24 of the Most Festive Christmas Lights Displays in North Carolina (UPDATED for 2020)

Last Updated on April 13, 2021

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Seeing festive displays of Christmas lights in North Carolina is a must-do family tradition for us. While there are many to name, we thought you should know about a few that we keep in mind.

You may know about the bucket-list-worthy lights at Gaston County‘s Christmas Town USA and the stunning sights at Chetola Resort in Blowing Rock. However, there are additionally awesome Christmas light displays waiting to be found, from the mountains to the sea!

Seeing these Christmas lights in North Carolina rank high among our favorite things to do throughout the state.

Christmas Lights in North Carolina

As we’ve done with previous monthly roundups, we’ve ordered these Christmas Lights in North Carolina by starting date and alphabetized by place name.

For those ready to visit these displays of Christmas lights in North Carolina, our map includes the visual location of all of these places.

Candlelight Christmas Evenings at Biltmore (November 6 to January 9)

Biltmore Estate brightens up even more during its Candlelight Christmas Evenings. From the outside, you’ll see a massive lit Norway Spruce on the front lawn and pathway luminaries to guide your walk.

Inside Biltmore House, you’ll find decorated Christmas trees all around and 135,000 LED and mini lights twinkling around the property. A visit to Antler Hill Village and Winery (one of the best in NC!) is included with admission, with more Christmas lights displays and wine tastings waiting.

Winter Wonderlights at Greensboro Science Center (November 6 to January 3)

Watch at the Greensboro Science Center enchants with illuminating lights! Walk through the zoo and see beautiful holiday lights as well as a choreographed light show at the Dancing Fountains.

Rumor has it that Santa will even make an appearance too!

Advanced tickets are suggested.

Tanglewood Festival of Lights (November 16 to January 1)

Christmas Lights in North Carolina Tanglewood

Tanglewood Festival of Lights is a Drive-Thru Christmas light display in Clemmons, North Carolina. For this season, they are open nightly until New Years Day.

Rates start at $15 per family but check out their website for discounted rates on certain nights! If you’re looking for a special way to view the lights, then consider their Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides or Tractor Hayrides. 

Mike’s Farm Light Show Hayride (November 19 to December 23, December 26 to 27)

Christmas Lights in North Carolina Mikes Farm Beulaville NC

Join a light Show Hayride at Mike’s Farm in Beulaville (not far from Jacksonville) for a beautiful Christmas light display. It’s $10 per person and you and the family can come through without reservations.

Give their homestyle restaurant, which has raving reviews, a try as well! It is available by reservation only. 

The North Carolina Arboretum (November 20th to January 10)

Held nightly from November 20 to January 10, Winter Lights at The North Carolina Arboretum makes Asheville shine a little brighter! Enjoy this drive-thru light display of thousands of lights stretching for over a mile of the gardens campus.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $20 per vehicle.

Make it an entire experience and stay in one of these unique Airbnbs in Asheville too!

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland at the Tryon Equestrian Center (November 20 to January 3)

Drive through and even enjoy a LIVE performance at the Tryon Equestrian Center! On select evenings, there are performances including Christmas character favorites like The Grinch, Rudolph, and Charlie Brown!

Admission for LIVE! nights is $35 per vehicle and on standard nights $30 per passenger vehicle.

Fieldstream Farm Christmas Lights (November 21 to December 31)

Located at 8008 Old Stage Rd in Raleigh, this light display has been illuminating the Triangle since 1996! Lighting up every evening from November 21 to December 31, Fieldstream Farm offers more than a million lights and a 40-foot Santa.

Tickets are $20 per car.

Speedway Christmas (November 21 to January 17)

Charlotte Speedway Christmas is back for another season of Christmas light displays in Cabarrus County! Enjoy over 4 million lights on a 3.75-mile course that incorporates music if you tune in to the local Christmas radio station.

For extra fun, enjoy FOX 46 WJZY Movie Nights from Thursdays to Sundays for a Christmas-themed drive-in theater. Tickets start at $20 per car and prices depend on the day of the week you decide to visit.

Mangum Family Christmas Lights (November 22 to December 31)

Technically in Hillsborough, this amazing collection light show sits just outside Durham at 7510 Guess Road and is totally worth the drive. We stay tuned to the Mangum Family Christmas Lights Facebook Page throughout the year for that announcement of when they’ll be starting.

This year, it begins at 5:30 pm each evening and ends at 10:00 pm on Sundays through Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays, it ends at 11:00 pm.

An added bonus is the radio station (90.3 FM) that plays along with some of the brightest Christmas lights in North Carolina.

Lake Myra Christmas (November 25 to December 31)

Visit Wendell for another amazing collection of Christmas lights in North Carolina that you can experience for FREE! Donations are accepted at Lake Myra Christmas, and will help keep this popular light show one of the best in the Triangle.

Festival of Lights at Hill Ridge Farms (November 26 to December 27)

Christmas Lights in North Carolina Festival of Lights Hill Ridge Farm Youngsville NC

Hill Ridge Farms in Youngsville (Franklin County) has transformed their Festival of Lights to an all-new drive-thru Christmas light display!

For $20 per vehicle, your family can view the over one mile long light display that is bigger and better than ever before.

Holland Road Lights (November 26 to January 1)

If you are looking for Christmas lights in Fuquay Varina, Holland Road is the spot! With more than 25,000 lights, tune your radio to 90.9 for a synchronized show.

For a special show, drive-by on New Year’s Eve!

