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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, 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! 

Capital City Fireworks

Where: Downtown Columbia, SC
Time: Fireworks are at midnight
Price: Free
Event Details: Replacing the popular Famously Hot New Year’s event in 2022, is the family-friendly event, Capital City Fireworks. Families are invited to spend time in the city and stay for fireworks at 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.

City parking garages will all be free for this event. In fact, you’ll find free parking at all city-run garages from December 30th, 2022 through January 3rd, 2023.

Capital City Fireworks

Cold Winter’s Day 5K and Family Fun Run 

Where: 4801 Forest Drive 
Time: 5K 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: $16/jumper
Event Details: Join Altitude to celebrate 2023! 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. Tickets should be purchased on or before December 29th. 

Noon Year’s Eve Celebration – Altitude Trampoline Park

Skateland Fun Center Celebrations 

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

  • Kids New Year Celebration 
    • Time: 10:30 am until 12:30 pm 
    • Price: $6/skater – rental skates included 
    • Event Details: This event will offer plenty of family fun, prizes, candy scramble, celebratory hats and horns, and so much more! 
  • 2023 New Year Glow Party
    • Time: 6 pm until 10 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: $36.53/person
Event Details: Celebrate the New Year with your family at Dave & Buster’s. Admission includes an appetizer buffet, unlimited drink options, Ginger Ale toast, $20 power card, party hats, and more! 

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 at 7 pm complete with sparkling cider and plenty of fun! 
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 dor
Events Details: Advanced sale tickets get to enter early at 7 am. Skate and mini golf 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 Bash 2023 

Where: The Grand – 1621 Main Street 
Time: 7:oo pm until 2 am 
Price: No tickets necessary for General Admission 
Event Details: This will be a New Year’s Bash featuring outdoor games, indoor bowling, a DJ, and a countdown to the New Year! 

New Year’s Eve Bash 2023

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 2023 off with a strike! There are two different packages to choose from: 

  • NYE Family Package
    • $35.99/person
    • 2 hours of unlimited bowling
    • Multiple time slots are available on both December 31 and January 1, 2023. 
  • NYE Ball Drop 
    • $60.99/person
    • 4 hours of unlimited bowling (9 pm until 1 am) 
    • Sparkling cider and champagne toast 

New Year’s Eve on the Lanes

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

Christmas Light Driving Tour

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!

Find More Things to Do!

Still need more ideas? We have them!

Winter break camps and things to do in Columbia, SC

How will your family ring in the New Year?

These Restaurants Will Be Open For Christmas: Columbia, SC

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On the hunt for restaurants open on Christmas Day in Columbia, SC? The good news is we’ve got a large list of delicious places open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! Several of these restaurants have both dining-in and carry-out options available. Make Christmas with your family a little merrier and enjoy a bite to eat from one of the restaurants below! 

It is important to note that the majority of these restaurants require reservations in order to serve you throughout Christmas. Be sure to call ahead or go online to book your reservation! We recommend doing this ASAP as these restaurants will become booked very quickly. 

Columbia, SC Restaurants Open for Christmas

Christmas restaurants open in Columbia, SC

Local Restaurants Open on Christmas Eve in Columbia, SC 

Blue Marlin

Address: 1200 Lincoln Street – 803.799.3838
Details: The popular Columbia restaurant, Blue Marlin, can be found in The Vista. They will be open for Christmas Eve and serve food such as soup & salad, Lowcountry classics, and steaks. 
Blue Marlin


Address: 1215 Assembly Street – 803.451.0051
Details: TBA

Kao Thai Cuisine 

Address: 1001 Senate Street – 803.569.6881
Details: This Pan-Asian restaurant will be offering fresh, modern thai, cocktails, and outdoor seating options that is sure to be perfect for you and your family! One unique thing about this restaurant is that it now occupies the former Columbia Fire Dept. Headquarters, the first business to do so since 1994. 
Kao Thai Cuisine

Columbia, SC: Chain Restaurants Open on Christmas Eve

BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse 

Address: 148 Harbison Blvd – 803.828.5850
Details: There is truly something for everyone at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhg it the perfect place to take your family on Christmas Eve! They’ve got burgers, dessert, pasta, pizza, and so much more.  
BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse

California Dreaming 

Address: 401 Main Street – 803.254.6767
Details: California Dreaming will be open on Christmas Eve from 11 am to 6 pm. They will offer their regular menu as well as curbside pick-up.  
California Dreaming

Cracker Barrel 

Address: Several locations across Columbia to choose from 
Details: Cracker Barrel will be open on Christmas Eve, but closed on Christmas Day. Along with their regular menu, you can also order meals online that serve up to 10 people. Desserts are also available for pre-order. 
Cracker Barrel

