Celebrate Christmas in Charleston, SC – Memorable Ways to Spend Your Holiday

Celebrate Christmas in Charleston SC.  Charleston commemorates Christmas and the holiday season with a brilliant light display, festive holiday markets, musical performances, and celebrated traditions. It is a magical time of the year to visit the Lowcountry.

Here are our local recommendations for activities to get into the holiday spirit during your Christmas vacation in Charleston, SC.

If you are looking for additional ideas to celebrate, access our complimentary Sea Islands Vacation Guide.   Whether you are planning to visit Kiawah Island, Seabrook Island, or visiting historic Charleston SC, the guide is filled with year-round recommendations for Charleston’s top attractions, events, shopping, dining, and more. We can’t wait to welcome you to our Yuletide paradise!

Celebrate the Holidays and Christmas in Charleston SC

The Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park

  • November 10, 2023 to December 31, 2023
  • 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm

Christmas in Charleston SC must include a trip to see the spectacular holiday lights display at James Island County Park.

The Charleston Festival of Lights drive-thru holiday light show is the perfect, family-friendly event of the season!

There is so much more than lights at this traditional holiday event.

The festival celebrates each year at James Island County Park. It runs nightly beginning in November and continues through the end of year. The festival opens at 5:30 p.m. and closes at 10 p.m. nightly. Featuring over 750 light displays, this annual holiday light tradition also offers Santa’s Sweet Shoppe, gift shops, festival train rides, and a massive sand sculpture carved from 50 tons of sand!

  • Marshmallow Roasting
  • Festival Train Rides
  • The Amazing Dancing Light Display
  • Enchanted Walking Trail
  • Old-Fashioned Carousel
  • Santa’s Sweet Shoppe and concessions: hamburgers, kettle corn, and hot chocolate
  • Gift Shops
  • Climbing Wall

On New Year’s Eve, a fireworks display commemorates the end of the year! So pack the family, crank up the holiday tunes, and put this on your must-do holiday happenings list. For more information on the holiday festival of lights visit their website.

Holiday Dining at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

November & December

Christmas in Charleston SC wouldn’t be complete without five-star dining from your friends at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. From harvest dinners to traditional suppers, you don’t have to sacrifice home cooking for a great holiday vacation this year. Call ahead to reserve your table.

Candlelight Tours at Historic Drayton Hall

November 25 to December 16

Drayton Hall is the oldest, nonrenovated, colonial home open to visitors. This year guests are invited to experience Drayton Hall by candlelight for a unique way to understand this historic home. Tours are offered on select dates from mid-November to mid-December. Reservations are required. Book early as availability is limited.

  • Candlelight tours are conducted by audio broadcast
  • Pre-registration is required
  • This tour is not recommended for the visually or auditorily impaired

Christmas in Charleston SC The Holiday Boat Parade

December 9, 2023

The Charleston Holiday Boat Parade is a Lowcountry tradition! Launching from the shores of Mt. Pleasant at 5 pm the viewing from downtown Charleston starts around 7 pm.

Enjoy the procession of holiday-themed boats as they make their way along the Cooper River. Rumor has it Santa will be in the boat parade too!

Christmas in Charleston SC Ice Skating

November 25 to December 30

Perfect for holiday vibes, The Credit One Stadium on Daniel Island offers ice skating! This event was a huge success last year so many more sessions are added for 2023. Christmas in Charleston SC is so much more festive with ice skating.  Book early as sessions sell out quickly.

Ice skating in Charleston

The fire pits, seasonal treats, hot cocoa, and craft cocktails created a festive mood. It was the perfect activity for those who love a frosty holiday season.   More details and tickets.

Charleston Harbor Resort creates a winter wonderland with a synthetic ice rink, fire pits, s'mores, and much more!  Celebrate Christmas in Charleston.

Illumination Charleston

December 1-2, 2023

This 2-day event is a gathering of the South's (and beyond!) most exciting tastemakers, designers, artisans, and personalities, as well as a celebration of the creative and welcoming spirit of Charleston. This year a fabulous opening night party kicks off the holiday season. Event details may be found here.

Experience demonstrations, tours of historic houses, a market featuring the Southern Living Tastemakers, inspired vignettes at the historic Aiken-Rhett House, engaging talks from some of the brightest stars in the design world, and fabulous nighttime gatherings.

You won't want to miss these highly anticipated festive events!

Opening Night Party for Illumination Charleston 2023

Luminaries Opening Night Party
  • December 1, 2023 at The Charleston Place Hotel
  • 5:30 p.m to. 7:00 p.m.

Kick off Illumination Charleston 2023  as “snow” will magically fall on Market Street Circle! Enjoy champagne, live music, and a winter wonderland!

