Holiday road: Top holiday destinations in N.C.

Entertainment Travel

November 29, 2023

Some of the state’s most loved holiday attractions are just a short drive away. Here are a few favorites.


Holidays at the Garden at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden, through Dec. 23 | 5-10 p.m. Tues.-Sun.

The annual family-friendly walking tour returns with glittering lights, sparkling fountains, food trucks and s’mores by the fire. On Dec. 5, celebrate Krampusnacht with a parade through the garden. New this year: Adult date nights (child-free events) on Dec. 6 and Dec. 19. Purchase timed tickets online: $25 for adults, $23 for seniors 60 and up, $15 for children 2-12. 

photograph by Steve Rankin


Christmas Town USA Dec. 1-26 | 5:30-10 p.m.

Load up the car and take in thousands of twinkling lights along the 1.3-mile route through McAdenville, a former mill village that goes all out at the holidays. The celebration begins Dec. 1 with a tree-lighting ceremony; the traditional Yule Log Ceremony takes place Dec. 14 with a small parade followed by a festival with music and an appearance by Santa himself. 

photograph courtesy Visit Winston-Salem


Christmas at Old Salem, through Dec. 30

Choose from several ways to enjoy the charming historic district and gardens: See how the holidays were celebrated in days gone by on Salem Saturdays (10 a.m.-4 p.m Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23). Joy of Christmas Evening Tours are offered Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 16. No matter when you visit, don’t forget to stop by the Winkler Bakery to pick up sugar cakes, Moravian cookies and other treats. Tickets for Salem Saturdays are $35 for adults; evening tours are $60.

Nearby: Festival of Lights at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons (through Jan. 1) and Holidays at Reynolda.

photograph by Bob Karp


North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival, through Jan. 14

The festival of lights returns for its eighth year, with 40 new silk displays crafted by Chinese artisans and live performances nightly at Koka Booth Amphitheatre. Purchase Twilight tickets for early entry, or choose the VIP Tour Experience to learn how the lanterns are made and about the history of lantern festivals throughout China. Tickets start at $15. 

photograph by John Warner


Christmas at Biltmore, through Jan. 7

From the 55-foot Norway spruce on the front lawn to the thousands of twinkling lights, fresh greenery and florals throughout the home, the beloved destination will be decked out in yuletide finery. Choose from a daytime tour of the 250-room estate or the Candlelight Christmas Evenings. It’s also the last chance to check out Italian Renaissance Alive, the immersive exhibit highlighting Italian culture, architecture and literature spanning the 14th to 17th centuries. Find more information here.

Nearby: Winter Lights at the North Carolina Arboretum (through Dec. 31), National Gingerbread House Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn (through Jan. 2).

For more things to see and do closer to home, browse our calendar of events.


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