Guide to Holiday Lights in South Carolina

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Few things signal the kick off the holiday season more than lights going up. It’s a wonderful time of year already, but something about lights sparkling throughout the season makes this time of year feel magical. Thankfully, there are plenty of places to see these lights in Columbia, and all over the state. Check out some of the best of the best South Carolina has to offer!

26th Annual Anderson Christmas Lights

3215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Anderson, SC 29621

Imagine a place filled with snowflakes, toys, reindeer and even old St. Nick himself. Nope, it’s not the North Pole; it’s “The Anderson Christmas Lights.” You and your family can also special nights with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, visiting Santa’s village, roasting marshmallows and more!

  • Nov. 29 – Dec. 23, 2019
  • $10 per car/$20 per van/$50 per bus
  • Gates open at 5:30 p.m. daily
  • Proceeds benefit local charities
  • Driving tour and holiday activities

Celebrate The Season Holiday Driving Tour at Santee Cooper

Celebrate The Season is an annual charitable holiday event, powered by Berkeley Electric Cooperative, organized by Santee Cooper, Old Santee Canal Park and the Town of Moncks Corner, that honors the communities of the Lowcountry and Santee Cooper Country with a month-long holiday celebration. Enjoy the Holiday Lights Driving Tour with dozens of brilliantly lit displays and thousands of twinkling lights, supported by local businesses and organizations.

  • Nov. 29 – Dec. 30, 2019 (closed Dec. 24 – 25)
  • $5 per car
  • 6 – 9 p.m.
  • All gate proceeds benefit charities serving Berkeley County
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and for some walking
  • Driving tour

Christmas in Hopelands

 135 Dupree Place, Aiken, SC 29803 (but you must take a free shuttle from Citizens Park at 1060 Banks Mill Road)

Guests can spend time with friends and family as they stroll through Hopelands Gardens, taking in the sights and sounds of the holiday season, while sipping hot cocoa or apple cider. This enchanting walk-through exhibit features over two miles of lighted pathways and illuminated displays. With over 100,000 twinkling lights in the peaceful setting of Hopelands Gardens, this event should be at the top of your holiday bucket list.

The Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame, The Doll House, The Clifford S. Gerde Carriage Museum, Rye Patch, and the Rye Patch Stables will be open and decorated for visitors to enjoy. The Rye Patch Stables feature the exhibit; “Aiken’s Historic Horses”.

Rye Patch will be the destination for fun holiday activities for children. Santa Claus will be there to hear your child’s Christmas wishes and take what is sure to become a treasured photo. After visiting Santa, children can stop by the craft station to make a keepsake to take home. Parents must accompany children at all times. Rye Patch will also host a Labyrinth display where guests can learn more about the Labyrinth in Hopelands. Live entertainment is provided on select nights, either on the Roland H. Windham Performing Arts Stage at 7:00 p.m. or throughout Hopelands Gardens when traditional Christmas caroling takes place. Spectators should bring a blanket or use the natural amphitheater seating to enjoy the shows.

  • Dec. 14 – 23 & 26, 2019
  • Free but donations are welcome
  • 6 – 9:30 p.m.
  • Smores available for $5
  • Walking Tour (must take free shuttle to event)

Harbour Town Lights in The Sea Pines Resort

32 Greenwood Drive, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Enjoy the lights! Stroll along the harbour and enjoy the illuminated seasonal figures, with the centerpiece of the display being a towering Christmas tree. Harbour Town is the perfect place to be this holiday season with live entertainment and activities. The official tree lighting will take place just before Gregg Russell’s concert on Friday, November 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Make a difference. While you’re enjoying the holiday season, you can help Deep Well make a difference in someone else’s life, too. Bring a canned good or two, or a new unwrapped child’s toy and drop them in the “Well” by the Liberty Oak stage. .

