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Action-Packed Jurassic World Live Tour Review: 5 Things You Need to Know

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The action-packed Jurassic World Live Tour is back in 2024! Are you wondering if you should get Jurassic World tickets for your family? We have a full review of what to expect when you see this live dinosaur show! We were given media tickets so we could review the show – all opinions are our own. The show is coming to Columbia, SC, and Charlotte, NC in January 2024, and will be in cities across the United States through March 2024, including Charleston, Birmingham, Baltimore, and Fairfax.

Jurassic World Live TRex
Jurassic World Live T-Rex

Get tickets to Jurassic World Live Tour.

This article contains affiliate links.

I’ll tell you all about the live show, what to expect, what ages this may be good for, and some mildly scary parts to think about before you go. So let’s go on with this Jurassic World Live Tour review!

I’m a big fan of the Jurassic Park movies and my kids have seen most of them – and we just really think dinosaurs are cool – so when the Jurassic World Live Tour came to town and we had the opportunity to go, I jumped on that like a T-Rex on the bad guys. After all, this is Jurassic World comes to life. 

Sneak Peek: Here’s What You’ll See at the Show

About the Jurassic World Live Tour: The Pre-Show

The Jurassic World Live Tour starts with a pre-show that anyone who has a ticket can go to. But you have to get there when the doors open an hour before the show. You’ll get to go right on the floor of the arena and see two dinosaurs – a Stegosaurus and a Triceratops – plus the baby dinosaur, baby Bumpy from Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous. The Jurassic World Jeep is on display as well as the glass globe that you’ll recognize from the movie. 

Jurassic World Live dinosaurs
Jurassic World Live Pre-Show

You’ll have the opportunity to take as many photos as you like and get pretty close to the dinosaurs as they move and blink. The show did a really great job with these creatures, making them life-size and super cool to see. 

The floor will close to guests 20 minutes before the show starts so you’ll have time to go to the restroom and get to your seats. 

Jurassic World Live Tour Reviews: The Main Show

The story line of the Jurassic World Live Tour centers on Jeanie, a Troodon dinosaur, and Dr. Kate Walker, her trainer and a scientist herself. Dr. Walker creates a device that goes atop Jeanie’s head and transmits what she is feeling, which the evil guys from Ingen want and try to get throughout the live show.

The show starts at Isla Nubar and gets right into action immediately with dirt bikes and fighting and Jeanie being captured by Ingen. But Dr. Kate Walker and her crew of scientists and hilarious interns track Jeanie down in Chile and then have to fight the bad guys even more, especially when the raptors (my favorite!) show up. 

Jurassic World Live Tour
Jeanie and Dr. Kate Walker

There are a lot of surprises that may make guests jump, like pyrotechnics, but overall, the show is fast-moving and pretty fun to watch. The 20-minute intermission comes about 35 minutes into the show when Dr. Kate and her team have to travel back to Isla Nubar to help Jeanie find her eggs and save the day. 

The second half starts off with a possible Triceratops fight after one of the interns mistakes her eggs for Jeanie’s. The Stegosaurus and her baby make an appearance here, as do more Raptors and the flying dinosaurs. The mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex rounds out the show with a bang and a lot of fire on the stage. 

Appropriate Ages for the Jurassic World Tour

What age is Jurassic Live suitable for?

I took kids ages 8-12 and all of them loved it. They got the gist of the storyline, which I don’t think younger kids will understand. But younger kids also won’t care because the show has big, lifesize, and live dinosaurs so really, what’s better than that?

The arena was filled with families who had babies through tweens. I’d say most of the kids were preschool through elementary-aged. I saw some kids cuddle up next to their parents if they were scared but I didn’t think there were a ton of scary parts. It really depends on each child. 

jurassic world live
Jurassic World Live Dinosaurs

There was a lot of (fake) fight scenes between Dr. Kate and her team and the Ingen guys. Dr. Kate gets into a one-on-one fight with a burly guy during the second half of the show and he really looks like he hits her but she gives it right back to him. One of the scientists on her team has a crush on her and saves her from this dude and they share a short kiss before heading off to rescue the rest of their team, who Ingen had captured. 

There is one part where a flying dinosaur takes off with one of the bad guys, which is typical Jurassic Park style. There is no inappropriate language and overall, the show is very family-friendly. Some older kids may think it’s cheesy but thankfully my 12-year-old thought it was great. 

