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Charleston, South Carolina for the Holidays

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Christmas Celebrations, Seasonal Events and Festive Fun in Charleston, SC
Photo of a Christmas wreath in Charleston SC
Photo Credit: © Sheridan Alexander
Historic and elegant, Charleston, South Carolina is consistently ranked among the top cities to visit in the United States. The allure of Charleston is multifaceted with a broad range of treasures and traditions to be discovered and embraced over and over. A welcoming and mannerly city of stunning architecture, gracious piazzas, towering church spires, sturdy palmetto trees, moss-draped oaks, flavorful cuisine and sophisticated style, Charleston's storied past and culturally diverse present make it a top year round destination for visitors with each season offering many fun things to see and do.

During the holiday season, Charleston is especially enchanting and festive with traditional decorations, seasonal tours, holiday parades and Christmas entertainment. Unique shopping options and seasonal restaurant menus add to the holiday ambiance. A few annual highlights to consider for your Charleston holiday itinerary include:
  • The Holiday Festival of Lights
    Hundreds of holiday displays adorn James Island County Park during this annual three-mile, nighttime driving tour. In addition, other Holiday Festival of Lights attractions and activities include marshmallow roasts, gingerbread houses, an Enchanted Forest walking trail, carousel rides, holiday shopping, photos with Santa and much more.

    Additional Information: Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission Website

  • Charleston Holiday Progressive Dinner
    A more than 25 year Charleston tradition, this delightful evening experience is an annual Charleston holiday highlight for many locals and visitors alike. Hosted by Circa 1886 Restaurant and Charming Inns of Charleston, the progressive dinner includes hors d'oeuvres at a the historic Kings Courtyard Inn, followed by a three-course dinner at the charming Circa 1886 Restaurant, situated on the grounds of Wentworth Mansion in the original carriage house. Coffee and dessert end the evening at the historic John Rutledge House Inn. All three venues are located within the downtown historic district and guests travel in groups from place to place by carriage. Along the way, the carriage drivers offer informative tidbits about Charleston's history, architecture, holiday traditions and more. The evening takes about three hours to complete.

    Related: The annual Dickens Dinner at Circa 1886 offers a Charles Dickens themed Victorian evening, featuring a lively retelling of A Christmas Carol and a four-course dinner inspired by the novel.

    Additional Information: Circa 1886 Website or Charming Inns of Charleston Website Blog

  • Middleton Place
    Middleton Place, one of Charleston's many National Historic Landmarks, is an 18th century rice plantation set amid acres of the country's oldest landscaped gardens. During the holiday season, Middleton Place offers an array of one-day and two-day Christmas-themed programs and events. November events include: a wine stroll, featuring wine and beer tasting, a bonfire, live music and more; a Thanksgiving Day Buffet in the Pavilion or dining in the Middleton Place Restaurant; and a Thanksgiving weekend (scheduled days) open-air market with festive carols, hot cider and treats, local artisans and more.

    December events at Middleton Place include: a Family Yuletide evening of storytelling by a cozy fire, caroling and more; Grand Illumination: Christmas 1782 features costumed interpreters and actors, dramatic tableaux and presentations, historic beverages and traditional buffet dinner. The event recalls a celebration at the end of the Revolutionary War.

    Related: Christmas 1860 at the Edmondston-Alston House in downtown Charleston re-enacts a final luxurious Christmas in Charleston before the start of the Civil War. Costumed historians provide continuous performances, while Victorian decorations, candlelight, hot cider, Christmas carols and traditional African-American and Gullah spirituals enhance the experience of this event, scheduled on two Friday evenings.

    Additional Information: Middleton Place Website - Special Events

  • Marion Square
    Marion Square, located at 329 Meeting Street at Meeting and Calhoun Streets, offers several family oriented activities during the holidays each year. Holiday ceremonies include the lighting of the Charleston Christmas Tree, Chanukah in the Square and the lighting of candles on the Kwanzaa Kinari. The annual Charleston Christmas Parade steps off from here in the beginning of December, and a family friendly, non-alcoholic and admission-free celebration of the arts takes place on New Year's Eve. On scheduled days, enjoy the Holiday Farmers Market.

    Additional Information: CharlestonArts.org - Holiday Magic in Historic Charleston

  • Holiday Parade of Boats
    Held in early December on the same day as the City of Charleston’s Official Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Marion Square (with enough time scheduled to enjoy both events), this colorful annual nautical parade takes place in Charleston Harbor.

    Additional Information: Southeast U.S. Holiday Boat Parades, Flotillas and Regattas

  • Wine Under the Oaks at Boone Hall Plantation
    This annual afternoon of fine wines, gourmet food, wine and food pairings, a champagne tent, ice sculptures and entertainment takes place in early December on the picturesque back lawn of antebellum Boone Hall Plantation. Adding to the festive atmosphere, the Plantation will be decorated for the holidays. All attendees must be 21 years of age or older.

    Additional Information: Boone Hall Plantation Website - Special Events

  • More Holiday Programs, Entertainment, Tours and Events
    Holiday music fills the air in Charleston throughout the season featuring favorite holiday tunes, carols, pops, gospel and more at several venues, including the Dock Street Theater, the Circular Church, Sottile Theatre, North Charleston Performing Arts Center and other locations. In addition, there are holiday-themed tours, dining events and much more in downtown Charleston and nearby communities.

    Additional Information: Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau - Christmas in Charleston Website
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