Fatz Cafe

Address: 942 E Main Street, Lexington – 803.808.1905
Details: Fatz Cafe will be offering regular menu items as well as Holiday Meals to-go. There should be at least a 24-hour notice before pick-up on holiday meals, however, the turkey will go fast so placing your order sooner rather than later would be best! 
Fatz Cafe

Halls Chophouse 

Address: 1221 Main Street, Suite 150 – 803.563.5066
Details: Halls will be open on Christmas Eve from 11 am to 9 pm. From soups, salads, seafood, and steaks, this will be a dining experience you won’t soon forget. 
Halls Chophouse

Lizard’s Thicket 

Address: Several locations across Columbia to choose from 
Details: Lizard’s Thicket will be open on Christmas Eve from 6 am until noon. They will be offering all of their normal menu items. 
Lizard’s Thicket

The Melting Pot 

Address: 1410 Colonial Life Boulevard W, Suite 130 – 803.731.8500
Details: Open on Christmas Eve from noon until 5:00 pm, the Melting Pot will be offering its full menu! 
The Melting Pot

Restaurants Open on Christmas Day & Christmas Eve in Columbia, SC 

Hanabi Hibachi & Sushi 

Address: 1626 Main Street – 803.766.0128
Details: This restaurant will be serving from their full-size, regular menu. Here you will find not only delicious food, but also a wonderful experience for everyone! 
Hanabi Hibachi & Sushi

The Grand on Main 

Address: 1621 Main Street – 803.766.0151
Details: At this super cool restaurant you can not only eat but also go bowling with your family! They will be offering their regular menu for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! The bowling lanes can be found in the back of the restaurant. Such a great way to spend quality time with your family throughout the holidays! 
The Grand on Main


Address: 1643 Main Street – 803.567.5599 
Details: Smoked will be open on Christmas Eve from 10 am until midnight and on Christmas Day beginning at 5 pm. This restaurant will give you a fine dining, yet casual experience. They’ve got a large outdoor seating area, a delicious oyster bar, meat & cheese boards, and steak flights, just to name a few. 

The Venue 

Address: 1626 Main Street – 803.393.7915
Details: The Venue is a dueling piano bar right in the heart of Columbia, SC. They will be open this year on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day serving from their regular menu. What’s even more cool is that they will be decked out with Christmas lights and extra holiday fun all throughout the month of December. 
The Venue

Steakhouses Open For Christmas: Columbia, SC 

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

Address: 924-A Senate Street – 803.212.6666
Details: Open for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Ruth’s Chris will be offering sit-down and take-out options. Your meal will include a starter, your choice between 2 entrees, a choice of sides, and a seasonal dessert. Take-out dinners need to be ordered at least 48 hours in advance, but earlier would be best!  
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse 

Address: 1508 Main Street – 803.728.0887
Details: This steakhouse will be open on Christmas Eve only for both inside dining and take-out options. 
Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse

Christmas Dessert Restaurants 

The Robinson Room

Address: 1621 Main Street – 803.714.3375
Details: Open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, at this swanky dessert and cocktail lounge, you are sure to find something to satisfy your cravings! The Robinson Room can be found hidden in the lower level of The Grand on Main. They will be offering award-winning desserts such as Pumpkin Hazelnut Cheesecake, Dark Chocolate Torte, Pomegranate Chocolate Bombe, amazing cocktails, and more! 
The Robinson Room

Want Pie?

Yes, holidays and pie go together. Here are some great local bakeries and restaurants where you can pick up some pies for your holiday table! Get your pies in Columbia, SC!

Know of any restaurants open on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day that we missed? Please let us know in the comments!

Parents: You Don’t Need to do All the Christmas Things

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The Christmas season is supposed to be all about joy, peace, and a fleeting holiday spirit that seems to be gone quicker than a wispy trail of smoke once the dishes are done after Thanksgiving dinner. It’s all of a sudden a whirlwind of school holiday parties, making a list of gifts and going all out to fulfill that list, trying to create magic at home with an elf just because everyone else is seemingly doing it, taking a holiday overnight trip, and trying to see all the Christmas lights and displays because your family will be deprived if they don’t do that. 

This is for all you parents who are hanging by a thread trying to make this season the most spectacular of all for your kids and just don’t know if you can hang on much longer. To all of you: you don’t need to do all the things. 

Your Christmas tree doesn’t need a giant stack of presents under it. Your kids don’t need the latest toys. You don’t need to stretch yourself so thin trying to cram the most you can into this holiday season. You and your kids are not deprived if you don’t do it all, buy it all, and sacrifice your sanity for an experience, toy, or magical experience that will soon be forgotten. 

