[Updated on November 16, 2023] While NC is renowned for an incredible array of popular natural attractions, come holiday time, you can also find dazzling Christmas Lights in North Carolina.
Ther are a ton of things to do for Winter in North Carolina and it’s a fantastic place for enjoying festive activities.
The temperatures are chilly but not miserable, the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina periodically get capped with snow, and the tight-knit communities here love to throw a party!
And from mid-November to January, it seems like there’s a Christmas parade, festival, gingerbread house competition or market happening close by every single weekend.
If you’re interested in seeing some North Carolina Christmas lights during the holiday season, read on for our guide to holiday destinations and events to catch the very best Christmas lights in NC.
Best Christmas Lights in North Carolina Guide
- Christmas at the Biltmore/Antler Hill Village (Asheville NC)
- NC Arboretum Winter Lights (Asheville NC)
- Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries (Dillsboro NC)
- Hometown Holiday Festivities (Forest City NC)
- Holiday Light Spectacular (Mooresville NC)
- Light the Knights and Christmas Village (Charlotte NC)
- Speedway Christmas (Concord NC)
- Festival of Lights at Sweet Valley Ranch (Fayetteville NC)
- Winter Wonderlights (Greensboro NC)
- Christmas Parade of Lights (Greenville NC)
- Christmas Town USA (McAdenville NC)
- Fieldstream Farm Christmas Light Festival (Raleigh NC)
- Lights On The Neuse (Clayton NC)
- The Meadow Lights (Benson NC)
- NC Chinese Lantern Festival (Cary NC)
READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Winston Salem NC
Christmas Lights in Asheville NC
1. Christmas at the Biltmore/Antler Hill Village
One Lodge Street, Asheville NC • 800-411-3812
In terms of Asheville Christmas lights, nowhere has a wow factor that can measure up to Christmas at the Biltmore Estate, America’s Largest Home, which has 250 rooms encompassing 175,000 square feet!
From November 3, 2023, through January 6, 2024, the Biltmore offers special Candlelight Christmas Evenings inside the house.
A magical Norway Spruce Christmas Tree and pathway light display lead visitors to the French Renaissance-style Biltmore House. Inside, thousands of ornaments reflect the soft candles and flickering fireplaces.
Elsewhere on the expansive estate, Antler Hill Village has glittering lights and Christmas decorations to enjoy.
The basic evening visit to the Biltmore is $120-$155 and includes an audio tour of the house, 8,000 acres of gardens and grounds to explore, the Antler Hill Village & Winery, a wine tasting, and parking.
2. NC Arboretum Winter Lights
100 Frederick Law Olmstead Way, Asheville NC • 828-655-2492
There are a few different NC arboretums that put on light displays for the holidays, but the North Carolina Arboretum Christmas lights in Asheville NC are the top of the line.
In 2023, Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum opens on November 17th and puts on the Winter Lights show nightly until December 31st.
Although the Arboretum is closed on Christmas Day for daytime visits, they will be open up for Winter Lights.
The 1 million-plus LED light show is a wonderful walking experience, with artfully designed, nature-themed displays as well as lovely landscape lighting all around the arboretum’s gardens and woodland edges.
Tickets are sold online for $40-$70/car for timed tickets or $80 for flex tickets. Buying tickets in person costs an extra $10. Note that weekend slots often sell out, so it’s a good idea to purchase ahead of time.
Winter Lights is the NC Arboretum’s biggest fundraising event, and all proceeds benefit its annual programs.
Christmas Lights in Dillsboro NC
3. Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries
42 Front Street, Dillsboro NC • 800-962-1911
The Christmas town will be all lit up for the holidays, with 2,500 candles in white bags as well as an extensive collection of more modern twinkling Christmas lights.
In 2023, the Dillsboro NC light show runs from 5-9PM on December 1, 2, 8, and 9, and admission is free.
4. Hometown Holiday Festivities
Main Street, Forest City NC • 828-247-4430
Forest City NC is located about an hour’s drive from Asheville, but it has received recognition as both the #1 light show in Greater Asheville and the #1 Christmas lights in Western North Carolina.
Each year, the heart of Downtown Forest City is bedecked with over a million lights, and the area from Broadway Street to Church Street is shut down to traffic (and parking) for the lighting ceremony.
