Ride a Carousel & Train: Village Park in Kannapolis, NC

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Have you visited Village Park in Kannapolis, NC? Not only does this park have two amazing playgrounds and multiple picnic shelters, but you’ll also find North Carolina’s only double-decker carousel lit with 1800 lights! As if that weren’t enough, the park also has a real miniature train that families can ride around the park. Tickets for the carousel and train are very inexpensive. Topping all that off is a free holiday light display and seasonal events. We loved our visit to Village Park in Kannapolis and we have all the information for you!

Carousel at Village Green Park

Village Park Carousel

Manufactured in Italy, this carousel is the only double-decker carousel in North Carolina. It features over 1,800 lights, hand-painted murals, and traditional carousel music. The classic carousel is set beside a green space as you enter the park in its own covered shelter, making this park feel whimsical and inviting.

Tickets to ride the carousel at Village Park are $1.50.

Think your kids are too big? Think again. Even my preteens enjoyed a whirl on this carousel.

Village Park train

Village Park Train

The train shed at Village Park is located across from the carousel. From there, families can hop on board the rotary express train and ride around the park, past the splash pad, both playgrounds, and across the paved and shaded walking paths. The train is a g-24 scale replica CP Huntington engine.

Village Park train

Tickets to ride the rail at Village Park are $1.50. The train hours are seasonal, running weekends April through mid-October and daily in the summer. Find exact hours on the Kannapolis Parks website.

Purchase tickets for both the train and the carousel at the exterior window of the main building at the park’s entrance.

Village Park Playground

City of Kannapolis, Village Park Playgrounds

Climb high, bounce, swing, and slide at both of Village Park’s playgrounds. Located side by side, one playground is intended for the 5 and under crowd, while the other is meant for older kids. We loved the climbing options and long slides at this park!

Paved Walking Trails

Taking a walk or a run? The paved walking trails at Village Park and connected to other trails in the area could be just the right place for you. You can take the 2-mile loop between Village Park and Bakers Creek Park on the 8th Street Greenway and the Bakers Creek Greenway.

Greenway Trail Map

Splash Pad at Village Park

The splash pad at Village Park is amazing. Great free fun on a hot summer day.

Splash pad at Village Park in Kannapolis, NC

Free and Cheap Holiday Fun at Village Park in Kannapolis

We love FREE and low-cost holiday fun, and Villiage Park is packed with it. They have a totally free holiday light display with thousands of lights! Walk through the displays at your own pace for a magical holiday experience. Check out the FREE Holiday Lights at Village Park.

Or, if you want to turn it up a notch, book tickets for the park’s holiday train, the Winterland Express! Tickets are $2 per person. Ride the train through the park’s lights and see them in a whole new way. End your evening with a ride on the two-story carousel for just $2 per person.

Tree Lighting Celebration for the Holiday Season

The Kannapolis tree lighting at Village Park is one of the park’s most exciting events of the year! Thousands gather throughout the park on Saturday evening before Thanksgiving to see the park illuminated by 250,000 lights strung through trees, along buildings, and adorning the Christmas tree in the green space of the park. To kick off the Celebration of Lights, there is an annual Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Kannapolis Tree Lighting Ceremony at Village Park

The Tree Lighting Ceremony

When the ceremony begins, various speakers say a little about the past year and the year that is to come. Then, the crowd is introduced to Santa Claus himself! As he counts down with the crowd, the large Christmas tree illuminates as the crowd hits 1, along with dozens of LED Christmas trees that surround to tree. This creates a gorgeous display of color, and the crowd begins to move and weave through the trees, now bright with the Christmas spirit!

Where to Gather Your Family for the Tree Lighting Ceremony

You can sit pretty much anywhere in the circumference of the tree to get a good view. If you plan to ride the carousel, train, or visit Santa right after the lighting, I would recommend standing toward the back closer to the lines for those activities. The lines grow long quickly, so anything you can do to get you closer to the front of the line, the better. The train lines seem to be the longest of the three attractions, so if that is on your holiday bucket list, stay close to that line during the tree lighting ceremony.

You can also choose to stand closer to the main stage area to hear the wonderful messages from community leaders. Here, your kids will get an up-close view of Santa as he greets the park! There are also a few carols sung, and you are best able to hear and enjoy the thrill of the countdown here (it’s a little hard to hear once you get closer to the tree). 


My family’s favorite part of the tree lighting ceremony was hands down the fireworks that immediately preceded the lights. The fireworks rose into the sky behind and to the left of the main stage, so we were able to position ourselves so that the fireworks rose into the sky right above the Christmas tree.

The fireworks display lasted around 5 minutes and was a great way to start the celebration and helped stabilize the crowd movement for a few minutes. If you have little ones, be sure to bring ear protection (our two-year-old didn’t find the fireworks as thrilling as the rest of us).

Celebration of Lights

This free holiday light display in Village Park is daily from November 18th through December 30th, 2023. Hours are Sunday through Thursday 6 pm to 9 pm and Friday and Saturday 6 pm to 10 pm. The display will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

In addition to the lights, Santa will be on-site to visit with the kids every evening! Plus enjoy live holiday music, entertainment, crafts, and a miniature train display.

Celebration of Lights in Kannapolis, North Carolina

Here’s everything you need to know about Celebration of Lights at Village Park

Tickets for the Winterland Express and Carousel

Book your tickets in advance for the Winterland Express at the Celebration of Lights.

Carousel tickets can be purchased nightly on-site.

Places to see Christmas lights in Charlotte, North Carolina

Looking for more places to see Christmas lights? We’ve got you covered!

Here’s our list of more than 10 places to see Christmas lights near Charlotte, NC.

Kannapolis Holiday Events

Tree Lighting Ceremony: November 18th, 2023 6 pm in Village Park
Christmas Parade: December 19th, 2023 6 pm in Downtown Kannapolis

Downtown Kannapolis
Downtown Kannapolis, NC

Village Park, Kannapolis
700 West C Street, Kannapolis

About the Author
How does Kidding Around® bring readers high-quality and up-to-date content month after month and season after season? We have a dedicated team of writers and editors who regularly update our fabulous content to keep it current and relevant for our readers. This team combs lists of events, heads out into the community to experience new Upstate offerings, and communicates with local businesses. Many of our updated articles and event lists, like this one, reflect the contributions and hard work of multiple Kidding Around® team members.

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