It’s the time of year again to enjoy the spectacular display of holiday lights at Village Park in Kannapolis at the annual Celebration of Lights. We visited the event on opening night and were thrilled to watch the annual Christmas tree-lighting celebration. Along with the FREE light display of over 250,000 lights adorning the trees and buildings, there are also some pretty unique things to do throughout the month-long celebration in this beautiful park.
A special thanks to Explore Cabarrus for their recommendation of the Celebration of Lights and for providing lodging at Homewood Suites by Hilton in Concord so we could enjoy this holiday celebration!
The Celebration of Lights: Village Park, Kannapolis
From November 18th, 2023 – December 30th, 2023, Village Park in Kannapolis is illuminated by lights of all colors, animated light displays, and the town’s Christmas tree display that makes for a magical photo opportunity with your family. To complement the lights, you can also take a train ride around the park, ride a Venetian carousel, and meet with Santa. Or, take the walking trail and just enjoy the lights around the park. Either way, you’re in for a treat!
Ride the Winterland Express Train Through the Lights
One of the Celebration of Lights most popular attractions is the Winterland Express, a train ride weaving through the light displays! The g-24 scale replica train travels throughout the entire park, blowing its little whistle, while going through light tunnels and beside animated displays while you look for the 12 days of Christmas. The train gives guests the best view of the lights and is a lot of fun for all ages. For 2023, they even added an additional train.
The train runs every 10 minutes and is by reservation only during the week. You can purchase tickets for the Winterland Express for $2 per passenger through the City of Kannapolis. Guest can make train reservations for Sunday through Thursday, but Friday and Saturday will be walk-up only. All you have to do is print your ticket or bring your mobile ticket to the train depot for boarding. The popularity of this attraction makes lines grow long quickly, so keep that in mind and plan for a little bit of a wait.
The double-decker Venetian carousel was one of my daughter’s favorite experiences of the holiday season so far! The carousel is housed indoors at Village Park and features beautifully crafted horses, chariots, gorgeously painted in pastels, with 1800 lights along the Brazilian oak decking. We went on the carousel during opening night, so there was a significant line, but it didn’t take long before it was our turn. If you have a tendency for motion sickness, I would recommend grabbing one of the seats instead of standing beside the horse (I learned this very quickly).
Tickets for the carousel are $2 per person, and you do not need to make reservations ahead of time.
Meet With Santa, Roast S’mores, and More
It wouldn’t be a true holiday celebration without Santa! You can visit with Santa in his adorable studio and take a photo of your kids rattling off their growing Christmas list. Afterward, head over to the firepits to roast some delicious s’mores and enjoy the warmth. The Celebration of Lights will also have a 30-minute caroling experience from the Kannapolis Singing Bears every hour to really set the mood for the holidays.
Things to Know Before You Visit the Celebration of Lights
- Bathrooms– There is a small bathroom located at the park that is kept fairly clean, along with a changing table in the largest stall in the women’s bathroom.
- Fireworks occur on the opening night of the Celebration of Lights in conjunction with the annual tree-lighting ceremony. These start right as the tree is lit up, making for a truly magical experience.
- Lines– If you plan to go to the event on opening night or during the weekend, expect longer lines for the attractions than if you visit during the week.
- Parking– There is ample free parking at the Kannapolis YMCA, which is located right beside the park. You will also find free parking at Village Park.
- Inclement weather– If the weather turns bad and the City of Kannapolis decides to cancel events for the night, you can use your tickets another night.
What is Your Favorite Part of the Kannapolis Celebration of Lights?
Kannapolis Celebration of Lights
Village Park, Kannapolis
700 West C Street, Kannapolis, NC
Nightly, November 18th – December 30th, 2023
Open 6 pm – 9 pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day
Tickets and Reservations of the Wonderland Express
Village Park in Kannapolis is a great place to visit year-round. Check out why we think it is worth the trip.