Take a trip back in time with the all-new county fair at Carowinds

Carowinds County FairTrue Carolinians will agree, the feel of an old county fair is like no other. Now guests can enter into an atmosphere of timeless fun for all ages as Carowinds opens an all-new County Fair themed area in spring 2017.

More than three-acres of family fun await in County Fair, featuring four retro classic rides: the twists and turns of Do-Si-Do glides guests up, down and around on three giant arms; the floorless gondolas on Electro-Spin flip guests upside down up to 63 feet above the ground; Rock ‘N’ Roller’s circular motion paired with music tunes and spectacular lighting is a crowd pleaser; and grab the family for some high flying action on the Zephyr swing ride.

The hardest part of the day might be deciding which regional treat to eat! No fair would be complete without recognizable smells and tastes from some “blue ribbon” favorites including: fried corn, hot dogs, cotton candy and fresh cut fries – yummy! Let’s not forget the ever-popular funnel cake. Guests can indulge the deep-fried pastry the old-fashioned way, or chow down on our bite-sized funnel cake fritters.

The County Fair section of the park will feature a wide range of activities that exceed everyone’s imaginations. Family members of all ages can enjoy the comforting feel of the old fair imagery.

“We combined some long-time guests’ favorites, four classic fair rides, traditional fair food and music, to bring a one-of-a-kind experience families will want to enjoy over and over again”, says vice president and general manager, Pat Jones. “Parents can go back in time and re-live their childhood with their kids and create memories that will last a lifetime.”

It’s not too late to purchase a 2017 season pass or renew a current one at the lowest price of the year at carowinds.com. Season passholders will get to experience the all-new County Fair before anyone else during Carowinds exclusive Season Passholder Preview night Friday, March 24 from 6-10 p.m. The park opened to the public on Saturday, March 25.

5 Things You Should Know About Aerial Adventure Parks

We experienced a taste of Spring this past weekend. The entire family enjoyed being outdoors.

With spring around the corner, I wanted to share a great outdoor activity that needs to be checked off your adventure bucket list. High Gravity Adventures, an exciting high ropes playground located in Blowing Rock, N.C., allows guests to climb, balance and swing from heights as high as 50 feet or as low as 15 feet. Visitors are often surprised to learn certain facts about High Gravity Adventures, so we’ve have a list of five things most people don’t know about aerial adventure parks. This ropes course will be opening back up for the season on March 18!

High Gravity Adventures

1.       A Course for Kids – The whole family can experience aerial adventure together. Kids four-years-old and up are welcome to enter the aerial world on High Gravity Adventure’s Kids’ Course. With a responsible adult present, kids will have their very own elements to discover and explore. They can explore the Kids’ Course solo or have a guardian accompany them for a joint experience.

2.       Choose Your Challenge – High Gravity Adventures includes 75+ different aerial challenges that range from 15 to 50 feet in the air. There are many elements to choose from, such as walking over aerial bridges, crossing tight-rope walks, swinging through floating foot loops and traversing giant spiders’ webs.

3.        No Experience Needed – No experience is required when exploring the vertical world. With challenges of varying difficulty levels offered, there is something to please hardcore adventure seekers as well as people who prefer to keep theiradventure closer to the ground. The aerial challenges are diverse and match up to a variety of skill levels.

4.       You Are the Decision Maker – Unlike zip lines or canopy tours, you get to the make the decision of what route you want to take and the height with which you are comfortable. Whether you want to stay at 15 feet or climb all the way up, the decision is entirely up to you at High Gravity Adventures. There are a variety of ways to make your way through the course, and guests have the freedom to take as many breaks as they want.

5.       Safety is Priority – High Gravity Adventures utilizes state-of-the-art safety systems and the latest technology. The owners and staff of the course pride themselves on adhering to industry leading standards for construction, inspection, equipment and staff training. Before entering the course, each guest will be required to attend a mandatory orientation—“Ground School”—where they’ll be educated on helmet and harness fitting, how to use personal safety tethers, course procedures, and how to enter and exit the course.

Why am I so excited?

I love the four seasons. The different seasons are the main reason why we enjoy living in NC. If I didn’t see snow in a given year, my feelings would be hurt. This girl loves her snow. The snow from today is just a tease to what is coming this weekend. We can expect at least a foot of snow starting Friday. Time will tell how much we will fall here in western NC. I say bring it on Winter Storm Jonas. We are ready.

