Remember drives on cold December nights, in the backseat of your parents’ car, looking at the Christmas lights? Remember the thrill when you came across an over-the-top house that was draped in colorful lights and amazing displays?
Well, that thrill is even easier to find today. South Carolina is home to some truly amazing drive-through holiday light displays. You don’t need to wait for the one or two tricked-out houses to see that intense display of lights and merriment.
Drive-through light displays are fun for everyone, but they are especially great for families with young children. No need to wrangle toddlers into strollers, no complaints of the cold or sore feet, no need to worry about losing excited little ones in a crowded place in the pitch dark.
And don’t underestimate the coziness factor. There’s something undeniably warm about piling together with a thermos of hot chocolate, Christmas music on the radio, and slowly driving in the dark, all in the warm confines of a car.
Here are just a few of our favorite drive-through light displays.
Saluda Shoals Park’s “Holiday Lights on the River” in Columbia is the biggest lights show in the midlands, with more than 400 individual displays, a laser light show and a “dancing forest” whose lights correspond to music on the radio. Holiday Lights on the River also has indoor activities, including a tube slide, ice skating and visits with Santa.
Conway's “Celebration of Lights” is a spectacular, mile-long show with thousands of lights. Holiday displays line the streets, and balls of lights dangle from ancient trees near the river. Toward the end, a huge Christmas tree covered with thousands of blinking, color-changing ornaments dazzles viewers with a never-ending show of swirling patterns of light.
James Island County Park “Holiday Festival of Lights” just outside of Charleston, is wildly popular and has been recognized by magazines and groups from around the world. And with good reason. With more than 700 displays and millions of lights over miles of roads, it is truly spectacular. There are lots of fun activities for those who want to explore by foot, too, including sand sculptures, train rides and s'mores.
Roper Mountain’s “Holiday Lights,” in Greenville has more than a mile and a half of amazing lighted displays as well as walking displays and activities. And one of the best things about this display? All of the money raised goes to support the amazing educational programs at Roper Mountain Science Center.