We all have different triggers when it comes to getting into the holiday spirit. Sometimes it’s baking sugar cookies for Santa, hearing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey play on the radio 44 times per day, present shopping, ice skating, curling up with a loved one in front of the fire, or a combination of all these activities. Undoubtedly, though, a critical ingredient for the holiday season is seeing winter skies aglow with strings of Christmas lights. This is a comprehensive list of where to see Christmas lights in NC.
Christmas at the Biltmore
There’s no missing the entrance to the Biltmore at Christmastime. A towering Norway spruce with branches wrapped in lights stands sentry out frog, and luminaries guide visitors straight to the doorsteps. Within, soft twinkle lights and cozy candles dress this already dazzling home up for the holidays. Extend your Biltmore experience with a trip to nearby Antler Hill Village, where a winery, a farmyard, and small shops are similarly festooned.
Winter Lights at NC Arboretum
In addition to fostering one of the most diverse collections of plants in the southeast, the NC Arboretum also happens to host an impressive light show that strings over one million lights along a walking path and up a 50-foot tree. Expect to find a blend of elegance and whimsy here.
Similarly, the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens (Belmont, NC), Cape Fear Botanical Garden (Fayetteville, NC), and Elizabethan Gardens (Manteo, NC), offer garden pathways lined with glittering Christmas lights during the holiday season.
Hometown Holiday Festivities
Forest City, NC
From Thanksgiving to New Years, over a million lights dazzle over the heart of downtown Forest City. This quaint small town has the look and feel of a small town straight out of a Hallmark movie. It has the suite of activities one might expect from such a place: horse-drawn carriage rides, synthetic ice skating, and hay rides.
Christmas Town USA
McAdenville, also known as Christmas Town, USA, has long been one of North Carolina’s top destinations for Christmas light viewing. Although it’s worth a visit just to see the quaint downtown area strung with lights, part of McAdenville’s allure lies in its neighborhoods. You’ll discover that each resident pitches in with light displays of their own.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
View this holiday light display via a meandering walk throughout the Whitewater Center grounds. Part holiday festivity, part art installation, this holiday experience is one you won’t find elsewhere. Plus, the Center also sports a 24,000 square-foot ice skating track during winter months . An on-ice Airstream trailer serves beverages both warm and cold.
Light the Knights and Christmas Village
In the heart of Uptown amid glittering skyscrapers, Truist Field, home to the minor league baseball team The Knights, transforms into a winter wonderland each holiday season. Enjoy ice skating, snow tubing, retail, and the lights.
Charlotte Motor Speedway
At the Charlotte Motor Speedway, 4 million lights are set up annually along 3.75 miles of roadway in the center of the speedway, making it one of the largest holiday light shows in North Carolina. It’s small wonder that visitors flocked to this spectacle from all 50 states last year. If you’re looking for where to see Christmas lights in NC, this belongs on your list.
Tryon Equestrian Center
Mill Spring, NC
Each holiday season, the Tryon Equestrian Center converts itself into a winter wonderland. Here, a drive-thru light show displays hundreds of thousands of lights that flicker and dance to the rhythm of festive tunes. Visit for the lights. However, be sure to stop by the Winterfest Village, ice skating rink, and Christmas market for a full evening of holiday happiness.