Tis’ the season in the Lowcountry, where visitors and residents alike enjoy Charleston’s mild winters and unforgettable holiday festivities. The famed restaurants of the Holy City offer special Christmas menus and local shops are filled with gifts just waiting to be wrapped and placed under your tree. Wreaths hang on the doors of Charleston’s historic homes and twinkling Christmas lights can be spotted all over the city. Whether this is your first time experiencing a Southern Christmas or if you’ve lived in Charleston for years, Yuletide celebrations are just around the corner.
The Festival of Lights
During this magnificent three-hour tour with Adventure Sightseeing, marvel at over 700 light displays and more than two million lights illuminating the Holy City. The tour bus will stop to visit a gift shop filled with Christmas extravaganza, take pictures with Santa, and look at life-size card displays and a sand castle. Enjoy decadent s’mores during the stop at the shopping plaza. The tours run November 13th through December 31st with hotel pickup available.
Holiday Dinner Cruise
While aboard the Carolina Queen, enjoy a gourmet buffet-style holiday dinner accompanied by a spectacular performance by The Plantation Singers. Charleston Harbor Tours’ Keep the Light Shinin’ is an experience like no other. During the two-hour scenic cruise, learn about Charleston’s rich history and most famous landmarks. The musical performance will feature a mix of Christmas classics and Gullah spirituals. Cruises run on December 2, 15, 22, and 23.
Tree Lighting and Christmas Lights Parade
On Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant, a lively parade of more than 100 lavishly decorated floats will spread Christmas cheer to over 1,000 tourists and locals lining the street. The festivities begin with an incredible fireworks show at 5:30 and will be followed by the famous parade. Consider spending the day shopping in Mount Pleasant’s renowned shops and dining at a wide variety of casual and upscale restaurants. When visiting Charleston, you can’t miss the Mount Pleasant Christmas parade on December 10.
Charleston Strolls Holiday Walking Tour
Walk off the gingerbread cookies and hot chocolate you’ve enjoyed all season while admiring the local beauty of Charleston’s historic district. Tour the Battery, Whitepoint Gardens, and the Four Corners of Law while learning about Charleston’s history and culture. Beautiful homes and mansions adorned with Christmas decorations are also part of the tour as you stroll through the city’s most famous residential streets. Tours are available throughout December up until New Year’s Day.
A Parade of Boats
On December 9, the Rotary Club of Charleston is hosting its annual boat parade on the city’s most famous harbor. This year, experience the festive light displays and stately ships with the best view in the harbor aboard the Carolina Queen. Each boat in the parade is decked out in brilliant lights which are reflected on the calm waters. Behind you, the Holy City glows. Aboard the Carolina Queen, guests will dine on delicious barbeque from Swig and Swine while watching a jazz performance by the famous Shrimp City Slim. For adult parties, a cash bar is available.
A Christmas Carol at Dock Street Theatre
The ghosts of Christmas past have returned for a haunting at Dock Street Theatre, one of Charleston’s oldest establishments. This mesmerizing performance of the holiday classic will take audiences on a journey through Past, Present, and Future as Ebenezer Scrooge experiences his deepest regrets. But on Christmas morning, he awakens with a hopeful heart to a promising future. Come watch the magic unfold on stage from December 2-4 or December 7-18.
The hustle and bustle of the holidays are soothed away by the slower pace of Southern life. Enjoy holiday festivals, authentic cuisine, and elegant shops without the overwhelming crowds and stressful traffic of a larger city. In Charleston, there is something for everyone: families, couples, children, and adults young and old.