Don't do it all at Christmas

You don’t need to do it all

Last year, parents estimated they would spend about $276 on Christmas gifts for each of their kids and a whopping 41% of Americans were willing to go into debt for gift-giving. Meanwhile, the estimated worth of unwanted gifts hovers around $15 billion. Those aren’t small figures, especially in today’s world where many families are struggling with everyday bills. Kids don’t need the latest toy, the most expensive phone, and all the other material things that they’ll forget in a month’s time. Smaller gifts or experience gifts, like memberships to places you and your family go often (hello, SC Parks Pass!) go a long way towards making great memories together all year long. 

I’m not sure why we parents sometimes feel like we need to do all the things during the Christmas season. Maybe social media, maybe endless ads, maybe just talking with friends about all the cool stuff they are doing, or maybe it’s what our parents did with us that we are trying to replicate with our own kids. Whatever the reason, it’s totally fine – more than fine – to back off from the deluge of activities that come with this season. 

You aren’t depriving your kids if you don’t do it all

Your kids will be okay if they aren’t doing everything their friends are doing and it’s a good opportunity for them to learn that not doing everything their friends are doing isn’t something to be ashamed about. We all have our own struggles and priorities and I think it’s good to learn early on that kids don’t need to fit in to have fun. I wish I would have learned that a lot earlier than I did in life. 

I didn’t grow up doing a ton of activities during the Christmas season. Sometimes our family would take a trip together, which was a blast. We would go during Christmas and experience it in another state or town and have fun together exploring a new city and making dinner together in a small kitchen in our hotel room. It was awesome.

We didn’t do parades but we did go drive around looking at Christmas lights in neighborhoods with popcorn that we cooked over the stove and tried not to let explode all over the kitchen. We had fun decorating our Christmas tree together. One year my dad found a tree that legit looked like the poor little tree from Charlie Brown’s Christmas and it turned into the joke that never ended year after year since we couldn’t do worse than that tree. 

I don’t remember the gifts I got or gave. I don’t remember sitting for Santa photos. The memories from the Christmas season that remain are those with my family. I do remember one gift: it was tickets to a New Jersey Nets (a professional basketball team) the day after Christmas or so. I had played basketball with a passion as a tween and teenager and that gift was special. That’s really all I remember in terms of gifts. 

Choosing sanity

Because of those memories and because I have zero desire to drive myself crazy during these weeks leading up to Christmas, I intentionally try to minimize what we do. While I love writing about new activities for Christmas for Kidding Around, aside from those excursions, I try to take these weeks of Advent to spend quality time together with my kids. We go look at Christmas lights, go ice skating, go to live nativities and remember the real reason for this season, take time to volunteer, and read books together on Christmas. And, I intentionally try to not go overboard on gifts for my kids. 

I want to get to Christmas and not be completely worn out or fed up or just plain unhappy. After all, this is indeed a season of joyful expectation. If you’ve got to seriously scale back your calendar to be happier and less stressed, then by all means, do it. You truly don’t need to do it all so your kids can experience the magic of the season. They will remember the special moments with you above all else and that’s what matters.

Experience A New Holiday Tradition: Fireflies Holiday Lights, Columbia, SC

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Have you made a trip to the Fireflies Holiday Lights yet? The Fireflies Holiday Lights is a brand new tradition here in Columbia, SC, and is all the rave this year! The Segra Park baseball stadium, home of the Fireflies, is decked out in tons of twinkling lights and interactive displays, there are several “stations” for families to stop and enjoy seasonal treats and kid-friendly crafts, and even booths for holiday shopping! We recently had the chance to go and highly suggest you and your family check it out. 

Fireflies Holiday Lights

Don’t Miss Out on This New Tradition in Columbia, SC 

This is the very first year that Segra Park has put on the Fireflies Holiday Light show! This event will run from November 19 through December 31, 2022. It is such a well-done, magical, winter wonderland that we think will stick around for years to come. There are over 1 MILLION beautiful lights all throughout the stadium. We would recommend setting aside about 2 hours to be able to fully enjoy all this event has to offer – lights, s’mores roasting, letters to Santa, etc. 

Lights at Segra Park

So Many Lights! 

Upon entering the light show, traffic will flow to the left where you will be able to walk around the whole upper deck of the stadium. You’ll see a huge Christmas tree (perfect for a family photo-op), reindeer, elves, and more! Also towards the beginning of your walk will be a concession stand that serves things such as hamburgers, fries, hot dogs, and chicken tenders. 

