Winter Activities

Make the Most With the Holiday Season in Charleston!

Christmas season has officially started and that means hot cocoa and ice skating with the persistent repetition of jingle bells sneaking onto every radio station. Although Charleston does not give the best winter wonderland vibes, due to the painfully hot (70 degrees) “winters”, there are still many events going on to get into the Christmas Spirit. Below I am going to provide a few Christmas events which are MANDATORY this December. 

Festival of Lights:


First off there is the Festival of Lights held at the Charleston County Parks on James Island. Every year we all face the 1 hour wait time to get into the light show and for those that live on James Island, we now are experts at rerouting in order to avoid the traffic chaos. Even though I am pretty sure the lights do not change each year, the lights are always a highlight in my Christmas activities. The Festival of Lights features many different worlds including under the sea, dinosaur, and toy world. Personally, my favorite is the under the sea world; I love seeing the giant whales and glowing jellyfish. Of course, we must not forget the iconic sledding Santa. Every year I cram into a car with my friends and blast Christmas music while watching the lights. I highly suggest the famed Justin Beiber’s, “Mistletoe”.  Apart from the lights, it is mandatory to go visit Santas Village. For everyone who is looking for community service hours, this is a great place to volunteer. The Santas Village includes hot chocolate stands, carousels, rock climbing walls, and a suspiciously “real” sand sculpture. For future warning, I do not recommend the fries. They have too much seasoning and salt and usually, I am obsessed with seasoned fries, but these are not it. Saving the best for last, there is of course the Christmas train that goes through the winter village. Due to the never-ending lines and the limited number of trains, I suggest purchasing your tickets in advance.


Christmas movies at the Terrace theater:

The Terrace theater is one of my favorite theaters in Charleston for its vintage atmosphere. I encourage everyone to support this locally run business this Christmas. They will be showing multiple Christmas movies throughout the month including A Christmas Story, White Christmas, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. It is definitely the time of year to drink hot chocolate while watching fan-favorite holiday comedies. 


Tree in Marion square:

Unfortunately, the lighting of the huge Marion square tree already passed, but it is still fun to walk underneath or have an evening picnic. Additionally, every year there are usually small Christmas trees scattered around the square decorated by middle schools in the Charleston area.





The Charleston Place:

Ever since I was little, I get very excited about the holiday display in the Charleston Place. The train steals the show every year but there are so many tiny intricate pieces. I just recently discovered that we all may be able to experience snow this year in Charleston. Well fake snow, but still. Every evening until New Year’s Eve from 6 pm to 8 pm, snow will fall on Market Street Circle outside the Charleston place. I will definitely be going to Charleston Place this month. I highly suggest stopping by after some much-needed Christmas shopping on King Street.


Holiday Market and Craft Show in Mount Pleasant:

This year will be the 23rd annual holiday market at the Mount Pleasant farmers market pavilion! This market will be held this Saturday, December 10th. It will feature all of the traditional farmer’s market goods with handcrafted gifts created by local artisans. This would be a great place to load up on some Christmas cookies and find a gift for those who prefer more unique homemade items. Items such as Christmas ornaments, glasswork, and original art will be sold. There will also be some fun Christmas activities including live holiday music, balloon art, caricatures, and a visit with Santa Clause. Admission and parking are free but everyone who regularly attends the Mount Pleasant market knows that you should get there early because parking is a nightmare and limited.


Chanukah in the Square:

The Center for Jewish Life at the College of Charleston and the City of Charleston’s Office of Cultural Affairs partnered to host the annual Chanukah event in Marion Square on December 18th. As always, there will be some amazing food, live music, and a festive atmosphere to celebrate Hannaka. At the end of the night, the Chanukah candles will be lit!

There will be no shortage of potato latkes

Ice Skating:

Even though we will never be blessed by frosty days and outdoor ice skating, we do have a pretty rink in North Charleston. It is time to drag all of your friends skating so that you can make fun of the unfortunate souls in your group who HAD to get the walkers.

New York Times Christmas cookie list:

A Holiday MUST DO is make cookies. If you are looking to try out some new recipes this season I highly suggest the NYT cookie week 2022 list. Go check out Leila’s article where she made and ranked the cookies. From this point on, I will be taking any cookie donations thank you.

Uncle Kyles Sweater Emporium:

All Downtown residents know of the iconic Christmas sweater store that is a highlight of King every December. Although the sweaters are expensive it is an experience in itself just visiting the store. The store is FILLED with hundreds of sweaters; it is always fun searching for the craziest ones every year.

Other ideas:

  • Winterfest at Carowinds
  • Make Christmas/winter Spotify playlists for friends
  • White elephant (not secret Santa it gets too complicated)
  • Paint ornaments from Target or Walmart
  • Volunteer at the food bank for Christmas meals
  • Test out all the Trader Joe’s holiday specials