As for the noise level of the Jurassic World Live Tour show, it wasn’t that loud at all. The biggest noise makers were the surprise pyrotechnics and maybe some of the music and the roars from the T-Rex. If you’ve been to a Monster Jam show, this was less than half that noise level and I don’t think ear plugs are needed. 

And if you haven’t ever seen any of the Jurassic Park movies, don’t worry, you’ll still enjoy the show. You don’t need to have seen the movies to enjoy all that the show has to offer. 

Jurassic World Live Tour Reviews: The Dinosaurs

OK, the dinosaurs are awesome. The Raptors and Jeanie are obviously people and you can see their legs, which are covered in black leggings but honestly, I hardly noticed because the movements and sounds of the dinosaurs is so real. I thought the show did such a great job with this. 

If you sit in the premium floor seats, the dinosaurs will come right up to you. It looked super cool and I was mildly jealous. 

Jurassic World raptor
Jurassic World Live Tour Raptor

The bigger dinosaurs are on rolling floor things that make them move so that may take away the “real” look of the dinosaurs but their heads and tails move independently and their eyes even blink. The T-Rex was impressive. It also moves by a controlled floor machine but man, that thing can turn on a dime. It was awesome. The jaws on all the dinosaurs move like you would think a real dinosaur would move so I felt like I wasn’t even watching the animatronics or the people that moved the dinosaurs because just watching them as a whole was pretty captivating. 

The set was also fantastic. The show did a great job making it seem like the actors and dinosaurs were in the rainforest in Isla Nubar or the desert in Chile. It was a very thought-out show all the way through and truly, a lot of fun. 

Jurassic World Live Tour: Tickets

Get tickets to Jurassic World Live Tour in a city near you.

The schedule for the Charlotte, NC show at the Spectrum Center is:

  • Friday, January 5th, 2024: Pre-show starts at 6 pm and the show starts at 7 pm 
  • Saturday, January 6th, 2024: Pre-show times are 10 am, 2 pm, and 6 pm. Show times are 11 am, 3 pm, and 7 pm.
  • Sunday, January 7th, 2024: Pre-show times are 12 pm and 4 pm. Show times are 1 pm and 5 pm.

The schedule for the Columbia, SC show at the Colonial Life Arena is:

  • Friday, January 19th, 2024: Pre-show starts at 6 pm and the show starts at 7 pm 
  • Saturday, January 20th, 2024: Pre-show times are 10 am, 2 pm, and 6 pm. Show times are 11 am, 3 pm, and 7 pm.
  • Sunday, January 21st, 2024: Pre-show times are 12 pm show time is at 1 pm.

The schedule for the North Charleston, SC show at the North Charleston Collesium is:

  • Friday, March 8th, 2024: 7 pm
  • Saturday, March 9th, 2024: 11 am, 3 pm and 7 pm
  • Sunday, March 10th, 2024: 1 pm and 5 pm

The entire Jurassic World Live Tour show runs about 1 hour and 45 minutes, which includes the 20-minute intermission. Ticket prices start at $20. 

Have you seen the Jurassic World Live Tour?

More Family Fun

Another big arena family entertainment favorite is Monster Jam. Thinking about bringing your kids to Monster Jam when those giant Monster trucks come to town? Don’t miss our Monster Jam review, where we tell you everything you need to know!

7+ Kid-Friendly New Year’s Eve Celebrations: Columbia, SC

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On the hunt for family-friendly ways to ring in the New Year? Columbia, SC is home to several spectacular NYE events and the good news is that several of them are kid-friendly! The majority of these events will be over well before midnight, leaving plenty of time to get home before the bigger celebrations begin. We’ve found events with miniature ball drops, bowling, skating, great prizes, and more!

Happy New Year from the Kidding Around Columbia team! 

New Year's in Columbia, SC

Family-Friendly New Year’s in Columbia, SC

Cold Winter’s Day 5K and Family Fun Run 

Where: 4801 Forest Drive 
Time: 5K Run & Walk at 10 am; Snowflake Youth Fun Run at 10:45 am 
Price: From $15 to $50 depending on race and sign-up date
Event Details: Kick-off your celebrations with a 5K and/or family fun run! This is a rain-or-shine event. Runners will receive a t-shirt! 