Once you make your way around the top, you can walk down a flight of stairs to the field. Strollers and drinks are not permitted on the field, but there is a stroller parking area as well as tables or trash cans to dispose of any beverages. Walking on the field is cool on its own, but it’s so much more special with all of the light displays! My son loved running through the twinkling tunnel in the outfield.  

What is there to do at the Fireflies Holiday Lights? 

Aside from all of the lights displays, there are so many opportunities for family-friendly fun! There is a really neat space that my family stayed at for a while with fire pits, s’more roasting, and large games. We had such a great time roasting s’mores and then my son found another group of kiddos to play jumbo Jenga and Connect 4 with.  

Smores at Segra Park Fireflies Holiday Lights

Another stop you can make are the craft tables! Here you will find activity books for kids, letters to Santa, and Santa’s giant red mailbox. 

Know Before you Go: Fireflies Holiday Lights 

Tickets for Fireflies Holiday Lights

All tickets MUST be purchased online. While you can purchase them on your phone at the entry gates, it is best to plan a bit ahead and buy them a few days before your trip. QR Codes will either be texted or emailed to you and scanned at the entrance. Ticket prices vary depending on day and age: 

  • Now until December 16
    • Sunday – Thursday: $9/child and $12/adult 
    • Friday and Saturday: $11/child and $14/adult 
  • December 17 through December 31
    • $12/child
    • $16/adult 
  • Military, seniors, and first responders receive $2 off 
  • Ages 2 and under are FREE 
Santa's letter box at Segra Park

Clear Bags Only 

I am usually prepared for these clear bag-only situations, however, it completely slipped my mind when we packed up to go to the lights. Since the event is held inside the Segra Park stadium, the clear bag policy is still in place. No diaper bags, bookbags, large fanny packs, etc. will be permitted. 

Plenty of Seating 

My family and I went on a Sunday and took advantage of the free hotdog and drink for kids! We originally thought there weren’t enough seating options to sit and eat, however, as you keep traveling around the stadium there are PLENTY of seats and tables all along the walkways. So, if there aren’t open seats near the concessions (which will likely be the case) just walk to the left a little bit and you’ll be sure to find some! 

Cashless Facility 

Segra Park is a cashless facility and will remain this way for the light show. However, if you do have cash, you can exchange it for gift cards at guest services. Gift cards can then be used at the concession stand and team store. 

Viewing lights at Segra Park

Nightly Deals and Promos 

Each night throughout the week will feature special promotions and activities such as: 

  • Monday – Mason Monday
    • The only day of the week that Mason, the Firefly mascot, will be at the lights 
  • Tuesday – Scavenger Hunt
    • Go on a holiday scavenger hunt where winners will receive a special gift
  • Wednesday – WLTX Wag-Along
    • Leashed dogs are welcome to join you at the lights! Be sure to bring bags for cleaning-up after them 
  • Thursday – Ugly Christmas Sweaters
    • ½ priced sodas and draft beer 
  • Friday – Home Depot Kids Craft Corner
    • Make a special craft! 
  • Saturday – Santa Saturday
    • Santa will be available for pictures from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm 
    • Santa will NOT be at the stadium on the Saturday of Christmas Eve 
  • Sunday – Kids Eat Free
    • Children under 12 years old will get a voucher (at guest services inside the entrance) for a free hot dog and drink 
Segra Park lights

Fireflies Lights NYE Event 

New Year’s Eve will be your last chance to see the magic of the Fireflies Holiday Lights. On December 31, the park will be open from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. There will be a ball drop for kids happening at 7:00 pm where there will also be celebratory sparkling cider available. Such a fun opportunity to ring in the New Year with your family and friends! 

Fireflies Holiday Lights – Segra Park 
1640 Freed Street
Columbia, SC 29201 

Open from November 19 through December 31, 2022 
Hours: Sunday – Thursday from 6 pm to 9 pm
Friday & Saturday from 6 pm to 10 pm 

Did your family enjoy the Fireflies Holiday Lights? What was your favorite light display?

Visit Bryson City, NC for the Holidays

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Are you searching for a family-friendly place to have a small getaway this winter? Have you ever been to Bryson City, NC? Most known for the Polar Express, there is so much more than just the train ride to do and explore in this friendly mountain town. They’ve got a drive-thru light show, outdoor ice skating, delicious food, and much more! 

Bryson City: A Real-Life Christmas Wonderland 

Bryson City is a quaint, peaceful mountain town along the Great Smoky Mountains. Just a quick 3 to 4 hour drive from Columbia, SC, this makes for the perfect weekend getaway. During winter each year, Bryson City transforms into a real-life Christmas wonderland with beautiful decor, twinkling lights, and Christmas magic all around. My family recently took a quick 1-night trip to the mountains and we spent one of our evenings exploring Bryson City. I left wishing we would have had more time to spend and know we will definitely be returning! 

