Charleston at Christmas is pure magic! The city really decks the halls so there is no absence of merriment. Charlestonians take great pride in their Christmas house decor and are known for an abundance of garland and wreaths as seen here and here. The hotels all have big beautiful Christmas trees that I think rival those of New York City hotels. In Charleston, locals are known to welcome visitors of the Holy City with lots of southern hospitality, which is only amplified by the good cheer of the holidays! There is also no end to the festive holiday activities around town. Today’s post is dedicated to just that as I round up things to do in Charleston SC at Christmas time.
If you live in Charleston, then I hope this post ignites your Christmas spirit! If you don’t live in Charleston, then perhaps it’s time to book a last minute holiday trip!?
Things To Do In Charleston SC At Christmas Time
Holiday Festival of Lights
The Holiday Festival of Lights is one of Charleston’s great holiday traditions! The famous Holiday Festival of Lights is a three-mile drive of two million sparkling holiday lights at James Island County Park. Children can also visit with Santa Claus every day in addition to taking in the light displays. It provides a great family-friendly way to enjoy the holiday season. Every evening November 15th – December 31st, 2019.
Holiday Swing: A Charleston Jazz Tradition
Edwin and I have been to this holiday concert the past two years. We absolutely love it! The 18-piece big band will swing you into the holiday spirit with arrangements of holiday favorites like Joy to the World at Holiday Swing: A Charleston Jazz Tradition. Add a little jazz to your holiday calendar with this musical event! November 30th, 2019.
Charleston Holiday Parade
The Charleston Holiday Parade is a staple on the Charleston holiday calendar. Bands, floats, marchers, and performers parade through the streets of historic downtown Charleston. It is so fun to observe with a cup of cocoa in hand! 3pm on December 1st, 2019.
Classic Christmas Movies in Theaters
A few spots around town show classic Christmas movies in the month of December. We see It’s A Wonderful Life every year as it’s my single most favorite movie of all time. We’ve also seen Elf before. This year, I’m excited to see White Christmas! This year, see White Christmas at the Terrace Theater on December 2nd, 2019. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation at Charleston Music Hall on December 2nd, 2019. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation on the roof at The Restoration Hotel on December 12th, 2019. Elf at Charleston Music Hall on December 16th, 2019. Love Actually at the Library on December 17th. It’s A Wonderful Life on December 23rd, 2019.
Charlton Singleton’s Holiday Spectacular
Charlton Singleton used to be the band leader of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra. He as since moved on to pursue other musical endeavors but Charlestonians are lucky because he still performs in the Holy City (we’ve loved every performance of his that we’ve seen!). This holiday season, he is putting on a a Holiday Spectacular performance complete with songs from “Santa Baby” to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and “Jingle Bells” to “This Christmas.” There is a festive song for everyone. December 5th, 2019.
Christmas on The Battery
Theatrical performances complement a candlelight tour of the Edmondston-Alston House at Christmas on The Battery. Adorned in period costumes, performers reflect on past Christmas events that not only touched the lives of the Edmondston and Alston families, but also the city of Charleston. December 6th.
Cannonborough/Elliotborough Holiday Sip N’Stroll
The Cannonborough/Elliotborough Holiday Sip N’Stroll is one of my favorite annual holiday markets to shop in Charleston! Head to the Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhood for some holiday cheer, shopping specials, sips, sweets, and more. Participating businesses include Candy Shop Vintage, Cannonborough Collective, Babas, J. Stark, Beads On Cannon, 86 Cannon, Mac & Murphy & Indigo & Cotton. This is bustling and so fun! P.S. this year there is a Holst + Lee trunk show and exhibition of portraits by Chambers Austelle at Candy Shop Vintage. December 6th, 2019.
Light the Lake
Light the Lake is the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Colonial Lake. It is a wonderful Charleston Christmas tradition with a rich neighborhood feel as everyone comes out to enjoy the tree lighting and the food trucks. December 6th, 2019.
Nathaniel Russell House Holiday Candlelight Tours
Travel back in time as you take an evening or night candlelight tour of the Nathaniel Russell House, the historic house-turned-museum decorated for Christmas. December 6th, 7th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 19th, 20th, and 21st, 2019.
The holidays can be a time of lots of eating, drinking, and celebrating. So, it’s great to have an event that gets people active outside like the Reindeer Run! The Reindeer Run is a 5k run/walk through the lower peninsula of downtown Charleston, SC. The proceeds from the run go to MUSC Children’s Hospital and the Charitable Society of Charleston. December 7th, 2019.
Christmas A Boone Hall Plantation
Boone Hall comes alive for Christmas at Boone Hall Plantation with holiday decorations, Christmas trees, and southern holiday hospitality. The plantation mansion and grounds are decorated with beautiful Christmas decorations of every kind! December 8th, 2019 – January 1st, 2020.
Elf The Musical
I’m honestly pretty excited for this! Based on the beloved and hilarious Will Ferrell film, Elf The Musical tells the story of Buddy who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. This play is being put on in Charleston at the historic Dock Street Theater, which opened in 1736 and is known as America’s First Theatre. Take in a bit of history and a bit of modern day holiday fun! December 4th – December 22nd.
Charleston Holiday Market
The Charleston Holiday Market is every weekend in December in partnership with the Charleston Farmer’s Market. In addition to farmer’s market favorites, at the Charleston Holiday Market, you’ll find festive holiday vendors, live music, and visits from Santa & Mrs. Claus all in Marion Square. December 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st, and 22nd.
Holiday Parade of Boats
Held in Charleston Harbor, the Holiday Parade of Boats is just what it sounds like, a parade of boats sailing the harbor decorated in thousands of lights. Charlestonians delight in this tradition from the shore of Downtown Charleston and Mt. Pleasant every year. December 14th, 2019.
Visit the Christmas Trees
There are so many big, bright, beautiful Christmas trees around Charleston. I recommend the trees at Marion Square, The Belmond Charleston Place, Colonial Lake, The Market Pavilion Hotel, The Dewberry Hotel, and The Mills House Hotel.
Window Shop on King Street
King Street is the place to shop in Charleston. The street decks out in wreaths and holiday decor. I love all the beautiful window displays around the city! All of the unique Charleston boutiques and shops do such a creative job!
Miracle Christmas Cocktail Pop-Up
The bar Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails in Mt. Pleasant is hosting this year’s local Miracle pop-up in Charleston! It is decked out in kitschy lights, tinsel, decor, and more. You’ll also find festive seasonal cocktails for the holidays!
There are so many amazing festive things to do in Charleston between now and Dec. 31st! I hope you found something fun to add to your holiday calendar! If you didn’t see something that sparked your interest above, then you can also look into the Charleston Holiday Pub Crawl here, the Holidays on the Harbor holiday dinner cruise + boat tour here, Santa Claus at the Gibbes Museum of Art here, and the Deck the Hall Oyster Roast at Drayton Hall here. Happy holidays and Merry Christmas!