Favorite Holiday Light Displays in Raleigh, N.C.
Wednesday, November 24, 2021, 10am by visitRaleigh
During the holiday season, the Raleigh area is aglow with light displays, tree lightings and other seasonal presentations. Below are some of the best happenings and places for Christmas and other holiday pageantry!
North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival-Cary
Through Jan. 9, 2022
A super trip-worthy event for the whole family returns for a sixth! Back after cancelation in 2020 due to COVID-19, the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival brings more than 20 larger-than-life lanterns to Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary. Made up of thousands of LED lights, displays light up the skies and mesmerize visitors on this one-hour walking tour (have your cameras ready for the spectacular Chinese Dragon that sits on Symphony Lake!). Beyond beautiful lanterns, the ticketed festival also welcomes a showcase of Chinese culture—nightly performances featuring martial arts, traditional dance, acrobatics, drum performances and more.
Open on select days, Nov. 25-Dec. 26 (check Facebook for updated details)
For more than 10 years now, the Guerra family's spectacular light display at their home in Apex has drawn a chorus of 'oohs and aahs' from visitors (perhaps as many as 25,000 of them in 2020). Bigger and more colorful every year, the free-admission, drive-in style show has grown so much that the Apex Police Department has stepped in to help direct traffic. The video below gives a peek at the holiday cheer you can expect to find!
Note: The display is not open every night, and some nights are reserved for families with special needs and other community members. The best way to keep track is following on Facebook.
Magic of Lights
Through Jan. 2, 2022
A new dazzling, drive-through holiday lights experience at Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, Magic of Lights features favorite holiday scenes and characters of the season using the latest LED technology and digital animations. Tickets begin at $20 per car.
WRAL Nights of Lights at Dorothea Dix Park
Through Dec. 24
Illuminated trees, festive light displays and local art installations will delight visitors of all ages at the second-ever Nights of Lights Drive-Thru Light Show at Dorothea Dix Park. The 1.3-mile driving route features towering oak trees, open fields and rolling hills—plus views of the Raleigh skyline peeking above the trees—making it a perfect location for this holiday event. This is a ticketed experience, and purchases must be made in advance ($15 per vehicle with up to eight passengers).
Note: The first day for vehicles is Nov. 26. A 5k race is taking place on Nov. 20, and a special bike night event is Nov. 21!
Nov. 26, 2021-Jan. 1, 2021
In Wake Forest, Piper Lights—a family-run light display that's been in action for 30 years now—is set for another big holiday season. The seven-acre light display that connects yards and jumps across a pond received national recognition in 2016 when they were named winners on ABC television network's Great Christmas Light Fight. Enjoy this year’s light display seven days a week at 5725 Fixit Shop Rd. Admission is free but donations are accepted.
Wendell Wonderland/Lake Myra Christmas Lights
Light show runs Nov. 24-Dec. 31; Wendell Wonderland festival is Dec. 3
A perfect chance to experience historic downtown Wendell lit up for the holidays, with a visit from Santa Claus, trolley rides through town, lighting of the town tree, live music, hot chocolate, food trucks, a craft market and more.
One of the area's most popular light shows, the Lake Myra Christmas light display, will also be in full swing, featuring more than 400,000 total lights synced to holiday music. The display was created by the Williams family of Wendell, who painstakingly design and assemble the glowing (and growing) event each year. Visitors park and watch the show—which typically runs between 30 and 45 minutes depending on the year—from the viewing area in front of the display. New for this year are walkways that lead to some of the biggest displays. Dogs are welcome (on a leash!). Admission is free, and donations are accepted. Join in on the fun seven days a week from Nov. 24 through the end of the year at 10 S. Cypress St. in Wendell.
Downtown Raleigh Illuminate Art Walk
Dec. 3, 2021-Jan. 7, 2022
Downtown Raleigh comes to light with Illuminate, a light-based art walk. Returning Dec. 3, this five-week activation takes place in downtown Raleigh’s Fayetteville St. and Glenwood South districts. Illuminate will transform plazas and underutilized spaces with a large-scale interactive installation, light-based sculptures and projection art.
Illuminate is a free, self-guided walking tour. A map of the art can be found here.
50th Annual Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour
Historic Oakwood, one of Raleigh's prettiest and most historic neighborhoods (many of which are dated to the mid-1800s to early 1900s), has its own small-town feel. Elegantly decorated for the holidays, this favorite event gives you the rare chance to step inside about a dozen private homes, each of which is staffed with docents who tell the rich history of this Century Victorian neighborhood. This is a ticketed event and will likely sell out!
Open through Jan. 1
New event alert! Come enjoy the thrill of ice skating in a winter wonderland created in the heart of downtown Raleigh! THE RINK presented by UNC Health features a natural ice skating rink with stunning views of the Raleigh skyline.
Visiting one of Raleigh's most treasured, family-owned restaurants is never a bad idea. Open for more than 60 years now, Angus Barn is an institution—an award-winning steakhouse with one of the largest wine cellars in the country. During the holidays, gorgeous decorations adorn the red barn building inside and out. It's no wonder visitors who have experienced Angus Barn around this time keep returning year after year.
Note: Reservations are booked through the end of the year, but give the restaurant a call to ask about first-come, first-served seating options that may be available.
Header photo by Joe Bruno