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Guide to Holiday Events Around Columbia

Guide to Holiday Events Around Columbia | Columbia SC Moms BlogGet out your calendars and start making your plans! There are more than enough activities in the Midlands to keep your family busy this holiday season –  and many are happening RIGHT NOW. From light displays to visits with Santa, performances to family outings – you’ll find something to keep everyone in the holiday spirit! 

Columbiana Centre

Date: Now – Dec. 24, 2017

Time: Monday – Saturday (noon until 8 p.m.), Sunday (12 – 6 p.m.); Extending holiday hours Dec. 16 – 23 : Monday – Saturday (9 a.m. – 9 p.m.), Sunday, Dec. 18 (10 a.m. – 9 p.m.); Christmas Eve (9 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Break: 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.)

Location: 100 Columbiana Circle, Columbia 29212 (inside the mall at Belk Court)

Cost: Prices vary depending on the package you choose

Details: Make a reservation to see Santa and spend less time in line. Plus, save 30% on your photos by pre-ordering a package online. Visit before Dec. 9 to save an extra $5. Receive a coupon for $30 to spend towards Tiny Prints. Visit the Santa photo checkout area for details. Reservations and photo purchases are not required to visit Santa.

Santa’s Gingerbread Jamboree

Dates: Every weekend Nov. 25 – Dec. 24, 2017

Time: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Location: Edventure Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais Street, Columbia 29201

Cost: FREE with museum admission

Details: Santa is coming! Santa is coming! EdVenture invites all families to enjoy the Gingerbread Jamboree which will be filled activities each weekend November 25 through December 24. This holiday series for children will feature photos with Santa, mini gingerbread house decorating, festive face painting and holiday arts and crafts. Santa will be at EdVenture Nov. 25 and Dec. 2, 16, and 23.

Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and sensory processing differences are invited for a sensory-friendly time with Santa and in the museum from 5-7 p.m. on December 16. This program will allow families with children who have developmental disabilities to have their picture taken with Santa in a calm, less intimidating environment. This area will be sensory friendly, with lower lighting and quieter surroundings. Guests will have the opportunity to explore the museum in a safe and accepting environment and enjoy interactive, hands-on activities.

Train Rides with Santa 2017 – SC Railroad Museum

Dates: Dec. 2 | Dec. 9 | Dec. 16, 2017

Times: Train Rides with Santa, 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Twilight Santa Express, 5:30 p.m.

Location: 110 Industrial Park Road, Winnsboro 29180

Cost: Train Rides with Santa: First Class car $20 per person; Santa Train $12 per adult, $9 per child 3-12. Twilight Santa Express: $20 per person.

Details: All aboard the Rockton, Rion and Western Railroad to take an hour long scenic train ride with Santa! Seating is limited so order your tickets here before you go!

Sundaes with Santa

Date: Dec. 3, 2017

Time: noon – 4 p.m.

Location: Cantey and Goodman Buildings at South Carolina State Fairgrounds, 12oo Rosewood Drive, Columbia 29201

Cost: $8 per person (12 months and under are admitted FREE), parking $5, General Admission tickets and ticket stubs from Preview Party and Ladies Night Out CAN be used by ADULTS ONLY for entry during Sundaes with Santa.

Details: Dress your children in their Sunday best for photos with Santa, enjoy games and crafts with your family, and top off the fun with an ice cream sundae bar!

Breakfast with Santa

Date: Dec. 16, 2017

Time: 8 – 11 a.m.

Location: Historic Robert Mills Carriage House, 1616 Blanding Street, Columbia 29201

Cost: Adults $18 (members $15); Children $9 (members $7); under 3 free (reservations required)

Details: Join Historic Columbia for a holiday treat to remember! Enjoy a continental breakfast in our cozy Carriage House while listening to seasonal music. After your meal, view the decorated halls of the Hampton-Preston Mansion, see a Victorian Christmas tree, make a holiday craft to take home, and don’t forget to take a picture with our Victorian Santa Claus!

Visits with Santa

Date: Dec. 16 – 23, 2017

Time: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Location: South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais St., Columbia 29201

Cost: General admission is $8.95 for adults, $7.95 for seniors and $6.95 for children 3-12. Children 2 and under are free.

Details: Get your cameras ready for a special visitor from the North Pole! During the week before Christmas, Santa will make several visits to the State Museum from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. daily. Guests will also get to choose their own magical Santa setting for a family picture! Visits with Santa are included with museum general admission, Green Screen Santa pictures require an additional fee.

The Carolina Carillion

Date: Dec. 2, 2017

Time: 9:45 a.m.

