Facebook banner

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Charming Hallmark Mountain Town Sparkles During the Holidays 

Posted on |

For a unique and completely charming holiday experience, Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries in Western NC is the place to go for the whole family. It’s just two hours from Upstate, SC and three hours from Charlotte, NC. Go make some magical Christmas memories in Dillsboro, NC.

Thank you to Discover Jackson NC, Jackson County for inviting us to experience Lights & Luminaries. 

Taking time to slow down during the weeks leading up to Christmas can seem like an impossible task but when you make the decision to do so and really experience the joy of the magical season, that’s when those special memories happen. And those memories await you and your family in the small, mountain town of Dillsboro, North Carolina, a beautiful two-hour drive from the Upstate in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. 

Lights & Luminaries in Dillsboro

Lights & Luminaries in Dillsboro is the Hallmark experience you’ve been searching for. The quaint town twinkling by the light of sparkling radiance. The candles lit along the streets. The shops that carry all kinds of locally made goods that you can only find there. The kindest people you’ll ever meet who are happy to see you. 

Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries encompasses all of that and more. The festival started in 1983 as a way to celebrate the holidays and has been going strong for 40 years. 

There is a calming, magical ambiance at this festival. There are white lights Christmas lights everywhere, plus 2,500 candles in white paper bags along every street. It’s like you stepped out of your life and into a time from many years ago. 

There are carolers and horse and buggy rides. Santa & Mrs. Claus are available for timeless Dillsboro, NC Christmas photos. Nearly every shop sells only handmade goods from local artists or vintage items like cast iron cooking pans, antique furniture, and iron-wrought bed frames. There are shops that look like the North Pole exploded inside. Cookies, hot apple cider, and candy were in many of the shops and along the streets. I finally had to put a stop to my kids eating their monthly allotment of cookies all in one night. 

And for myself, I was elated to find a grown-up nativity set while browsing at one of the Christmas-themed shops. Everyone was so kind and helpful and wishing us “Merry Christmas”. 

It all felt authentic and genuine and just lovely. 

Where to Eat During Lights & Luminaries

There are a handful of restaurants in the small town that have everything from BBQ to pub grub to Greek and Italian cuisine. We chose the Quirky Birds Treehouse & Bistro because it looked really cute. We walked in to a very cozy dining room and friendly employees. We had nachos, vegetarian chili, pizza, and grilled cheese. It was great! The nachos were my favorite as they had guacamole, cheese, chili, and sour cream. I thought the prices were reasonable, around $7-$12/person. 

Dillsboro is small but mighty when it comes to food. Haywood Smokehouse is one of the Top 25 BBQ Restaurants in the country. We weren’t able to try it but it looks amazing. Next time!

Be sure to stop by the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory where you’ll be greeted by an array of handmade chocolates, fudge, and coffee. 

Where to Enjoy the Outdoors in Dillsboro

Dillsboro is close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, home to nearly 900 miles in hiking trails. It’s also only a 20 minute drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where you can get to places like Waterrock Knob, the 16th highest mountain in the Eastern United States. 

High Falls Lake Glenville

Cashiers, the Land of the Waterfalls, and a big favorite of us at Kidding Around, is about 40 minutes from Dillsboro. There are no shortage of gorgeous hikes and waterfalls to explore there.

The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

When we were pulling into our hotel, the Best Western Plus River, we saw the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad train and it was so cool! It was chugging along right in front of us, smoke billowing out from the top. It turns out the railroad is only 20 minutes away in Bryson City. 

If your family goes on the Polar Express ride during November and December, Dillsboro is the perfect spot to enjoy time together, especially if you make the trip during the Lights & Luminaries festival.

Where to Stay in Dillsboro 

Discover Jackson NC put us up in the Best Western Plus River Escape right on Tuckasegee River. Our room overlooked the river and it was so calming and peaceful. 

The hotel is beautiful and you could walk to the town of Dillsboro if you wanted to. They have a heated indoor pool and hot tub, which we made good use of after eating all those cookies at the festival. 

They also have a free, hot breakfast in the morning, which is pretty much equal to Christmas for my kids. They have eggs, bacon, biscuits, gravy, yogurt, oatmeal, a coffee maker that will make pretty much anything you want, juices, pastries, and our favorite: a pancake maker that looks like it came from The Jetsons. Rooms are spacious and clean and the lobby has a beautiful fireplace and cozy chairs.

