Put Christmas Town, USA On Your List of Places to Visit This Christmas Near Charlotte, NC

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Have you heard of McAdenville, NC, also known as Christmas Town, USA? Can you imagine living in a town where everyone decorated for Christmas and it was like somewhere out of a Hallmark Channel movie? Well, my friends, such a place does exist and it’s not that far away from the Upstate. If you are looking for the ultimate light display, McAdenville, NC is it. Enjoying it will only cost you gas money to get there, and once you arrive – you won’t believe your eyes.

You also might like these three Christmas Lights Driving Routes where you can see light displays throughout the Greenville and Spartanburg area.

A few years ago, during the holiday season, we were driving north on I-85 and I noticed a lot of traffic getting off at an exit. It was the McAdenville exit and there were even DOT signs directing traffic to exit a few ramps away. I was intrigued, so as soon as we returned home I did an online search of the town.

McAdenville’s Christmas Festivites Return In 2021

Last year most of the traditional events surrounding the lights were canceled due to health concerns, but have returned in 2021.

  • Christmas Tree Lighting @ Pharr Family YMCA
    December 1st | Ceremony starts at 5 PM, lights switched on at 6 PM
  • McAdenville Lights
    December 1st – December 26th | From 5:30 PM until 10 PM each night
  • Christmas Parade @ Pharr Corporate Office
    Thursday, December 16th at 5:50 PM | The two block parade will end at Legacy Park
  • Yule Log Ceremony @ Legacy Park
    Thursday, December 16th at 6 PM | The lighting of the Yule Log at 6 PM, preceeded by the parade
  • Christmas Town K5 Registration
    Saturday, November 27th from 6 PM – 7:30 PM

Half a Million Lights Decorate McAdenville, NC

McAdenville is known as the Christmas Town USA, and that’s not by mistake or without justification. This tiny town of just under 700 people takes the Christmas season very seriously. It all started with nine trees being decorated by the Men’s Club. The following year they did a few more, and that continued every year. By 2004 nearly 400 trees were decorated, and the town residents all decided to join in the fun. The joint effort resulted in almost half a million lights adorning the 1.3 mile stretch of road that visitors see as they pass through the town.

When to Visit Christmas Town

I highly suggest you try to visit this free attraction on a weeknight, Monday through Thursday. The town receives over half a million visitors in the few weeks the lights are turned on and it will be evident in the traffic. It’s still worth it, just be prepared to keep young children occupied in the traffic leading into town. There are roadside vendors selling festival food and glowing toys. If making purchases isn’t something you plan to do, consider coming prepared with snacks and glow toys from the dollar store to satisfy kids while you wait.

The lights are on timers, so they turn on automatically at 5:30 pm, seven days a week regardless of weather conditions. They also shut off promptly at 10 pm. They will shut off regardless of how many cars are still driving through town, so I encourage you to get there early and take that into account if you arrive close to the time the lights shut off.

Walk or Drive to View the Lights

The display can be viewed by driving through the town or walking. If you decide to walk, there are several places to park – McAdenville Baptist Church, McAdenville Elementary school, the lakeside parking in the center of town, and Poplar Street. Parking at any of these locations is always FREE of charge. The Lighting Ceremony is at the beginning of December, and the lights are on every night after that through

Yule Log Parade in Christmas Town

The Yule log parade is a tradition that has continued since 1950. The town’s children pull the Yule log on a sled to the open fireplace in the legacy park, where it is ignited, signaling the start of the Christmas festival. Santa will be in attendance for the festivities.

  • Yule Log Parade & Ceremony @ Legacy Park | Thursday, December 16th – people will start to gather for the parade at 5 PM, with the lighting of the Yule Log at 6 PM.

During the light display, there are only three ways to enter the town. From the Upstate, take exit 22 on I-85N and follow the signs to McAdenville. Directions from all other locations can be found on the Christmas Town USA website.

The display at McAdenville has been nominated numerous times by USA Today as one of the Best Holiday Light Displays in the country. We think you’ll agree when you make the trip to this winter wonderland!

About the Author
Melanie is a native New Yorker, who landed in the Upstate by way of Florida. She is the mom of two awesome kids, and the three of them love going on adventures!

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