During their Hometown Holiday Festivities, the town of Forest City has a Christmas parade (3 PM on Sun, Nov 26), horse-drawn carriage rides, hayrides, ice skating, and crazy light displays at POPS (Pavilion on Park Square).
The Forest City Christmas lights are illuminated every night from 5 PM to 11:30 PM, and of course, it’s free to stroll Main Street, do some window shopping, and enjoy the decorated storefronts.
Christmas Lights in Charlotte NC
5. Holiday Light Spectacular
413 Main St, Mooresville NC • 877-661-1234
The Holiday Light Spectacular is a nightly attraction held on the lawn of Town Hall in Mooresville NC, from November 27, 2023 to New Year’s Eve.
Christmas in Mooresville begins with the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree at Langtree on Lake Norman in mid-November.
The town of Mooresville’s Holiday Light Spectacular is a beloved annual Christmas tradition for many locals. It’s always a hit with children, and it’s free to visit!
6. Light The Knights and Christmas Village
324 S. Mint Street, Charlotte NC • 704-274-8300
Charlotte is home to the Charlotte Knights minor league baseball team, which plays at Truist Field.
Each winter, the Light The Knights Festival sees the facility turned into a full-on holiday hotspot for those seeking colorful Charlotte Christmas lights.
In addition to the Holiday Walkthrough & Light show, there is a regulation-sized hockey rink for ice skating, a 150-foot snowtubing hill, and the Charlotte Christmas Village.
READ MORE: The 30 Best NC Christmas Events
7. Speedway Christmas
5555 Concord Pkwy S, Concord NC • 704-455-3200
NASCAR gets into the Christmas spirit at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, which hosts the annual Speedway Christmas celebration.
This is the largest drive-thru Christmas light display in the USA, with 4 miles of lights as well as a Christmas Village to explore on foot.
This Charlotte NC Christmas attraction opens in November 27th and goes until January 7th. Car passes are $45 at max of 15 people, $175 for vehicle pass 16-60 ppl.
There’s also a Speedway Express Lane: For a cool $75 Thursday-Sunday, guests can skip the line and get straight to the Speedway!
Christmas Lights in Fayetteville NC
8. Festival of Lights at Sweet Valley Ranch
2990 Sunnyside School Rd, Fayetteville NC • 844-622-3276
Sweet Valley Ranch is a privately owned 300-acre farm in Fayetteville.
But in winter, the grounds are transformed into a magical light display featuring over a million lights.
Fayetteville NC Christmas lights are truly at their best at Sweet Valley, which is located across the street from Tiny’s Winter Wonderland (which offers food vendors, Santa, and more).
The drive-thru Christmas light show has features like a Gingerbread House, a Nativity Scene, Star Wars, Dinosaur World, and the Grinch’s Mansion.
There are also Farm Wagon Tours for large groups (up to 80 people) to see the Christmas lights together, but reservations should be made beforehand by calling the ranch.
READ MORE: The 25 Best NC Christmas Tree Farms
Christmas Lights in Greensboro NC
9. Winter Wonderlights
4301 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro NC • 336-288-3769
The Greensboro Science Center hosts the annual Winter Wonderlights, which covers the 11-acre property in the Christmas spirit and includes holiday music.
Show zones include the Dancing Fountains, Polar Pond, and Snowball Surprise. Their Forest trails have a Wild Walk and Starry Night, while their Fun zones feature a Dino Disco and a cool Treehouse covered in Xmas lights.
Regular admission to the best of the Greensboro Christmas lights is $20 for members and $25 for non-members on Friday through Sunday and the entire week of Christmas.
There’s a discounted weekday rate of $16 for Monday through Thursday nights.
Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets online and to arrive 5-10 minutes early, but tickets can be purchased on-site as well.
READ MORE: The 15 Best Fairs in North Carolina to Visit
Christmas Lights in Greenville NC
10. Christmas Parade of Lights
Main Street, Greenville NC • [email protected]
The Greenville Christmas Parade of Lights is put on by the Greenville Jaycees, a federation of young leaders and business owners within the local community.