Cold Winter’s Day 5K and Family Fun Run

Noon Year’s Eve Celebration at Altitude Trampoline Park

Where: Altitude Trampoline Park – 7451 Garners Ferry Road
Time: 10:30 am until 12:30 pm
Price: $25/jumper
Event Details: Join Altitude to celebrate 2024! This includes 2 hours of jump time, a balloon drop, prizes, sparkling cider toast, and more! Be sure to purchase your tickets ASAP as this deal is limited to the first 100 jumpers.

Noon Year’s Eve Celebration – Altitude Trampoline Park

Skateland Fun Center Celebrations 

There are FOUR New Year’s Eve events at Skateland Fun Park! 

  • Kids New Years Eve Party
    • Date: Saturday December 30th, 2023
    • Time: 10:30 am until 12:30 pm 
    • Price: $7/skater – rental skates included 
    • Event Details: This event will offer plenty of family fun, balloon pop with prizes, celebratory hats and horns, and so much more! 
  • 2023 New Year Glow Party
    • Date/Time: Friday December 29th, Saturday December 30th (6 pm- 10 pm) Sunday December 31st (2 pm – 7 pm)
    • Price: $6 for 5 and younger; $8.50 for ages 6 to 11; $9 for 12 and older 
    • Event Details: This is an event for all ages! Celebrate the New Year with a fun glow party! 

Skateland Fun Center NYE Celebrations

More places to go bowling in Columbia, SC with the kids.

Dave & Buster’s New Year Celebration

Where: Dave & Buster’s – 100 Columbiana Circle, Suite 5
Time: 4 pm until 7 pm 
Price: $53.80/person
Event Details: Celebrate the New Year with your family at Dave & Buster’s. Admission includes an appetizer buffet, unlimited soda, coffee & tea, Ginger Ale toast, and $20 power card!

Dave & Buster’s New Year Celebration

Fireflies Holiday Lights – NYE Event 

Where: Segra Park – 1640 Freed Street 
Time: 5 pm until 8 pm 
Price: From $9 to $16 
Event Details: This will be your last chance to get a glimpse of the Fireflies Holiday Lights at Segra Park. There will be a kid-friendly NYE ball drop and all children in attendance will receive a voucher for a free hot dog and fountain soda! 
We visited! Check out the Kidding Around Review of Fireflies Holiday Lights.

Fireflies Holiday Lights – NYE Event

New Year’s Eve Late Night Skate

Where: Three Fountains Recreation Skating Rink and Mini Golf
Time: 7:30 pm to 2 am
Price: $12 in advance, $15 at the door
Events Details: Advanced sale tickets get to enter early at 7 pm and a pair of skates will be given away at the event.

New Year’s Eve Late Night Skate at Three Fountains

New Year’s Eve on the Lanes 

Where: AMF Bowling – 900 Axtell Drive 
Time: 9 pm until 1 am 
Price: Depends on package – more info below 
Event Details: Start 2024 off with a strike! There are two different packages to choose from: 

  • NYE Family Package
    • $26.99/person
    • 2 hours of unlimited bowling
    • Multiple time slots are available on both December 31 and January 1, 2024. 
  • NYE Ball Drop
    • $40.99/person
    • 4 hours of unlimited bowling (9 pm until 1 am)
    • $5.00 Arcade card for each guest
    • Sparkling cider and champagne toast 

New Year’s Eve on the Lanes

Fireworks: New Year’s Eve in Columbia, SC

Will there be fireworks in Columbia for New Year’s 2024?

We have confirmed with the City of Columbia that there will be fireworks for New Year’s Eve 2024.

Capital City Fireworks

Where: Downtown Columbia, SC
Time: Fireworks right after midnight
Price: Free
Event Details: For the second year in a row, this family-friendly event, Capital City Fireworks will be ringing in 2024. Families are invited to spend time in the city and stay for fireworks just after midnight. The best places to view the fireworks will be along Gervais Street and Main Street, to the north side of the SC State House.

Capital City Fireworks

Start the Year Off Outdoors

Parties and big celebrations not your style? How about starting off the year with some fresh air and exercise? There are several places right in Columbia where you can enjoy a more relaxed New Year’s Day and get in a long walk or a hike.