Tree farms in Bryson City, NC

Things to do in Bryson City, NC for the Holidays

Take a Ride on the Polar Express 

One of the most popular things to do in Bryson City over the holidays is the Polar Express Train Ride! My family recently got to experience this magical event and both of my kids (ages 4 and 1) absolutely loved it. Be sure to check out the Kidding Around Pplar Express review for more tips and info! 

Bryson City Polar Express

Explore the Smoky Mountain Train Museum 

The train museum sits right next to the railroad tracks and is a great place to pass the time while waiting to board a train ride! Inside the museum, there is a huge display of model trains that are so fascinating to watch! My son loved pointing out all of the detailed features he saw. With a train ticket, entrance into the museum is free! 

Along with the model train display, the museum also offers a large gift shop area with plenty of trinkets and souvenirs. 

Smoky Mountain Train Museum

Smoky Mountain Rail

Go Outdoor Ice Skating

Outdoor ice skating is such a fun, classic winter activity! Unfortunately, on the evening we were there, the ice rink was not open, but now that I know it’s there we will be sure to plan accordingly for future visits. Along with ice skating, there is also a food truck and full-time bar. For $20 per person you will get 1 hour of skating time, skate rentals (smallest size is youth size 9), and 1 hot chocolate! Hours are as follows:

  • Thursdays and Fridays from 4 pm to 8 pm
  • Saturdays and Sundays from 1 pm to 8 pm

The Yard Ice Skating

Drive-Thru the Smoky Mountain Christmas Light Show

If you’re looking to do something fun with the kids in the evenings, this drive-thru light show would be perfect for you! There will be several wintery, magical scenes to drive-thru and you’ll be able to listen to festive music along your route. A great way to get the whole family into the Christmas spirit! 

They will be open from 6 pm to 10 pm, daily throughout December with the exception of being closed on Christmas Day. 

Smoky Mountain Christmas Light Show

Bryson City shops

Visit the Local Shops 

With so many locally-owned shops and businesses to choose from, picking a favorite would be hard! We popped into a few and really enjoyed all of the Christmas shops. We purchased an ornament from Uncle Bunky’s Christmas Cottage where they also had tons of holiday decor, small toys, sweet treats, etc. Loose Moose is another great gift store with lots of unique items to choose from. 

Madison’s on Main and Humanite Boutique are both great options for trendy women’s clothing! There are also several antique stores around that are always fun to browse through – you never know what you might find! 

Enjoy a Tasty Sweet Treat 

If you’re anything like me, the sweet tooth is at an all-time high throughout the holidays. The good news is, Bryson City has so many opportunities for delicious treats! After our ride on the Polar Express we stopped into the Heavenly Fudge Depot and let me just say, it lived up to its name! The peanut butter fudge from here was divine. They also had several festive sweet treats for kids – chocolate “believe” tickets and trains, cookies, bite-sized sweets, and more! 

The Chocolate Shoppe, Soda Pop’s Ice Cream, and Pop-N-Jacks Gourmet Popcorn are also great options to cure the sweet tooth! The popcorn from Pop-N-Jacks can even be brought onto the Polar Express with you and smells so good. I’m a little upset we didn’t stop in and give them a try, too! 

Take Festive Pictures 

Still need a family pic for this year’s Christmas card? There are tons of great holiday photo-ops everywhere you look in Bryson City! From the large, lit-up Christmas tree in the middle of the plaza to stationary train carts, a tractor, and more, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for family photos. 

Get Your Live Christmas Tree 

While there are no Christmas tree farms in Bryson City, there are several to choose from nearby. During our trip, we chose to get our tree at Smoky Mountain Tree Farm. They had a large variety of trees to choose from and even some that you could cut down yourself. The big red barn and beautiful Smoky Mountain scenery made for great pictures as well! 

There are two other tree farms within a few minutes of Smoky Mountain Tree Farm: Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm and Mehaffey Tree Farm. Boyd Mountain Farm has several log cabins available for families to stay in as well as stocked fishing ponds, 4 miles of hiking trails, biking, and more!  

Christmas Tree Farm

Have you ever been to Bryson City during the holidays? What is your favorite thing to do?

Don’t Miss Christmas in Columbia, SC: Find Your (2022) Fa La La!

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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!

Holiday Events in Columbia, SC

Holiday Events in Columbia

A festive day in Downtown Columbia

Or, head to Downtown Columbia for festive Christmas things to do, decorations, and shopping.

