How to catch the three big holiday light shows in the Charlotte region

Got out of town visitors and time on your hands? Here’s the lowdown on the three big holiday light shows in Charlotte.

Hayley Fowler

Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden in Belmont (6500 . New Hope Road) features visits with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides and model train displays while guests enjoy the lights. The garden is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and the lights turn on at 5 p.m. Visits with Santa are only in the evenings from 6-9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday until Dec. 20, and in the evenings daily from Dec. 21-23. Tickets for adult entry are $14.95 but there are senior and child discounts. Some events within the garden cost extra. The garden will be open Christmas Eve but is closed on Christmas Day. Holidays at the Garden runs through Jan. 3.

Christmas Town U.S.A., in McAdenville less than 30 minutes west of Charlotte is celebrating its 60th year. Guests can view the lights in cars or on foot from 5:30-9:30 p.m. on weekdays, and from 5:30-11:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Attendance and parking are free. McAdenville officials suggest viewing the lights during the weekdays as traffic increases from Friday to Sunday.

It typically takes 30 to 45 minutes to drive the full 1.3-mile route on the weekends. Those coming from Charlotte can take U.S. 29-74 to reach McAdenville and will continue through town to I-85 to exit. See recommended routes here. The lights will be on display every night until Dec. 26.

Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord boasts more than three million lights this holiday season and includes a Christmas Village — open Thursday through Sunday –with a petting zoo, visits with Santa and horse-drawn wagon rides.

The speedway is open from 6-10 p.m. and is priced per vehicle according to the Christmas Village schedule –Thursday and Sunday nights cost $25 per car, $50 per van with a max of 36 passengers and $175 per bus with a max of 57 passengers; Friday and Saturday nights cost $30 per car, $50 per van and $175 per bus; and when the village is closed it costs $20 per car, $40 per van and $140 per bus. The speedway also offers a military discount. Christmas movies are shown at no extra charge on village nights. The Speedway Christmas display will run through Dec. 30 but will be closed on Christmas Day.