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

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, 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 Christmas and the Holidays in Charleston

The Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park

November 11, 2022 to December 31, 2022
5:30 pm to 10:00 pm

No holiday trip to Charleston is complete without a visit to the most spectacular light display in Charleston, and surrounding areas.

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

The holidays 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 26 - December 17, 2022 Specific Dates

Drayton Hall is the oldest, nonrenovated, colonial home open to visitors. This year guests are invited to experience Drayton Hall by candlelight for a very 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. $55 non/$50 members
  • Tours meet all Co-vid 19 safety guidelines
  • This tour is not recommended for the visually or auditorily impaired

Charleston Holiday Boat Parade

December 10, 2022

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!

Ice skating in Charleston

December 2 - December 29, 2022 Specific Dates

Ice skating in Charleston

For the month of December, The Credit One Stadium on Daniel Island offers ice skating!  Fire pits, seasonal treats, hot cocoa, and craft cocktails create a festive mood.  It is the perfect activity for those who love a frosty holiday season.  Click here for more details and tickets.
Charleston Harbor Resort created a winter wonderland with a synthetic ice rink, fire pits, s'mores, and much more!  Click here for more details on this eco-friendly option open until Feb. 2023.

Illumination Charleston

December 1-4, 2022

This three-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. One of the most popular Illumination Charleston events is the annual Holiday Decor and History Walking Tour.  This afternoon stroll through the historic district offers a look at holiday decor and outdoor areas.  Interior home viewing is not included.  The time is 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm.  Get tickets 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!

Charleston Illuminations  Just a Few 2022 Events

Opening Night Party for Illumination Charleston 2022

The fabulous Opening Night Party kicks off the second annual Illumination Charleston weekend. Join incredible event co-chairs, Jaimie Dewberry and Alex Malloy, in another over-the-top evening. Enjoy creative cocktails and...

Design in Mind Lecture 1: To Be Announced

Join us in the historic Second Presbyterian Church for Illumination Charleston's enlightening Design in Mind Series. Design in Progress for our first speaker - to be announced.

Illumination Charleston Workshop: Holiday Centerpieces (Morning Class)

Jim Martin, Director of Horticulture, Magnolia Plantations 'Tis the season to welcome guests for the holidays! Join us for a holiday-inspired workshop at the historic Aiken-Rhett House Museum.

Illumination Charleston Workshop: Temari Ornaments (Morning class)

Tap into your artistic side and create Temari Ornaments at the Aiken-Rhett House Museum. First seen in Japanese folk art dating back to the 7th century, these ornate balls

Designer Vignettes at the Aiken-Rhett House Museum

Historic Charleston Foundation invited a select group of designers and artisans to create site-specific vignettes throughout the historic Aiken-Rhett House Museum, ca. 1820s. On display for one weekend only

Design in Mind Lecture 2: Celerie Kemble interviewed by Ceara Donnelly

Join us in the nave of the historic Second Presbyterian Church for a Design in Mind talk with Celerie Kemble, celebrated A-list designer, tastemaker, and author.

Illumination Charleston Workshop: Holiday Centerpieces (Afternoon Class)

Jim Martin, Director of Horticulture, Magnolia Plantations ‘Tis the season to welcome guests for the holidays! Join us for a holiday inspired workshop at the historic Aiken-Rhett House Museum.

Illumination Charleston Workshop: Temari Ornaments (Afternoon class)

Tap into your artistic side and create Temari Ornaments at the Aiken-Rhett House Museum. First seen in Japanese folk art dating back to the 7th century, these ornate balls

Design in Mind Lecture 4: David Netto

Join us in the nave of the historic Second Presbyterian Church for a Design in Mind talk with eclectic interior designer and writer, David Netto.

Meet & Mingle with Illumination Design Talent at The Dewberry

Toast the end of the weekend’s events of Illumination Charleston at one of Historic Charleston Foundation’s favorite preservation projects showcasing the intersection of adaptive reuse and contemporary design,

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

If you’re spending New Year’s Eve in Charleston, there are a number of ways for you to celebrate! 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 pm through 1:30 am. 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 pm to 1 am.

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

Free to all island visitors, festivities typically run from  5:30 pm to 9:00 pm at Night Heron Park. Jump castles, lawn games, and a full a la carte dinner service are examples of what is available for the New Years Celebration on Kiawah Island.   Tickets are required for this event.  Stay tuned for 2022 New Year's Eve celebration information.

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!