Best Holiday Events & Things to Do This Christmas: Charlotte, NC & Cabarrus

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With the holiday season in full swing, there are lots of things to do this Christmas! Charlotte, NC, and Cabarrus County have some of the best events, with epic light displays, parades, and magical month-long celebrations. These events will give your family many opportunities to make beautiful memories this Christmas season. We have also included a guide to places to find your perfect Christmas tree.

Christmas in Charlotte and Cabarrus County, North Carolina.

A special thanks to Explore Cabarrus for giving recommendations and providing tickets to special events and lodging for our visit to Concord and Kannapolis so we could create these reviews!

A Queen City Christmas: Charlotte, NC Holiday Events

Winterfest at Carowinds

If you’re looking for a full-day event this Christmas, Charlotte, NC has one of the best in the Southeast. Winterfest at Carowinds is the perfect family-friendly holiday event. Not only do you have the opportunity to ride many of the epic rollercoasters and rides, but the amusement park is decked out in decorations, millions of sparkling lights, amusing live entertainment, and even an ice skating rink. Plus, the park will have some special holiday-themed foods to try out.

Daily tickets start at $32.99 per person, with additional bundles available. Winterfest occurs from November 17, 2023 through January 1, 2024.

Light the Knights at Truist Field

If you are looking for a combination of excellent light displays, snow tubing, a holiday market, and ice skating, then head to Truist Field for the 4th annual Light the Knights. The event has so much going on, that you could spend the entire evening here and not get to everything.

There are even opportunities for your little ones to meet with Santa. Check the Light the Knights Christmas hours calendar before heading to the event if you want to see the big man himself, because he is only there on select dates (he is a busy man this time of year).

Light the Knights runs from November 22nd, 2023 through January 1st, 2024. Tickets start at $10 for admission only, or $40 if you want to participate in all activities.

A Christmas in Concord, NC: Holiday Events

Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway

It’s a beach party at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas for 2023! This spectacular display features over 4 million lights, which is one of the largest in the country. You also get to drive on the track itself, which is really cool as the LED lights lit up the infield and the seating area.

You’ll be dazzled by dozens of light displays, large Christmas trees, dancing lights, and a Christmas Village in the center. Here, your kids can meet with Santa, grab food at the food court, roast marshmallows, watch a Christmas movie on the big screen, and enjoy some extra magical light displays. We visited in 2023 and were blown away by how amazing this setup really is.

You can visit Speedway Christmas most nights from November 17th, 2023 through January 7th, 2024. You will find everything you need to know about this year’s Speedway Christmas in our KA review, including what you’ll see, pricing information, and why we think it’s a definite must this holiday season.

You Love Christmas Lights? Us TOO!

Here’s a huge guide to all the lights for Christmas: Charlotte, NC, in fact, there are over 17 options for and lots of them are FREE!

Sea of Lights at the Sea Life Aquarium

One of the best times of year to visit the SEA LIFE Charlotte aquarium at the Great Mills Mall is during the holidays. From December 1st, 2023 through January 3rd, 2024, the Aquarium will deck the halls with their Sea of Lights: Holiday Beneath the Waves celebration. The aquarium goes all out with decorations! You’ll get a double treat of seeing your favorite sea creatures, while also getting a little bit of Christmas magic through the lights, decorations, and over 25 beautifully decorated Christmas trees.

Tickets start at $18.99 per adult and $15.99 per child. 

The Concord Christmas Parade

We visited the 2023 Concord Christmas Parade, and this wholesome, family event was the perfect way to kick off the holidays. There was a plane flyover at the beginning of the parade which had our kids giggling with excitement.

There were lots of local businesses, parade floats, dancers, bands, and a lot of adorable dogs strutting down the street, which had the crowd around us giddy! This was the Concord Christmas Parade’s 95th year, and it was charming. Be sure to check out the Concord Christmas Parade next year in November 2024!

Kannapolis, NC: Holiday Celebrations Throughout the City

Kannapolis Tree Lighting Ceremony in Village Park

Kannapolis Tree Lighting Ceremony

The annual Kannapolis Tree Lighting Ceremony is held at Village Park and kicks off the start of the Celebration of Lights. At the ceremony, the community gathers around the large tree in the green area of the park. Then guest speakers talk about the year past and what to look forward to for the city.

Santa makes an appearance on stage, which really had our toddler squealing. As soon as the trees light up with red, green, and white, fireworks rise in the sky! This was such an epic moment, as the entire crowd was awestruck. Be sure to check out the Tree Lighting Ceremony in 2024!

Kannapolis Celebration of Lights

The Kannapolis Celebration of Lights occurs from November 18th, 2023 through December 30th, 2023. The annual celebration features over 250,000 lights strung throughout Village Park. There are even train rides on the g-24 scale train throughout the park, rides on the famous Venetian Carousel, and your kids can meet with Santa. We visited for 2023 on opening night, and found it to be a magical, memory-making experience for our family! 

Celebrate the Holiday Season at the Celebration of Lights in Kannapolis, NC

Celebration of Lights in Kannapolis, North Carolina

The Kannapolis Christmas Parade

The Kannapolis Christmas Parade every year in Downtown Kannapolis near City Hall. This event is held at night, which makes it super special. You’ll see the floats glowing with lights, local performers, floats decked out in tinsel and lights, and so much holiday joy! The parade will be held on December 9th, 2023 at 6 pm near City Hall.

Where to Find a Fresh Tree for Christmas: Charlotte, NC

There is nothing quite like the fresh Christmas tree smell. Especially when you get to wake up every day to it! We gathered all of the best places to get a fresh Christmas tree in our Guide to 15+ Christmas Tree Farms Near Charlotte, NC. Our guide includes choose and cut Christmas tree farms, precut Christmas tree farms, and local tree lots. So, you can find something that fits your budget and needs! There are also some tree farms in Western North Carolina listed if you’re looking to take a truly memorable day trip.

Find more Christmas fun nearby!

About the Author
Erin is a Greenville, South Carolina native who loves taking her two young daughters on adventures around the Upstate. Erin enjoys gardening, hiking, and dabbling in DIY projects. Her favorite things to do with her husband and kids include sensory activities, swimming, playing with their dogs, and exploring the local state and national parks.

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