North Carolina isn’t often associated with winter activities like skiing and snowboarding, but lucky visitors to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Carolina Christmas holiday light display will get the chance to skate in the cold weather, thanks to some “green” synthetic ice technology.

A cold-weather skating rink, the Coca-Cola Igloo, will be part of the 2.5-mile drive-through light park and Christmas village at the speedway, Nov. 22 through Jan. 2, 2011. The rink will be located in the North Pole area of the display, near the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage. Skates will be available on-site for rental.

The skating rink will be made of artificial, or synthetic ice, constructed of a special plastic polymer that resembles the consistency of a giant white cutting board. According to Artificial Ice Events, the company supplying the skating rink, the synthetic ice is pieced together in sheets, then sprayed with a special solution that reduces friction and enhances glide and speed. The brainchild of Michael Gallant, a nationally competitive speed skating veteran, the surface closely mimics a traditional ice skating experience.

The rink itself is one of the “green” technologies being implemented in the Carolina Christmas light park. Synthetic ice rinks require no water and no refrigeration, which translates into huge savings in the use of electric energy resources and artificial ice construction.

In addition to the rink, the LED, or light emitting diode, technology being used in the light displays will also give a new meaning to the “green” typically associated with Christmas. The highly efficient LED lights use nearly 90 percent less energy and produce a brighter light than incandescent bulbs. During its 42-night schedule, the displays will use approximately 12,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, less than 10 typical North Carolina households in a given month.

Near the Coca-Cola Igloo will be the Hot Chocolate Café at the North Pole and The Shoppes at the North Pole. The Shoppes will feature crafts including holiday candle-making, artists including world-renowned motorsports artist Sam Bass, snacks and holiday gifts.

Carolina Christmas will be one of the largest holiday light shows in the United States, featuring nearly 500 different LED light displays, a live Nativity scene in a realistic Bethlehem-themed village, carriage rides, a festival of trees and photos with Santa.

Operating hours for Carolina Christmas will be 6 to 10 p.m., Nov. 22 through Jan. 2, 2011. Tickets are available online at www.visitcarolinachristmas.com or at the gate nightly during event hours for drive-up traffic. Admission is just $20 per passenger vehicle, with group and motorcoach packages available. Discount tickets will be available at area Lowe’s Home Improvement stores and on some Coca-Cola products. A limited number of Fast Track tickets that feature no waiting are available nightly for $35 per vehicle. 

Families may also take advantage of The Speedway Club's Holiday Dinners and Carolina Christmas packages, which includes a speedway-provided ride through the Carolina Christmas display and full individual or family-style holiday meals starting at just $20. For more information, call 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.

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