Visitors can get into the holiday spirit with this list of spectacular light displays. These displays generally are up from the weekend after Thanksgiving through the end of the year and offer guests walking experiences as well as drive-through displays and visits with Santa for the kids.
Holiday Lights on the River
Saluda Shoals Park, 6071 St. Andrews Road, Columbia | 803.772.3903
Holiday Lights on the River is a drive-through attraction with more than 400 light displays around a two-mile loop through Saluda Shoals Park just down from the Lake Murray Dam outside Columbia. Park and enjoy the Wetland Wonderland Walking Trail, a laser light show and a winter wonderland ride suitable for the whole family. A holiday gift shop and concessions are available, as well as photos with Santa.
Riverbanks Zoo, 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia | 803.779.8717
For 35 years, Riverbanks has dazzled the Midlands with traditional holiday lights displays. In 2023, the zoo began a new tradition better aligned with the Riverbanks mission—Wild Lights at Riverbanks Zoo! This all-new experience shines a light on the beauty of nature and the importance of caring for our natural world.
Stroll through the zoo and discover nearly 60 larger-than-life handcrafted lanterns inspired by nature. From pollinators and plants to endangered (and even extinct) animals, guests will be dazzled by awe-inspiring illuminations around every turn. Plus, enjoy interactive activities, fun photo ops, and seasonal favorites including nightly snowfall and visits with Santa (through December 23).
Holiday Festival of Lights
James Island County Park, 871 Riverland Drive, Charleston | 843.795.4386
Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park near Charleston offers more than two million lights in holiday designs on a three-mile driving tour. But the festival of lights offers much more, including a sand sculpture, a train ride, treats from Santa's Sweet Shoppe and a Victorian carousel. Kids can even try to design their own light display.
Festival of Trees
1110 Celebrity Circle, Myrtle Beach | 843.976.7243
Ripley’s Festival of Trees exhibit proudly celebrates the heritage and diversity of the United States. The themed trees are adorned in decorations and ornaments representing each of the 55 states and territories. The South Carolina tree is over 18-feet-tall and features seashells, magnolias, golf balls, and Coastal, Clemson and USC representation! Test your knowledge about each state’s tree with a customized scavenger hunt.
Harbour Town Lights
32 Greenwood Drive, Sea Pines, Hilton Head Island | 843.842.1979
Harbour Town Lights in The Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island includes a 30-foot Christmas tree and holiday light displays around the marina. The celebration includes a variety of special events on different nights, including concerts, visits with Santa and musical performances. Visitors can also do some good this holiday season by bringing canned goods and new unwrapped toys for children.
Admission is free, but bring a canned good or gift for the Deep Well Project.
Nights of a Thousand Candles
Brookgreen Gardens, 1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet | 843.235.6000
Nights of a Thousand Candles brings the soft glow of 4,500 candles and countless sparkling lights to Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet. Visitors can hear handbells and carolers and enjoy a cup of cider as they stroll through the award-winning gardens and sculptures. The event also features a wide selection of catered dishes, a peppermint forest in the children's garden and an ice garden. Two indoor exhibits also bring the holidays to life through art and horticulture.