Location: The parade will begin at Gervais and Bull Streets and proceed west on Gervais. It will pass in front of the State House and end in the Vista on Park Street.

Cost: Free

Details: The 64th Annual Carolina Carillion Holiday Parade will feature A Superhero’s Holiday entries from all across the state of South Carolina! Entertainment will be provided by local churches, marching bands, drill teams, local celebrities, decorative floats, and Santa Claus will be there all the way from the North Pole.

Lexington Christmas Parade

Date: Dec. 3, 2017

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Location: Main Street in Lexington

Cost: Free

Details: Join us for a family friendly parade!

Cayce-West Columbia Holiday Parade of Lights

Date: Dec. 9, 2017

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Location: The parade begins in front of the Cayce Municipal Complex, located at 1800 12th Street, and will proceed down 12th to 12th Street & Hwy 1 in West Columbia.

Cost: Free

Details: The Greater Cayce – West Columbia Holiday Parade of Lights is one of the most anticipated holiday parades in the Midlands of South Carolina! Grab a spot early because this parade is a local favorite!

Blythewood Christmas Parade

Date: Dec. 10, 2017

Time: 3 – 4 p.m.

Location: Parade begins at Blythewood High School, left on McNulty Road, left on Boney Road, left on Blythewood Road, back to Blythewood High School

Cost: Free

Details: Blythewood’s Transfiguration Church has officially taken over as the new organizer for the Blythewood Christmas Parade. All funds raised will go to the Christian Assistance Bridge in Blythewood, an organization devoted to supporting those in need in our community.

Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo

Date: Nov. 18 – Dec. 30, 2017 (Closed Nov. 23, Dec. 24 and 25)

Time: 5 – 9 p.m.

Location: Riverbanks Zoo, 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia 29210

Cost: $11 Adults / $9 Children ages 2–12. All Riverbanks members receive one free visit. Order tickets here. Members get one free admission to the Lights Before Christmas event.

Details: Experience Columbia’s longest running holiday tradition—the 30th 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.

Holiday Lights on the River

Date: Nov. 22 – Dec. 31, 2017

Time: 6 – 10 p.m.

Location: Saluda Shoals, East entrance at 6071 St. Andrews Rd., Columbia 29210

Cost: $15 per car; $25 per 15-passenger  van; $40 per bus

Details: 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 8 – 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!

40th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony in Cayce

Date: Nov. 30, 2017

Time: 6 p.m.

Location: Cayce Municipal Complex, 1800 12th St., Cayce 29033

Cost: Free

Details: This event is sponsored by The Woman’s Club of Cayce and includes greetings from city officials, holiday thoughts, musical selections, and a visit from Santa. 

Harborside Festival of Lights at Lake Carolina

Date: Dec. 9, 2017

Time: 5 p.m.

Location: Town Center at Lake Carolina, 20 Helton Drive, Columbia 29229

Cost: Free

Details: Enjoy live musical entertainment, horse-drawn carriage rides, photos with Santa, holiday treats, millions of twinkling lights, over sixteen hundred luminaries and dozens of decorated trees at this annual holiday celebration You can also get in the holiday spirit at the Jeep Rogers Harborside Lights 5K Run/Walk around Lake Carolina among thousands of twinkling lights! 1 mile Kids Fun Run also available! Harborside Lights is free to attend. For race registration visit, 5K Run/Walk starts and ends at Town Center, where runners will be able to enjoy this wonderful event.

The Polar Express 4-D Experience

Date: Nov. 11, 2017 – Jan. 1, 2018

Time: Times vary – check schedule

Location: South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais St., Columbia 29201

Cost: General admission is $8.95 for adults, $7.95 for seniors and $6.95 for children 3-12. Children 2 and under are free. 4-D theater is extra depending on package purchased.

Details: You’re invited on an extraordinary 4-D adventure this holiday season on THE POLAR EXPRESS! When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Show Run Time: 15 mins.

The Star of Bethlehem

Date: Nov. 11, 2017 – Jan. 5, 2018

Time: Times vary – check schedule

Location: South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais St., Columbia 29201

Cost: General admission is $8.95 for adults, $7.95 for seniors and $6.95 for children 3-12. Children 2 and under are free. Planetarium is extra depending on package purchased.

Details: This full dome planetarium experience takes viewers back in time to Jerusalem and Bethlehem to investigate fascinating ideas about the “Christmas Star.” The show presents historical and scientific facts to unravel this 2,000-year old mystery through a special audiovisual display featuring popular Christmas carols. Show Run Time: 25 mins.