  • Nov. 29, 2019 – Jan. 1, 2020
  • Free but donations accepted to benefit local charities
  • 7:30 p.m. – midnight
  • Walking tour

Holiday Lights Safari

2325 Hampton Road, Wellford, SC 29385

Drive through millions of sparkling Holiday Lights decorating our nearly 100 acre animal park then take some time to stroll in to see Santa and his many animals in the barns at Santa’s Village where relaxed fun sets the tone for time with family and friends. Warm your hands or roast marshmallows by the bonfire, and visit Mrs. Claus’ attic for an incredible panoramic view of the lights. Snap that selfie with a zebra, camel, or one of many animals waiting to meet you. Finish your evening off with a drive through the peaceful nativity area and more lights displays before heading home.  For an additional $10 (a separate ticket or payable at the gate) you can drive through our Enchanted Deer Forest where you hand-feed animals (animal food provided) from the comfort of your car.  There you can see and feed Sika and Fallow Deer, zebra, donkeys, and other gentle hoofstock.

  • Nov. 15, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020 (closed certain days so check website ahead of time)
  • $6 Adults & Children General Admission
  • Free Children under 24 months
  • 6 – 9 p.m.
  • Driving tour and outside activities

Fantasy of Lights at Swan Lake Gardens

822 W. Liberty Street, Sumter, SC 29150

The young and old alike will marvel at this spectacular display of lighted imagery as Swan Lake Iris Gardens glitters with thousands of twinkling lights. A train’s wheels spin, swans take flight pulling Santa’s sleigh and angels blink with the breathtaking array of colored splendor as you drive through one of the state’s largest holiday light displays.

  • Dec. 1 – 31, 2019
  • Free
  • Sunday – Thursday, Dusk – 9 p.m. | Friday – Saturday, Dusk – 10 p.m.,
  • Driving and/or walking tour


Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park

871 Riverland Drive, Charleston, SC 29412

Featuring over 700 displays and two million lights, the Holiday Festival of Lights is a cherished holiday tradition for many families throughout Charleston and beyond. James Island County Park comes alive with illumination, and is a great place to capture the magic of the holiday season.

The Holiday Festival of Lights has been recognized around the country and the world. It was featured as the only U.S. event in Moscow’s Festival of Festivals, Coastal Living recognized it as “One of the Top 10 Holiday Celebrations,” the American Bus Association ranked it as “One of the Top 100 Events in the Nation,” and it was most recently named one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast” by the Southeast Tourism Society.

More Than Lights…
More than just a driving tour, the Holiday Festival of Lights invites you to park your cars and explore all that is offered:

– Magnificent sculpture made from over 50 tons of sand
– An up-close look at the lights on the holiday train
– Mouth-watering treats from Santa’s Sweet Shoppe
– Giant greeting cards created by local students
– Victorian carousel

  • Nov. 15 – Dec. 31, 2019
  • $20 for vehicles holding up to 15 people ($15 per vehicle Mon. – Thurs. with a canned food donation), $40 for 16 – 30 people ($50 Fri. – Sun.), $100 for more than 30 people ($150 Fri. – Sun.)
  •  Sunday – Thursday, 5:30 – 10 p.m. | Friday – Saturday, 5:30 – 11 p.m.
  • Driving tour and outdoor activities

Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park

East entrance at 6071 St. Andrews Rd., Columbia, SC 29210

Experience the magic as Saluda Shoals Park comes alive in a blaze of more than a million sparkling lights. Journey through colorful lights and over 400 animated light displays of all shapes and sizes! Create lasting family memories this year at Holiday Lights on the River.

Fun-filled family activities will be offered every night except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas night. Visitors can:
– Slide down the winter wonder ride tube slide
–  Ride the Hayride or the Saluda Shoals train through the lights
– Walk the lighted trail to the Wetland and enjoy a laser light show
– Make a craft
– Visit Santa’s Claus’et Gift Shop
– Roast marshmallows
– Visits and photos with Santa Dec. 13–23 only!
– Nominal fees ($1-$10) for activities with Holiday Lights admission.

