(Photo Credit: Getty Images. Ornate wrought iron porches and Christmas garland really set off the beauty of a Charleston office downtown. The historic district is full of old buildings that have been renovated to their antebellum grandeur)
Charleston is always a good idea, but come December the Holy City goes full tilt. Not only are there numerous churches, cathedrals and synagogues — among countless other houses of worship — that make the whole season merry and bright with pop-up shops, carnivals, musical performances and other annual traditions, but the city itself gets an extra dose of sparkle and light, courtesy of several light shows, and it ends with a BANG! Here is a primer for where to go and what you shouldn’t miss when you do the holidays the Charleston way:
The 29th Annual Holiday Festival of Lights
(Photo from holidayfestivaloflights.com website)
Organized by Charleston County Parks, what is arguably Charleston’s biggest holiday extravaganza runs from November to January 1st at James Island County Park. Get there between 5:30 and 10 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, or until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Beyond the driving tour of the lights, the event also features a 50-ton sand sculpture, a holiday train, Santa’s Sweet Shoppe, the Enchanted Walking Trail (for more sparkly fun), a Victorian Carousel and much more!
Candlelight Tour of the Edmondston-Alston House
(Photo from www.middletonplace.org website)
Boasting commanding views of Charleston Harbor, the Edmondston-Alston House elevates the holiday magic when the house is lit exclusively by candlelight and decked out in mid-19th century holiday décor. Arrive anytime between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. on December 14th or January 4th to get a tour of the historic property, and enjoy light refreshments at the end of your self-led tour.
(Photo from charlestonarts.org/programs/holiday-magic/ website)
Bands, floats, marchers and performers make their way through downtown Charleston spreading cheer as they play holiday favorites and interact with the crowd. This year the event was rescheduled to Saturday, December 16th. The Parade will begin at 3 p.m. near Colonial Lake and continue up Broad Street to Meeting Street, ending on Calhoun Street near Marion Square.
Christmas at Boone Hall Plantation
(Photo from https://www.boonehallplantation.com)
Everyone knows about the Avenue of Oaks, but if you head to Mount Pleasant to visit Boone Hall through December 22nd, you’ll find the property dressed in its holiday best with Christmas decorations of every kind. Ornately decorated Christmas trees grace every room of the mansion’s main floor, and the ornaments and decorations are made with local sweetgrass, or cotton and berries grown right on the plantation, and the wreaths are made with leaves from the magnolia trees that grow on the historic grounds. Understated, tasteful and invigoratingly fresh — no plastic here — this holiday display may not be overly lit, but it does light up the season.
…and close out with the really bright lights!
Happy New Year, Charleston!
Ring in 2019 with fireworks over Marion Square! You can get into the spirit as early as 4 p.m. on December 31st with family friendly activities, live music and food trucks. This free event is a brilliant way to kick off the New Year in the heart of the Holy City.