Holiday Lights

New Year’s Eve is often the last night to see holiday light displays. If you haven’t had a chance to drive through our Columbia holiday lights driving routes, New Year’s Eve is the night!

Christmas lights driving tour Columbia, SC

Find More Things to Do!

Still need more ideas? We have them!

Winter break in Columbia, SC

How will your family ring in the New Year?

71+ Christmas Events & Activities in Columbia, SC: Fire Up Your HO HO HO!

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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!

So, get that hot cocoa ready and cue up that holiday playlist. Bookmark this list and check back often so you don’t miss out on any of the festive fun this season in the Midlands.

Bonus: Our Special Columbia, SC Christmas Things to Do Lists

Christmas in Columbia, SC: Video

What to see this Christmas in Columbia? Sometimes you just need a sneak peek video at holiday fun to help you decide what to do to celebrate the holiday. Check out some of the cool Christmas lights and things we’ve seen this year!

Holiday events and Christmas events, things to do, Columbia, SC

Season-long Holiday Events in Columbia

South Carolina Railroad Museum Santa Train runs the first 3 Saturdays in December, 2023. Get your tickets online now!

See our HUGE guide to holiday lights in Columbia, with 20+ places to see lights in the Midlands! Including:

  • Wild Lights at Riverbanks Zoo has 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.

The Biggest List of Christmas Events in Columbia, SC

We will be adding to this list as the holiday events in Columbia heat up. Bookmark this list and check back often!

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Holiday Theater & Performing Arts

Holidays in Columbia wouldn’t be complete without holiday shows and there are so many shows and concerts to choose from! Columbia is fortunate to have the Koger Center for the Arts with a wide variety of shows for Christmas ranging from the traditional ballet The Nutcracker to holiday concerts, and more!

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Where is Santa?

Santa in Columbia, SC

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.

Christmas parade in Columbia SC

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Tree Lightings Around Columbia, SC

The trees are lit for 2023! Come back next year for more tree-lighting fun.

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After Christmas! Winter Break and New Year’s

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!

Winter break in Columbia, SC

Stay Busy! Columbia’s Winter Break Bucket List

Don’t be bored over winter break! This bucket list has 20 ways to have fun over winter break in Columbia, SC!

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Looking for more this holiday season? Don’t miss the rest of KACOLA’s holiday content!

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19+ Places to See Santa: Columbia, SC (2023)

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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.

See Santa in Columbia, SC

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.
See Santa in Columbia, SC
Santa at Duck Duck Goose, Columbia

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.

Columbiana Centre

100 Columbiana Circle, Columbia
Reserve your appointment for photos with Santa at Columbiana Centre now. Appointments are available beginning November 16th, 2023

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

Santa Experience at Beechcreek Farm

The Santa Experience at Beechcreek Farm is a private 30 minute Santa experience with a professional photographer. Cost is $250 and includes 10 professional images. More information at Beechcreek Farm facebook page including how to message them to book a spot. December dates are: December 9, 9 to 4:30, December 10 1 to 4:30, December 11, 12:30 to 4:30, December 16, 9 to 4:30, and December 17, 1 to 4:30.

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.

Free Photos with Santa at the SC State Farmers MarketNovember 4 & 5, 2023: Bring your camera and take free photos with Santa at the SC State Farmer’s Market from 1 pm to 4 pm.

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.

November 28, 2023: Santa arrives at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport. Take free photos with him from 4 pm to 7pm, bring your own camera. There will also be cookie decorating, ornament making and hot cocoa!

December 2nd, 2023: PJs With Santa at Providence Presbyterian Church from 9 am to 11 am. Enjoy a photo station with Santa, plus opportunities for games, crafts and the Nativity story shared at 10 am. FREE

December 2nd and 7th, 2023: Free photos with Santa at the Mast General Store, 12 pm to 3 pm on December 2nd, and 5 pm to 8 pm on December 7th. Bring your own camera!

Devember 2nd, 2023: Free Photos with Santa and His Friends, 4 pm to 7pm with Cayce’s Best Summer Camp & After School, and TNT Martial Arts. 1330 Knox Abbot Drive, Cayce

December 5th, 2023, 6 to 8 pm: Free Photos with Santa and the Grinch at Century 21 803 Realty, RSVP at the Facebook link above.

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.

