The Sights And Sounds of Carowinds’ WinterFest 2019

Now in its third year (in its current run — following versions in 1983 and 2005 ), WinterFest at Carowinds continues to grow into one of the premier holiday events in the Carolinas.

Following visits in 2017 and 2018 (including New Year’s Eve!), I was excited to return to WinterFest again in 2019, because it’s one of my favorite times of the year to visit the park. The atmosphere is festive, everyone is in the holiday spirit, and the park looks fantastic! Here’s some of what I saw.

Five Million Lights

If you enjoy Christmas lights, you’re in luck, because everywhere you turn, there are strands and strands of lights. The lights come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and are coordinated with their various themed areas.

In some places, the lights even dance!

Oh What Fun it is to Ride

There are a variety of rides open during WinterFest, including four roller coasters: Copperhead Strike, Afterburn, Ricochet, and Kiddy Hawk. A variety of Carowinds’ flat rides are open as well, for the whole family to enjoy.

During my visit (about 5 hours), I rode exactly one traditional ride: the Carolina Skytower. It’s a great way to see those 5 million lights from above!

For a more non-traditional ride, I highly suggest taking a horse-drawn carriage ride through North Pole Excursion (located in Carolina Harbor). At $8 for passholders ($10 regularly), you are treated to a journey through Carolina Harbor, with lights themed to the 12 days of Christmas!

For a full list of rides open during WinterFest, Click Here!

Live Entertainment

At Winterfest, there are so many different live entertainment options, that it’s impossible to catch them all in one night! During my visit, I managed to catch bits and pieces of three performances:

Christmas Bluegrass, which moved from the Harmony Hall Patio to the Busker Jam stage in Blue Ridge Junction.

Jingle Jazz, a contemporary a capella group in the Crossroads Gazebo, and one of my favorite groups, every year.

And a new-for-2019 show, Four Drummers Drumming, which took place in North Pole Excursion. One of my favorite shows at Kings Dominion’s WinterFest last year, I’m thrilled that the toy soldiers have made their way to Carowinds for the 2019 holiday season.

There are many other live entertainment options at WinterFest that shouldn’t be missed! Check them out here.

The WinterFest Wonderland Parade

The biggest addition to this year’s WinterFest was the all-new WinterFest Wonderland parade. Stepping off nightly at 9:00pm, the parade brings so much energy to the park and really gets everyone, from park guests to parade participants, in the holiday spirit. Much like the Grand Carnivale parades at other Cedar Fair Parks (and at Carowinds in 2020!), it is truly a step above typical regional theme park entertainment.

While the parade is best experienced in person (and I might honestly go back to WinterFest just to watch the parade again), here are a few videos of the parade in action.

At designated locations throughout the park — the parade starts in North Pole Excursion (Carolina Harbor), winds through Coca-Cola Polar Bear Plaza (County Fair), Tinsel Town (Thrill Zone), and Carousel Park before a finale in Celebration Plaza (the Main Entrance) — the parade will stop and perform and also interact with the audience.


The parade floats, designed by New Orleans’ Kern Studios, are super intricate and ornate. Several of the characters – Jack Frost, Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus among them, had microphones to interact with the audience while the parade was in motion.

The parade perfomers were amazing as well!

Like I said, WinterFest is worth the trip just to see this WinterFest Wonderland parade. I had a pretty great view in Polar Bear Plaza, standing on a planter. But there are great vantage points throughout the park.

Everything Else

There were several new merchandise options for WinterFest this year, including scarves for Fury 325 and Copperhead Strike.

Carousel Park looked great all lit up!

Even more decorations. It’s amazing how Carowinds is transformed for WinterFest. It’s like visiting two separate parks.

Skating on Snow Flake Lake (by Intimidator) proved to be a very popular attraction!

There were some great reflections around Nighthawk!

Even Snoopy was in the holiday spirit with his Santa outfit on!

And if you go to Carowinds, and don’t post at least one photo of Fury 325, did you even go to Carowinds?

If you want to get into the holiday spirit, and you’re in the area, I highly recommend a trip to WinterFest at Carowinds. Winterfest is open select nights through December 31. For more information, be sure to visit the WinterFest website, and follow Carowinds on Social Media: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter