This article is a partnership with our Smarty friends at Happyly, the country’s only mobile-first family activity planning app focused on helping families live their best lives. The free app provides all the necessary tools to outline a fulfilling and outdoor-focused day or weekend. With the help of happyly, you will save hours of wasted time searching dozens of websites and blogs to find plans that suit your family’s preferences, while avoiding the frustration and disappointment your family feels when your plans don’t turn out as you hoped. Let us do the legwork, and help you spend less time planning and more time experiencing life with your family.
If you love a playground, hike, kid-friendly restaurant or activity that we have yet to cover please reach out to email@example.com. Of course, please download the free happyly app for fast access to all of our blog content, favorite activities, and expertly designed curated days, both locally and in many communities and travel destinations across the country.
Seven Ways to See Light Displays in Charlotte This Year:
There is no doubt 2020 has been a year of change and the same is for this holiday season as well. We all look forward to visiting Santa, holiday gatherings, and light displays during the season and while it might not all be the same, not all hope is lost. Charlotte has some safe and comfortable ways to still enjoy the season. Check out these seven locations for great light displays and holiday cheer.
1: McAdenville: Christmas Town USA
Christmas town is on, but with a few changes to some of the traditional events. Their annual Run the Lights event will be a virtual run through the tree lighting, and the Yule Log Ceremony is canceled. The famous light displays will still be lit from the downtown Pharr Family YMCA on Main Street to the Spruced Goose Restaurant on Wesleyan Drive (not around the lake).
Families in the neighborhood will obviously make the decision about whether they want to contribute a Christmas light display this year. You can choose to walk or drive thru, just be respectful and stay on the sidewalks. The displays can be seen each night from December 1st through December 26th from 5:30 – 10:00 pm. Shops and restaurants will be open in town as usual.
2: Speedway Christmas
The 11th edition of Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas light display comes back bigger and better than ever this year. This light show features more than 4 million lights over a 3.75-mile course that includes the oval, infield, and ROVAL. This is more than just a light display, because you can listen to synced music on 101.3 FM. This runs from Saturday, November 21st through Sunday, January 17th and is closed Christmas Day.
Price: Varies depending on vehicle and date. Price ranges from $20 – 30 per car, $40 – 50 per van, and $140 – $175 per bus. For an additional $20 you can get an express pass available at the gate Thursday – Sunday only.
**Fridays and Saturdays get very busy, plan to come early or try to visit another day for the best experience.
While there, you can enjoy a drive-in movie on the giant Speedway TV every Thursday – Sunday. Check the website for what movie is playing each night. There is no extra charge for the movie – it is included with admission.
New this year is The Rink at Speedway Christmas. Bring the family out for skating on 5,400 sq. feet of ice on the infield. Hours are Monday – Thursday: 6 pm – 10 pm, Friday: 4 pm – 11 pm, Saturday: noon – 11 pm, and Sunday: noon – 10 pm.
Price: $15 per hour including skate rental.
3: Kannapolis Celebration of Lights and Winterland Express
Celebrate the holidays with 250,000 sparkling lights and featured fun for the whole family at Village Park. The Winterland Express train travels around the park displaying the 12 days of Christmas in lights. It runs every evening from Sunday through Thursday 6 pm – 9 pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 6 pm – 10pm.
The train is closed Thanksgiving day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. It fills up quickly so doing this activity first is recommended. All the favorite activities are also happening such as S’mores, singing bears, and a free socially distanced visit to Santa. Masks, social distancing, and hand washing will be required.
Price: Free. Train rides $6 for a row (3 people)
4: N.C. Transportation Museum
Due to COVID, the Polar Express train ride experience that normally happens at the N.C. Transportation Museum is canceled this year. Instead, they have decided to try something new with two festive attractions. Starting November 20th, there will be a daytime event called the Candy Cane Train and a nighttime event called N.C. Transportation Museum in Lights: A Drive-Thru Experience.
The Candy Cane Train is a festive holiday-themed train ride, plus activities, that will take place on Saturdays and Sundays from November 21st to December 20th, from 10 am to 3:30 pm. The train will be decorated for the holidays and each rider will receive a candy cane. This will be a safe family-friendly event with a limit of 30% capacity on the train. It will take guests on a tour around the 60-acre historic site.
Following the train ride, guests will enjoy hot chocolate and prepackaged cookies from the 1905 Back Shop. The area will be set up with holiday decor and a model train area. Buy your tickets in advance as they will likely sell out.
Price: $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and military, $10 for children 3 – 12, 2 and under free with adult admission. For admission only and no train ride, $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and military, $5 for children 3 – 12, and children 2 and under are free.
The N.C. Transportation Museum in Lights: A Drive-Thru Experience is a light show that visitors can stay in their cars and drive through the 1.25 miles of lights. They have limited nights and you can only view these lights on Nov 20th to 22nd, Nov 27th to 29th, Dec 4th to 6th, Dec 10th to 13th, Dec 15th to 23rd, and Dec 26th to 30th. The hours are from 6 pm to 10 pm each night.
Price: $8 a car, shuttle buses, minibuses, and 12-15 passenger vans are $15. Tickets sold upon arrival.
5: Lights at the U.S. National Whitewater Center
Lights return to the Whitewater Center for the second year. Lights is a half-mile long walking trail through the woods that leads guests through a nature-inspired immersive light installation. Designed by a local artist, Meredith Connelly, Lights includes 173 separate sculptures in 15 different installations throughout the trail. You will find natural features including a honeycomb, streams, roots, bird’s nests, and more.
You can also enjoy the ice skating rink which is installed in part of the whitewater area.
Price: Free to walk the trail. Parking $6. Ice skating is $20 for a single activity pass.
6: Holidays at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden
Through January 3, 2021 from 5 to 9 p.m.
Advance tickets available now.
Although the show is just a bit smaller than in years past, you can still sing along to your wintertime favorites at our popular topiary display, take in the rolling lights of the Piedmont Prairie and stroll among the blossoming cherry trees. Grab a bite from the food trucks, roast a marshmallow beside
a roaring fire, sip a warm or cold beverage and soak up the season’s cheer.
Advance tickets will be available for 5, 6:30 and 8 p.m. arrival times. Guests with 5 and 6:30 p.m. arrival times can arrive up to 90 minutes after the time on their ticket but cannot be admitted prior to the time on their ticket. Guests with 8 p.m. arrival times are encouraged to arrive promptly to enjoy the show.
Many nights are selling out. Please purchase tickets in advance to guarantee entry for the desired date and time of visit. Tickets may not be available at the door as we are monitoring attendance limits to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for guests.
Cost – Adult: $14.95; Senior (60+): $12.95 Child 2-12: $7.95; Child Under 2: Free
7: Light the Knights & Charlotte Christmas Village
Experience the magic of the holiday season in the heart of Charlotte at Truist Field.
You may have had to change some of your holiday traditions this year. We have something special for you: Light the Knights & Charlotte Christmas Village.
Incredible view, thousand of lights, Christmas trees, warm treats, live music, and snow.
Don’t wait. Only a few days left.
Buy your tickets in advance here.