Holiday Treats

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 Find Santa Around Columbia, SC!

Santa in Columbia, SC

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.

Holiday Lights Displays Around Columbia, SC

  • Drive-thru displays
  • Decked out homes to check out
  • Walk-through lights
  • FREE places to see amazing lights
Holiday lights in Columbia, SC

Columbia’s Ultimate Gift Guide

Find the perfect gift for everyone on your list with Columbia’s Ultimate Gift Guide.

Gift Guide Columbia

Find the Perfect Christmas Tree

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? Either way, you’ll want to check out our Columbia, SC Christmas Tree Farms and Lots list.

Christmas Trees in Columbia

Free Things to Do at Christmas Time in Columbia

It’s here! Columbia’s list of totally free things to do at Christmas time in Columbia, SC. 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!

Christmas activities for Free!

Restaurants Open for Christmas in Columbia, SC

What restaurants are open on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve in Columbia, SC? This list has 17 Restaurants open Christmas 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!

Christmas restaurants open in Columbia, SC

Wolf Ridge Tubing

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

3 Christmas Light Driving Routes in Columbia, SC

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Go for a Christmas light drive around Columbia, SC! What’s more festive than a night of Christmas lights? Columbia has some seriously decked-out homes that you can enjoy for free and we arranged them all into two driving tours. Want more? We also included a couple of popular drive-thru professional displays in our tours. Fill up a thermos with some hot cocoa, pack some Christmas cookies, cue up the holiday music, and load up the kids. The holiday pajamas are optional, but, come highly recommended.

Use our maps or set up your preferred map direction app with the addresses and you’re ready to go!

Christmas Light Driving Tour

We have three holiday driving routes in 2022. The first is mainly north of Columbia, and the second is mostly south of the city. Our NEW third route is the quick option. It’s the Quick Irmo Route, for more lights in less time! These are the same homes in the second half of the northern route, but we wanted to offer it as an alternative for those who don’t have hours to drive around!

Help us grow these routes! Did you take this year’s Christmas decorating extra seriously? Want to share it with all of Columbia? Use this holiday home form to let us know.

To the North: Columbia and Irmo Christmas Lights Route

725 Formby Drive, Columbia in the Spring Valley Subdivision. Synchronized display, tune to 88.7. Lisznyai House Lights are on from 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm. These folks are raising money for Make a Wish SC. If you’d like to participate you can look for the drop box at the display OR donate online.

Spring Valley Subdivision: Since you’re already there viewing the Lisznayi House, drive through the rest of the Spring Valley Subdivision, well known as a neighborhood with lots of festive lights to enjoy.

Lake Carolina: Another neighborhood, not too far from Spring Valley, that’s known for rolling out the holiday cheer with lights this time of year.

419 Mt Valley Road, Blythewood, This is the 10th year for these lights. The show runs from 5:30 to 10 pm nightly through New Year’s Eve. Donations are being collected for Make a Wish if guests would like to donate.

137 Timber Knoll Drive, Irmo Hours are 7 to 10 pm on weekdays and 7 to 11 pm on weekends. Yinzer Yuletide

Waterford Neighborhood, Irmo Turn left at the pool and find multiple homes with synchronized lights. Turn to 92.7

6 Marway Court, Irmo, SC 29063, Woomer Family Christmas

Gallery Cliffs Drive, Chapin Exceptionally large static display

Bonus: Saluda Shoals Park, Holiday Lights on the River, Cost $25 per car. (Just skip this stop to keep your route free!)

Garden at Holiday Lights on the River
Holiday Lights on the River

Quick Irmo Route: More Lights in Less Time

36 minutes of drive time, 4 stops, 6 amazing homes to see! This is the Quick Irmo Christmas Light Route.

137 Timber Knoll Drive, Irmo Hours are 7 to 10 pm on weekdays and 7 to 11 pm on weekends. Yinzer Yuletide

Waterford Neighborhood, Irmo Turn left at the pool and find multiple homes with synchronized lights. Turn to 92.7

6 Marway Court, Irmo, SC 29063, Woomer Family Christmas

Gallery Cliffs Drive, Chapin Exceptionally large static display

To the South: Lexington Lights

497 Sandy Point Road, Lexington, SC, This large static display with the nativity, inflatable Rudolph characters, a large tree, and more!

740 Martin Smith Road, Gilbert SC 29054, View the lights from 5:30 pm to 9 pm nightly. Please stay inside your vehicle and pull into the driveway. There is a parking area where vehicles can turn around to exit. Visitors are also welcome to park along the road and view the display from the fence. Please do not walk inside the fence.