Planning Your Own Trip to Dillsboro

Lights & Luminaries takes place the first two weekends of December every year, each Friday and Saturday from 5-8 pm. The last two dates for 2023 are December 8th and 9th. There’s still time to plan a last-minute getaway!

For next year, we will update this story with those dates and anything new that the festival has going on. There is no cost to attend Lights & Luminaries either, which makes it a wonderful, low-cost Christmastime adventure with your family. 

I think the biggest thing I loved about Lights & Luminaries was that it was the perfect opportunity to slow down, to enjoy the magical season, and to spend that quality time with my kids that I strive and long for. As I’m sure many parents can relate, the time we have with them goes quickly. I want to make the most of that time and this was a weekend well-spent.

Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries 
December 1, 2, 8, and 9, 2023 from 5-8 pm each night 
Dillsboro, NC

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

Posted on |

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!

Spark Your Christmas Spirit at the Celebration of Lights: Kannapolis, NC

Posted on |

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.

Celebration of Lights in Kannapolis, North Carolina

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!

Celebration of Lights in Kannapolis, North Carolina

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.

Winterland Express at Village Park in Kannapolis.

The Carousel

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.

Carousel at Village Park in Kannapolis during Celebration of Lights

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


Places to see Christmas light displays in Charlotte, North Carolina

Looking for more holiday lights? One of these 17+ holiday light displays near Charlotte is sure to get you into the Christmas spirit!


Village Park in Kannapolis is a great place to visit year-round. Check out why we think it is worth the trip.

Village Park Kannapolis

4 Miles, 4 Million Lights: Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas Lights in Concord, NC

Posted on | No Comments

With more than four million lights, the Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas lights at Speedway Christmas in Concord, NC is one of the biggest in the country and we’re here for it!

Thanks to Explore Cabarrus for media tickets and an overnight at the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Concord so we could review the experience for our readers. All opinions are our own.

Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Speedway Christmas Presented by Atrium Health is unique in that you get to drive your own car on the racetrack that is normally driven on by professional NASCAR drivers.  Unfortunately, your mini-van will be going at a snail’s pace, but it’s still pretty cool. On the four-mile drive-thru course, visitors get to view displays consisting of over four million lights!  The Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas lights are easily one of the biggest displays in the country and there is just so much to see.

The Speedway is about an hour and 45 minutes from Greenville so if you want to stay overnight nearby, we’ve got just the place to do so at the Embassy Suites in Concord. Read on for the full review.

The Completely Epic Light Display with the Speedway Christmas Lights

There are four miles of more than four million lights at the Speedway Christmas. I’ve been to most of the Christmas light drive-through shows in our area so had a decent idea of what to expect but I can say with confidence that I was wrong. This light show is just unreal with so many cool surprises that it kept my kids and me enamored the whole time. For 2023, you get to see some awesome beach-themed displays in celebration of the theme, A Christmas Beach Party.

Entering the Racetrack for the Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas Lights

Once you get past the gate, you’ll go right onto the massive track. I had to squash the urge to floor it because really, how many times do you get to drive on a real racetrack? I did no flooring and went very slow with my headlights off like the other drivers, which is exactly what you need to do, so pay attention.

You will follow along with a string of red or blue lights, so you don’t have to worry about taking a wrong turn. If you’re behind someone going super slow, there are several places to pass cars if you want to do that. The speedway also recommends that slower traffic stay to the right, so those who want to go a little faster through the light show can pass on the left.

Speedway Christmas 2023 Santa's Beach Party

The First Section of Lights

There are three different areas of the light display but they all sync up to Christmas music that you listen to through your car radio. The first section is more of a fun light display with Santa doing funny things. As you enter the racetrack, you will see lots of animated displays following the theme. Wakeboarding Santa, Penguins splashing into a pool, Santa cruising on a boat with his reindeer friends shooting a canon of light, just to name a few.

The Second Section of Lights

The second section is a massive display of flashing lights from the bottom of the Speedway up through the seating area. This is where you will begin driving through a couple of light tunnels. You will also see the synchronized light displays with giant Christmas trees matching the beat of the songs coming from your 101.3FM radio channel with the LED light displays along the bleachers. This was probably my kid’s favorite part of the drive because of how many lights were dancing to the music.

