WinterFest Carowinds: A Holiday Delight for Families

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This holiday season, make great family memories at WinterFest Carowinds. This holiday delight brings lights, music, snow and fun memories the whole family will treasure. We went to our first Carowinds WinterFest last year, and my TEEN daughter declared it must become an annual event! Whoa!

Teen girl in green sweater posing with characters at Carowinds WinterFest with bright trees and Rock'n Roller in the background

Starting in mid-November and running through New Year’s Day, WinterFest Carowinds brings the magic of the holidays to the Carolinas with stunning light displays, festive parades, delightful musical performances, holiday treats and some of your favorite amusement park rides!

LIghts and decorations in front of Fury 325, includes candy canes, gingerbread men, and trees draped in purple and green holiday lights

There’s even falling snow, a holiday tree lighting ceremony, and of course, Old St. Nick!

Special activities at Carowinds Winterfest

Escape the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping and preparation with an evening at Carowinds Winterfest. Each area of the Carowinds theme park offers special experiences for the whole family.

Posing with the inflatable Santa, with the Flying Cobra in the background and trees draped in white and red lights.

Tree lighting ceremony at Celebration Plaza. Each evening kicks off with a tree lighting ceremony at Celebration Plaza. Enjoy the show as performers sing and dance to holiday favorites! You might even find yourself singing along! Then, join the celebratory cheer as Snoopy plugs in the lights to the 70-foot Christmas tree, the centerpiece of Carowinds WinterFest decor. 

More live entertainment. Enjoy more live entertainment throughout the park, including strolling carolers singing holiday classics and Christmas Bluegrass from the stage near Copperhead Strike. Enjoy nightly shows of “Charlie Brown’s Christmas Spectacular” at the Carowinds Theatre and “Cool Yule,” featuring live dancing to pop Christmas hits at Celebration Plaza.

PRO TIP: Check for showtimes when you get to the park and plan your evening around the shows you want to see!

Holiday lights and activities! While the live shows are a treat, the holiday light displays, whimsical decorations and family activities at Carowinds Winterfest transform this winter wonderland into incredible memories.

North Pole Post Office at Carowinds WinterFest, where kids can write letters to Santa and mail them.

As you make your way through the park, enjoy the magic of each area:

  • Artisan Alley: Located in Blue Ridge Junction, Artisan Alley hosts some of the Carolinas’ finest artisans and craft vendors featuring hand-crafted products under twinkling lights.
  • North Pole Post Office: In Celebration Plaza near the giant Christmas tree, kids can write a letter to Santa where it will be posted and sent to Old St. Nick without delay!
  • Sally’s Christmas Crafts: For kids ages 12 and under, join Charlie Brown’s sister, Sally, for arts and crafts at the Crossroads! Kids will get their own bag of crafts to make when they arrive.
  • Snow and Glow at the Crossroads: The buildings around the Hometown Gazebo are covered in sparkling lights to enhance the magic of the falling snow! Listen for the music!
  • Tinker’s Reindeer Roundup: Oh no! The elves left the reindeer stable door open, and the reindeer have escaped. Pick up a map near the park entrance and help the elves find them all.
Adorable snowmen in front of the Ricochet ride at Carowinds. The snowmen are "playing instruments," flute, violin and trumpet as they wear black hats and mittens.

Fun Extras at Carowinds WinterFest

With lots of added extras available, families can take the evening to the next level.

Throughout the park, you’ll find these special extras:

  • Ice Skating at Snowflake Lake: You’ll find Snowflake Lake near Harmony Hall. Skate under the stars as snowflakes dance across the ice. Each $15 session lasts 45 minutes and includes skates. Get there early for skate fitting and to sign the waiver. (Learn more)
  • Jack Frost’s Igloo Village: For the ultimate VIP experience, reserve your own igloo in Jack Frost’s Village for $199, which includes seating for 8, four commemorative, refillable hot cocoa mugs, and reserved seating for select shows!
  • Decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus: For a fee of $22.99, your family can decorate cookies in Mrs. Claus’ kitchen in the Thrill Zone! Fee includes four large sugar cookies, icing and decorations for your family to make your own delectable treat! (Reserve your spot)
  • Photos with Santa: Of course, while Mrs. Claus is baking cookies, Santa gets to hear kids’ wishes! Purchase commmemorative photos of your child’s visit with the jolly old elf himself. He’s hanging out in Bailey’s Barnyard.
Snowflake projected onto the sidewalk at WinterFest Carowinds makes a fun photo op for our teen!

The WinterFest Carowinds Parade

Of course, the highlight of the evening is the WinterFest Wonderland Parade!

With great floats, magical snow, singing and dancing, the WinterFest Wonderland Parade is a treat for the whole family. The parade winds through the entire park, starting at 9:00 each evening. Grab a treat or some hot cocoa and find a spot along the parade route to enjoy the show!

Whimsical parade float with a gingerbread house and gingerbread family at the WinterFest Wonderland parade

Besides the many special activities, more than 20 of the rides will be open throughout Carowinds theme park including a couple of roller coasters and county fair classics like Zephyr and Rock’N’Roller (my favorite ride at the park!)

Christmas tree forest at WinterFest with lighted trees in green, purple, blue and red

During Carowinds WinterFest, many of your favorite food vendors will be available. The park also offers a holiday menu at select locations, serving things like roast turkey, hot cocoa and Christmas cookies. (Food is not included with your Carowinds WinterFest tickets, but the add-on meal plan and the refillable hot cocoa mug are available for purchase — and to help you save!)

Speaking of Carowinds WinterFest tickets and savings, check the website to compare ticket options before you go! This year, Carowinds WinterFest special ticket options include the “More the Merrier Sale,” where tickets for four or more are only $24.99 each. The “WinterFest Bundle Ticket” includes park admission, a single meal and a refillable hot cocoa mug. If you have a Carowinds Gold Pass, admission to WinterFest is free and you can purchase tickets for friends at a discount! Your meal discount is still valid.

Plan your visit to Carowinds WinterFest

Here’s the quick info on Carowinds WinterFest hours, dates and tickets!

  • Carowinds WinterFest DATES: The park is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday the first two weekends of December. Then, the park is open DAILY from December 15-January 1, though CLOSED on December 24 and 25. (Here’s the WinterFest Carowinds Dates calendar link)
  • Carowinds WinterFest HOURS: Carowinds is open from 5:00-10:00 p.m. each date of WinterFest.
  • Carowinds WinterFest TICKETS: General admission Carowinds WinterFest tickets start at $32.99 when you purchase online. That saves you $17 over purchasing tickets at the gate. There are other savings options, as explained above.

And here’s a Map to help you visualize all the FUN!

Map of Carowinds WinterFest rides, attractions, activities and parade route

Celebrate the holidays in Charlotte!

If you’re coming in from out of town, there are lots of great hotels near Carowinds!

Come in for Carowinds WinterFest, and make a weekend of holiday fun adding in other great holiday events in Charlotte!