Lights, Christmas, Action: Guide to Charlotte Holiday Events

Choose from several great holiday lights displays and events in the Charlotte area to get you into the yuletide spirit
The Billy Graham Library features nightly attractions during the holiday season, including horse-drawn carriage rides.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. We eat too much, shop too much, and get invited to more holidays parties than we want to attend. And amongst all of that, you still have to find time to decorate your place for Christmas. But why spend the energy lugging those decorations out of storage and hours untangling lights, when you can hop in the car, take a short drive, and enjoy any number of great public displays? From outdoor skating under the city skyline to the warmth of small-town celebrations, you have several great options in the Charlotte area.

For a list of holiday parties and social events, visit our Dusk Till Dawn nightlife blog.

Holiday on Ice
Through January 6
Nothing says big-city holiday living like outdoor ice skating in the heart of a vibrant downtown. The long-running tradition brought to you by WBT 1110 AM is great for all ages, propelled by a variety of events and special-themed days. There are Family FRYdays (complimentary fried Oreos and other fried treats are served), Date Nights, Military Day Sundays, as well as special features such as live music, carriage rides, and visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Visit website for hours. Admission is $9 if you bring your own skates, or $12 for admission and skate rental. NASCAR Hall of Fame Plaza, 400 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.,

Speedway Christmas
Through December 30
It’s one of the largest holiday light displays in the region, made even cooler by the fact that it runs along a racetrack. Drive through the motorsports complex, including through the infield of the 1.5-mile superspeedway, passing by more than 800 holiday displays made up of more than 3 million lights. Once you get out of the car, the fun kicks into high gear. Visit the Speedway Christmas Village, which features a Bethlehem Village with live actors and animals, a petting zoo, games, and activities in Santa’s Workshop. Plus, movie nights are held every Friday and Saturday, showing classic films such as A Christmas Story and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, on the world’s largest high-definition television. And new this year is the Coca-Cola ice skating rink (separate admission). Visit website for hours. Admission to the festivities is $15 per car on nights the Christmas Village is closed, and $20 per car on nights the village is open. Entrance begins at zMAX Dragway. Charlotte Motor Speedway, 5555 Concord Pkwy. South, Concord,

 McAdenville Christmas Lights
Through December 26
Known as Christmas Town U.S.A., the small town of McAdenville puts on a big lights show every year. It’s a Christmas season rite of passage for anyone living in the Charlotte area—McAdenville is just 20 minutes west of the Queen City. Just about every business, public street and sidewalk, parks, trees, and hundreds of homes are decorated with garlands, wreaths, and hundreds of thousands of lights. Drive your car through the town or walk. In addition to the nightly show, the annual Yule Log Ceremony and Parade takes place on December 14. Monday-Friday, 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 5:30-11 p.m. Free. McAdenville,

Holidays at the Garden
Through December 31
Celebrate the season at this pristine botanical garden, enhanced for the season by a vibrant array of Christmas trees, lighting displays, and decorations. In addition to touring the conservatory and nature walk, guests will be able to enjoy s’mores beside a glowing fire, visits from Santa, crafts, carriage rides (Thursday-Sunday), special holiday tea tastings (additional costs), and much more. 12-9 p.m. Adults $12, children $6. Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, 6500 South New Hope Rd., Belmont,

Christmas at the Library
Through December 22
There’s so much to do at this public attraction named after world-famous evangelist Billy Graham. Enjoy a live nativity scene that offers a glimpse into the wonder of the first Christmas, ride horse-drawn carriages (adults $7, children $3) through the beautiful light displays, hear joyful carolers sing Christmas music, and there’s also story time for kids. Tours of the Journey of Faith are also available. Plus, you can do a little gift shopping at Ruth’s Attic. And new this year is the serving of Christmas dinner, Thursday through Saturday (adults $14.95, children $7.95). Monday-Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Christmas activities begin daily at 5 p.m. $10 parking fee per vehicle after 3 p.m. Billy Graham Library, 4330 Westmont Dr.,

History and Holiday Lights Tour
Tuesday, December 11
Celebrate the holiday season while getting to know Charlotte better. Levine Museum of the New South presents this second annual tour for its members only, beginning next door at 7th Street Public Market with treats from Cloud 9 Bakery and Not Just Coffee. Then Rose Chauffeured Transportation will take participants out on a van tour led by Levine Museum staff historian Tom Hanchett, exploring historic Elizabeth and Myers Park. 5:30 p.m. Space is limited and reservations are required. RSVP by calling 704-333-1887 ext. 501 or email

Downtown Mooresville’s Holiday Light Spectacular
Friday, December 7 and December 14
Enjoy the holidays in downtown Mooresville with music, Santa visits, strolls along Christmas Tree Lane, wagon rides, and more. 6-8 p.m. Free; canned good donations are encouraged. Broad and Main streets, Mooresville,

A Huntersville Christmas
Saturday, December 8
This festive celebration gives you the opportunity to visit the newly renovated downtown. There’ll be pony rides, magic shows, entertainment, horse and carriage rides, a bonfire, storytelling, games, children’s crafts, a visit from Santa, and much more. 4-8 p.m. Free. 101 Huntersville-Concord Rd., downtown Huntersville,


Categories: Arts & Entertainment, News – Web Exclusives