Christmas trees at Speedway Christmas in Charlotte, North Carolina

The Final Section of Lights

The third and final section is tunnels full of lights – it’s super cool. As you leave the infield Christmas Village, you get to drive through the last portion of the lights display, which honestly, was my personal favorite. You will come across an area where you can pull off and look over all the lights, which was really neat to see.

You will also go through several light tunnels. The tunnels were done so well, and each one is unique in shape and color display. You also get to see some really unique animated and stationary light displays! Our favorites were the two astronauts, a ballerina pig, and a snowman being built through animation.

The entire light show took us around 45 minutes to drive through if you choose not to stop at the Christmas Village.

Full view of Speedway Christmas in Charlotte, North Carolina

The Christmas Village at the Speedway

Once you go through the bulk of the park, you will be guided to the infield parking lot. Here, you have the option to stop at the Christmas Village and/or see the drive-in movie playing.

The Christmas Village has a lot to do! The arches of lights, giant illuminated snowflakes, and “snow bubbles” that release a puff of smoke when they pop were some of my young daughter’s favorites. They also have a really cool FREE 360-camera experience for 2023. Your family stands on a platform as a camera zooms around you three times, giving you a unique holiday memory to enjoy! 

Large outdoor light displays at the Christmas Village at Speedway Christmas

Indoor Activities: Santa and More

The indoor section of the Christmas Village has two unique mazes, Christmas crafts at the elf village, vendors, decorated Christmas trees, and the opportunity to take photos with Santa. Santa was really kind, and your child can choose to stand or sit beside him. They even offer a little stool in case a parent needs to kneel down to keep their kids from getting nervous before rattling off this Christmas list. Pictures with Santa start at $10 for 1 photo.

Outdoor Food Court

The food truck lane has a lot of vendors with everything from Gyros to hot apple cider. One of the cooler food court stalls is the kettlecorn popcorn guy. My kids (and husband) enjoyed watching him flip the giant popcorn maker and reveal the sweet goodness that is delicious kettle corn. Plus, his stall has a little train engine on top that blows smoke every once in a while, which made us giggle.

We ended our food court adventure by purchasing some marshmallows to roast by the fire. We rocked in the rocking chairs, ate marshmallows drank cider, and just enjoyed the vibes. Afterwards, we visited the reindeer (animated, but so adorable!) for the kids to pet. They are super soft and look so real!

Reindeer at Speedway Christmas Village

Drive-In Movie

And then, perhaps my favorite thing – a drive-in movie. The Speedway makes use of one of its huge screens to show different holiday movies. You can park your car facing the screen, tune your radio to the channel dedicated to the movie, eat some popcorn, and watch the movie. My kids wanted to sit in the car and watch the film so that’s what I let them do because #Christmas. They thought it was really neat.

Drive-in movie at the Speedway Christmas

Here’s the movie schedule for 2023:

  • November 17-19: “Christmas Vacation”
  • November 23-26: “The Grinch” presented by Bojangles
  • November 30-Dec 3: Classic Christmas shorts presented by Food Lion
  • December 7-10: “White Christmas” presented by Cook Out
  • December 14-19: “Elf” presented by AutoBell
  • December 20-23: “Polar Express” presented by Cook Out
  • December 28-31: “Home Alone”

There are also bathrooms right inside the Christmas Village as well as directly next to the drive-in movie, which is really nice since the route does take a while to drive.

The Christmas Village is closed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.


Tips to Enjoy the Speedway Christmas

Knowing what to expect helps everyone enjoy the lights.

Wait Times

Because this is such a hugely popular attraction, the wait may be long. This can be said of most holiday light events anywhere during the holiday season. Make sure everyone has taken a bathroom break before heading towards the Speedway and have snacks on hand. In past years, the wait times have gotten up to more than two hours.

We went on opening night for the 2023 season right when they opened at 6 pm and while we were able to skip the lines with an Express Lane pass thanks to Explore Cabarrus, we did pass the main entrance and there was hardly a line.

On busy nights, the express pass will save you about an hour of that two-hour wait. The Express Lane has a different entrance (5197 Morehead Road, Concord) than the Main Gate and there are signs indicating where you need to go.

