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Where to See Holiday Lights in South Carolina {2016}

Where to See Holiday Lights in South Carolina {2016} - Columbia SC Moms BlogIt’s official! The holiday season is upon us, and with that comes all sorts of festivals, parades, celebrations and twinkling lights! There’s something special about the night sky illuminated with the glow of lights that puts even the scroogest of scrooges in the holiday spirit, and luckily there’s no shortage of light displays here in the Midlands and the surrounding areas. Check out some of the best of the best South Carolina has to offer!

Anderson Christmas Lights

3215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Anderson, SC 29621

Imagine a place filled with snowflakes, toys, reindeer and even old St. Nick himself. Nope, it’s not the North Pole; it’s “The Anderson Christmas Lights.” You and your family can also special nights with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, visiting Santa’s village, roasting marshmallows and more! 

  • Nov. 24 – Dec. 25, 2016
  • $15 per car
  • 5:30 – 10 p.m. Sun. – Thurs. / 5:30 – 11 p.m. Fri. & Sat.
  • Proceeds benefit local charities
  • Driving tour and holiday activities

Celebrate The Season Holiday Driving Tour at Santee Cooper

Get ready to be delighted! Our Holiday Lights Driving Tour features dozens of brilliantly lit displays with thousands of twinkling lights, supported by local businesses and organizations. Our weekend Holiday Fairs are a place where families and friends can share spirited fellowship against the beautiful natural surroundings of the Biggin Swamp and the Tailrace Canal.

  • Nov. 25 – Dec. 30, 2016
  • $5 per car
  • 6 – 9:30 p.m.
  • Closed Dec. 24 and 25
  • All gate proceeds benefit charities serving Berkeley County
  • Driving tour and holiday market
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and for some walking

holiday lights

Christmas in Hopelands

 135 Dupree Place, Aiken, SC 29803 (but you must take a free shuttle from Citizens Park at 1060 Banks Mill Road)

The 25th Annual Christmas in Hopelands is an enchanting walk-through exhibit that features over 2 miles of lighted pathways and holiday displays with over 100,000 twinkling lights are a must-see during the Christmas season.

In order to visit Christmas in Hopelands, you must use the free shuttle service to the gardens available each night.  The shuttles run from Citizens Park, located at 1060 Banks Mill Road, and will pick-up and drop-off visitors continuously from 5:45 – 9:00 p.m. (last shuttle to view Christmas in Hopelands leaves Citizens Park at 9 p.m.). No general public parking at Hopelands or Rye Patch. Handicap parking is available at 135 Dupree Place.

The Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame, The Doll House, and the Carriage Museum are open and decorated during Christmas in Hopelands for visitors to enjoy. Complimentary refreshments will be served in the Hall of Fame courtyard and outside of the Guest Cottage. The Rye Patch is a destination for fun holiday activities for children. On select nights, Santa or Mrs. Claus will be inside the Rye Patch for photos. Holiday entertainment is provided by local schools, community groups, and church choirs each evening. Spectators should bring a blanket or lawn chair to sit on to enjoy the show. 

  • Dec. 10 & 11, 15 – 23, & 26, 2016
  • Free but donations are welcome
  • 6 – 9:30 p.m.
  • Smores available for $5
  • Walking Tour (must take free shuttle to event)

Dove Street Festival of Lights at Shelter Cove Towne Centre

40 Shelter Cove Lane, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928

Visitors from across the region can experience the magic of the cascading and tastefully tacky Hilton Head Island Christmas lights display. Visitors from across the region can experience the magic of the cascading and tastefully tacky Hilton Head Island Christmas lights display. Park your car, stroll through the lights, falling snow (bubbles!) and even a skating rink in the park, all while enjoying nightly entertainment, shopping, dining and much more! The Festival has even been recognized by USA Today!

  • Nov. 19 – Dec. 31, 2016
  • Free but donations accepted to benefit local charities
  • 6 – 10 p.m.
  • Walking tour

Fantasy of Lights at Swan Lake Gardens

822 W. Liberty Street, Sumter, SC 29150

Part of Sumter’s annual Poinsettia Festival, see Santa and enjoy holiday entertainment, refreshments and more! And kids, remember to bring your letters for Santa! The Santa Express will be there to send them straight to the North Pole! Be amazed as the sun goes down and the gardens come alive with breathtaking light displays symbolizing the holiday season as well as seeing some of our favorite cartoon characters! See Blues Clues, Barney, Bob the Builder, Sponge Bob, Dora the Explorer and more!

For the entire month, the gardens come alive with a display of twinkling holiday imagery created by more than one million lights. The floating Christmas tree has been is an annual favorite for over 35 years, along with Santa, angels and characters of song and story.

  • Dec. 1 – 31, 2016
  • Free
  • Dusk – 9 p.m. Sun. – Thurs. / Dusk – 10 p.m. Fri. & Sat. (excluding opening ceremony on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m.)
  • Driving and/or walking tour

Florence Festival of Lights at Hoffmeyer Place

2441 Hoffmeyer Road, Florence, SC 29501

This premiere light display and holiday event will be fun for the whole family.  After you drive through these stunning holiday lights, stroll through Santa’s Village to spread more holiday cheer with a cup of hot chocolate, a visit with Santa himself, or a balloon animal from Todd’s Twisted Balloons.