Laser Holidays

Date: Nov. 11, 2017 – Jan. 5, 2018

Time: Times vary – check schedule

Location: South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais St., Columbia 29201

Cost: General admission is $8.95 for adults, $7.95 for seniors and $6.95 for children 3-12. Children 2 and under are free. Planetarium is extra depending on package purchased.

Details: This is an exciting and unique way to celebrate the season through a display of colorful and dramatic laser lights choreographed to a mix of holiday music favorites, including “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Deck the Halls,” “White Christmas” and more. Show Run Time: 30 mins.

Columbia Classical Ballet – The Nutcracker

Date: Dec. 1 – 3, 2017

Time: December 1 ( 7:30 p.m.), December 2 (3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.), December 3 (3:00 p.m.)

Location: Koger Center for the Arts, 1051 Greene Street, Columbia 29201

Cost: Tickets are $5 to $35

Details: The Nutcracker Ballet is a worldwide Christmas favorite. Would you like to take your little prince or princess to see a kid-friendly educational showing? The Educational Outreach Program offers a showing on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 at 10 a.m. Seating is just $5 per person and you can request a seat here.

A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall 

Date: Dec. 1 – 16, 2017

Time: Show times vary. See specific times here.

Location: Trustus Theater, 520 Lady Street, Columbia 29201

Cost: Weekend $28, Weekdays and Matinees $25, $20 students

Details: Trustus Theatre’s resident sketch comedy and improv troupe is creating an original piece that just might become a holiday staple here in Columbia! The Richland Fashion Mall lies dormant during another holiday season that should be bustling with shoppers and children jumping on Santa’s lap. This year is particularly hard, and the owner of the resident Christmas store is going to need a real miracle to keep her livelihood. Throw in visits from the owners of the glass figurine store next door (featuring Trustus Company member Gerald Floyd), uppity employees from the popular big-chain book store down the way, and hijinks involving many other wild and lovable mallrats – let’s just say it’s beginning to look a lot like one crazy Christmas. CAUTION: This show includes music, warm, fuzzy feelings, and big laughs!

Miracle on 34th Street: The Musical

Date: Dec. 1 – 17, 2017

Time: Thursday – Saturday 8 p.m.; Sunday 3 p.m.

Location: Town Theatre, 1012 Sumter Street, Columbia 29201

Cost: Adult $25, FT College Student $20, Senior $20, Military $20, 17 & under $15

Details: A holiday classic from the writer of the musical theatre classic, The Music Man!, and based on the movie of the same name, Miracle on 34th Street features a book and score by none other than Meredith Willson. Single mother, Doris Walker, doesn’t want her six-year-old Susan’s head filled with romantic notions. Their neighbor, Fred Gailey, tries to woo Doris by charming Susan and taking her to see Santa Claus at Macy’s, where Doris works. Doris is not impressed, but when it turns out that Macy’s Santa may, in fact, be the real Kris Kringle, a wave of love spreads across New York City that melts even the most cynical hearts. This joyous, heartwarming musical is the perfect holiday treat!

Singing Christmas Tree

Date: Dec. 8 – 10, 2017

Times: Friday (7 p.m.); Saturday and Sunday (2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.)

Location: Shandon Baptist Church, 5250 Forest Drive, Columbia 29206

Cost: Free but reserve your tickets here.

Details: The Singing Christmas Tree is a Columbia holiday tradition! The popular community holiday celebration returns for five performances this Christmas season. The Singing Christmas Tree features a 30-foot tree, holding a 100+-person choir. The choir is accompanied by a thirty-piece orchestra, and the show includes a dramatic presentation of the Christmas story accentuated by dance ensembles. This is the event the whole community looks forward to each holiday season.

The 30th Annual Columbia Christmas Pageant

Date: Dec. 8 – 10, 2017

Time: Friday (7 p.m.); Saturday (2 p.m. and 5 p.m.); Sunday (4 p.m.)

Location: First Baptist Church of Columbia, 1306 Hampton Street, Columbia 29201

Cost: Tickets are free, but reservations are required.

Details: The Columbia Christmas Pageant is one of the premiere Christmas Celebrations in the South! In the 30th year the pageant has become a Christmas Tradition for thousands who come from South Carolina as well as surrounding states. With state of the art lighting, including thousands of Christmas lights, glorious music, and a cast and crew of hundreds, the Columbia Christmas Pageant is something that you certainly don’t want to miss. The pageant is a South Carolina Christmas Tradition!

Columbia City Ballet – The Nutcracker

Date: Dec. 9 – 10 | Dec. 16 – 17, 2017

Times: Saturdays (3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.), Sundays (3 p.m.)

