Is your family ready for winter break in Columbia, SC? It’s almost that time. The kids will be home and looking for things to do. After all those Christmas cookies are eaten and the presents have been opened, what will do to make winter break fun and relaxing? We have some ideas, of course! We made this winter break bucket list, full of things to do over winter break in Columbia, SC!
Looking for an amazing drive-thru light display? Holiday Lights on the River in Columbia, SC may be just what you are looking for. This display features millions of lights along the 3-mile route, with themed sections of the display, lots of animation and family activities like a winter tube slide, hayride and Santa! Here’s everything you need to know about Holiday Lights on the River in Columbia, SC.
Holiday Lights on the River: The Details
The three miles of holiday lights that make up Holiday Lights on the River, make this display one of the largest in the Midlands of South Carolina and well worth the drive from the Upstate. You’ll find creatively themed sections of the display that make this drive-through light experience unique including sports-themed lights to enjoy, plus dinosaurs, trains, fairytales, snowy trees, and armed services.
Here’s a little sneak peek at what you’ll see at Holiday Lights on the River:
It was by far the best drive through display I’ve seen. Lots of movement and animation.
Holiday Lights on the River runs from November 23rd through December 31st, 2023.
Hours are 6 pm to 10 pm
Go early, and plan to wait in line, especially on the weekends
The cost is $25 per car / $50 per 12-15 passenger van / $75 for 15+ passenger vans
Your ticket includes the additional activities
Activities at Holiday Lights on the River
Admission to Holiday Lights on the River includes several activities you can stop and enjoy. However, if you choose not to stop, the lights themselves are still well worth the admission fee.
Winter Wonderland tube slide
Laser light show
Letter writing station to Santa
Santa visits November 24th and 25th, December 1st and 2nd, December 8th and 9th, and December 15th though the 23rd, 2023. Photo packages are an additional cost.
Are you looking for places to see Santa in Columbia, SC this holiday season? Wondering where to see Santa near you? Santa is visiting lots of places around Columbia in 2023. His elves at the North Pole are sending us his appearance list as dates are announced, so bookmark this page and check back regularly. We’ll be updating almost as fast as those elves.
This list includes all kinds of events with Santa on the guest list. Check back soon for more 2023 events!
Santa Brunches and Cookies with Santa
Parades where Santa is expected to make an appearance
Tree Lightings hosted by Santa in Columbia
Places to get a picture with Santa
Places to visit with Santa near Columbia, SC
Holiday markets with Santa
Santa’s visit schedule with stops in Columbia, Lexington, West Columbia, and more across the South Carolina Midlands.
Columbia Mall Santa and More Places to Get Pictures with Santa
Where can I take pictures with Santa in Columbia SC?
Ready for photos with Santa? If you’re looking for a place to visit Santa and get some pictures with the big man in red, this is the list you’re looking for. Find places to get professional photos with Santa in the Columbia area here.
Pancakes and PJs with Santa: Photos by Lovejoy Photogrpahy
St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 119 N Church St, Lexington Friday, December 8th from 5:30 to 7 pm $20 per child (one free adult per child) $10 per additional adult or child. Enjoy pancakes in your PJs with Santa and get professional photos with Santa taken by Lovejoy Photography. Each child will also get a craft. Pancakes and PJS with Santa Event
Free Photos With Santa in Columbia, SC
Where can I take my own pictures with Santa in Columbia?
Where can I get free pictures with Santa in Columbia, SC?
Santa knows budgets are tight. We so love the totally FREE opportunities to visit with Santa around Columbia, and we love FREE pictures with Santa even more.
November 26, 2023 from 8 to 9 am, Breakfast with Santa at Flying Biscuit Cafe: eat breakfast at Flying Biscuit Cafe in Five Points and get a free photo with Santa. (There is no cost for a photo with Santa, breakfast menu is at regular cost. )
November 28, 2023:Pets take pictures with Santa for free, and kids and families are welcome to join in. Sponsored by Make a Friend in Animals. This event is at the White Knoll Veterinary Hospital.