Visiting Monday through Wednesday is suggested because attendance will be at its lowest on those days.

Bathrooms

The Speedway has set up port-a-potties along the route for guests to use if they need to. You do need to remain in your car while driving but there is plenty of room to pull over for these bathrooms if you need. You will also find clean bathrooms at the Christmas Village.

Pets

Pets are allowed but they must stay in your car the entire time, including if you choose to visit the Christmas Village

Purchasing Tickets

Guests have the option to purchase tickets ahead of time online at Charlotte Motor Speedway’s website but they also have passes available at the gate. The tickets you purchase online must be used on the date you choose so if you’re not sure when you’re going, you can just purchase your ticket at the gate. Stay tuned to the website to be notified of any closures due to bad weather.

Dress for the Weather

The light show obviously happens during the colder winter months so dress for the weather with jackets, hats, and gloves, especially if you want to go to the Christmas Village, much of which is outdoors.


Tickets for Speedway Christmas

Ticket prices range from $35-$45 per car depending on when you go. General admission tickets are typically $35 Monday through Wednesday, and $45 Thursday through Sunday night are more expensive.

On Thursdays through Sundays, there is also an express lane option for $75. If you have more than 15 people in your vehicle, you’ll be paying the van and bus rate of $140 to $175.

You can see the exact price on the day you’d like to go at the Speedway Lights ticket site.

While Monday through Wednesday visits are cheaper, remember that the Christmas Village is not open on these days. The exception is December 18th through the 20th, 2023 when the village will be open and tickets will be at the regular $45 price.

Speedway Christmas runs from Friday, November 17, 2023, through January 7th, 2024.


Honest Mom Review of Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas Lights

My kids and I just loved this light show. It was almost overwhelming how many lights there were at the Speedway Christmas. I kept thinking, “How long did all of this take to set up?”! It is very well done and obvious the organizers take great pride in the light display and making sure it’s top-notch.

Part of the Christmas Village at the Speedway Christmas

For kids who may have sensory issues, the light show may be a little much in some parts. I thought the Christmas Village and drive-in movie was a great rest stop to just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere before heading out to the last part of the show. And staying nearby at the Embassy Suites was fantastic. I didn’t need to worry about driving home late at night and my kids could enjoy the pool before bed. We were at the light show in its entirety – driving and the Christmas Village – about an hour and a half total.


Cabarrus, North Carolina

We think spending a day in Cabarrus, North Carolina is a great day trip. We’ve had several of our writers spend a lot of time there and have stories on some of the fun things to do in Cabarrus County, NC.  You can spend the day there or make it a weekend with a stay in the Great Wolf Lodge, another favorite destination for us, here at Kidding Around.  Regardless of the length of your trip, we think the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s light display should be on your itinerary.


Lodging in Concord near the Speedway

Embassy Suites in Concord

Explore Cabarrus sent us to stay at the lovely Embassy Suites in Concord in 2022 right off I-85 and five minutes from the Speedway. I’ve stayed at Embassy Suites in the past and always like them for their spacious rooms, free breakfasts, and great amenities.

The room we had was a one-bedroom suite with a living space area, full bathroom, and a bedroom with a closed door. The beds were comfortable and there was plenty of space for my two kids and I. But this could easily fit a family of five even since the couch in the living space area is a pullout.

Embassy Suites Concord, NC Pool

The free breakfast in the morning was a hit with my kids. They had pancakes, eggs, French toast, yogurt, cereal, toast, biscuits and gravy, fruit, and a made-to-order omelet and waffle station. They also had coffee, tea, and juice.

This Embassy Suites also had a heated indoor pool, which my kids enjoyed after we went to the light show. It was a great way to wind down the night.

Homewood Suites By Hilton Concord/Charlotte

For our visit in 2023, Explore Cabbarus sent us to Homewood Suites by Hilton, located right beside the Embassy Suites. This lovely hotel is located right off of 1-85 and is only a 5-minute drive from the Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas lights. It is also close to tons of options for dining.

The hotel check-in was a breeze, and all the staff we interacted with were extremely helpful and kind. Our room was very clean, and even smelled good when we entered (that is always a good sign!) Our room was a suite, with a kitchen and living room, with a separate bedroom with double queen beds. The separate bedroom really helped us out because were able to put the kids down to bed, and then rest in the living room. We were very happy that the hotel was clean, quiet, and close to everything we would need.

