Christmas light displays in Raleigh, Durham NC neighborhoods

Listen to our daily briefing:

Ready for some illuminated joy? Lots of our neighbors have been busy for weeks untangling extension cords, hanging lights and inflating gigantic snowmen — and the shows are about to begin.

We’ve put together a list of festive — and free — neighborhood Christmas light displays to take in across the Triangle. Most of the displays listed here can be enjoyed from your car, but a few have the option to sit, stand outside your car or walk around.

Scroll to the bottom of the list to see info on the large ticketed light shows in the area, including the Night of Lights show at Dix Park and Magic of Lights at Walnut Creek.

We’ll update this list throughout the month, as we confirm other shows, so bookmark it and check back in.

If we missed something you think we should include, let us know by emailing ask@newsobserver.com (please send as many details about the event as you can).

Important: In all cases, please check the website for each event prior to heading out to verify hours of operation (which can change) and to learn more about rain dates and COVID safety guidelines.

Free light displays

Piper Lights — The Piper family, previous winners of ABC’s “Great Christmas Light Fight,” has been lighting up Wake Forest for 30 years. This one is hugely popular, so expect heavy traffic, especially if you go on busy nights. This is a strictly drive-thru experience, and attendees cannot walk through the display. The show is free, but the family appreciates donations to help with electric bills.

  • Dates: Nov. 26-Jan. 1, 5:30-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
  • Location: 5725 Fixit Shop Road, Wake Forest
  • Info: facebook.com/piperlights

Rogers Family Christmas Lights — This synchronized light show is put on by the Rogers Family of Apex in memory of their son Caden, who died of spinal muscular atrophy. When you arrive, tune your car radio to 93.5 FM to hear the music. The show is free but the family appreciates donations to help find a cure for SMA, at curesma.com.

Gebhardt Family Lights — This Cary light show features 100% RGB pixels with more than 4,000 lights, four singing light bulbs, two LED panels and music.

Happyland Christmas Lights — Another “Great Christmas Light Fight” winner, the Moore family already has their lights up and has posted on their Facebook page that they are adding “more and more each day.”

Lake Myra Christmas Lights — This popular light show, courtesy of the Don Williams family, runs about 25 minutes with a five-minute intermission between shows. You can enjoy it close-up (outside) or stay in your car and hear the music through 103.3 FM.

Lights on Falmouth — The Nelson family decks their yard with lots of lights, Christmas scenes and inflatables — and there’s even music.

  • Dates: Nov. 26-Jan. 2, 6-9 p.m. Thursday-Sunday
  • Location: 3909 Falmouth Drive, Raleigh
  • Info: facebook.com

Goldman Family Lights — The Goldman family of Raleigh are back at it. They have around 45,000 lights, many synchronized to music, plus inflatables (StayPuft is back) and classic 1970s blowmold figures. The family asks that you turn off your headlights as you approach the display and tune your car radio to 90.9 FM.

Christmas Lights on Holt Road — These lights have been sparkling in Apex since 2010, with the light show growing so much that the owners expanded their driveway so cars get closer to the display. There is no charge for admission, but the family does partner with charities and would love for you to support them. Also, the lights aren’t on every night, so check their Facebook page before heading out.

Lights on the Meadow — This Raleigh light display (not to be confused with Meadow Lights near Benson) has more than 40 inflatables and a synchronized music show. Stay in your car, tune the radio to 88.3, and turn around at the end of the cul de sac.

Houston Family Lights — The Houston family of Wake Forest puts on a synchronized light show at their home each year.

  • Dates: Starts the weekend after Thanksgiving and runs nightly from 6-10 p.m. through Jan. 8
  • Location: 9021 New Century Road, Wake Forest
  • Info: facebook.com/HoustonFamilyLights

Christmas Plugged — The Rose of Sharon Baptist Church in Durham is putting on a holiday light display featuring about 40,000 LED lights synchronized to music (tune your car radio to 90.1 FM).