  • Dec. 9 – 10, 16 – 18, 2016 (second and third weekend in December)
  • $10 for car, $15 for van and $30 for bus
  • 5:30 -9:30  p.m.
  • Benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  • Driving and outside activities


Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park

871 Riverland Drive, Charleston, SC 29412

Each year, thousands of families create lasting memories at the Holiday Festival of Lights, where millions of multicolored lights illuminate the sky throughout 52 enchanting nights. Journey through three miles of over 700 magical light displays of all shapes and sizes. Park your car and enjoy family activities, shopping, food, entertainment, and so much more!

The Holiday Festival of Lights has been recognized around the country and the world. It was featured as the only U.S. event in Moscow’s Festival of Festivals, Coastal Living recognized it as “One of the Top 10 Holiday Celebrations,” the American Bus Association ranked it as “One of the Top 100 Events in the Nation,” the Southeast Tourism Society lists it as one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast,” and USA Today has named it one of the “10 Best Holiday Light Shows in America.”

  • Nov. 11, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017
  • $20 for vehicles holding up to 15 people ($15 per vehicle Mon. – Thurs. with a canned food donation), $40 for 16 – 30 people ($50 Fri. & Sat.), $100 for more than 30 people ($150 Fri. & Sat.)
  • 5:30 – 10 p.m. Mon. – Thurs. / 5:30 – 11 p.m. Sat. & Sun.
  • Driving tour and outdoor activities

Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park

East entrance at 6071 St. Andrews Rd., Columbia, SC 29210

Saluda Shoals Park will come alive in a blaze of more than a million sparkling lights. Holiday Lights on the River features over 400 themed, animated light displays on a two-mile loop of the Park! Enjoy the Dazzling Dancing Forest with its dancing, lighted trees synchronized to classical and whimsical holiday music. See the three dimensional Victorian Village, Old Man Winter, the holiday classic Twelve Days of Christmas and so much more, all in sparkling lights. Activities offered nightly except Thanksgiving, Christmas eve and Christmas.

Santa will be visiting Holiday Lights December 9 – 23. A professional photographer will be available for photos with Santa. Photography fees and Holiday Lights admission apply. Holiday Lights on the River is a magical experience you won’t want to miss!

  • Nov. 23 – Dec. 31, 2016
  • $15 for cars, $25 for vans, $40 for busses
  • Concessions and activities available at an additional fee
  • 6 – 10 p.m.
  • Driving tour, Santa’s shop, hayride, walking trail and more

Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens

500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia, SC 29210

Experience Columbia’s longest running holiday tradition—the 29th annual Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. The Zoo will illuminate at 5 p.m. each evening with nearly one million twinkling lights and countless animated images. Guests are invited to meander through the park while soaking in the sights and sounds of the holiday season. Plus, Riverbanks is the only place in town where it snows every night.

  • Nov. 19 – Dec. 30, 2016 (closed Nov. 24 and Dec. 24 – 25)
  • $9 Children, $11 Adults, younger than 2 free (all Riverbanks members receive one free visit with a valid membership)
  • Concessions available at an additional fee
  • 5 – 9 p.m.
  • Walking tour

Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens

1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576

See Brookgreen Gardens come to life amid the soft glow of more than 5,500 hand-lit candles and countless sparkling lights from 3 – 10 p.m. Walk the paths with a warm cup of cider, hear the sounds of hand bells ringing, carolers singing, and celebrate the season with family and friends.

The 80-foot-tall fir tree decorated with 70,000 lights will be lighted in ceremonial fashion at 5:45 p.m. every night. An outdoor glass sculpture exhibit will be on display in Anne’s Garden. Created by Conway Glass, guests will see the garden beautifully decorated with new hand-blown glass flowers and trees

  • Dec. 1 – 3, 8 – 10, 15 – 18, 2016
  • Purchase tickets before December and save $1 off adult prices. In December, tickets are $14 for members and $18 for the general public. Children ages 4-12 tickets are $8 for members and $10 for the general public.
  • Dinner available for an additional fee
  • 3 – 10 p.m.
  • Walking tour

Neighborhoods Lights to Visit in and Around the Columbia Area

neighborhood lights to visit in and around the columbia area

In Lexington

  • Mallard Lake Drive
  • Liberty Farm Blvd (The Farm Subdivision)
  • Torrey Glen Drive (Martin’s Grove Subdivision)
  • River Birch Drive (Westbrook Subdivision)
  • Dupre Mill Road (Parkside Subdivision)
  • Mill Wheel Drive (Millstream Crossing Subdivision)
  • Crepe Myrtle Circle
  • Hope Ferry Road

In Columbia and the Northeast

  • Long Creek Plantation
  • Lake Carolina
  • North Springs Subdivision

West Columbia

  • Brookdale Subdivision
  • Hamlet West Subdivision

Where is your favorite place to visit holiday lights?

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