Holiday lights: Guide to the best big Christmas light displays across the Triangle and North Carolina
Posted November 1, 2021 9:00 a.m. EDT
Updated November 15, 2021 7:37 a.m. EST
Whether it's tradition for your family or something new to try this year, viewing holiday lights is a great way to celebrate the season safely.
Here are some of our favorite light shows scheduled for the 2021 holiday season.
Christmas light shows across Raleigh and North Carolina
WRAL Nights of Lights
Address: Dix Park, 75 Hunt Drive, Raleigh
2021 season: Nov. 20 to Dec. 24
Hours: 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. nightly, closed Nov. 22-25, Nov. 30 and Dec. 6
Towering oaks, rolling hills and open fields will be the magical backdrop for this dazzling light show throughout the park. Enjoy illuminated trees, festive light displays and local art installations along the 1.3-mile route. Tickets must be purchased in advance online or through the E-TIX call center (800-514-3849). Tickets start at $20 per car.
Special bike events are Sunday, Nov. 21, and Monday, December 13. You can visit WRAL Nights of Lights on Friday, Dec. 17 and make a canned food donation to Food Lion Feeds in support of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle.
Magic of Lights at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek
Address: 3801 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh
2021 season: Nov. 19 to Jan. 2
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Tickets range between $20 and $32 for this drive-thru event. You can purchase tickets online.
Fieldstream Farm Lights
Address: 8008 Old Stage Road, Raleigh
2021 season: Nov. 25 to Dec. 31
Hours: Hours vary nightly. Check the website for details.
Formerly known as Ten-Ten Lights, Fieldstream Farm features a drive-through light show with 1 million lights decorating acres of farm land. It includes an LED-lit tunnel of lights with more than 200,000 lights. Tickets are available on Fieldstream's website. They start at $20.
NC Chinese Lantern Festival
Address: Booth Amphitheatre, 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary
2021 season: Nov. 19 to Jan. 9.
Hours: Opens at 4:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. depending on the night
This gorgeous display in Cary is one to walk through. Thursday through Sunday evenings, enjoy the lanterns as the sun sets during the “golden hour." "Twilight" tickets are $15 per person, and regular tickets are $25 for everyone 3 and older.
Lake Myra Christmas Lights
Address: 10 S. Cypress St., downtown Wendell
2021 season: Dates and times to be announced
The lights this year feature a new layout, lots of traditional Christmas music, some rock 'n' roll and oldies music. The display usually includes about 400,000 lights and runs for 25 minutes with five-minute intermissions between shows. You can watch the show outside or from the inside of your car by tuning into 103.3 FM.
Electric Light Fantasy at Wilson's Whirligig Park
Address: 301 Goldsboro Street South, Historic Downtown Wilson
2021 season: Dec. 2-5 and Dec. 9-12.
Hours: There will be three ticketed shows each night beginning at 6 p.m.
ELF will feature, in addition to smaller lasers, a full color, RGB 30 Watt laser similar to those in theme park light shows! Christmas music synchronized with the lasers will play through the vehicle’s FM radio from a dedicated channel. Tickets are $25 per car and must be purchased online ahead of time.
Hill Ridge Farms Festival of Lights
Address: 703 Tarboro Road, Youngsville
2021 season: Nov. 25 to Jan. 2
Hours: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., nightly
Enjoy over a million lights from the comfort of your vehicle. Hill Ridge's farm play park and country store will not be open during the Festival of Lights. Tickets cannot be purchased in advance, instead, organizers say to arrive early and plan accordingly, especially on peak nights, which are listed on the website.
Lights on the Neuse
Address: Boyette Family Farms, 1620 Loop Road, Clayton
2021 season: Opens Nov. 26 and runs on select nights through Dec. 24.
Hours: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. on select nights; 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Dec. 24. Check the website for details.
At Lights on the Neuse, you can take a 30-minute Christmas hayride to enjoy the lights and Christmas music and visit with Santa (but from a distance). Be sure to bring your own camera for a Santa picture. The farm is encouraging visitors to purchase online timed tickets, but reservations are not required. Tickets are $10 for ages 3 and up for both the hayride and opportunity to get a picture with Santa.
Holiday Lights in the Garden
Address: Cape Fear Botanical Garden, 536 N. Eastern Blvd., Fayetteville
2021 season: On select nights from Dec. 2 to Dec. 23
Hours: 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Holiday Lights in the Garden will feature festive lights, along with Santa, s'mores, entertainment and more. For non-members, tickets are $7 for kids ages 2 to 12 and $12 for adults.
Country Christmas Train at Denton Farm Park
Address: 4259 Handy Road, Denton
2021 season: Select days from Nov. 26 to Dec. 27
Hours: 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., other days
This year, visitors will ride a train to see Christmas lights and sing church carols. Riders will be able to see Santa, the gift shop and craft barn, candle making and more. Tickets are $6 for children 5 and older and $18 for adults. Denton is about two hours west of the Triangle.
Address: Charlotte Motor Speedway, 5555 Concord Parkway South, Concord
2021 season: Nov. 19 to Jan. 2
Hours: Hours vary. Check the website for more details.
Speedway Christmas features four million lights strewn across a remarkable four-mile course, with hundreds of creative displays and lights synchronized to Christmas-themed music. It's about 2.5 hours from Raleigh. Tickets vary depending on the night and start at $30 per car.
Tanglewood Festival of Lights
Address: Tanglewood Park, 4061 Clemmons Road, Clemmons
2021 season: Nov. 12 to Jan. 1
Hours: 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., nightly
Tanglewood Park's Festival of Lights features a very popular light show that runs along a five-mile route with more than 100 displays and 1 million lights. About 250,000 visitors attend each year. There can be long wait times to get in, as much as four hours on a Saturday night, the website warns. Evenings also include horse-drawn carriage rides and hayrides. Tickets start at $20 for families who come in a car, van or truck. Discount nights are $10 and will be held Nov. 15-16 and Nov. 22-23. Clemmons, which is near Winston-Salem, is about two hours from Raleigh.
Christmas Town USA in McAdenville, NC
Address: Private homes throughout the town are lit up
2021 season: Dec. 1 to Dec. 26
Hours: 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., nightly
Now in its 66th year, Christmas Town USA features private homes that are lit up for the holidays. The event has received extensive media coverage over the years. You can walk or drive the 1.3-mile route through town to see the lights. On weekends, it can take 30 minutes to 45 minutes to drive the full route. Before you go, check the website to find out what's happening. McAdenville is just under three hours from Raleigh.
Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum
Address: N.C. Arboretum, 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville
2021 season: Nov. 19 to Jan. 1
Hours: 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., nightly
After converting to a drive-thru event for 2020, Winter Lights will welcome members and guests back into the gardens as it returns to the traditional outdoor walk-through open-air show format. The famously tall 50-foot lighted tree and the Quilt Garden will be back, outfitted with new designs in lights, while throughout the gardens, popular arrangements will mingle with ones never seen before.