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Before you know it, it will be Christmastime again. The lights will go up along the city streets, carols will play on the radio and the parking spots at the mall will magically disappear. But there’s nothing more magical during the holiday season than to visit a town that completely transforms into a winter wonderland. And these five towns in North Carolina do exactly that, and then some!
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Perhaps the most famous Christmas town in North Carolina is McAdenville. After all, it has been dubbed “Christmas Town U.S.A.” and receives visitors from all over the country. Each year, the residents of McAdenville turn their small town into a glowing Christmas scene that stretches for 1.3 miles and includes over 500,000 red, green and white lights. The display begins with a special lighting ceremony where a local elementary school student pulls the big switch. Since the lights are controlled by automatic timers, they will go off on time no matter how many people are still in line, so make sure you schedule your visit appropriately. And there WILL be a line… a long one since McAdenville is one of the most popular Christmas attractions in the state.
If you ever visited Germany during the holidays, you probably know about the infamous Christmas markets that spring up in the streets. But now you can experience the wonder and magic of the Christmas market without having to leave the country. Romare Bearden Park in Charlotte turns into the Charlotte Christmas Village each year, and features specialty foods like strudel, bratwurst, sauerkraut, roasted nuts, Lebkuchen (gingerbread), almond shortbread cookies and the mulled spiced wine known as gluwhein, as well as Christmas ornaments and décor, arts and crafts, toys and other handmade products. Visitors can also enjoy live German music and performances, family-friendly holiday movies and of course, a visit with Santa, then explore Charlotte’s other top attractions.
The town of Benson is home to the oldest and largest Christmas light show in Eastern North Carolina – Meadow Lights. The family-owned and operated business that began over 40 years ago, features 10 acres of light displays including six scenes depicting the life of Jesus Christ. Although you can see the lights from the road, you’ll want to experience the fun and whimsy of the train ride that takes you through the display and keeps you warm on cold winter nights. There’s also a 16-horse carousel, an Old Country Store that sells drinks and over 300 varieties of old-fashioned candy and visits with Santa. In addition, the town also celebrates “Christmas on Main” with a Christmas tree lighting, parade and visits with Santa.
If you want to experience the wonder and beauty of a simpler time, you’ll want to visit the town of Dillsboro, where their annual “Lights and Luminaries” event will take you back. Besides lots of beautiful Christmas lights, you’ll also find the streets of downtown lined with 2,500 luminaries that light your way as you visit the shops, enjoy live music, sip on cocoa or cider and visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. There is also a live nativity and horse and buggy rides each night.
Each Christmas season, the main street of Forest City is lit up with one million lights. Yes, one million. Take a drive or stroll down Main Street and enjoy the lights hanging overhead and wrapped around trees as far as the eye can see. If you visit on the weekend, enjoy a hot cup of cocoa while you relax on a carriage or hayride. Then, enjoy the live Christmas music, shop the stores and take a visit to the ice skating rink. The town also hosts a Christmas parade, visits to Santa’s House and Santa Paws – an opportunity for your cat or dog to get their photo taken with jolly old Saint Nick. For an extra treat, check out Santa on the Chimney, where Santa practices his skills by climbing the Chimney Rock at nearby Chimney Rock Park.