New traditions: Holiday lights in Raleigh, NC

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When it comes to the wonder of the Christmas season, the holiday lights in Raleigh, NC are hard to beat!

Raleigh is a vibrant city with incredible weather — especially at the holidays.

So, bundle up (or wear a sweater) and head out to see the holiday lights in Raleigh and neighboring towns!

Christmas light display of Santa and Noah's ark reflected on the water.

Here’s your guide to the sights and sounds of Raleigh at the holidays!

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Holiday Lights in Raleigh and beyond

Downtown Raleigh Illuminate Art Walk

Local artists have created a number of unique displays throughout Downtown Raleigh to encourage people to think creatively and see the world in a new way. Some are interactive, especially fun for kids.

Oh — who am I kidding — we loved them too!

The displays are not specifically holiday themed, but they are beautiful, and add a lot to Downtown Raleigh. Enjoy the Christmas tree at the Statehouse, the holiday decorations on street lamps and in windows as you tour these displays.

The Raleigh Illuminate Art Walk features different pieces each year, so it’s always fresh and new.

Get hot chocolate, gelato or dinner from a local restaurant as you enjoy a beautiful evening in Downtown Raleigh.

This is definitely a park and stroll event. The website link above includes a map for those who want to plan their stroll, as well as a list of businesses open to serve hot chocolate and other treats — there’s even a link for free parking.

Festival of Lights at Hill Ridge Farms

  • 703 Tarboro Road, Youngsville, NC
  • $20/cash personal vehicle ($23/credit per personal vehicle). Larger vehicles — Buses, RVs, trailers not allowed. Pay at entrance, cash preferred.
  • 5:30-9:00 p.m. nightly through December 30, including Christmas Eve and Christmas night.

The Festival of Lights offers more than a mile of colorful light displays to bring smiles to kids of all ages in this drive-through display!

Tips to make your visit to Hillridge Farms Festival of Lights more enjoyable:

  • Make it fun — wear holiday PJs and fun Santa hats.
  • Bring your own snacks as none are sold on site. Fill a thermos with hot cocoa to make it extra special.
  • The organizers recommend that you plan accordingly for heavy traffic and delays, especially on weekends and the week leading up to Christmas.
  • Monday-Thursday nights are the least busy with much shorter wait times.
  • Arrive early. You may get in line as early as 4:30pm on any evening.
  • Turn off your headlights once you start driving through the Festival of Lights. If you cannot turn off your headlights, leave a 3-4 car length distance between vehicles.

Fieldstream Farm Festival of Lights

The Fieldstream Farm Festival of holiday lights in Raleigh is a popular drive-through holiday light display. Advance ticket sales are required.

The 15 acre Fieldstream Farm Festival of Lights features fresh displays each year. Though, the popular 200,000 light tunnel and 20 foot tall Santa riding a bike are always included.

Drive through holiday lights in Raleigh
  • Fieldstream Farm, 8008 Old Stage Road, Raleigh, NC
  • Advance tickets required, $20/personal vehicle up to 8 people. Prices higher for large vans/buses.
  • Nightly through December 31. Your ticket includes your admission time.

Fuquay Mineral Spring Park Holiday Lights

Mineral Spring Park in downtown Fuquay-Varina is all decked out for the holidays to cheer locals and visitors alike. Stroll through the park to take in the lights. Take fun family photos.

Bring letters for Santa to drop in the mailbox for the North Pole.

White lights decorate trees at Mineral Spring Park in Fuquay-Varina, NC

Mineral Spring Park is the anchor for holiday activities in Fuquay-Varina all season long.

Lake Myra Christmas Lights

  • Lake Myra Christmas Lights, Corner of 3rd Street and Cypress Street in Wendell.
  • Nightly from 5:30 p.m. Admission is FREE.
  • Through December 31.

This Christmas light display has been a favorite of locals for many years.

Each year, the family puts together a show using more than 400,000 lights all synced to holiday music to bring cheer to everyone. Each “show” lasts about 25 minutes and can be watched from your car.

This is one of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions, and is sure to delight your kids as well.

Piper Lights

  • Piper Lights, 5725 Fixit Shop Rd., Wake Forest, NC
  • Drive-through display. Admission is FREE.
  • Nightly through January 1

The Piper Lights holiday display in Wake Forest gained national attention after winning the Great Christmas Light Fight. How lucky are we to have such a dazzling display right here in the Triangle?

This seven acre drive through display runs through several neighbor’s yards — a community treat for sure.

Donations accepted.

Christmas lights -- tree, elves, Santa's Workshop at Piper Lights in Wake Forest.

But, don’t limit yourself to Wake County! There are lots of holiday lights near Raleigh worth the short drive to enjoy.

Meadow Lights in Johnston County

Started more than 40 years ago, Meadow Lights has been a long-standing tradition in Johnston County.

With “The Old Country Store” that sells holiday treats and old fashioned candy, a train ride through the lights, visits with Santa and more, Meadow Lights is a holiday tradition for families throughout the region.

You can see much of the Meadow Lights display from the parking lot and the grounds near the Old Country Store, but the best way to enjoy it is on the train ride through the displays. The train ride is only $3/person.

Kids can also enjoy the carousel ($3) and visits with Santa (free. Photos are $8).

  • Meadow Lights, 4546 Godwin Lake Rd., Benson
  • Walk up display with train ride, carousel and photos with Santa available.
  • Nightly through December 31.

Lights on the Neuse

At Boyette Family Farms in Clayton, North Carolina, enjoy a holiday hay ride through the Christmas light displays.

The mile long, 30 minute old fashioned hay ride takes riders to the banks of the Neuse River and back. Along the way, you’ll pass by holiday light displays that capture the magic of Christmas and celebrate the true spirit of the season. All in all, more than a million lights are used to bring this holiday lights display to life.

There’s also a sweet shop, Christmas cookie decorating (fee), and even Santa’s sleigh to take your own photos.

  • Lights on the Neuse, 1620 Loop Road, Clayton
  • Tickets (available online or at the farm), $11/person over age 2. Convenience fee of $3 for online purchases.
  • Open through December 24.

Mangum Family Christmas Lights

Last, but certainly not least, enjoy Mangum Family Christmas Lights in Hillsborough. With more than 100,000 dancing Christmas lights, this drive through display is set to music!

Located in Durham County, tune in to channel 90.3 FM to hear the music, and feel free to sing along as you enjoy the display!

We hope these holiday lights in Raleigh and beyond will bring you lots of cheer this Christmas season!

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Christmas tree and holiday lights with title text Holiday Lights in Raleigh, NC