4 Miles, 4 Million Lights, & Drive-in movies at Charlotte Motor Speedway Christmas Lights: Concord, NC

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With more than four million lights, the Speedway Christmas display in Concord, NC, under two hours from Greenville, SC, is one of the biggest in the country and we’re here for it! Thanks to Explore Cabarrus for media tickets and an overnight at the Embassy Suites in Concord so we could review the experience for our readers. All opinions are our own.

Speedway Christmas at the Charlotte Motor Speedway is unique in that you get to drive your own car on the racetrack that is normally driven on by professional NASCAR drivers.  Unfortunately, your mini-van will be going at a snail’s pace, but it’s still pretty cool. On the four-mile drive-thru course, visitors get to view displays consisting of over four million lights!  This is easily one of the biggest displays in the country and there is just so much to see.

The Speedway is about an hour from 45 minutes from Greenville so if you want to stay overnight nearby, we’ve got just the place to do so at the Embassy Suites in Concord. Read on for the full review.

Cabarrus, North Carolina

We think spending a day in this Cabarrus, North Carolina is a great day trip. We’ve had several of our writers spend a lot of time there and have stories on some of the fun things to do in Cabarrus County, NC.  You can spend the day there or make it a weekend with a stay in the Great Wolf Lodge, another favorite destination for us, here at Kidding Around.  Regardless of the length of your trip, we think the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s light display should be on your itinerary.

Embassy Suites in Concord

Explore Cabarrus sent us to stay at the lovely Embassy Suites in Concord, right off I-85 and five minutes from the Speedway. I’ve stayed at Embassy Suites in the past and always like them for their spacious rooms, free breakfasts, and great amenities.

The room we had was a one-bedroom suite with a living space area, full bathroom, and a bedroom with a closed door. The beds were comfortable and there was plenty of space for my two kids and I. But this could easily fit a family of five even since the couch in the living space area is a pullout.

Embassy Suites Concord, NC Pool

The free breakfast in the morning was a hit with my kids. They had pancakes, eggs, French toast, yogurt, cereal, toast, bisuits and gravy, fruit, and a made-to-order omlet and waffle station. They also had coffee, tea, and juice.

This Embassy Suites also had an heated indoor pool, which my kids enjoyed after we went to the light show. It was a great way to wind down the night.

Other Lodging

If you need another place to stay near the Speedway, you can see the map below. This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

The Completely Epic Light Display at the Speedway

There are four miles of more than four million lights at the Speedway Christmas. I’ve been to most of the Christmas light drive through shows in our area so had a decent idea of what to expect but I can say with confidence that I was wrong. This light show is just unreal with so many cool surprises that it kept my kids and I enamored the whole time.

Once you get past the gate, you’ll go right onto the massive track. I had to squash the urge to floor it because really, how many times do you get to drive on a real racetrack? I did no flooring and went very slow with my headlights off like the other drivers, which is exactly what you need to do, so pay attention. If you’re behind someone going super slow, there are several places to pass cars if you want to do that.

There are three different areas of the light display but they all sync up to Christmas music that you listen to through your car radio. The first section is more of a fun light display with Santa doing funny things like zip lining or playing golf with snowballs. The second section is a massive display of flashing lights from the bottom of the Speedway up through the seating area. And then the third section is at the end and you can go through tunnels full of lights – it’s super cool.

The entire light show took us around 45 minutes to drive through.

The Christmas Village at the Speedway

Once you’re done driving through the first two sections of the massive light display, you have the option to stop at the Christmas Village and/or see the drive-in movie playing.

The Christmas Village has a lot to do: a carousel and swing ride for kids, hot chocolate, funnel cakes, fire pits for roasting s’mores, an indoor movie area, vendors, opportunities to take photos with Santa, other opportunities to take photos with a race car, and a neat light tunnel to walk through. There is also food and drinks if you want to get dinner while you’re there.

And then, perhaps my favorite thing – a drive-in movie. The Speedway makes use of one of their huge screens to show different holiday movies. You can park your car facing the screen, tune your radio to the channel dedicated to the movie, eat some popcorn, and watch the movie. My kids wanted to sit on the car and watch the film so that’s what I let them do because #Christmas. They thought it was really neat.

