14 Nov 2023
Once Halloween is in the rearview mirror, it’s time to sled on into the holidays. The scents of pumpkin spice and Christmas trees waft through the air, and the calendar is chock full of festive things to do.
Here are four options that are especially fun for kids - and for their parents and grandparents, too, for that matter. In fact, they’re perfect for the whole extended family to enjoy together.
When you think of visiting the Lowcountry, you probably think of beaches and warm temps. Yes, we have those in abundance.
But believe it or not, there are even a couple involving ice and snow… just enough to be exciting, not enough to be uncomfortable. (Fret not - chances are the temps will be pretty “temperate” around these parts over the holidays.)
1) Holiday Festival of Lights…
It’s downright magical how looking at holiday lights instantly gets you in the Christmas spirit. And when you’re talking TWO MILLION LIGHTS - well, that’s a giant dose of holiday cheer!
No wonder the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park has been named one of the top ten light displays in America by USA Today, and one of the best events in the Southeast. This beloved festival is back again for the 34th (!) year, with more than 750 light displays ready to wow folks of all ages.
Be sure to check out very Lowcountry light displays, like the iconic Ravenel Bridge over the Cooper River, Charleston architecture (Rainbow Row and a historic single house), and a majestic live oak tree dripping with more than 10,000 twinkling lights.
The festival kicked off November 10th and runs every night from 5:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. through New Year’s Eve.
It’s not just about piling in the car/minivan and driving through the route, as fun as that it. Once you’ve circled through, park the car. Then get out and explore some of the other great stuff that makes up the Festival of Lights… like:
- A 50-ton Sand Sculpture - In a nod to our local beaches, here’s a massive creation on a special holiday theme. Get inspired for next summer’s Piccolo Spoleto sandcastle competition on the Isle of Palms!
- The Festival Express - Take an open-air train ride through the holiday lights.
- The Victorian Carousel - Jump aboard the old-fashioned merry-go-round and pick your favorite animal to ride.
- The Climbing Wall - Try your hand at scaling the monolith. No experience necessary!
- Interactive Light Displays you can light up yourself as you stroll through the magical forest.
- Gigantic 4x8’ Holiday Greeting Cards designed by local students, competing in the Holiday Greeting Card competition.
- Santa’s Village - Shop till you drop, for gifts, decorations, stocking stuffers and more. Be sure to check out the official 24-karat gold plated collector’s ornament..
- Reindeer Workshop - Choose and build a plush animal/buddy.
- Santa’s Sweet Shoppe - Hot cocoa and sweet treats, s’mores around the firepit, kettle corn, ice cream and the like. And yes… visits with Santa, too!
2) Ice Skating in the Lowcountry
Here’s something that kicked off last year and was so wildly popular, it sold out lickety split. Luckily they’ve brought it back again, adding plenty more dates and times.
“Skate the Stadium” is a chance to experience real open-air ice skating, right here in the heart of the South. The huge Credit One Stadium on nearby Daniel Island is transformed from a tennis/concert venue into a winter wonderland. Tickets are just $10 to skate for 45 minutes on the ice, and skate rental is included.
They have some really fun special events during the skating season, like Ugly Sweater Night, the lighting of the giant Christmas tree, Jimmy Buffett Beachwear Night, Bourbon and Oysters Night, holiday carolers and a bunch more.
If all that skating leaves you hungry/thirsty, fear not, there’s hot chocolate, s’mores over the fire pit, Christmas cookies, cinnamon sugar pretzels, and adult beverages too.
Skate the Stadium kicks off the day after Thanksgiving and goes through the last Saturday in December. Read more about it on our event page, which includes a link to reserve a spot and buy tickets.
3) Let it Snow!
Also new last year was this very fun bit of holiday magic.
Head downtown to Charleston Place on Meeting Street and Market to watch real snow fall. It’s something we don’t see very often around these parts.
It happens each evening from the day after Thanksgiving through the end of December. This year they’ve added special 4:00 p.m. snows on Saturdays in December. Head to the Gingerbread House to purchase holiday treats and hot cocoa for the kids, then sidle up to the bar for adult libations like a Candy Cane Martini.
There’s no charge, but you do need reservations to get close enough to feel the snow fall on you in the Market Street Circle. Read more about it here.
4) Photos with Santa
Mount Pleasant Towne Centre is just over the Connector from the Isle of Palms. It’s perfect for your Christmas shopping, with a nice blend of national retailers and local merchants. They also do the holidays right, with loads of lights, decorations and celebrations throughout the season.
It’s also one of the best places to visit with Santa. He takes up a rather regular residence there during the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, in a very special southern outpost of the North Pole.
A professional photographer will be on hand to document the moment, for the fridge or your next Christmas card. Each child will receive a holiday treat from Sweet Julep’s Candy & Gifts.
And get this - on Mondays, pets are welcome to come and have their picture taken with Santa!
Check our event page for the whole schedule, details and a link to make your reservation, which is required.
So check out one – or four – of these terrific holiday-themed outings, and prepare to make memories.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger