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Guide to the Holidays in Charleston

Christmas lights in charleston sc

Charleston is a wonderful place to visit for the holidays. There is nothing like Christmas in Charleston with the rich history and tradition that can make you feel as if you have gone back in time. The mild temperatures make this an ideal time of year to visit and soak up the grandly decorated Charleston homes. There is just something about the Palmetto trees adorned in twinkling holiday lights. Here are a few of our favorite New Years and Christmas activities in Charleston, SC for the holidays.

Guide to the Holidays in Charleston: 

  1. Aquarium Aglow
  2. James Island County Park Holiday Festival of Lights
  3. Holiday Charleston Speed Boat Adventures tour
  4. First Friday ArtWalk
  5. Holiday Street Festival
  6. Marion Square Holiday Market
  7. A Very Merry Footlight Holiday Special
  8. Hotel Bennett
  9. Wine Under the Oaks
  10.  Deck the Hall Oyster Roast

Aquarium Aglow

The wonder of the season comes alive at Aquarium Aglow, elegant evenings of holiday celebration in the heart of downtown Charleston. Boom emerged in the waves of color from tens of thousands of lights. Installations from warm and nostalgic to awe-inspiring and contemporary, transform the aquarium. Combined with interactive displays and refreshments, Aquarium Aglow will please the whole family. New Year’s is a friendly evening filled with festive fun, lively music and a special ball drop before bedtime. This event also has a DJ spinning party music, face painting and more surprises.


James Island County Park Holiday Festival of Lights

Visit the James Island County Park Holiday Festival of Lights to get all the Christmas in Charleston feels! Your visit isn’t complete until you see Santa at Santa’s Village. You can ride the carousel, climb the climbing wall, enjoy a meal and festival fun foods. Smores kits are always a highlight. Convenient first allows you to warm and toast your marshmallows. There is also a reindeer workshop where you can build a furry friend to spend the holidays with. Giant Holiday Greeting Cards created by local students for holiday art competitions are on display.

Holiday Charleston Speed Boat Adventures tour

Gather friends and loved ones to journey through the Charleston Harbor on a Holiday Charleston boat tour with Speed Boat Adventures. Christmas in Charleston can also be enjoyed on the water seeing historical sites and breathtaking views while making Christmas memories. The excitement of being your own captain but the reassurance of having an experienced tour guide lead the way is bound to be the best thing you do in Charleston! This adventure is sure to become a holiday tradition for many years to come. The reviews are glowing! 

holiday speed boat adventures tour

First Friday ArtWalk

Fun and inspiring monthly first Friday ArtWalk happens in the downtown Charleston galleries. The Charleston Gallery Association organizes the Art Walk. Go to the (CGA) Maps page to get a printable PDF or on Google Maps to plan your own Artwalk. Whilst stroking the galleries you will see studding Christmas lights in the Charleston area. 

Holiday Street Festival

Head to the beach to enjoy the annual Holiday Street Festival at Front Beach, Isle of Palms, with tree lighting ceremony, live entertainment, food, crafts, visits from Santa and children’s activities. 

isle of palms holiday street festival

Marion Square Holiday Market

The Marion Square Holiday Market is sure to get you into the Christmas spirit. The market is located in downtown Charleston in the historic Marion Square. You’ll find all sorts of holiday gifts and cheer at this event.

christmas lights in charleston at marion squarePhoto Credit: Charleston Empire Properties

Very Merry Footlight Holiday Special

A Very Merry Footlight Holiday Special is a show you won’t want to miss. The Holiday variety show @ the Queen Street Playhouse brings all the holiday cheer you can handle in one sitting! Featuring a variety of your favorite yuletide hits, special guests and novelty acts as well as comedy skits. It’s a big cozy cup of nostalgia wrapped in one big and beautiful package. 

christmas activities in charleston sc

Hotel Bennett

Christmas in Charleston just got even sweeter thanks to Hotel Bennett! Hotel Bennett’s Gabrielle Plaza overlooking Marion Square is transforming into a downtown Charleston destination for holiday magic. Discover nightly movies, cozied up by the fire with decadent stores kits and festive specialty cocktails. 

holidays in charleston at hotel bennett

Wine Under the Oaks

Wine Under the Oaks is an annual holiday festival at Boone Hall Plantation with a selection of wines, plus desserts, oysters, and other food from local restaurants, wine, and cooking demonstrations, and live music. 

Deck the Hall Oyster Roast

Attend the Deck the Hall Oyster Roast at Drayton Hall. Delight in the historical significance of these local delicacies. All you can eat oyster & chili bar and local beverages will ensure you have a great time all while supporting the Drayton Hall mission.

oyster roast in charleston for new years and christmas

Photo Credit: Drayton Hall

Be sure to book a Charleston Harbor tour during the holidays in Charleston! This will be a memorable holiday experience you and your family will look back on for years to come.