Rather than the typical stationary Christmas light displays commonly found on streets and buildings, these are parade floats and entries that dazzle the eyes with Christmas spirit.
The parade is held on Greenville’s Main Street on December 2nd.
The route starts at the intersection of 1st Street and Evans Street in the Uptown District, with crowds lining the Evans Street sidewalks down to 9th Street to watch.
This is very much a community-focused event, but outsiders are welcome to join the joyful holiday festivities.
Christmas Lights in McAdenville NC
11. Christmas Town USA
Main Street, McAdenville NC • 704-823-2333
The McAdenville NC Christmas lights are a big part of the town’s extensive Christmas celebration.
Their impressive Christmas light display can be viewed with a walk or drive-through downtown, starting with the Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 1st and running through December 26th.
The McAdenville Christmas lights are switched on at 5:30 each night, and they twinkle and shine until 10 PM. In addition to the lights, the town also has bells playing Christmas carols and great restaurants and shopping options.
This event has been going on since 1956, gained fame in 1980 (when it was featured on the Charles Kuralt Morning Show), and was later featured in Southern Living.
In other words, it may be a small-town celebration, but it’s one of the best places to see Christmas lights in NC!
Christmas Lights in Raleigh NC (& nearby)
12. Fieldstream Farm Christmas Light Festival
8008 Old Stage Road, Raleigh NC • 919-374-8822
If you’re looking for Christmas lights in Raleigh, you won’t want to miss the Fieldstream Farm Christmas Light Festival, where a million lights illuminate a local farm that dates back to the early 1900s.
The most popular feature of the Fieldstream Farm light show is the Tunnel of Lights, which features more than 200,000 lights and is billed as “the longest LED-lit tunnel in the world.”
It’s the best drive-thru Christmas light show in Raleigh NC, and it opens in late November and ends after Christmas.
Tickets to the festival can be bought online, and run $20 for a car/SUV with 1-8 people, $40 for a van or bus with 9-18 people, and $75 for larger vehicles.
13. Lights On The Neuse
1620 Loop Road, Clayton NC • 919-553-0016
This family-focused Christmas celebration takes place on Boyette Family Farms, which can be easily reached from North Carolina towns like Raleigh, Apex, and Cary.
Their 2023 visitors are welcome on the last two Fridays and Saturdays in November, Friday through Sunday for the first three weekends in December, and daily from December 20 through 24.
In addition to Christmas lights, the farm also offers hayrides, concessions, a cookie decorating station, and a great selfie spot on Santa’s sleigh. Note that Santa will be busy at the North Pole, and won’t make an appearance here.
Lights On The Neuse tickets are $11, and the price of admission includes a hayride. Cash and cards are accepted at the farm, or tickets can be bought online in advance.
14. The Meadow Lights
4550 Godwin Lake Road, Benson NC • 919-669-5969
Started more than 50 years ago, The Meadow Lights in Benson NC claims to be the oldest and largest Christmas light show in Eastern North Carolina.
Now it involves 30+ acres of lights, and is regarded as one of the top places to see Christmas lights in Raleigh NC.
The lights come on for the first time on November 18, 2023, and will stay on nightly from 5-10PM until New Year’s Eve.
There is no charge to see the lights, which are visible from the road and the store’s parking lot.
They do offer a train ride through the lights for $3, a carousel ride for $3, and photos with Santa for $8. But visiting Santa is free!
Christmas Lights in Cary NC
15. NC Chinese Lantern Festival
8003 Regency Parkway, Cary NC • (919) 462-2025
For a completely different take on North Carolina Christmas light shows, the NC Chinese Lantern Festival at the Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary is crazy cool.
What this light show lacks in terms of Santa and Christmas caroling, it more than makes up for 40 magnificent displays of massive Asian lanterns illuminated with thousands of LED lights.
Nightly cultural art shows, including live performances, are part of the festivities.
There are several ticket options online, including Any Night Tickets, the Twilight Ticket Experience (which is great for photographers), and the VIP (Very Important Panda) Tour Experience.
Date-specific tickets, the most inexpensive option, are $20 for visitors 13 years of age and older, while kids ages 3 to 12 can get in for $15. – by Jonathon Engels, featured image by Bret Love and Mary Gabbett