December 14th, 2023: Santa at Top Dawg Tavern, no cost for photos. Santa will be visiting from 5:30 to 8:30 pm and there will be food and beverage deals in addition to the regular menu. Village at Sandhill
December 15th, 2023: Cookies with Santa 2 pm to 5 pm, get your photo taken with Santa and enjoy cookies at Mingo’s Cookies and Bubble Tea in Lexington.
Free Photos with Santa at Cabela’s: Includes a FREE Printed 4×6 photo!
Head up to the road to Greenville or Fort Mill, SC to Cabela’s. Visit with Santa and get a totally FREE photo with Santa at Cabela’s. The photo is a professional, quality printed 4×6 photo. There are additional free activities, a letterbox to mail your list to Santa, and you can enjoy the wildlife and aquarium displays throughout the store. Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops Free Photos with Santa at Santa’s Wonderland
Events with Santa in and near Columbia, SC
Ready to bring the kids to see the red-suited jolly man and his elves? Here’s where you can see Santa Claus in Columbia, SC in 2023!
Santa’s elves promised to update us as they added new appearances to Santa’s schedule. So, bookmark our list and check back soon.
Santa and Meat EdVenture Children’s Museum benefits the Prisma Health Children’s Hospital. Kids can visit with Santa and take a photo, make a special plate with Mad Platter, decorate ornaments to donate to the children’s hospital and more. The tickets are $20. November 19, 2023 12 pm to 4 pm
Ride a train with Santa the first 3 Saturdays in December at the South Carolina Railroad Museum. There are a number of train rides with tickets still available throughout each Saturday, December 2, 8 and 16th, 2023. Tickets start at $17 for ages 3 and up. Ticket prices will vary based on the car you select. Purchase tickets for SCRM Santa Trains online
Track Santa on Christmas Eve
Didn’t see Santa yet this year? Don’t worry! There are a couple of ways for you to track him on his Christmas Eve journey.
NORAD Tracks Santa
In 1955 a young man accidentally called the Continental Air Defense Command asking if they had seen Santa flying through the sky. While the child had meant to call a Santa Hotline, the person who answered the phone that Christmas Eve just happened to be the Commander in Chief, Colonel Harry Shoup. He instructed his team to keep looking for Santa on the radar screens and ever since NORAD has been tracking Santa annually. The NORAD Santa Tracker
To track Santa on Christmas Eve night, join the team at NORAD, and you will be able to watch them track “Big Red 1” in real-time as he makes his way across the world.
I Heart Radio’s North Pole Radio
The I Heart Radio streaming service has a station dedicated to all things Christmas, It includes 24/7 Christmas music, plus Santa will be checking in with listeners on Christmas Eve with updates!
After Christmas! Winter Break and New Year’s
Once Santa has returned to the North Pole, how will you fill the rest of the holiday season? We have some ideas, of course!
Time to celebrate the start of 2024! How will you celebrate with your family in Columbia this year? We have 7 family-friendly celebrations for New Year’s in Columbia, plus a few more ways you can ring in the New Year!
More Holiday Fun Around Columbia, SC
These Restaurants Will Be Open For Christmas: Columbia, SC
Enjoy Holiday Lights on the River (2023): Columbia, SC
20+ Totally FREE Holiday Things to Do & Christmas Activities in Columbia, SC
Love watching holiday classic movies on the big screen? Good news! You can watch classic holiday movies at Regal Cinemas this year for just $5. It’s all happening starting the weekend of November 26th, 2023 through December 23rd, 2023! Bring the family for a budget-friendly day out with some of your favorite Christmas movies. We have the schedule and all the details!
Regal Cinemas Holiday Classics Return to the Theater
What Christmas movies will be playing in 2023 at Regal Cinemas?
November 26th, 2023: Elf December 2nd and 3rd 2023: The Polar Express December 3rd, 2023: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation December 9th, 2023: Elf December 10th, 2023: The Grinch December 16th, 2023: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation December 17th, 2023: The Polar Express December 23rd, 2023: The Grinch
Tickets to holiday moves at Regal Cinemas are only $5.