December 15th, 2023: Visit with Santa at Papa Tony’s Pizza from 6 to 8 pm. Consider bringing a non-perishable food item to donate to Christian Assitance Bridge.

December 18th, 2023: Santa at Bruegger’s Bagels from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. Bring your camera for free photos.

Free Photos with Santa at Bass Pro Shops/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 Me at 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

Santa will also be at Riverbanks Zoo Wild Lights November 17th through December 23rd, 2023.

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

Photos with Santa at Wild Lights

We got to check out Wild Lights and it was awesome! Here’s the Wild Lights Review. While we were there we got to visit with Santa, see how it went in the video below!

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!

Winter Break is Coming.
Stay busy with activities and camps.
Winter Break Bucket List!

Wolf Ridge Tubing

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!

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Holiday Markets and Christmas Shopping Events Around Columbia, SC

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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.

holiday markets and holiday shopping in Columbia, SC

Holiday Shopping Events Near Columbia, SC

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Premier Family Guide: The (2023) South Carolina State Fair

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Have you ever been to the South Carolina State Fair in Columbia, SC? This year, the fair will be in town from October 11th to October 22nd, 2023. The SC State Fair is an exciting fall tradition that dates back over 150 years ago!

Kidding Around SC State Fair Guide

Each year, the fair brings in thousands of people from all around the state who enjoy all of the great things it has to offer – games, prizes, rides, food, and animals just to name a few! Whether this is your first year attending or if you’ve been to the State Fair in the past, keep reading as we will walk you through how to save money on tickets, what to expect inside, where to park, what to bring with you, and more! 

Scenes from the South Carolina State Fair


Get Ready for a Fun Halloween Night: Boo at the Zoo in Columbia, SC

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Are you searching for a family-friendly place to trick-or-treat and enjoy the Halloween spirit this year? It’s time to get ready for the wildest trick-or-treating event, Boo at the Zoo in Columbia, SC! Riverbanks Zoo will host its annual “Boo at the Zoo” event from October 20 through October 30, 2023. We have everything you need to know about Boot at the Zoo from a local mom. Your kids will have a blast dressing up in their costumes, trick-or-treating throughout the zoo, and experiencing other spook-tastic Halloween fun! 

5 Riverbanks Boo at the Zoo Top Parent Tips

  • Get Riverbanks Boo at the Zoo Tickets in Advance
  • Don’t forget to bring your own treat bag!
  • Come in costume, but no full face masks or scary costumes for adults.
  • Attend on a weekday if at all possible.
  • Keep it simple and have fun!
Boo at the Zoo, Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia SC.

Don’t miss the Biggest Halloween Guide in Columbia! It’s packed full of Halloween events and activities in Columbia, plus spooky day trips, haunted houses, and much more!


Get Free School Supplies in Columbia, SC (And Have Fun Doing It)

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Are you in need of free school supplies or clothing for your students this upcoming school year in and around Columbia, SC?  With the school year quickly approaching, families could be feeling extra financial pressure and we understand all the supplies, clothing, bookbags, etc. add up quickly! Fortunately local churches, community groups, schools, and organizations are planning quite a few free back-to-school supply events. Whether you’re in need of supplies, lunch boxes, backpacks, or even clothing we’ve got a lengthy list of places for you! 

Back to school free supplies in Columbia, SC

This article includes:
How Can I Get Free School Supplies for My Kids?
Columbia, SC Area Free School Supply Events

How Do I Get Free School Supplies for My Kids?

It is estimated that families will spend, on average, about $750 to get their kids ready to head back to school. While that number is shocking and stressful for so many, our Columbia community has done a fantastic job at putting together back-to-school supply drives and free events for families in need.

These events are fun and often include live music and free cook-out-style lunches in addition to a school supply giveaway. Celebrate back to school! The easiest way to get free school supplies for kids is to look for these community events. Below are several options for your kiddos to get what is on their school list in Columbia, SC.

