Best places to enjoy the magic of Christmas

Best places to enjoy the magic of Christmas

From historic homes and popular attractions draped in sparkling lights to romantically lit gardens and parks, the Carolinas shine bright during the holiday season.

Some places and events have had to trim their offerings and add new safety protocols because of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, so be sure to use the links we’ve provided to find out the most up-to-date policies.

Without further ado, here are a few of our favorite places to enjoy the magic of Christmas:

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Atrium Health Ballpark – The Kannapolis Cannon Ballers are set to host Trees of Hope from Dec. 11-13. During the three-day event, more than 150 Christmas trees decorated by families, businesses and community organizations will be on display at the ballpark. Click here for details.

Biltmore Estate – A holiday tradition dating back 125 years will be celebrated this year when Christmas at Biltmore transforms Asheville’s most famous address into an unforgettable Yuletide destination. This year’s theme, “An 1895 Christmas,” pays homage to the first holiday season when Biltmore’s founder George Vanderbilt opened the doors of Biltmore House to family and friends. Christmas at Biltmore runs through Jan. 10. Click here for details.

Billy Graham Library – See a live nativity, take a horse-drawn carriage ride and enjoy carolers and a beautiful display of lights at the Library’s 13th annual Christmas at the Library event. Open Nov. 30 through Dec. 23. Click here for details.

Carowinds – Carowinds is reopening just in time for the holidays. Taste of the Season: An Outdoor Holiday Experience will be open on select nights Nov. 21 through Dec. 20, and will feature dozens of sweet and savory tastings, festive themed areas and live shows throughout the park. In addition, more than 15 rides will be open, including Afterburn, Copperhead Strike, Do-Si-Do, Ricochet, Scrambler and Zephyr. Click here for details.

Charlotte Motor Speedway – For the 11th year, Charlotte Motor Speedway will shine brightly for the holidays during its annual drive-thru light display. Speedway Christmas features more than 4 million lights that span a 3.75-mile course illuminating the iconic racetrack. Christmas-themed movies will be shown on the giant 16,000-square-foot Speedway TV Thursday through Sunday, and new this year, the speedway has added a 5,400-square-foot ice rink. Speedway Christmas runs Nov. 21 through Jan. 17. Click here for details.

Christmas Town, USA (McAdenville) – For the 65th year, McAdenville will make its annual transformation into Christmas Town U.S.A. Christmas lights will shine brightly from Dec. 1-26. However, a few of the traditions associated with the popular attraction have been modified or canceled as a precaution because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for details.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden – The garden’s annual Holidays at the Garden event is set to return Nov. 28 and will continue through Jan. 3. The show will be a bit smaller than in years past, but there will still be plenty to see, including the popular musically orchestrated topiary display, blossoming lighted cherry trees and more than 10 acres of colorful cascading lights. Click here for details.

Historic Rosedale – See one of the last remaining antebellum homes in the Charlotte area decked out for Christmas during the Guided Holiday House Tours Dec. 5, 12 and 19. The tours celebrate the Davidson family, who were the last residents to live in the home. Visitors will learn about what the property looked like in the late 1940s, as well as typical post-war Christmas traditions. $15-$20. Click here for details.

North Carolina Transportation Museum – See this historic site illuminated by thousands of holiday lights during the museum’s first-ever drive-thru light show from Nov. 20 through Dec. 30. In addition, daytime train rides will be offered aboard the Candy Cane Train, which will also be decorated for the holidays. Hot chocolate and cookies will be served following the ride. Click here for details.

Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium – Walk under a 180-degree ocean tunnel that’s illuminated in holiday lights as sharks, rays, and other fishy friends swim right over your head! Plus, the aquarium is decked out with more than 10,000 holiday lights to celebrate the season. Sea of Lights is open through Jan. 3. Click here for details.

Tanglewood Park – See nearly 5 miles of lights and more than 100 festive displays during Tanglewood Park’s Festival of Lights in Clemmons, which is about a 1-hour drive from Charlotte. The Gift Village will be closed this year due to COVID-19. Open through Jan. 1. Click here for details.

Truist Field – The home of the Charlotte Knights will be filled with thousands of lights, trees and festive displays, plus a European-inspired Christmas market. Light the Knights will be open on select nights from Dec. 10-23 while the Charlotte Christmas Village Market will run Nov. 27 through Dec. 23. Click here for details.

Tweetsie Railroad – Take a nighttime train ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains, see thousands of dazzling lights and meet Santa during Tweetsie Christmas. Open select nights through Dec. 31. Click here for details.

Unfortunately, some popular annual events have been canceled this year, including:

Southern Christmas Show

Fourth Ward Sip & Stroll Holiday Tour

Hickory Christmas Tree Lighting

Concord Christmas Parade

Mooresville Christmas Parade

Troutman Christmas Parade

McAdenville lights will shine bright for Christmas, some traditions trimmed