Location: Koger Center for the Arts, 1051 Greene Street, Columbia 29201

Cost: $20 – $45

Details: Nutcracker, Columbia’s holiday family tradition, has the distinction of being Koger Center’s first Nutcracker production and longest consecutively running annual arts event. With six snow-filled performances, including four matinees, Nutcracker is designed to accommodate the entire family’s holiday schedule.

Bonus: Mark your calendars now for our magical Nutcracker Tea at 1:30–2:30 p.m. December 9, December 10, and December 16, just before the Nutcracker matinee performances. The special events will be in Koger Center’s “ballroom” and will feature a sit-down tea, cakes, cookies and lots of surprises. Learn the real story of the Nutcracker as you meet Clara, her Nutcracker Prince, and the Sugar Plum Fairy and other company dancers. Tickets for the Nutcracker Teas are $30 per person and may be purchased in advance by calling Columbia City Ballet at 803-799-7605.

Frozen Party

Date: Dec. 27, 2017

Time: 6 – 9 p.m.

Location: South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais St., Columbia 29201

Cost: $18 per person and $15 for museum members

Details: The State Museum presents a magical evening to spark young guests’ imagination! During the event, guests will watch Disney’s Frozen, meet and greet with Anna and Elsa and enjoy crafts and activities. Frozen costumes are highly encouraged! NEW this year – a Family Room! Bring your pillows and blankets for a more relaxed Family Room viewing experience. Chairs will also be provided, but you are welcome to get comfy on the floor and are free to move about during the movie, if needed.

Main Street Ice

Date: Nov. 23, 2017 – Jan. 15, 2018 (Closed Christmas Day)

Time: Times vary – check schedule for details

Location: Boyd Plaza, corner of Hampton and Main Streets, Columbia 29201

Cost: Rates vary – check pricing

Details: Grab your family and friends, and head down to Boyd Plaza for Main Street ICE — The City of Columbia’s outdoor ice skating rink!

A Starry Night

Date: Dec. 1, 2017

Time: 4 – 8 p.m.

Location: Five Points (Harden Street between Blossom and College streets), Columbia 29205

Cost: Free

Details: Patrons can stroll through all of their favorite Five Points stores to enjoy sales and specials during a night full of holiday cheer. From home goods, jewelry, and clothing to baked goods and wine, the Five Points merchants have everything patrons could possibly want for the holidays.

Around the Village:

  • Complimentary hot chocolate and wine – at The Swept Yard courtyard, 2004 Blossom
  • DJ spinning holiday tunes – at the original Five Points fountain
  • Write letters to Santa – at The Swept Yard courtyard, 2004 Blossom
  • FREE face painting with Emerald’s Artistry – at the original Five Points fountain
  • Complimentary hot cider with Tripp’s Fine Cleaners – at the original Five Points fountain
  • Roaming choral performances by The Benedict Choral Group
  • Roaming dance performances by Unbound Dance Company
  • Visit with Santa! – at the Hootie Monument, corner of Santee and Harden
  • Merchant sales, specials, and more!

Carols Along the Riverwalk

Date: Dec. 1, 2017

Time: 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Location: Cayce Riverwalk Park, Naples Avenue Entrance, 201 Naples Avenue, Cayce 29033

Cost: Free

Details: The sounds of Christmas can be heard throughout the Cayce Riverwalk Park with several area church choirs and local musicians located within the first half mile of the park. Visitors can wander from group to group, enjoying holiday musical selections. 

Town of Lexington Snowball Festival

Date: Dec. 1 – 3, 2017

Time: Varies based on event

Location: Varies based on event

Cost: Free

Details: Friday, Dec 1, 2017: Concert and Carnival in the Square 6 p.m. –  8 p.m., Tree Lighting at 8 p.m. with s’mores and hot chocolate / Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017: Movies in the Park 5 – 9 p.m. at Icehouse Amphitheater (107 W. Main Street). Showing Frosty’s Winter Wonderland and It’s A Wonderful Life / Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017: Christmas Parade at 3:30 p.m. (W. Main Street). 

Cayce Historical Museum Annual Holiday Open House

Date: Dec. 2, 2017

Time: 6 – 9 p.m.

Location: 1800 12th Street, Cayce 29033

Cost: Free

Details: The sights, sounds and tastes of Christmas abound at the Museum’s 28th annual Christmas Traditions Holiday Open House. Each room of the Museum will be decorated with trees and crafts from the 18th century to present. The Open House will also feature live entertainment, docents dressed in period attire, and light refreshments. As darkness falls, scenes from the Civil War will come to life in a lantern tour through the Museum’s historic grounds. History and comedy make this event a memorable and popular activity. Presented by the 20th SC Volunteer Infantry.

