“It’s indescribably beautiful, it’s like the Fourth of July!”
Yes, when Ralphie’s Old Man from “A Christmas Story” choked out those words, he was talking about his recently won leg lamp. But the same sentiment carries over to the holiday light displays lovingly and laboriously assembled around the area. Here’s a sample of what’s available for your holiday-viewing pleasure.
Speedway Christmas: Spectators can drive through more than 800 displays and 3 million-plus lights at this Charlotte Motor Speedway display, now in its third year. 6-10 nightly through Dec. 30. Monday-Wednesday, $15 per car; Thursday-Sunday $20 per car (includes admission to Christmas Village); Express Pass (allows you to skip the lines) is $30. New this year is the Coca-Cola Ice Rink. www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.
Lake Park Lights: This display is synchronized to 20-minutes of Christmas music heard via 94.5 FM. Now in its seventh year, Lake Park Lights turns on at 6 p.m. with the music repeating every half-hour till 9 p.m. through Dec. 31 at 4019 Lake Charles Way, Indian Trail. The display is free, but spectators are asked to bring donations for the Union County Christmas Bureau. Details: www.lakeparklights.com.
James Family Christmas: What started as 18,000 lights in 2007 has grown to nearly 100,000 lights in 2012. Free admission. 5:30-10 nightly through Dec. 31. 413 N. Main St. (next to Town Hall). www.jamesfamilychristmas.com.
Fantetti Family Christmas Light Spectacular: Tune your radio to 90.3 FM to listen to the music accompanying one couple’s 17,821-bulb homemade light display. Through Dec. 31: 6-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 6-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday at 263 Palaside Drive. Admission is free; donations support the East Davidson High School Marching Band in Thomasville.
Holiday Lights for Paws: This annual display featuring more than 63,000 lights also raises awareness and funds for Cabarrus Animal Rescue, the Humane Society of Concord and Kitty City. Lights are drive-by or walk-through, featuring two walking paths. Donations are encouraged. Through Dec. 29: 6:30-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 6:30-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. 3604 Glen Haven Drive. 704-784-1066.
Christmas Town USA: It didn’t get this name for nothing. For 57 years, the town has put up more than 450,000 red, white and green lights, and Yahoo named it one of the Top 10 places to visit in December in 2011. This free event is lighted through Dec. 26: 5:30-9:30 p.m. weekdays and 5:30-11 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. www.mcadenville-christmastown.com.
Holidays at the Garden: Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden (6500 S. New Hope Road) keeps it classy, offering a light display “with a natural flair” open noon-9 p.m. through Dec. 31. This year also features a festive Christmas tree display, the recurring favorite Orchid Tree, s’mores and visits with Santa. $12 for adults, $11 for seniors, $6 for kids 4-12. www.dsbg.org.
Celebration of Lights: This free, 175,000-light display is part of A Kannapolis Christmas, 6-9:30 p.m. Saturday-Dec. 31 (closed Dec. 24-25) at Village Park, 700 West C St. There’s also an automated light show synced to holiday music, which plays hourly on the half hour, starting at 6:30 p.m. www.kannapolischristmas.com.
Tanglewood Park: This display – now in its 21st season – takes about 70 minutes to get to from Charlotte, but features more than 1 million lights illuminating the 1,300 acres. Be advised: Weekend waits of almost two hours start on Friday nights, so if you can sneak away during the week, it might be worth it. (It’s cheaper, too.) 6-11 nightly through Jan. 1. 4201 Manor House Circle. Monday-Thursday, $10 per vehicle. Friday-Sunday (and holidays) $15 per car. www.forsyth.cc.