Sweeten the Deal: Regal Christmas Concession Deals
What’s a trip to the movies without popcorn and other treats? Good news, you can get a free $10 gift card for concessions when you purchase a $50 Regal gift card. While you can’t use the concession gift card right away, because it’s only valid from January 1st through February 28th, 2024, you can buy your $50 gift card and use it for a gift or even your tickets and snacks now. Then come January you can grab tickets to a new release and enjoy your free popcorn.
Note that gift cards must be purchased in-store for the promotion.
What are you doing for the holidays in Columbia? Are you looking for holiday events and things to do, places to shop, or maybe a place to visit with Santa? How about a parade, cookie decorating class, or Christmas light show? You’ve found the Kidding Around Holiday Guide to Columbia and it is packed with holiday fun and Christmas things to do around Columbia.
Holiday Events and Things to Do Around Columbia
We have a huge event guide for the holidays around Columbia and it’s full of family-friendly things to do over the Christmas and Holiday Season including parades, tree-lightings, craft events, and more. There’s no reason to be bored this time of year!
Visit one of the locally owned coffee shops in Columbia for delicious coffee and holiday treats. There’s nothing cozier as the weather cools down than the perfect cup of coffee and peppermint treat, or maybe a gingerbread muffin. Yum.
Visit Santa! Places to See Santa Around Columbia, SC
Whether you’re looking for a place to get a photo with Santa or just a place to wave at the jolly man in red, this is the list for you! We have a bit of an elf connection and know Santa’s appearance schedule in Columbia.
Where to See Christmas Lights Displays in Columbia
Driving through elaborate displays of holiday lights is a time-honored family tradition for celebrating the season. Columbia has some amazing drive-thru light displays, plus some cool walk-through displays and even some free options. Holiday lights don’t get much better than this.
Where do you get your family’s Christmas Tree? Not sure? Wondering where you can go to cut-your-own tree or visit with Santa? Maybe you’re looking for a place to just quickly pick out a wreath and skip the crowds?
We have 20+ ideas for completely free, family holiday fun in Columbia. Then, we threw in a few cheap options under $5 per person. To top it all off we added a couple of totally free holiday things to do in nearby cities so you can head out on a whole day trip full of free fun!
Restaurants Open for Christmas in Columbia, SC
What restaurants are open on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve in Columbia, SC?
They are serving meals this holiday season with both dine-in and take-out options. We have everything from steakhouse restaurants open on Christmas to great places to grab a festive dessert. Eat well this holiday season!
What is there to do in Columbia this holiday season? Where are the holiday events near me? If you’re looking for Christmas events in Columbia, SC, and holiday season activities, you have come to the right place. We’ll be updating this huge list all season long with holiday parades, seasonal live entertainment, theater, live music, crafts, Santa, tree lighting, light displays, Christmas carols, and lots more! Get ready for Christmas Day and celebrate the season with all of these fun, festive holiday events!
Wild Lights at Riverbanks Zoohas dates starting November 17th through January 14th, 2023. This is an all-new lights experience at Riverbanks Zoo. The experience will include visits with Santa through December 23rd.
So many holiday shows and concerts to choose from! Columbia is fortunate to have the Kroger Center with a wide variety of shows for Christmas ranging from the traditional ballet The Nutcracker to holiday concerts, and more!
If you’re looking for the big man in red, you’ll want to pop over to our exclusive Santa page. The elves gave us the inside scoop on all of Santa’s visits around Columbia, and we’re passing them on to you. So, go visit Santa in Columbia, SC!
Christmas and Holiday Parades Around Columbia
Is there anything better than a Christmas parade when it comes to free, festive fun? Grab some hot chocolate, pack up some Christmas cookies, bring the kids, and enjoy some holiday season fun!
Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade
The 2023 Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade in Downtown Columbia, SC will be held on December 2nd, 2023. The parade begins at the intersection of Sumter Street and Laurel Street at 9:45 am. The parade route ends at Senate Street.
Time to celebrate the start of 2023! How will you celebrate with your family in Columbia this year? We have 7 family-friendly celebrations for New Year’s in Columbia, plus a few more ways you can ring in the New Year!
Looking for the perfect gift? Your gift list is long and time is short. We have some great ideas for everyone on your list. From places to shop local, to the gifts teens want this year, and what to get your child’s teacher, this gift guide has it all. Happy shopping!