Nesbitt Light display in Columbia, SC
Photo Credit: Tonya Nesbitt

Corner Dogwood Road & Fish Hatchery Road, this yard is full of decorations including a very large inflatable Santa.

McFarland Lights 133 Autumn Oaks Lane, Lexington

318 Shetland Lane, Lexington 29073 One reader reports singing light bulbs and a dancing tree at this house. Tune your radio to 89.1.

Bonus: Visit Carolina Lights at the State Fairgrounds. Carolina Lights $20 per car. To keep your route free, just skip this stop.

Help us grow these routes! Add your home to these routes! Use this holiday home form to let us know you’d like to be considered!

Want more lights?

Here are 15+ Places in Columbia, SC to See Amazing Christmas Lights!

Holiday lights in Columbia, SC
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Winter Break is Coming.
Stay busy with activities and camps.
Winter Break Bucket List!

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19+ Places to See Santa in Columbia, SC (2022)

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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 2022. 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 will include all kinds of events with Santa on the guest list. Check back soon for more 2022 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.
Santa in Columbia, SC

This article includes:
Santa Pictures Columbia, SC
Free Photos with Santa
Events with Santa: Santa’s Columbia visit schedule
After Christmas: Things to Do When Santa is Back at the North Pole

Get Pictures with Santa at Columbia Malls & More

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 17th, 2022.

Junior Leauge of Columbia: Sundaes with Santa

December 4th, 2022 from 12 pm to 4 pm, take photos with Santa and then enjoy a sundae bar! Tickets are $8 at the door.
Sundaes with Santa

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.

Pictures with Santa: State Farm Christmas Party

December 16th, 2022, 11 am to 4 pm: Bring your camera to get some free photos with Santa, and a FREE treat! There will also be snacks provided.

Pictures with Santa: 5370 Sunset Blvd, Lexington, SC 29072

Photos with Santa at Hotel Trundle

Totally free, visit with Santa on November 27th, 2022 1 pm to 3 pm at Hotel Trundle. You’ll get 10 minutes with Santa to take as many photos as you’d like, plus enjoy hot cocoa, games, and other holiday fun while you’re there. The event is first come, first served, so plan to arrive early! FREE admission.
Photos With Santa at Ho-Ho-Hotel Trundle

Free Photos with Santa at Cabela’s

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 2022!

Santa’s elves promised to update us as they added new appearances to Santa’s schedule. So, bookmark our list and check back soon.

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 2022 Website is online.

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!

Wolf Ridge Tubing

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

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!

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Enjoy Holiday Lights on the River (2022) in Columbia, SC

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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 boats
Boats at Holiday Lights on the River, Photo Credit: Jen Husson

15 Ways to Enjoy Christmas in Downtown Columbia, SC

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On the hunt for Christmas activities in downtown Columbia, SC? With so many festive and magical things to do all throughout Columbia, we know it can feel overwhelming. So we’ve narrowed this list down to only include really fun downtown events! From tree lightings to holiday ballets and performances, a 5K race, and everything in between we know you’ll find something cheerful to do this season! 

Where to Celebrate Christmas in Downtown Columbia, SC

Columbia offers so many fantastic holiday events! Several of the events below are free, however, there are others that require tickets that should be purchased in advance.

Tour the Robert Mills House and Hampton-Preston Mansion

About: Holiday House Tours is a guided tour of both the Robert Mills House and Hampton-Preston Mansion. The homes will be decorated in beautiful holiday decor that showcases specific decades within the 1800’s. Each tour will last about 1 hour and 15 minutes. 
When: November 16 until December 30, 2022 
Wednesday – Saturday at 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm
Sundays at 1:30 pm and 3:00 pm 
Cost: $18/adult, $15/child 
Holiday House Tours

Governor’s Carolighting 

About: Kick-off Christmas at the SC State House! There will be live music, the Governor’s seasonal message, the lighting of the Christmas tree, and more. 
Where: SC State House – 1100 Gervais Street
When: November 20, 2022 at 6:00 pm
Cost: FREE 
Governor’s Carolighting

Photos with Santa at Ho-Ho-Hotel Trundle 

About: Hotel Trundle will be creating a whimsical, magical Christmas photo backdrop. Pictures will be taken in 10 minute increments, but you must bring your own camera. There will also be festive games, hot chocolate, and more! This event is first come, first serve so arrive early to get your spot in line! 
Where: Hotel Trundle – 1224 Taylor Street
When: November 27, 2022 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm 
Cost: Not specified 
Photos with Santa at Ho-Ho-Hotel Trundle