Of course, I had to let the child in me enjoy sledding this evening. It’s a promise there will be more sledding fun this weekend. We’ll be sure to share our adventures!

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I’ll leave you with this precious video of our shih tzu, Kingston, enjoying his favorite winter activity this evening.

LEGO KidsFest Stops in Charlotte, NC (Win Tickets)

LEGO building was a favorite pastime when I was a young child. My youngest daughter, L, shares the same love for this great toy. Creativity can go on for hours when it comes to LEGOs. It is one toy that does not need batteries and kids can use their imagination to create all types of buildings. If you have a LEGO fan in your family, you will be so happy about the LEGO KidsFest.

The LEGO KidsFest national tour stops at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, NC, from February 19 – 21, 2016, for the very first time, bringing all of the creative hands-on, minds-on fun of LEGO building and experiences together in this three acre activity- and entertainment-packed family event.

legokidsfest Charlotte NC

LEGO KidsFest is for children of all ages and builders of all skills and interests.

Among the many LEGO attractions, families will find:

* LEGO Model Museum: life-sized models made entirely from LEGO bricks
* LEGO Master Builders: live demonstrations and activities from the crew who get paid to play
* Race Ramps: build a custom car, then race it down the ramp against friends and family
* LEGO Star Wars: build and display a Star Wars model
* LEGO Disney Princess: create a princess scene to add to a LEGO story book
* LEGO Super Heroes: pose with a life-sized Spiderman model and more
* LEGO DUPLO: younger visitors can explore imagination through building
* LEGO Retail: purchase LEGO merchandise and official KidsFest tour goods
* LEGO Friends: build for the five empowered friends from Heartlake City
* LEGO Ninjago: spin the way to being a Spinjitzu member
* LEGO Mindstorms: build and program robots and snakes
* LEGO Technic: get hands-on with the cool, realistic vehicles at the booth
* Creation Nation: build your own creation to add to a custom map of the U.S.
* Brick Pile: a gigantic pile full of LEGO bricks for creative play and enjoyment
* Monochromatic Builds: bricks of a single color foster group creativity

“Our 2016 LEGO KidsFest tour is going to delight both new and returning audiences,” said Vince Rubino, Events Manager for LEGO Systems, Inc. “We’ve still got some favorites on the show floor, like the Big Brick Pile, Creation Nation and the Race Ramps. There are also many new and unique activities designed for building, learning and fun.”

Five sessions – all identical and 4 1/2 half hours in length – are held at each tour stop. LEGO KidsFest tickets can be purchased at www.LEGOkidsfest.com. Tickets are $19 for the Friday and Sunday afternoon sessions, and $22 for both sessions on Saturday and the Sunday morning session.

WIN!

One lucky reader will win two tickets to the opening night session, Friday Feb 19 (4-8:30pm). Please leave a comment below telling us who you would like to take to the opening session. Contest Ends Monday, January 18, 2015. Good luck! Giveaway winner: Scarlet 

Top Ten Family Christmas Events in North Carolina

It’s my favorite time of the year. Christmas in the Carolinas can bring forth great joy for your family. North Carolina is an amazing state as we have the beautiful blue ridge mountains on the western side and the great Atlantic Ocean beaches on the eastern side. In no particular order, here are our top ten Christmas events you will enjoy with your family this holiday season!

1. Christmas at the Billy Graham LibraryFrom December 1, 2015 until December 23, 2015,  you and your family can enjoy this event by taking a short drive down Highway 321! Beginning at 5:00 pm each day (except Sunday), you will see the beautiful Billy Graham Library all decorated for Christmas. Your family can enjoy the live nativity scene that offers a glimpse into the first Christmas. Enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides ($7 for adults, $3 for children 12 and under) through beautiful light displays. (Begins at 5 p.m.) Listen to heartwarming sounds of joyful carolers and festive Christmas music and a delightful story time with the kids.

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2. The 23rd National Gingerbread House Competition, the largest of its kind in the U.S. and hosted by The Omni Grove Park Inn, is taking place Monday, November 16! To celebrate the annual event, the edible gingerbread masterpieces will be on display at the property from Nov. 18, 2015, through Jan. 3, 2016. This holiday season, The Omni Grove Park Inn will also be dressing up, displaying 80-themed Christmas trees, thousands of twinkling lights and multiple roaring fireplaces throughout the property — with the sweet scent of gingerbread in the air. Since launching the contest in 1992, the competition remains a beloved celebration at the historic Inn, with resort guests and visitors eagerly anticipating the hundreds of intricate and stunning holiday designs on display.