The hotel offers free breakfast in the morning, which my husband took full advantage of. We had fresh waffles from the “make your own” waffle station, a mix of fruit, sausage patties, delicious muffins, cheesy omelets, orange juice, and fresh coffee.

Homewood Suites Concord

Other Lodging

If you need another place to stay near the Speedway, you can see the map below. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

There’s a lot to do in Concord and the Speedway Christmas show is a great way to end a day or weekend trip to Cabarrus County!

Have you made it out to the Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas lights? What was your favorite part?


Places to see Christmas lights in Charlotte, North Carolina

Want more lights? We have that!

Here are more than 10 places to see awesome Christmas Lights in Charlotte, NC!


Regal Cinemas Returns Holiday Classics to the Theater for Just $5 in 2023

Posted on |

Love watching holiday classic movies on the big screen? Good news! You can watch classic holiday movies at Regal Cinemas this year for just $5. It’s all happening starting the weekend of November 26th, 2023 through December 23rd, 2023! Bring the family for a budget-friendly day out with some of your favorite Christmas movies. We have the schedule and all the details!

Regal Cinemas holiday movies in 2023

Regal Cinemas Holiday Classics Return to the Theater

What Christmas movies will be playing in 2023 at Regal Cinemas?

Here’s the Regal Holiday Classics schedule:

November 26th, 2023: Elf
December 2nd and 3rd 2023: The Polar Express
December 3rd, 2023: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 9th, 2023: Elf
December 10th, 2023: The Grinch
December 16th, 2023: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 17th, 2023: The Polar Express
December 23rd, 2023: The Grinch

Tickets to holiday moves at Regal Cinemas are only $5.

Sweeten the Deal: Regal Christmas Concession Deals

What’s a trip to the movies without popcorn and other treats? Good news, you can get a free $10 gift card for concessions when you purchase a $50 Regal gift card. While you can’t use the concession gift card right away, because it’s only valid from January 1st through February 28th, 2024, you can buy your $50 gift card and use it for a gift or even your tickets and snacks now. Then come January you can grab tickets to a new release and enjoy your free popcorn.

Note that gift cards must be purchased in-store for the promotion.

Find a Regal Cinemas Location Near You

Is there a Regal Cinemas with $5 holiday movies near me? Here are all the Regal Cinemas locations.

Regal Cinemas Near Greenville, SC with $5 holiday movies

Regal Cinemas Near Columbia, SC with $5 holiday movies

Regal Cinemas Near Charlotte, NC with $5 holiday movies

17+ (2023) Magical Christmas Lights: Charlotte, NC

Posted on |

It’s finally the time of year to see some dazzling displays of Christmas lights! Charlotte, NC has options to drive through thousands of lights, or your family can explore the lights as you walk about. There is something for every family. Plus, many of these events have extra attractions, including snow tubing, ice skating, and visits with Santa.

We even added a few neighborhoods you can drive through to give your kids a quick burst of joy on your way home. So get that hot chocolate ready. Here’s everything you need to enjoy the season with the illuminated magic of lights!



Places to see Christmas lights in Charlotte, North Carolina

Drive-Through Christmas Lights: Charlotte, NC

One of the most magical things about the holidays is the twinkly, dazzling lights around the city. These professional light displays take that magic to another level! With thousands of LED lights, holiday installations, decorated Christmas trees, and winter wonderland attractions, these drive-through Christmas light displays are an awesome memory maker for your kids.

Speedway Christmas 

Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, NC
November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024
Admission cost: $35 – $175; Weekends are more expensive. Express passes are available for $75 per car.