Free School Supplies Events for Kids Near Columbia, SC

2023 Build a Backpack Event

When: July 15th, 2023 9 am to 2 pm
Where: Greenview Community Center, 6700 David Street, Columbia, SC
Details: Free school supplies from vendors, presented byt he CMMS Foundation
Build a Backpack Event

Back To School Bash Drive Thru – Richland County Recreation Department

Multiple Events!
When and Where:
July 28th, 2023 at 6 pm at North Springs Park, 1320 Clemson Road, Columbia, SC
August 3rd, 2023 at 6 pm at Meadowlake Park, 600 Beckman Road, Columbia, SC
August 4th, 2023 at 6 pm at Friarsgate Park, 1712 Chadford Road, Irmo, SC
August 10th, 2023 at 6 pm at St. Andrews Park, 920 Beatty Road, Columbia
August 11th, 2023 at 6 pm at Hopkins Park,150 Hopkins Park Road, Hopkins, SC
August 12th, 2023 at 11 am at Eastover Park, 1031 Main Street, Eastover, SC

Details: This is a drive-thru event where school supply stations will be set up throughout the parking lot. Students must be present and in the car in order to receive supplies. Supplies are a first come, first serve basis so plan to be there a few minutes early! For more information contact Melanie Comans at 803.741.7272 x 112.
Richland County Back To School Bash Drive Thru

Back to School Bash

When: July 29th, 2023 from 11 am to 3 pm
Where: 550 N. Parason Street, West Columbia
Details: Free school supplies, free food, live music, and fun
Back to School Bash

Community Back to School Bash

When: July 29th, 2023 from 10 am to 1 pm
Where: Church of Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ of The Apostolic Faith, 1632 Germany Street, Columbia
Details: Free community event with free school supplies, free food, and community resources. There will be story time and bounce houses!
Community Back to School Bash

Back to School Event: His Hands Family Outreach Services

When: July 29th, 2023 from 9 am to 1 pm (You must register in advance, by July 16th!)
Where: Radius Church, White Knoll Campus
Details: Free school supplies and free activities including haircuts for kids K-8th grade, face painting, bounce houses, lunch, and more!
Back to School Event

Free Bookbag Giveaway

When: July 29th, 2023, 10 am to 11 am
Where: Irmo Community Park, 7505 Eastview Drive Irmo, SC
Details: Arise Church will be giving away bookbags stuffed with school supplies to children (while supplies last). There will be music, bouncy houses, free food, free sports physicals, sno cones and more!
Free Bookbag Giveaway

Back 2 School Calvary Community Church

When: July 29th, 2023 from 3 pm to 5 pm
Where: Calvary Community Church, 4045 Calvary Road, West Columbia
Deatils: Free school supplies and clothing while supplies last
Back 2 School Event at Cavlary Community Church

Back to School Bash- For Children and Adults With Hearing Loss and Their Families

When: July 29th, 2023, from 9 am to 11 am
Where: Seven Oaks Park, 200 Leisure Lane, Columbia
Details: Free haircuts, free school supplies, snacks, information on resources, and visits with Juliet the therapy dog. This event is for families impacted by hearing loss.
Register in advance.

TCC Verizon – School Rocks Backpack Giveaway 

When: July 30th, 2023 1 pm
Where: TCC Verizon stores

  • TCC Irmo – 1100 Dutch Fork Rd., Ste G, Irmo, SC 29063
  • TCC Chapin – 1221 Chapin Rd., Ste G, Chapin, SC 29036
  • TCC Lexington – 851 Highway 378, Ste 104, Lexington, SC 29072 

Details: It’s the 11th anniversary of the School Rocks Giveaway and students can receive one backpack stocked with school supplies. This event giveaway is a first come, first serve basis so plan to be there early! 
School Rocks Backpack Giveaway

Back to School Bash: Rhema Word Restoration Ministries

When: July 30th, 2023 from 2 pm to 5 pm
Where: 908 North Brickyard Road, Columbia
Details: Free school supplies for kids K5- college. Free food, waterslide, bounce house, games and more.
Back to School Bash

Richland School District 2 Back to School Bash

When: August 5th, 2023, 10 am to 12 pm
Where: R2I2, 763 Fashion Drive, Columbia
Details: Free backpacks and school supplies (limited quantity) plus children’s activities, vision screenings, sports sign-up, job recruitment, and more!
Richland 2 Back to School Bash

Post 215 Back to School Bash

When: August 9th, 2023, 6 pm to 8 pm
Where: Columbia SC Louis D Simmons American Legion Post 215, 2433 Chappelle Street, Columbia
Details: Free fun and school supplies for kids
Post 215 Back to School Bash