  • Nov. 27 – Dec. 31, 2019
  • $20 for cars, $40 for vans, $60 for buses
  • Concessions and activities available at an additional fee
  • 6 – 10 p.m.
  • Driving tour, Santa’s shop, hayride, walking trail and more

Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens

500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia, SC 29210

Experience Columbia’s longest running holiday tradition—the 30th annual Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. The Zoo will illuminate at 5 p.m. each evening with nearly one million twinkling lights and countless animated images. Guests are invited to meander through the park while soaking in the sights and sounds of the holiday season. Plus, Riverbanks is the only place in town where it snows every night. Through Dec. 23, visit with Santa every night starting at 6 p.m.

  • Nov. 23 – Dec. 30, 2019 (select days)
  • $10 Children (ages 2-12 years), $12 Adults, younger than 2 free (all Riverbanks members receive one free visit with a valid membership)
  • Concessions available at an additional fee
  • 5 – 9 p.m.
  • Walking tour

Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens

1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576

Experience one of the most beloved holiday events in the Southeast, Nights of a Thousand Candles. See Brookgreen Gardens come to life amid the soft glow of more than 2,700 hand-lit candles and millions of sparkling lights. Walk the paths with a warm cup of cider, hear the sounds of holiday music, carolers singing, and celebrate the season with family and friends!

Named “Best Christmas Lights in South Carolina” by Travel+Leisure Magazine. Winner of the Charles A. Bundy award for excellence in tourism from South Carolina Parks Recreation and Tourism.

  • Dec. 5- 8 | Dec. 12 – 15 | Dec. 19 – 21, 2019
  • Member adult tickets are $20 and member child tickets (ages 4-12) are $12
  • General Public adult tickets are $25 and child tickets are $15
  • Special rates for groups of 15 or more arriving together
  • Advance tickets only and the number of tickets sold each night will be limited
  • You will need to select a specific date when you purchase tickets
  • Dinner available for an additional fee
  • 3 – 10 p.m.
  • Walking tour

Carolina Lights

1200 Rosewood Drive, Columbia, SC 29201

The South Carolina State Fair will usher in the holiday season with its first drive-through light show. The drive-through light experience will feature more than 100 individual LED light displays along a mile-plus stretch in the Lexington Medical Center Fair Park in the South Carolina State Fairgrounds.

The light display is being debuted as part of the South Carolina State Fair’s 150th anniversary and will feature the Twelve Days of Christmas, a dancing field of Christmas trees, a 25-foot-tall Frosty with dancing arches and presents, and much more.

  • Dec. 7 – 28, 2019
  • Cars – $20, Mini Buses (9-24 passengers) – $35, Vehicles over 25 passengers – $70
  • Monday – Thursday, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. | Friday – Sunday, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Driving tour

Neighborhood Lights to Visit In and Around Columbia

In Lexington

  • Mallard Lake Drive
  • Liberty Farm Blvd (The Farm Subdivision)
  • Torrey Glen Drive (Martin’s Grove Subdivision)
  • River Birch Drive (Westbrook Subdivision)
  • Dupre Mill Road (Parkside Subdivision)
  • Mill Wheel Drive (Millstream Crossing Subdivision)
  • Crepe Myrtle Circle
  • Hope Ferry Road

In Columbia and the Northeast

  • Long Creek Plantation
  • Lake Carolina
  • North Springs Subdivision

West Columbia

  • Brookdale Subdivision
  • Hamlet West Subdivision

Where is your favorite place to visit holiday lights?

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Tiffany Nettles
Tiffany traded in back-to-back business meetings and PowerPoint presentations, for sippy cups and play dates – leaving her corporate job behind to become a stay at home mom to her 16-month-old toddler. To say life is different is an understatement, and she now has a new found love and respect for the “hardest” (and best!) job she’s ever had. A native South Carolinian, Tiffany is best described as kind-hearted and friendly, with a quick sense of humor. When she’s not toting her little one around town to the latest kid friendly activity, you can find her enjoying a latte at Drip, catching up on the latest celebrity gossip magazines, or watching old reruns of Beverly Hills 90210 from the early 90′s. She received her Masters Degree in Integrated Communications from the University of South Carolina in 2007, and enjoys reading, writing and all things "mom."

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