Drive-in movie at the Speedway Christmas

Here’s the movie schedule:

Nov. 18-20: “The Holiday” and “Die Hard” presented by Bojangles
Nov. 24-27: “Christmas Vacation” presented by Cook Out
Dec. 1-4: “The Grinch” presented by Food Lion
Dec. 8-11: “Elf” presented by AutoBell
Dec. 15-18: “A Christmas Story” presented by Cook Out
Dec. 19-25: (closed Dec. 24): “The Polar Express” presented by Lidl
Dec. 29-Jan. 1: “Home Alone 1” presented by Coca-Cola Consolidated

There are also bathrooms right inside the Christmas Village as well as directly next to the drive-in movie, which is really nice since the route does take awhile to drive.

The Christmas Village is closed Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday except for December 19-21, 2022.

Tips to Enjoy the Speedway Christmas

Knowing what to expect helps everyone enjoy the lights.

Wait Times

Because this is such a hugely popular attraction, the wait may be long. This can be said of most holiday light events anywhere during the holiday season. Make sure everyone has taken a bathroom break before heading towards the Speedway and have snacks on hand. In past years, the wait times have gotten up to more than two hours. We went on a Sunday night for the 2022 season right when they opened at 6 pm and while we had the Express Lane pass thanks to Explore Cabarrus, we did pass the main entrance and there was hardly a line.

On busy nights, the express pass will save you about an hour of that two hour wait. The Express Lane has a different entrance (5197 Morehead Road, Concord) than the Main Gate and there are signs indicating where you need to go.

Visiting Monday through Wednesday is suggested because attendance will be at its lowest on those days.


The Speedway has set up port-a-potties along the route for guests to use if they need. You do need to remain in your car while driving but there is plenty of room to pull over for these bathrooms if you need.


Pets are allowed but they must stay in your car the entire time, including if you choose to visit the Christmas Village

Purchasing Tickets

Guests have the option to purchase tickets ahead of time online but they also have passes available at the gate. The tickets you purchase online must be used the date you choose so if you’re not sure when you’re going, you can just purchase your ticket at the gate. Stay tuned to the website to be notified of any closures due to bad weather.

Dress for the Weather

The light show obviously happens during the colder winter months so dress for the weather with jackets, hats, and gloves, especially if you want to go to the Christmas Village, much of which is outdoors.

Tickets for Speedway Christmas

Tickets are priced as follows (please note that the Express Lanes are closed Monday-Wednesday).

(November 21 – 23, 28 – 30, December 5 – 7, 12 – 14, 26 – 28, January 2 – 4 only. Not valid the week of Christmas December 19 – 23. The display is also closed on December 24)
$30 per car (max 15 people)
$140 bus (max 60 people)

Thursday – Sunday
(November 18 – 20, 24 – 27 December 1 – 4, 8 – 11, 15 – 18, 29 – 31; January 1-4. The display is closed on December 24.)
$40 per car (max 15)
$70 per car with Express Lane Access (max 15)
$175 bus (max 60)

December 18 – 25
$40 per car (max 15)
$70 per car with Express Lane Access (max 15)
$175 bus (max 60)

January 5 – 8
$30 per car (max 15 people)
$175 bus (max 60 people)

Military/First Responders/Educator Discount: $5 off –  Purchased at gate only

Honest Mom Review of Speedway Christmas

My kids and I just loved this light show. It was almost overwhelming how many lights there are at the Speedway Christmas. I kept thinking, “how long did all of this take to set up?”! It is very well done and obvious the organizers take great pride in the light display and making sure it’s top notch.

Part of the Christmas Village at the Speedway Christmas

For kids who may have sensory issues, the light show may be a little much in some parts. I thought the Christmas Village and drive-in movie was a great rest stop to just hang out and enjoy the atmosphere before heading out to the last part of the show. And staying nearby at the Embassy Suites was fantastic. I didn’t need to worry about driving home late at night and my kids could enjoy the pool before bed. We were at the light show in its entirety – driving and the Christmas Village – about an hour and a half total.

There’s a lot to do in Concord and the Speedway Christmas show is a great way to end a day or weekend trip to Cabarrus County!

Have you made it out to the Speedway Christmas display? What was your favorite part?

About the Author
Kristina Hernandez is a mom of two girls, freelance writer and photographer. Originally from New Jersey, she is in love with the Upstate and could not imagine raising her kids anywhere else. She enjoys hiking to waterfalls, kayaking, camping, cooking, and exploring all that Greenville has to offer. And she really loves baby goats. Follow her on Instagram at @scadventurer.

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