Sweet Seasons

Date: Dec. 7, 2017

Time: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Location: In the old Bi-Lo parking lot, 4711 Forest Drive, Columbia, SC 29206

Cost: Free

Details: The Annual City of Forest Acres Christmas Tree Lighting. Enjoy live music, food and drink vendors, drawings for door prizes and even an appearance from Santa. The city council, led by the mayor, will turn on the city’s holiday decorations and officially kick off the season in Forest Acres. Admission is always free and Sweet Seasons is a family-friendly event.

Candlelight Tours & Carriage Rides

Date: Dec. 15, 2017

Time: 5:30 – 9 p.m.

Location: Robert Mills House, 1616 Blanding Street, Columbia 29201

Cost: Tour – Adult $12 ; Children $8; Members free; Carriage Rides – $8 per person

Details: Visit the decorated, candlelit halls of our historic Robert Mills House and the Hampton-Preston Mansion. Enjoy musical entertainment and children’s activities while celebrating the holidays with HC. Before or after your house tour, enjoy a carriage ride through the Robert Mills historic district. Carriage rides run from 5:30 until 8:30 and the house tours start at 6:00! Stop by the Gift Shop’s holiday open house throughout the evening for a last minute storewide sale as well as refreshments, holiday tunes, and giveaways. Carriage Rides are considered an ‘add-on’ to the Candlelight Tours, so guests need to purchase the Candlelight Tour in order to book a Carriage Ride.

Jingle Days Kickoff! Holidays Around the World

Date: Dec. 16, 2017

Time: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Location: South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais St., Columbia 29201

Cost: General admission is $8.95 for adults, $7.95 for seniors and $6.95 for children 3-12. Children 2 and under are free. Additional attractions and events may cost extra.

Details: Kick off the museum’s Jingle Days with Holidays around the World. This special event will focus on international holiday celebrations like Kwanza, Hanukkah, Christmas and more. Enjoy international crafts, food and more. Jingle Days are Dec. 16 through Jan. 1, 2018. Enjoy days filled with special holidays shows in the planetarium and 4-D Theater, meet and visit with Santa, see live performances, explore hands-on fun with games and activities, shop for the perfect South Carolina themed gift and more.

New Year’s Eve at Noon

Date: Dec. 31, 2017

Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Location: EdVenture Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais St., Columbia 29201

Cost: Children and Adults: $11.50; Seniors (62+): $10.50; Military (with ID): $10.50; Children under two: Free

Details: Doors open at 9 a.m. with activities celebrating New Year’s Eve around the world! As the countdown to noon begins, a giant illuminated ball descends and lands at the foot of EDDIE, kicking off the biggest mid-day celebration in town! Free with membership or regular admission.

WOW! New Year’s Eve Kids

Date: Dec. 31, 2017

Time: 6 – 11 p.m.

Location: On Main Street in between Washington and Taylor Streets in downtown Columbia

Cost: Free

Details: Bring your whole family down for games, jumps, face-painting and a Ferris wheel. When they’ve had their fill of fun, bring them home to the sitter and hurry back for more adult entertainment when the concert begins.

Famously Hot New Year

Date: Dec. 31, 2017 – Jan. 1, 2018

Time: 6:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.

Location: South Carolina State House (corner of Main and Gervais Street)

Cost: This is a free outdoor concert, but be sure to bring money for parking garages and vendors

Details: GRAMMY nominee Elle King, the singer-songwriter, guitarist, bassist and banjoist famous for her hit single “Ex’s and Oh’s,” will perform a free, full-length concert at Famously Hot New Year — SC’s largest NYE celebration — in downtown Columbia. American alternative Southern rap quartet Nappy Roots is set to perform as well, along with local hip-hop artist FatRat Da Czar and alternative/indie band SondorBlue from Charleston. Now in its seventh year, Famously Hot New Year is South Carolina’s free party of the year — bringing tens of thousands of guests to the Midlands region — complete with an international headliner, the biggest NYE fireworks in SC, regional food vendors, beer, wine and bubbly in a festive, friendly environment in the midst of Columbia’s vibrant, walkable downtown districts. The event is set in the heart of Columbia’s historic district, with plenty of parking, hotels, restaurants and shops for those crafting a long weekend to celebrate New Year’s Eve. The concert stage is set at Gervais St. and Sumter St., which makes for a prime viewing location of the midnight fireworks show above the historic SC State House. There will be special event rates at all City of Columbia parking garages and FHNY is again partnering with COMET buses–guests can also get home safely with $10 off Budweiser Alert Cabs.

Know of a holiday event not featured? Tell us about it so we can include it!

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