When I moved to Charlotte five years ago, I learned quickly: Christmas lights are a big deal here. Driving to look at them on a cold night is akin to driving three hours to look at some leaves during the fall. They’re big to the point that some radio stations are synced with houses and neighborhoods to really give the people the show they’re looking for.
Even the numbers behind the shows are big. Take the (now defunct) Allen Light Show, for example. The first show in 2012 used 25,000 lights, a 23-foot pixel mega-tree, and 5,000 feet of extension cords. It eventually grew to 100,000 lights, a 30-foot pixel mega-tree (plus two 25-foot trees), and 100,000 feet of extension cords.
If you’re looking for that warm glow of holiday cheer, check out these spots for light shows you’ll still be talking about over Christmas cookies next year.
1001 Sunnyview Circle, Matthews
Know: Shows are every 30 minutes from 6 p.m. – 11 p.m. beginning December 3. Tune your radio to 107.3 FM.
100 Main Street, McAdenville
Know: The lights are on from 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 5:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday beginning December 1 until December 26.
Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, 6500 South New Hope Road, Belmont
Know: You’ll be surrounded by 600,000+ lights, horse-drawn carriages and illuminated displays until 9 a.m. through January 1. $8.95-$14.95 per person.
4026 Garden Oak Drive, Indian Trail
Know: Shows run from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. on weeknights and 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. on weekends through January 1. Tune your radio to 94.5 FM and bring donations for The National Foundation for Cancer Research.
Video via Garden Oak Holiday Lights
Know: There are no show times – the lights are always on. Bring canned food to donate to Loaves and Fishes starting December 9.
Charlotte Motor Speedway, 5555 Concord Parkway South, Concord
Know: Nightly through December 31, attendees will drive over 3 1/2 miles through more than 3 million Christmas lights before watching a Christmas movie on a 16,000-square-foot television. There’s also a Christmas Village with a petting zoo, nativity scene and horse-drawn carriages. $25-$175 per vehicle. Tickets.
15419 Hugh Mcauley Road, Huntersville
Know: Shows run from 6:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through January 1.
Feature photo via Christmas Town USA
This article was originally published on December 12, 2015