Grove Park Inn Gingerbread Competition

2014 Grand Prize Winner in Teen Category

3. Speedway Christmas – (November 21 – December 30) Speedway Christmas is returning to Charlotte Motor Speedway and is even bigger and better in its sixth year. Speedway Christmas will have over 3,000,000 lights with a new and greatly improved lights-to-music drive-thru section!

Christmas Village will be open Thursday-Sunday and will include a petting zoo, Bethlehem village, horse-drawn wagon rides, photos with Santa, and more.

Movie nights have been expanded to every village night – Thursday through Sunday! Come see your favorite Christmas movies like Frozen, Elf, and more on a giant 16,000-square-foot high-definition TV!

FrontStretchSpeedwayChristmas

4. Chetola Resort Festival of Lights – Chetola has a beautiful array of Christmas lights that your family can take a stroll or drive thru for free. They also have Blue Ridge Mountain Holiday Packages that your family can take part in and create wonderful Christmas memories.

Chetola Festival of Lights

5. McAdenville Christmas Town – I have been visiting McAdenville since I was a little girl. This will be the 60th year that this little town has turned into a Christmas Town. There is no charge to go see these lights and your will create new Christmas memories each time you go. The lights are turned on December 1st through December 26th. Monday through Friday the lights are on from 5:30 to 9:30pm and on Saturday and Sunday nights, the lights are lit from 5:30 – 11:00pm.

mcadenville

 

6. Beary Merry Christmas officially begins with “Light Up the Season,” an annual family event that welcomes Santa and illuminates Bear Plaza with hundreds of lights Nov. 27. During the following days during this festive holiday celebration, you can enjoy a Mistletoe March, sledding, shopping and other activities.

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Photo Credit: bearymerrychristmas.com

7. Meadow Lights – Located in Benson, NC. Their website says: “The largest and oldest Christmas attraction in Eastern North Carolina!” Meadow Lights began more than 40 years ago and they keep growing larger with lights every year. Some of the displays include an authentic manger scene, carousel scenes, and much more. The Meadow Lights also offers three trains that travel through a colorful area of lights that children and adults can enjoy.

Meadow Lights

8. Tanglewood Festival of Lights – Tanglewood is another fun festival of lights that has been a long tradition of my family’s Christmas! My girls enjoy this so much. We ride through with our windows rolled down and just ohhh and ahhh over all the lights. Each year Tanglewood will add more additions so it is fun to see the new traditions. Also, halfway through the lights, you can park and go through a Christmas shop from local crafters. When you finish shopping, you can go go the the fire pit and stand around and roast marshmallows. The Festival of Lights is open nightly from November 21 through January 3, 2016 from 6:00 – 11:00 pm, including holidays. Suggestion: Attend Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday to avoid long lines.Tanglewood festival_of_lights

Rates are the same throughout the week.
– Family: cars, vans and trucks: $15
– Commercial: vans, limos and mini-buses: $35
– Motorcoaches and buses: $100

Save money by coming on a Discount Night:
On the following nights ONLY, receive reduced pricing!
– Monday, November 23rd
– Tuesday, November 24th
– Monday, November 30th
– Tuesday, December 1st

– Family: cars, vans and trucks: $5
– Commercial: vans, limos and mini-buses: $15
– Motorcoaches and buses: $65

9. Lights on the Neuse – Clayton, NC is the place for a fun family Christmas hayride. Their site says: “The hayride whisks you and your loved ones away to a transformed world of Christmas spirit. Pause to reflect on the true reason for the season, celebrate the joy of the birth of Jesus and feel the merriness of Christmas cheer and magic invade you and your family members with an outstanding Christmas Lights Extravaganza at Lights on the Neuse.” Ticket prices are Adults (12 and over) – $10 and Children (3-11) – $7.

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10. Christmas at the Barnyard – (Newport, NC) Celebrate the Christmas season Barnyard-style! Enjoy an evening farm tour petting the animals under hundreds of Christmas lights and decorations. Let the kids visit with Santa in his big red sleigh while sipping on hot chocolate. Hang out with your family by our bonfire as you listened to Christmas music and watch the lights on the farm twinkle. All activities are included in the gate fee except hot chocolate. Decorated live Christmas wreaths for sale.

Admission: Gate fee is $6 per person, 2-years-old and older; under 2 is free

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