Back 2 School Bash

When: August 12th, 2023, 10 am to 2 pm
Where: Lorick Park, 1600 Lorick Avenue, Columbia
Details: Free food, games and school supplies. This event is put on by Healthy Blue and The City of Columbia Parks.
Back 2 School Bash

Yell Out for Youth

When: August 26th, 2023 from 12 pm to 3 pm
Where: MLK Park, 2300 Greene Street, Columbia
Details: Free food, games, ice cream, school supplies, parent giveaways, and free vendors
Yell Out For Youth

Gamecock School Supplies 

When: Throughout the school year
Where: Student Success Center
Details: This service is ONLY for undergraduates of the University of South Carolina. While this service is a little different than other events listed, we wanted to get the word out to any families that have college students! The Gamecock supply closet is the newest service of the Student Success Center and offers free school supplies such as notebooks, scantrons, dry erase boards, calculators, and much, much more. Students can utilize this service once every two weeks and all undergraduates are eligible with their valid Carolina Card. 
Gamecock School Supplies

Free Things to Do in Columbia, SC

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Columbia Fireworks! 4th of July Celebrations in Columbia, SC

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Have you been on the hunt for ways to celebrate the 4th of July in Columbia, SC? It’s time to bring out the red, white and blue because there are family-friendly events happening all weekend long offering things such as parades, concerts, Columbia fireworks, baseball games, and more!

We’ve gathered a list of these Independence Day events all around Columbia, SC, and know you will find the perfect celebration for you and your family below! 

If you are looking for New Year’s Eve Fireworks in Columbia, visit our article on New Year’s Eve in Columbia, SC.

4th of July in Columbia, SC

Sumter Iris Festival: FREE Family Fun in Sumter, SC

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Have you attended the Sumter Iris Festival? Celebrating the gorgeous Iris flower and the onset of summer, the Sumter Iris Festival brings many opportunities for totally FREE family fun. That’s one reason among many that the Sumter Iris Festival is on our summer bucket list. Is it on yours? It should be! Way more than a flower show, here’s what we love about the Sumter Iris Festival and its home, Swan Lake in Sumter, South Carolina.

Iris Festival in Sumter, SC at Swan Lake

Only about an hour from Columbia, the Sumter Iris Festival is one of my favorite South Carolina festivals. I remember going as a kid and the irises becoming my favorite flower. The park includes peaceful dirt walkways around the lake, shaded by massive trees and Spanish Moss. You’ll find, nature, swans, boat rides, irises, bathrooms, and plenty to do during the Sumter Iris Festival.

Kids enjoy Sumter Iris Festival at Swan Lake

About the Sumter Iris Festival

The Sumter Iris Festival is several days long at the end of May, and it’s a great event for kids since admission and most of the kid stuff is FREE.

When is the Sumter Iris Festival?

This year, it kicks off Memorial Day weekend, on Thursday night May 25th, 2023 with the opening ceremony. The Taste event begins, with music, food vendors, boat rides, and more. Friday though, is when the family time really gears up. In fact, all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday things are happening.

You’ll find a full schedule of events on the Sumter Iris Festival Website.

Free fun for kids at the Sumter Iris Festival

Lots of FREE Things to Do at the Sumter Iris Festival

Not only does the park feature beautiful nature, gorgeous blooms in the Swan Lake Iris Gardens, vendors and performances, and an excellent playground, but it also offers kids’ rides, library story time/theater performances of The Phantom Tollbooth, free goodies, antique and classic car show, and a petting zoo.

Even better, the rides, little petting zoo, admission, and more are completely free. Kids might spot performing dance teams and theater troops, classic cars, Cocky and other mascots, and more.

Here were some of our favorite parts of last year’s Sumter Iris Festival:

  • Free kids rides
  • Free crafts/story time/goodie bags
  • Petting zoo
  • The playground with the firetruck
  • Nature
  • banana split

While all admission to the festival and most kids’ activities are free, you’ll want to bring cash/cards for parking, food, and drinks. Likewise, face painting was offered among a lot of free crafts and activities for kids but was actually very pricey, so keep an eye out for that.

Iris Flowers at Sumter, SC

Expect it to be hot as it’s the end of May (25th-28th, 2023), and expect crowds as this festival is increasingly popular as it’s been featured in Southern Living and others.

Also, expect fun!