Holiday Market

  • The Charleston Visitors Center
  • 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • $85.00

Southern Living will once again transform the Charleston Visitor Center into a holiday market featuring a full day of demonstrations and seminars hosted by Southern Living Editors, notable chefs, authors, and Southern personalities. A selection of pop-up booths will feature gifts available for purchase, food and beverage samplings, and more. Illumination Village attendees will receive complimentary refreshments, including light bites, beer, and wine.

Holiday Cocktail Fundraiser

  • December 2, 2023 at The Parsonage
  • 6:00 p.m - 7:30 p.m
  • $125

Experience Charleston's warm hospitality and embrace the holiday spirit at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital Fundraiser. Join us for a festive reception adorned with Charleston's finest decor. Indulge in an open bar, savor delightful cuisine, and revel in the joy of giving back. 100% of the proceeds go directly to support the children in need at the MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children's Hospital. Secure your place today and be a part of this heartwarming event.

Christmas in Charleston SC Holiday Walking Tours


If you have ever been on a historic walking tour in Charleston, you already know this type of excursion gives you a “behind the scenes” view of the Holy City.

The Holiday Walking Tour presented by Bulldog Tours does this and more.

Stroll down streets and alleyways that carriages and motor coaches can’t access, listen to stories about Charleston’s history, and view incredible holiday decor.

This tour is offered at 10 a.m. daily during the month of December.

New Year’s Eve in Charleston SC

If you’re spending New Year’s Eve in Charleston, there are a number of ways for you to celebrate! Here are some ideas for ways to celebrate the New Year in Charleston SC. If you are looking for an unforgettable, romantic dinner, Circa 1886’s New Year’s Dinner is a memorable experience at one of the city’s finest restaurants.

  • Marion Square New Years Celebration

Enjoy a super family-oriented celebration. The fun starts early with alcohol-free activities, food trucks, and festivities! This event typically runs from 4 pm to 10 pm.

  • Charleston Wonderland

Party-goers have several stylish options to close out the year with a bang. Loosen up at Charleston Wonderland, rocking the Memminger Auditorium from 8:30 p.m. through 1:30 a.m. This top-level bash features renowned live DJs, cirque performances, a fire and ice show, and the city's largest balloon drop.

  • Yorktown Countdown

Celebrating the New Year on the USS Yorktown is becoming a tradition for Charleston residents. Ring in the New Year with scenic nightscapes of Charleston Harbor. The USS Yorktown is a decommissioned aircraft carrier docked at Patriot's Point. It is just a few minutes from historic downtown Charleston. The unique NYE experience features three stages, live music, a full-service bar, and other entertainment from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Kiawah Island New Year's visitors don't miss the New Year's Eve Celebration in Night Heron Park.

Ring in 2024 with friends and family, featuring glow golf, music, and fireworks. Full à la carte dinner service is available until 9 pm.  Fireworks start promptly at 9 pm. The evening is full of entertainment suitable for families and groups of all ages.

The New Year’s Eve Family Celebration at Night Heron Park is limited to Kiawah Island guests and residents. Admission to the festival is complimentary. This event is complimentary, no reservation is required. No coolers permitted. Food and glow gear are available for purchase. We ask that you leave pets at home during fireworks for their comfort and safety. The flying of drones in fireworks areas is prohibited. The schedule is subject to change.

New Year's Celebration on Kiawah Island.

You Charleston Home Away from Home

Charleston’s most beautiful homes aren’t limited to downtown. If you are searching for your very own Charleston-style home for sale, consider exploring Charleston’s beloved sea islands. You’ll find Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Charleston and surrounded by the Lowcountry’s most stunning natural scenery.

Just 30 minutes away from the bustling Holy City, the resort beach communities of Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island offer private homes and villas where you can create your own holiday magic.

Christmas at Kiawah Island

During the Christmas season, bring your family to decorate cookies and holiday s’mores at The Sanctuary Hotel on Kiawah Island.

Enjoy elegant holiday menus at Kiawah Island’s Jasmine Porch, The Ocean Room, or The Atlantic Room.

Visit Freshfields Village located between Kiawah and Seabrook Island for holiday events and shopping opportunities.

The Journey to Ownership Often Begins with a Vacation Rental

Find the perfect setting for your family to gather for a safe, relaxing celebration together. Whether you’re a golfing family searching for fairway and lagoon vistas, or a large family searching for that perfect home with a beach view, Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island offer many options from which to choose.

Seabrook Beach Club

Their vacation rentals are well appointed with stylish décor, quality WIFI for streaming all your devices, fully stocked kitchens for festive holiday dining suited and plenty of space for the entire family.

Their Seabrook Island portfolio of homes and villas even include several pet friendly options where FIDO can join you.

Best of all, Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island are an easy drive into historic Charleston, but just far enough outside the city to enjoy the tranquility of nature and no crowds. Enjoy the holidays on island time!