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Light Festivals Welcome the Holiday Season | By Celia McGuire

The most precious part of the holiday season is spending quality time with family and friends, enjoying the music of the season, the church activities and all the traditions that make this a special time. The Christmas spirit can be found all over our beautiful state, and one of the single joys is to stroll around the thousands of twinkling lights and luminaries, amidst laughter and the sound of carols.

Many communities now sponsor candlelight tours of historic places at Christmas, reinforcing the holiday’s ties to the idea of tradition itself, but there are several well known places that glow with thousands of lights.

The Carolina Hotel of Pinehurst Resort will once again this year host the Festival of Trees, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, transforming a golfer’s paradise into a magnificent winter wonderland with lights and bright ornaments. The trees, vignettes, wreaths and an array of Christmas ornaments will be auctioned to benefit the Sandhills Children’s Center on the eve of the Gala Celebration. The Festival can be visited on Sunday from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

If you travel to the Outer Banks, Manteo and Dare County, get ready for the holidays over the first weekend in December with events for the whole family. On Friday evening, the big town tree, right on the waterfront next to the Tranquil House Inn, is illuminated around 6:30 p.m. The event is accompanied by carols, a yule log, cake and hot chocolate. It is a good place to gather and get in the holiday spirit. On Saturday morning a hometown parade rambles through the streets of downtown Manteo. Kids love watching the floats, bands, dancers, local organizations, and, of course, Santa. Afterward, celebrate with food, holiday crafts, entertainment, and a chance to visit with Santa at the waterfront. Or even combine the parade with early Christmas shopping in downtown Manteo.

Christmas at Roanoke Island Festival Park makes this beautiful cultural center alive in December with plenty of good cheer and many lights. Expect also concerts, sing-alongs and children’s performances.

Entering its 16th season, Tanglewood’s Festival of Lights continues to be one of the largest and most spectacular light shows in North Carolina. From storybook scenes to holiday themes, more than one hundred displays and over a million lights fill Tanglewood Park with the splendor and joy of the holiday season.

Beginning Nov. 10 through Jan. 1, Tanglewood’s rolling countryside will be transformed into a winter wonderland of giant snowflakes and whimsical scenes that you will not want to miss. The Park is located just ten minutes west of Winston-Salem on I-40 in Clemmons.

In its 52nd season, the lights glow nightly from Nov. 30 to Dec. 26 at Christmas Town USA in McAdenville. The winner of the McAdenville Elementary School contest had the privilege of turning on the thousands of red, white and green lights.

The lights are on Monday through Friday from 5:40 p.m. until 9:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday until 11 p.m. There is no charge to tour Christmas Town USA, and you can park and walk through town, which is a great way to see the lights. Just bear in mind that traffic is heavier on weekends.

The cooperation of businesses and townspeople alike has ensured that the quiet textile town of McAdenville in Gaston County comes alive every year in spectacular fashion as Christmas draws near.

Whether you stay at home or travel to some other corners of our beautiful state, you will find a special place at a very special time of year, when almost every home and every evergreen tree proclaim the birth of Jesus and the joy of the season.