It's the most wonderful time of the year, and we've got a must-do list of Christmas and holiday events in Columbia, SC to get you in the yuletide spirit! Whether catching a show, seeing the lights or enjoying a wintry festival, there's plenty to do for the holidays. Browse the list below and search our calendar of events for even more things to do.
All That Glitters: Holiday Lights
The magic of holiday lights! One of Columbia's favorite holiday traditions, the Lights Before Christmas, features almost one million dazzling lights at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. While the animals may be sleeping, the zoo is no less exciting with nightly visits from Santa and the Jingle Bell Bonfire. Don't miss over 400 themed, animated displays at Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park, which includes the Wetland Wonderland Walking Trail and Winter Wonder rides, as well. You can also enjoy a scenic ride at The Lights of Cayce!
Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, November 20 - December 30, 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.; $8 - $10
Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park, November 25 - December 31, 6 p.m. - 10 p.m.; $15 - $40
The Lights of Cayce at Cayce City Hall, December 3 - 31, 6 p.m.; Free admission
From Stage to Screen: Holiday Performances
Music, movies and performances -- everyone's treasured holiday traditions! Theater shows include the beloved A Christmas Story at Town Theatre, the quirky Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical at Trustus Theatre and Jingle Arrgh the Way at Columbia Children's Theatre. Shandon Baptist's Singing Christmas Tree and First Baptist of Columbia's 28th Annual Christmas Pageant are sights to behold. The annual performances of The Nutcracker from Columbia Classical Ballet and Columbia City Ballet bring sugar plum fairies and rat kings to life. Plus, The Nickelodeon's holiday film series will make you nostalgic, while a 4-D showing of The Polar Express short and the planetarium showing of The Star of Bethlehem at the South Carolina State Museum will delight.
City Celebrations: Holiday Festivals and Parties
Have some fun this holiday season with a party or two! Enjoy A Devine Night Out as more than 50 stores and restaurants along Devine Street start the holiday cheer with specials and festivities (psst -- don't miss the after-party at Henry's). The Vista Lights holiday street party features food, holiday music, a tree lighting and shopping in the historic Congaree Vista district. Stores stay open late for Five Points' A Starry Night, complete with carriage rides, free SC Pedal Parlor trips, pop up carolers and hot chocolate at the beautiful Five Points Fountain. Wrap up the holiday season with the free Famously Hot New Year, featuring performances from Ms. Lauryn Hill, SUSTO, ColorBlind and The Dead 27s plus the largest NYE fireworks display in the Carolinas.
A Devine Night Out on Devine Street, Thursday, November 12, 5 - 8 p.m.; Free admission
Vista Lights on Gervais Street, Thursday, November 19, 5 - 9 p.m.; Free admission
26th Annual Festival of Trees at Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, November 20-22
A Starry Night in Five Points, Thursday, December 3, 4 - 8 p.m.; Free admission
Town of Lexington Snowball Festival at Lexington Square Park & Main Street, December 4 - 6, Friday 6 - 8 p.m., Saturday 5 - 8 p.m., Sunday 3:30 p.m.; Free admission
Crafty Feast, an Independent Craft Fair at Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, December 13, 12 - 6 p.m.; $3 general admission
St. Nicholas Festival at Holy Apostles Orthodox Church, December 5, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Free admission
Santapalooza at Wingard's Nursey and Market, December 12, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Free admission
Santa's Market Craft Show at Seven Oaks Park, December 5, 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.; Free admission
Annual Holiday Open House at Capital City/Lake Murray Country Visitors Center, December 12-13, various times; Free
Ms. Lauryn Hill Live at Famously Hot New Year, Thursday, December 31, 6:30 p.m.; Free admission
Festive Fun: Holiday Events for the Kids
Childlike wonder at the holidays -- what could be better? Let the kiddos run free at EdVenture Children's Museum Snowville and skate around at Main Street Ice. See Santa at Santa Signing at The Gift Shop at Robert Mills, visit with him at the Mast General Store after the Carolina Carillon Parade, or enjoy Historic Columbia's breakfast with the jolly old elf. The kids will go crazy at South Carolina State Museum's FROZEN Sing-A-Long Night, while Wow! New Year's Eve Carnival and New Year's Eve at Noon bring a kid-friendly start to the New Year.
Santa Signing Day at The Gift Shop at Robert Mills, Saturday, November 21, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.; Free admission
Snowville at EdVenture Children's Museum, November 21 - January 11, Tuesday - Saturday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.; $10 - $12
Santa at Mast General Store, Saturday, December 5, 1 p.m. - 3 p.m.; Free admission
Breakfast with Santa at Historic Columbia, Saturday, December 19, 8 - 11 a.m.; $5 - $15
Main Street Ice at Boyd Plaza, November 26 - January 18, Monday - Thursday 4 - 9 p.m., Friday 4 - 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sunday 1 - 9 p.m.; $8 - $10
FROZEN Sing-A-Long Night at South Carolina State Museum, Wednesday, December 30, 6 - 9 p.m.; tickets on sale soon
Santa's Gingerbread Jamboree at EdVenture Children's Museum, Saturdays from December 5-19, 9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.; free with museum admission
New Year's Eve at Noon at EdVenture Children's Museum, Thursday, December 31, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.; Free with admission
Photo Courtesy of Sam Holland
Good Cheer: Holiday Parades and Lightings
No wintry season is complete without holiday lightings and parades. The South Carolina Governor's Carolighting at the South Carolina State House will feature local and state performers, plus remarks from Governor Nikki Haley. Celebrate the festival of lights with the annual Menorah Lighting at the State House. Be sure to catch the 'famously festive' 62nd Annual Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade, the Lexington Christmas Parade, and the unique Cayce-West Columbia Parade of Lights.
Golden Days of Yore: Holiday History
See what Christmastime was like during the 1800s at Historic Columbia's holiday tours or on one of their carriage rides. The Cayce Historical Museum will also be decorated for the holidays, while WinterFest at South Carolina State Museum gives you a glimpse into how holidays are celebrated around the world.