  • Dates: Nov. 26-Jan. 3, nightly from dusk to midnight
  • Location: 4109 Guess Road, Durham
  • Info: rosbc.org or call 919-477-3993

Ticketed light shows in Raleigh, Cary

Magic of Lights at Walnut Creek — This drive-thru holiday lights experience will hit Raleigh’s Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek.

  • Dates: Nov. 19-Jan. 2.
  • Location: Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, 3801 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh
  • Tickets: Prices range from $20-$32 per standard-sized vehicle depending on the day you attend. Note that limos, party buses and other bus-sized vehicles are not permitted.
  • Info: magicoflights.com/events/raleigh

WRAL Nights of Lights at Dix Park — WRAL’s popular night of lights returns for its second year at Raleigh’s Dix Park, and fewer tickets are available to avoid traffic jams. The light show is typically a drive-thru event, but one night this year is available to walk through the event, and two nights are available to bike through it. It takes 15 to 30 minutes to drive through the event in a car.

  • Dates: Nov. 20-Dec. 24. The event will not be held Nov. 22-25, Nov. 29 or Dec. 6. Hours range from 6 to 10 p.m., and you purchase tickets for a 30-minute time block.
  • Location: Dorothea Dix Park — Use the entrance at 75 Hunt Drive, off Western Boulevard. VIP ticket holders may use the entrance at Umstead Drive, off Lake Wheeler Road.
  • Tickets: Admission for a vehicle that holds up to eight people is between $20 and $30, and admission for commercial vehicles that hold nine people or more is between $30 and $35. Tickets are more expensive as it gets closer to Christmas. VIP tickets are $40 between Dec. 17 and 24, and they’re $50 during Christmas week. VIP ticket holders enter through a separate entrance and can expect to wait five to 10 minutes to enter the event, compared to at least a 30-minute wait for general admission ticket holders.
  • Info: wral.com/lights

N.C. Chinese Lantern Festival — One of the state’s most popular holiday attractions, the N.C. Chinese Lantern Festival returns to Cary’s Koka Booth Amphitheatre for a sixth year this holiday season. Traditionally, the Chinese Lantern Festival represents the end of the Chinese New Year — set for February — but this holiday event begins in mid-November and runs through early January. The light show features acrobatic, martial arts and musical performances, along with large-scale lanterns that are handmade in China and shipped to North Carolina.

  • Dates: Nov. 19-Jan. 9. Gates open nightly at 6 p.m. The event closes at 10 p.m., and you must arrive by 9 p.m. to enter.
  • Location: Koka Booth Amphitheatre, 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary
  • Tickets: There are several ticket options, with various levels of flexibility and add-ons to the basic ticket experience. Tickets are required for all guests ages 3 and older. Children 2 and under can attend for free, no ticket required. Any night tickets are $25 each for all guests ages 3 and up. This option offers the most flexibility — you are able to use the ticket for any night of the festival. (Note: Tickets are one-time use only.) Date-specific tickets allow you to pick a specific night you want to attend the festival. Prices vary according to which day you want to attend and the age of the ticket-holder.
  • Info: boothamphitheatre.com

Festival of Lights at Hill Ridge Farms — The drive-thru Festival of Lights opens on Thanksgiving night and does not allow tickets to be purchased in advance.

  • Dates: Nov. 25-Jan. 2, 5-10 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday (closed Mondays and Tuesdays).
  • Location: 703 Tarboro Road Youngsville
  • Tickets: Tickets cannot be purchased online or in advance. It costs $20 per vehicle if you’re paying in cash and $23 if you’re paying with credit or debit.
  • Info: hillridgefarms.com/festival.php

Lights on the Neuse — Celebrate the joy of the birth of Jesus and feel the merriness of Christmas cheer with a Christmas Lights Extravaganza at Lights on the Neuse. A ticket includes a Christmas Lights Hayride and a Santa photo. Children can take photos with Santa each night of the attraction except Christmas Eve.

  • Dates: Nov. 26-Dec. 24
  • Location: Boyette Family Farms, 1620 Loop Road, Clayton
  • Tickets: $10 for ages 3 and up. Children under 2 are free.
  • Info: lightsontheneuse.com/tickets

This story was originally published November 24, 2021 6:00 AM.

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