Speedway Christmas, a 3.5-mile drive-through holiday light display on the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway, is back for its 8th year. (Yes, you get to drive your car on the track!)
The family-friendly event features 3 million lights and choreographed illuminated displays as well as a drive-in movie theater showing classic holiday films and a festive holiday village with food, beverage and gift vendors.
Here are some tips for first-time visitors…
Traffic is heavy at this event, especially on weekend nights, so you should plan to arrive early to avoid the growing line of cars to get in.
Speedway Christmas is open 6-10 p.m. daily through New Year’s Eve (closed Christmas Day). I got there around 5:30 p.m. on a Thursday and was the fourth car in the fast pass lane.
With the sun already setting shortly after 5 p.m., it will definitely be dark when the first cars enter the gate at 6 p.m. so there’s no penalty to arriving early (other than fighting regular rush hour traffic to get there).
Buy the fast pass.
For an extra $10, you can skip the longest part of the line and cut straight over to the gate in the fast pass lane.
It’s worth it, especially if you can’t get there early.
And if you buy tickets online in advance, print them out and bring them with you.
Digital tickets are not accepted at the gate so be sure to print your own paper ticket and bring it with you if you buy ahead. Keep in mind there is no discount or benefit to buying them in advance online and everyone has to pass through the same ticket gate to get in. So if you think you’ll forget to print them, just make your purchase at the gate.
Tickets are priced per vehicle and are $20/car Monday through Wednesday (keep in mind the Christmas Village is closed on these days), $25/car Thursday and Sunday and $30/car Friday and Saturday.
Car tickets are good for up to 8 passengers. Tickets are also available for larger vans and buses up to 57 passengers.
Tune your radio to 101.3 FM and turn off your lights.
A large portion of the light display is choreographed to flash to the rhythm of holiday tunes, which are broadcast on 101.3 FM.
Turn your headlights off for a better blackout experience for you and the cars around you.
Visit on Thursday – Sunday nights or the entire week before Christmas (12/18-24) for extra entertainment.
This is when the Christmas Village is open and classic holiday movies are featured on the big drive-in screen.
(Note: The entire speedway is closed Christmas Day and the village and movies are closed New Year’s Eve.)
The Christmas Village is located about two-thirds of the way through the driving exhibit. Here, you’re able to park your car and stop by for hot cocoa, funnel cake, mini doughnuts, s’mores and more.
Hang around to watch the drive-in movie from the same lot or continue on for the rest of the light show.
Drive-In Movie Schedule (starts at 6:30 p.m.)
December 7-10 — National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 14-17 — Elf
December 18-24 — The Polar Express
December 28-30 — Frozen
More questions? Check out Speedway Christmas page for additional details.
Header photo via Facebook