Add some happy to your holidays. South Carolina's festive Christmas events are guaranteed to put you in the spirit of the season. Here are 10 of the best festivals and shows around the state:
Celebrating the official start of the yuletide season in South Carolina, this popular event is held each year on of the steps of the Statehouse. The evening features holiday music performed by choirs and artists from around the state, photos with Santa, complimentary hot chocolate, the governor's seasonal message and, of course, the lighting of the state Christmas tree.
Old Town Rock Hill comes alive as a charming holiday village with horse-drawn carriage rides, strolling Dicken's carolers, decorated shop windows, a gingerbread house contest and an ice-skating rink. More than 70 events are planned for the four-day festival, including historic tours, art exhibits, theater, dance, music and lots of Santa activities.
A holiday tradition for more than 75 years, this must-see spectacle stretches along Main Street from Augusta to North streets with some 90 floats, marching bands, dancers and walking units.
Candlelight Tour of Homes, Camden
Don't miss the opportunity to visit some of historic Camden's finest private homes decorated in holiday splendor. The self-guided tour begins at Camden Archives & Museum and includes refreshments and musical performances.
Holly Hill Christmas Festival, Holly Hill
Bring folding chairs and prepare to stay awhile for this fun, family-friendly event featuring musical performances, a DJ, live nativity, story time, puppet show, shag dancing, food and craft vendors, a fire pit, pictures with Santa and a Christmas parade.
Celebrate the holidays with historic Beaufort's Gullah community. Festivities include a presentation of the musical, "Gullah Kinfolk Christmas Wish... Freedom Comin'," Gullah reconstruction tours, a Gullah Christmas buffet with an artist showcase, vendor's marketplace and Christmas variety show, Christmas high tea and storytelling and the Gullah Jazz Café Christmas Dinner Theater and Gullah Soul Food Buffet.
Winterfest, Fort Mill
Carowinds transforms its amusement park into an enchanting winter wonderland with five million shimmering lights, a 70-foot Christmas tree, live shows, strolling performers, hands-on holiday activities, artisan vendors and special holiday dishes and desserts. As many as 24 rides will be operating during the event.
Santa on Main, Greenwood
This three-day festival has it all - a PJ party with Santa, Christmas movie, wagon rides, Christmas parade, crafts with Ms. Claus, Christmas cookie crawl, holiday light display, Christmas market, tree lighting and a magical train ride to the North Pole on a 1930s "American Flyer" car.
This 30-plus year tradition kicks off with a "snow" day at Tabby Place in downtown Beaufort. Festivities during the multi-day event include a display of more than 60 beautifully and whimsically decorated trees, music, food from some of Beaufort's best local restaurants and a visit from Santa! The festival will close with a Gingerbread 5K run through Port Royal's Old Village.
Brookgreen Gardens' Nights of a Thousand Candles, Murrells Inlet
Enjoy the beautiful gardens in the soft glow of more than 4,500 hand-lit candles and countless sparkling lights. As you walk the winding paths through the lush foliage, enjoy a cup of warm cider and the sounds of holiday music and carolers singing. The schedule of entertainment also includes Celtic Christmas music, a brass quintet, a Gullah Christmas presentation and a wide range of live music from country, pop and rock to R&B, soul and dance.