Holiday Planetarium Lighting 

About: Head to the SC State Museum and enjoy some holiday fun and celebrations! The museum will be open for extended hours for this event. The planetarium dome will be lit at 6:45 pm to look like a giant snow globe. 
Where: SC State Museum – 301 Gervais Street
When: December 1, 2022 
Cost: “Pay as you may” – donation-based admission 
$5/person for 4D and Planetarium shows 
Holiday Planetarium Lighting

See a Performance at the Koger Center for the Arts

Nutcracker Performances in Columbia, SC 

About: Two different ballet groups will be performing the Nutcracker this year at the Koger Center! This is a lovely story of a girl who befriends a nutcracker that comes alive on Christmas Eve. The opportunities to see it are:

  • Columbia Classical Ballet – The Nutcracker 
    • When: 
      • December 2 at 7:30 pm
      • December 3 at 2:00 pm
      • December 4 at 2:00 pm 
    • Cost: From $8 to $18
  • Columbia City Ballet – The Nutcracker 
    • When: 
      • December 10 at 3:00 pm and 7:30 pm 
      • December 11 at 3:00 pm 
      • December 17 at 3:00 pm and 7:30 pm
      • December 18 at 3:00 pm 
    • Cost: From $35 to $60

Cirque Dream Holidaze 

About: This is a show that your whole family is sure to enjoy! It’s a whimsical, magical Broadway-style circus that uses music, dancing, juggling, acrobatics, and more! 
Where: Koger Center
When: December 6, 2022, at 7:30 pm
Cost: From $29 to $99

Koger Center Jazz: Christmas Eve of the Eve Celebration 

About: Get your family ready for Christmas by enjoying a night of beautiful and festive music! 
Where: Koger Center
When: December 23, 2022, at 7:30 pm 
Cost: $23 general admission 
Koger Center for the Arts

Drive-Thru the Carolina Lights  

About: Drive-thru the fairgrounds to see a magical light display! Halfway through your drive there will be a stop for seasonal treats such as cookies and hot chocolate. You will see several interactive displays, listen to holiday classics, and make great memories with your loved ones! 
Where: SC State Fairgrounds – 1200 Rosewood Drive
When: December 3 until December 26, 2022 
Cost: $15/car when purchased before December 3; $20/car when purchased after December 3
Carolina Lights

Santa’s Swingin’ Christmas Party 

About: Take your family out to a unique holiday event at the Marionette Theater! Join the puppeteers as they create a winter wonderland show. Two elves will be planning a party for Santa, but he gets delayed in a storm. Will he make it in time? 
Where: Columbia Marionette Theater – 401 Laurel Street
When: December 3, December 10, and December 17, 2022 from 11 am to 12 pm
Cost: $10/person ages 2 and older 
Santa’s Swingin’ Christmas Party

Enjoy the Christmas Carillon Parade

About: Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade is back for the 69th year! This is a tradition for many families who live in the Midlands. The parade will begin at the intersection of Sumter Street and Laurel Street and end on Senate Street. You will see a variety of floats, high school bands, dance teams, and Santa himself! 
Where: Intersection of Sumter Street and Laurel Street
When: December 3, 2022 at 9:45 am 
Cost: FREE 
Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade

Participate in a Race – Santa Claus Run

About: The Santa Claus Run will have both a 5K option and Rudolph youth run. Be sure to wear your best Santa costume as the “best dressed” winner will receive a $100 prize! You can sign-up for this race anytime between now and the morning of the race! 
Where: Strictly Running – 2515 Devine Street
When: December 10, 2022 at 8:30 am
Cost: From $15 to $40 depending on race and sign-up date
Santa Claus Run

Baby Shark Live!: The Christmas Show

About: Sing-a-long with Baby Shark and the characters of Pinkfong! They will be performing their most famous songs as well as holiday classics. 
Where: Township Auditorium – 1703 Taylor Street
When: December 13, 2022 at 6:00 pm
Cost: From $25 to $65
Baby Shark Live: The Christmas Show

Watch a Movie at the Library 

About: Join the Richland County Library as they show “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. This is a family-friendly event that your children are sure to love! 
Where: Richland Library North Main – 5306 North Main Street
When: December 16, 2022 from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Cost: FREE
Movie Matinee – Richland Library North Main

DIY: Mason Jar Cookies 

About: This is a family-friendly event where you will get to make cute, easy mason jar cookies. These make great gifts for the holidays. Registration is required for this event and opens December 1, 2022. 
Where: Richland Library Main – 1431 Assembly Street
When: December 17, 2022 from 3 pm to 4 pm 
Cost: FREE
DIY: Mason Jar Cookies

Know of an event we’re missing? Let us know in the comments!