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden (November 27 to January 3)

Head over to Belmont for the annual Holiday in the Garden at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. These Christmas lights in North Carolina are just a day trip away from Charlotte and the perfect way to get in the holiday spirit.

For $14.95 per adult, you can enjoy topiary displays, Piedmont Prairie, and cherry blossom trees illuminated for their Christmas light display. Also available is a food truck, s’mores roasting pit, and warm or cold beverages. 

Enchanted Airlie (November 27 to 29 & December 4 to 22)

Note: Tickets for 2020 are SOLD OUT, but we kept this one for you notetakers for next year’s round of Christmas lights in North Carolina.

Christmas Lights in North Carolina Enchanted Airlie Wilmington NC

The Enchanted Airlie Christmas light display in Wilmington is an annual walk-through in Airlie Gardens. Stroll through and enjoy a self-guided tour surrounded by festive sights and sounds.

Tickets start at $30/vehicle.

Beyond these two events, both Daniel Stowe and Airlie are among the most beautiful botanical gardens in North Carolina.

Piper Lights (November 27 to January 1)

Drive through seven acres of Piper Lights in Wake Forest! Admission to these drive-through Christmas lights is free. In typical years, there is a train and a candy store, but things have been adapted for 2020.

Sweet Valley Ranch (November 27 to December 30)

Sweet Valley Ranch‘s Christmas light display is the first of two ways we’ll mention celebrating the season in Fayetteville. This beautiful farm is transformed into a glowing wonderland, perfect for your family to visit!

Prices start at $7 per person with discounts available if you bring more people. Military, first responders, and senior citizens also receive discounted admission. 

While in Fayetteville, make sure to check out some of their incredible restaurants, more Christmas activities, and outdoor attractions!

Chetola Resort Festival of Lights (November 29 to January 31)

Chetola Resort in the lovely mountain town of Blowing Rock is transformed to host a most beautiful collection of Christmas lights in North Carolina. Over 30,000 lights around Chetola Lake transform it into a Winter Wonderland!

Admission is free to the public. 

For extra points, you can stay at Chetola Resort for the beautiful lights and then check out some hiking, waterfalls, and delicious restaurants in Blowing Rock!

The Elizabethan Gardens (November 30 to January 18)

WinterLights in Manteo’s Elizabethan Gardens on the Outer Banks is back again for another year! Enjoy a walkthrough of the grounds and take in the Christmas light displays of the gardens, festive décor and trees of the Gatehouse and Reception Hall.

End your tour at the warm fire on the Great Lawn. A seasonal gift shop and plant sales will be onsite as well. Tickets are $11/adult.

McAdenville Christmas Town USA (December 1 to December 26)

Visit the Christmas light display affectionately known as Christmas Town USA in McAdenville, over in Gaston County. For 65 years, people have traveled from across North Carolina (and beyond) to view displays in the town common areas as well as the homes, free of charge.

This is considered one of the best ways to enjoy Christmas lights in North Carolina! Before you go, we think you’ll want to know about our favorite things to do in Gastonia!

Cape Fear Botanical Garden (December 3 to December 23)

Fayetteville’s Cape Fear Botanical Garden welcomes you to their Holiday Lights in the Garden. Enjoy their Christmas light displays as the entire gardens are lit up for your enjoyment.

Santa Claus will be making an appearance and s’mores, entertainment, and more will be available. Prices range from $8 to $12 per adult depending on membership status.

Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries (December 4, 5, 11, & 12)

Visit this Christmas light display in Dillsboro (one of Jackson County’s finest towns) to see the entire town decked out in over 2,500 lights leading to shops and studios! Hot cider and cocoa will be served by shopkeepers and carolers, Santa, and Mrs. Claus will be making an appearance.

JIRDC Lights (December 5 to January 1)

The J Iverson Riddle Developmental Center in Burke County (Morganton) typically starts its annual Christmas lights on the evening after the annual Christmas parade. You can enjoy the lights every night until New Years’ Day. 

For 2020, the drive-thru fun begins on December 3 and stays open from 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm. Donations are welcome and help keep those twinkling lights going.

Holiday In the Hills (December 11 to 13, December 18 to 20, December 26 to 27, and January 1 to 3)

Holidays In the Hills kicks off in the woods of Shakori Hills Community Arts Center in Pittsboro. Tickets will be limited to keep you from waiting in long lines in your car, and also, to manage the area’s traffic flow. For more info and updates, follow the event’s Facebook Page.

Dix Park Nights of Lights (December 16 to December 27)

Check out Raleigh’s Nights of Lights Christmas light display at Dorothea Dix Park! The 1.3-mile route will showcase illuminated trees, light displays, and local art installations starting at $15 per vehicle through Dix Park.

Tickets must be ordered in advance.

While in Raleigh, we think you’ll love these things to do (also, with kids) and these free attractions for everyone! If you’re searching for places to stay, check out these cool Airbnbs in Raleigh!

Enjoy Christmas Lights in North Carolina This Year and Beyond!

We understand that getting in the holiday spirit is much harder this year. But hopefully, these festive Christmas lights in North Carolina will brighten your season!

If you’re planning to visit any of these displays, we’d love to know which ones and why. Plus, if you know of one (or more) that belongs on this list, we’d always love to learn more about them, too!

Happy holidays and we hope you’re able to enjoy some festive cheer, wherever you call “home.”

More Things to Do (Beyond Christmas Lights in North Carolina

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