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Out & About - Christmas lights

Out & About is an occasional series of stories that highlight the best Charlotte has to offer in arts and culture, shopping and dining, entertainment and sports.

From The Charlotte Observer, Dec. 1, 2011
By Courtney Devores

Whether it's tasteful, wreath-lined streets, or homes lit up like Chevy Chase's in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," the Charlotte area isn't lacking in holiday sparkle.

In fact, the city and its suburbs boast some of the biggest light displays anywhere.

Here are a few that may be worth the trek.

Carolina Christmas

Charlotte Motor Speedway may technically be dark until NASCAR season revs up again, but there will be plenty of light in and around the Concord venue - more than 3 million LED lights, in fact.

The winding road from the entrance (at adjacent zMAX Dragway) to the speedway is lined with dozens of ornate displays. Once inside the speedway, drivers get a brief opportunity to put the pedal to the metal (within reason) on the track before slowing down for more light displays.

Before exiting, visitors can make a pit stop at the Christmas Village, which includes pony rides, a small amusement park, a Bethlehem village and live nativity, an arts and crafts sale, fair foods, Santa and more.

Cost: $20 per car (maximum 8 passengers), $50 per van and $175 for buses.


Christmas Town, USA

Since 1956, the tiny town of McAdenville in Gaston County has transformed into a twinkling Christmas village for 26 days out of the year. What started with a handful of trees has grown to include over 375 trees (all live), 200 wreaths and numerous other electrified decorations.

The heart of the lights display surrounds the lake at the center of town, where the effect is doubled by the reflection in the water. What's more, you can walk or drive the two-mile path of holiday cheer.

Cost: Free.


Holiday Lights at the Garden

The Biltmore Estate may get the most buzz for its striking Christmas décor, but the Charlotte area has its own spectacular gardens gussied up for the holidays.

Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens (6500 S. New Hope Road, Belmont) adds to the natural beauty of plants, flowers and trees along the banks of Lake Wylie with a festive lights display. Other attractions include model train displays, carriage rides, Christmas crafts, caroling, hot chocolate, music, shopping and a 16-foot orchid tree that's become a favorite among patrons.



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