We love Speedway Christmas. If you want to know more, check out our Kidding Around Review of Speedway Lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The annual Speedway Christmas at the Charlotte Motor Speedway is a unique experience that your kids will absolutely love! One of the most popular Christmas Lights events in North Carolina, you’ll be blown away by over 5 million synchronized lights as you drive through a 4-mile course. Plus, you get to drive on the iconic race track! There is also a Christmas Village where you can stop and enjoy an illuminated walking trail, photos with Santa, market vendors, food, and smores by the fire.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Lights
Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Free Christmas Lights in Charlotte, NC

Kannapolis Celebration of Lights

Village Park, Kannapolis, NC
November 19th, 2023 – December 30th, 2023
Admission cost: Free; Train Ride: $2 per person; Carousel: $2 per person

Take a walk through the 250,000 dazzling lights that adorn Village Park in Kannapolis during their annual Celebration of Lights. Your kids will be bursting with excitement to ride the Winterland Express, a train ride that cruises through the light displays. Your family can also enjoy the carousel, make s’mores, visit with Santa, and enjoy Christmas carols. The light displays will not be open on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, so plan accordingly. 

Village Park is an awesome place to visit any time of year. We absolutely love the beautiful carousel. Don’t miss this one! Here’s our Kidding Around Review of Village Park!

Carousel at Village Park in Kannapolis during Celebration of Lights

Christmas Town USA

McAdenville, NC
December 1, 2023 – December 26, 2023
Admission cost: Free 

If you are looking for a truly immersive holiday experience, then Christmas Town USA should be on your holiday bucket list! You can drive through the town and see the astounding number of light displays and decorated houses. Or, you can take a walk around and feel the magic.

Be sure to check out the tree lighting ceremony on December 1st, in addition to the annual Christmas parade and Yule Log Ceremony on December 14th, 2023. We recommend visiting during the week to avoid long lines and cars because this experience is super popular.

Rosie’s Coffee and Wine Bar Decorates for Christmas

940 North Davidson Street, Charlotte
Admission: Free

You can enjoy a beautiful Christmas display with your coffee or wine on the patio at Rosie’s Coffee and Wine Bar. Their 2023 display is nearly ready! Get a sneak peek in their Instagram post below.

Walk Through Beautiful Charlotte Christmas Lights

Light the Knights

Truist Field, Charlotte, NC
November 22, 2023 – January 1st, 2024
Admission Cost: $10+ for entry only; $40+ for all activities; Ages 3 and under are free

You can take a walk through Truist Field and enjoy over 10,000 lights! They have some pretty epic additions to the lights, including snow tubing, ice skating, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and lots of beautiful, larger-than-life decorations.

You’ll also want to check out The Market, which has 20 vendors selling everything from donuts to glow toys, perfect for your upcoming gift exchange. Be sure to check the schedule before heading to the field if you plan to see Santa, he’s a busy man this time of year and is only available during specific times.

Carolina Holiday Light Spectacular

Ballantyne’s Backyard, Charlotte, NC
December 7th, 2023 – December 30th, 2023
Admission cost: $10 – $20 for general admission. Preordering tickets is recommended.

Enjoy the season with a half-mile walk along a trail that is illuminated with over 1 million lights! The display at Ballantyne’s is unique in that the displays, lights, hundreds of decorated trees, and other installations are so strategically designed that you are truly immersed in the lights.

Plus, there is Christmas music to enjoy, an Alpine Avalanche Snow Tube slide, several kid’s activities, performers, food trucks, and nightly visits from Santa. The trail is stroller-friendly, so you can take your time exploring. The tree lighting ceremony happens on opening night, which is sure to be a spectacular experience! 

Fun & Festive: Lights Plus Lots of Fun Things to Do

High Seas Minature Golf, Pirate Christmas

High Seas Minature Golf
Opening mid-November, check the High Seas Minature Golf Facebook page for updates on Pirates Christmas

What’s better than mini golf? Um, mini golf with lots of Christmas lights of course! Play through the festive course, complete with glowing pirate ships lit by strands and strands of lights. In years past they’ve had a life-size snow globe photo op, snowfalling, and other activities.

Check out this Pirates Christmas video from 2022.

Winterfest at Carowinds

Carowinds, Charlotte, NC
November 17, 2023 – January 1, 2023
Admission cost: $32.99+

Dazzling Christmas light display AND roller coasters! Count us in. Carowinds is already an epic experience, but each winter they break out thousands of lights for Winterfest. You will also enjoy live holiday performances, ice skating, holiday foods, a parade with decorated floats, and more. 


Christmas Lights Displays Close to Charlotte, NC

Holidays at the Garden

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, Belmont, NC
November 24th, 2023 – December 23rd, 2023
Admission cost: $15 – $25; children under 2 are free.

