7th annual seasonal display near Charlotte, North Carolina
By Bill Bauer
In Concord, North Carolina, the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s race calendar officially ends in late October. But shortly after the dirt stops flying and the blacktop cools down, the city “Where Racing Lives” cranks it up for the holiday season. Beginning with the traditional Eggnog Jog 5K road race through the Speedway’s dazzling lights in November, Concord transforms into a winter wonderland, making it a fabulous destination for revelers, shoppers, and seekers of the sights and sounds of the most wonderful time of the year. Trim the tree, hang the wreath, put up the lights, and get your wish list ready: Speedway Christmas returns for the 7th year at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Charlotte Motor Speedway opened its doors to the public for its first ever holiday light show in 2009. This season, Speedway Christmas-goers will enjoy a bigger, better, and brighter light park. To prepare for the event, for many days crews work 12–hour shifts around regular racetrack activities stringing over 300,000 feet of animated lights throughout an expanded 3.75 -mile course—the longest course in Speedway Christmas history. Memories can be created as you get the chance to drive on the legendary Charlotte Motor Speedway with synchronized lights to music blasting from the grandstand above. When the sun sets over America’s famed racetrack on November 19th, the switch will be thrown and 3 million LED lights and 800 decorations will illuminate the night sky. And that is just the beginning!
At Exit 49 off of I-85, Bruton Smith Blvd. in Concord, a glowing Charlotte Motor Speedway lies dead ahead amidst the largest shopping (Concord Mills) and entertainment destination in the Carolinas. Within a mile are 12 hotel properties, including The Great Wolf Lodge where snow falls nightly, all ready to host your visit, as well as plenty of restaurant options to satisfy your appetite. Out of the 42 nights Speedway Christmas is open, 26 feature a Christmas Village (Thursdays thru Sundays), photos with Santa, a petting zoo, and FOX 46 Movie Nights playing holiday classics on the gigantic 16,000 square foot HDTV screen.
“Whether it’s taking in the lights, enjoying a Christmas movie on our giant HDTV or spending time in the bustling Christmas village at the petting zoo, snapping a photo with Santa or taking a horse-drawn carriage ride, we want our guests to create memories here and make the Charlotte Motor Speedway part of their holiday tradition for many years to come,” said Jonathan Coleman, communications manager at the Speedway. “We’ve completely changed the route this year, but visitors will still get to ride one mile on the track,” adds Coleman. “Once they get in the infield, cars will weave through light displays and have the option of pulling over to the Christmas Village before exiting through the Gate 26 tunnel and continuing along the concourse.”
Don’t miss out on this unusual holiday spectacle, and as they say at the track, “Gentle men and women, start your engines!”
Speedway Christmas will be open December 19 through 30 (closed Christmas Day) from 5 to 11:59 p.m. Admission is $20 per car on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to drive through the light show and $25 per car every Thursday through Sunday when the Christmas Village is open. Military/First Responders receive a $5 discount and a Fast Pass to get to the starting line can be purchased for an additional $10. Admission to the movie nights is included with a Speedway Christmas ticket that can be purchased online at charlottemotorspeedway.com, or by phone at 1-800-455-3267 (FANS).
11/19-20 – The Polar Express
11”24-27 – It’s A Wonderful Life
12/1-4 – Elf
12/9-11 – A Christmas Story
12/15-19 – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
12/20-24 – Frosty’s Winter Wonderland, The Grinch, Mickey’s Christmas Carol
12/29-30 – Frozen
Odds of Encountering Children: High, but zero in your own car unless you bring some youngsters along for the ride.
– Photos courtesy Charlotte Motor Speedway
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