dim your headlights, don’t block driveways, remain in your car, and tune into 101.3 FM for synchronized music.
Looking for more things to do this holiday season in Charlotte? Find 25 festive things to do in our 2022 holiday guide.