There is something special about a garden display adorned with lights, especially with its perfectly curated display! Enjoy the dazzling lights, fountains, a cozy outdoor fire, and food trucks while you walk about the botanical garden. Tickets are timed entry, with a 5 pm and 7 pm option. It is recommended to purchase your tickets online, and members receive a discount.

Kings Mountain Christmas Extravaganza

Patriot’s Park
202 South Railroad Ave, Kings Mountain
2023 TBA- Likely end of November through New Year’s Day
FREE
Kings Mountain Christmas Extravaganza

Christmas lights with an extraordinary history, hand-made by the Costner family, and taken over by Kings Mountain after their passing, the extravagant Christmas spirit lives on. Bring the family and walk through this amazing display.

Kings Mountain Downtown Christmas Lights

After checking out the Christmas Extravaganza, you can enjoy a free synchronized light show in Downtown Kings Mountain!

Greenville, SC

If you’re headed towards Upstate, SC, you have lots and lots of options when it comes to Christmas lights. Check them all out in the Kidding Around Guide to Christmas Lights Displays in Greenville, SC.

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland

Tryon Equestrian Center
Drive time from Charlotte: About an hour and a half
Admission: $30-35 per car, $10-12 per child for Winterfest Village activities (no charge for adults)

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland and Winterfest Village  is a very popular option in Tryon, NC, not too far from the Upstate. The drive-thru light experience at the Tryon Equestrian International Center runs nightly from November 17, 2023 – January 7, 2024, from 6-10 pm. The Winterfest Village is open weekends in December through December 23rd from 5-9 pm with activities like bounce houses, carousel rides and visits with Santa.

Columbia, SC

Worth the drive from Charlotte, Columbia has a couple of really awesome lights displays. You can check them all out in our Columbia, SC Christmas Lights Guide.

We have two favorites in the Columbia area!

Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals

6071 St. Andrews Road, Columbia, SC
November 23 through December 31, 2023
Cost: $25 per car; $50 for passenger vans 

Holiday Lights on the River is a drive-through Christmas Lights Display in Saluda Shoals. In addition to lights, there are a bunch of activities including a giant slide, smores, letters to Santa, and more.

Holiday Lights on the River is a Columbia favorite. Find out more in our Kidding Around Review of Holiday Lights on the River

Fireflies Holiday Lights

Segra Park, 1640 Freed Street, Columbia
November 16th, 2023- December 31st, 2023
Cost: $10-12 per person

Fireflies Holiday Lights was new last year and we loved our visit. You’ll get to walk through massive lights displays in Segra Park, Columbia’s baseball venue. Then you can enjoy visits with Santa, smores, and even a tree farm!


Great Neighborhoods to See Christmas Lights in Charlotte

If you are looking for a way to see some lights on an evening drive with the kids without having to pay any money, a Christmas lights drive through these Charlotte area neighborhoods will not disappoint. These festive neighborhoods gather each year to decorate their streets to spread the magic of the Christmas season.

Ardrey Neighborhood: This neighborhood goes all out, with most houses participating in decorating their homes. You’ll see Christmas lights, decorated trees, holiday installations, and more. Take a drive through the area, or park and let your kids walk the sidewalks. GPS Wheatfield Road, Charlotte if you need navigation.

Plaza Midwood: The Plaza Midwood has a unique tradition of adorning the tree-lined streets with Christmas light balls! They are colorful and beautiful, making it a great stop while driving around looking for lights with the kids.

Hillside Avenue: If you head near Myers Park in Charlotte, you’ll come across the gorgeous display of lights on Hillside Avenue. Light balls adorn most of the trees, and your kid’s eyes will sparkle while they enjoy the drive through the neighborhood.

Private Property Displays

1417 Deer Spring Court, Indian Trail, NC
This walk through display is lit from 5 pm to 10 pm until January 2nd, 2024

Want to see more Christmas lights? Our sister sites have lots more!
See Christmas Lights Near Greenville, SC.
Enjoy Christmas Lights Near Columbia, SC and the Midlands

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

Posted on | No Comments

Are you looking for things to do in McAdenville at Christmas? This town is 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.

Mcadenville, North Carolina Christmas Town USA

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 small town of McAdenville’s 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. You have to see this epic Christmas light display to believe it!

(more…)