Shopping Local in Columbia, SC
Don’t you just love finding the perfect gift? Shopping local is a great opportunity to find unique, one-of-a-kind gifts they will love.
Giving a gift to a whole family is a great idea and experience gifts make exceptionally good family gifts. You can give the gift of zoo admission, a family dinner night out, or a fun art class. And of course, we have lots more ideas!
The new Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming to nearby Greenville, SC at The Bonsecours Wellness Arena in February. Kidding Around was invited to view the show in Milwaukee so we have a great Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus review for you. Check it out and then put some circus tickets under the tree this year.
Are you shopping for a teen this year? If you’re struggling to find quality gifts for the teen in your life, you’re not alone. Teens are not easy to buy for. Too old for toys. Those electronics on the wish list are way too expensive, and that funky pair of socks just doesn’t seem like quite enough.
So, we consulted some local teens to gather some ideas.
When you just can’t load your house up with any more legos, stuffed animals, or toy cars, but still want to get the kids something they’ll love, try thesefun but practical gifts for kids.
Board Games for Every Age
Board games make an awesome family night, are great for quality time with the kids, and are an amazing no-screen alternative. They deliver brain-building strategy, opportunities for teamwork, and light-hearted fun with the kids. Check out our list of great board games for the whole family.
Teacher Gifts: Dos and Don’ts
What will you give your child’s teacher this year? Those “Number 1 Teacher” mugs and notebooks don’t seem like they’ll cut it this year, but what do you get that they’ll love and is also in your budget? We asked some teachers and came up with some great ideas, plus a few Dos and Don’ts for giving teachers gifts.
Ready to shop from small businesses and vendors this holiday season in Columbia? If you’re looking for opportunities to shop local, nothing beats a vendor fair or holiday market full of handmade gifts, crafts, and tasty treats. They are the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list, plus, you know you’ll be supporting local people and your local economy with your holiday purchases.
With that in mind, we made this list of local holiday shopping events in Columbia, SC. We will be updating throughout the 2023 holiday season as more fabulous local shopping events are announced.
Ready to celebrate Thanksgiving in Columbia, SC? This guide brings you all the information you need, whether you’re looking for a place to dine out, some suggestions on sides and pies you can order and serve at home, or things to do to keep your family and guests busy and having fun over Thanksgiving break.
Looking for kids eat free deals on meals and treats for Halloween? There are some really great promotions happening for Halloween in Columbia, SC, plus all the usual Kids Eat Free deals in Columbia. Yay! We love free things. Here’s where kids can get free meals and treats for Halloween in Columbia, SC.
Kids Eat Free (or Cheap) in Columbia for Halloween
Columbia Wear your costume to a Krispy Kreme shop on Halloween for a FREE doughnut of your choice! More info and other Halloween promotions can be found on the Krispy Kreme website.
Chuck E Cheese
Columbia October 2 through October 31 – Receive 30 minutes of All You Can Play FREE every day when you buy 60 minutes or more. Get 100 bonus E-Tickets for wearing a costume! Be sure to check out the Haunted House Dance Party which includes free candy at all 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 pm shows. More information about Chuck E Cheese’s Halloween Boo-tacular can be found online.
Offer: Free kids meal for kids who come dressed in a costume on Halloween, dine in only. Location: 139 Columbiana Drive, Columbia, SC 29212 Fazolis – Columbiana Drive
Offer: October 24 through October 31 kids age 12 and under get a free Scary Face Pancake from 4 pm – 10 pm with purchase of an adult entree. Location: All locations IHOP
Offer: $0.50 Corn Dogs all day on Halloween only and half-off cheeseburgers after 5 pm (every Tuesday). Locations: All Locations
Offer: Kids eat free every Tuesday after 4 pm with the purchase of an adult meal with a special kids party from 5-7 pm once a month. Check website for details. Location: 2708 Clemson Road, Columbia, SC 29229 East Bay Deli Clemson Road
Offer: Kids 12 and under eat free with the purchase of an adult meal after 5 pm Locations: 7490 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia, SC 29209 2504 Augusta Road, West Columbia, SC 29169 Ruby Tuesday Meal Deals