One of the biggest and best light shows in our region is at Charlotte Motor Speedway where their ninth edition of Speedway Christmas kicked off last Sunday.
New for 2018, visitors can take a ride in the infield on a 50-foot Ferris wheel, listen to joyful sounds from live musicians, bands, carolers and choirs and drive through more light displays than ever before.
The five-story Ferris wheel, located just outside the infield Christmas Village, will boast spectacular views of the infield and track portions of the illuminated 3.75-mile course. The tallest addition to this year’s show will tower over the new “Storybook in Lights”-themed displays including classics like “The Three Little Pigs” and “Rapunzel.” The Ferris wheel costs $5 per person and is open Thursday – Sunday nights.
Local musicians, bands, choirs and carolers will take the Christmas Village stage on Friday and Saturday nights.
More than 1,000 strands of 12-foot lights, new displays in the grandstands and a new light tunnel will boost the overall number of lights at the annual holiday attraction to more than 3.5 million. Operations crews began erecting this year’s attractions in mid-October, working more than 4,300 hours, to produce a holiday light spectacular that welcomed more than 33,000 cars in 2017.
The drive-through portion of Speedway Christmas runs nightly from 6 -10 through Dec. 31st. On Thursday through Sunday nights, the Christmas Village is open in the speedway infield. The village includes s’mores making, a festival of trees, photos with Santa, Bethlehem Village with live actors and animals, and a snowfall selfie station for holiday photos.
Movies will again be shown on the giant screen in the infield on Thursday - Sunday nights. The lineup includes:
- Nov. 22-25 “The Santa Clause"
- Nov. 29- Dec. 2 “The Polar Express"
- Dec. 6-9 “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation"
- Dec. 13-16 “The Star"
- Dec. 20 - 24 - “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, Mickey’s Christmas Carol, The Grinch (1966)"
- Dec. 26 - 30 - “Home Alone”
Fans can buy a car pass to Speedway Christmas, starting at $20 for Monday-Wednesday access.
This Friday, Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Black Friday Blowout offers fans the once-a-year opportunity to drive their personal cars around the Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval. By spending just $50 on 2019 NHRA or NASCAR tickets, camping, gift shop merchandise or pit passes or donating $25 in cash to Speedway Children’s Charities, fans can wheel their cars on the same track as legends like Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson.
Holidays at the Garden
Holidays at the Garden kicks off this Friday at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden on S. New Hope Road in Belmont. It happens daily through January 6th 5 - 9 PM except Christmas Day.
This year, the Garden has new displays, more lights than ever before, an all-new musically-orchestrated topiary display, a new illuminated prairie garden and traditions including the towering orchid tree, live music (daily 6 - 8 PM), and model train displays built by the Metrolina Model Railroaders throughout the Garden.
Santa will be available for personal photos (no fee) Tuesday through Thursday from Nov. 27th to Dec. 20th from 5:30 to 8:30 PM for personal photos (no fee). Mrs. Claus will visit the Garden Friday through Sunday evenings from Nov. 23rd to Dec. 23rd in addition to Christmas Eve.
Food service will be available every night in addition to beverages including coffee, hot chocolate, cider, beer, wine and other spirits.
Adult tickets range from $12.95 if you buy online in advance to $16.95 at the door Fridays thru Sundays. Senior Citizens tickets are a dollar less, and children 2-12 can visit for $7.95 online in advance to $10.95 at the door.
By far the most popular light show in our area is Christmastown, USA--McAdenville. The lights there normally come on December 1st, but since that's on a Saturday this year, they'll start a day early. The annual tree lighting ceremony is set for 5 PM next Friday (November 30th) and the lights will come on at 6 PM that day only. For the rest of the season--thru Decembe 26th--the lights will glow from 5:30 - 9:30 weeknights and 5:30 - 11 PM Saturdays and Sundays.
The Christmastown 5k is scheduled for this Saturday beginning at 6 PM. The race was limited to the first 1300 entrants and that number has been reached, so no more will be accepted. The lights will be turned on during the race giving runners a sneak preview of what others will have to wait until next weekend to see.
Another special event that's easily within driving distance is Carowinds' Winterfest which happens through New Year's Eve. The event is open 5 - 10 PM Fridays and Sundays, 2 - 10 Saturdays through December 16th, then nightly 5 - 10 PM Dec. 17th - 23rd (2 - 10 on Saturday Dec. 22nd), then 5 - 10 PM Dec. 26th - 29th, 2 - 10 Dec. 30th, and 5 PM - 1 AM Dec. 31st. Ticket prices vary widely. Visit https://www.carowinds.com/play/winterfest for more information.
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