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Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

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?

Holiday Road: Carolina Lights Gleam Bright for the Fifth Consecutive Year

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Have you visited Carolina Lights at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds? We did! And, we have all the information and parent tips to make your trip to Carolina Lights spectacular.

When the lights go down in the city, and the sun sets over Williams-Brice Stadium, the Carolina Lights at the South Carolina Fairgrounds illuminate the evening sky from December 8 – 24, 2023.

The 5th annual Carolina Lights, a drive-through holiday light spectacular, is located at Lexington Medical Center Fair Park at the South Carolina Fairgrounds. This unforgettable show boasts over 100 individual LED light displays. With a combination of displays of both novelty and tradition, there’s something to satisfy even the biggest Scrooge!

Tickets for Carolina Lights

You can purchase tickets in advance for Carolina Lights on the South Carolina State Fair website, or you can pay cash or card at the gate. These advance purchase tickets may be used anytime between December 8 – 24, 2023. 

Special Day Promotional Tickets

Active and Retired Military Day

On Wednesday, December 13, all active and retired military (with proper military identification) will be able to purchase tickets for 50% off at the gate

First Responder Day

On Tuesday, December 19, all first responders may purchase tickets for 50% off at the gate.

Carolina Lights at the SC State Fairgrounds

When is Carolina Lights?

Enjoy the light show anytime between December 8 – 24, 2024. Carolina Lights is open Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM. And Fridays and Saturdays, from 6:00 PM – 10:00 PM. Closed on all Mondays.

How Do You Get to Carolina Lights?

You may enter Carolina Lights at 901 George Rogers Blvd, Columbia, SC 29201. Please use Gate 6 of the South Carolina Fairgrounds.

Tips for Carolina Lights

  • Tune into FM Radio Station 88.9 for holiday music to sync with the lights.
  • Once you enter the fairgrounds, kindly turn off your headlights.
  • Stay in your vehicle at all times.
  • Restrooms are available halfway through the park. Look for signs for directions.
  • Cookies, milk, water, Pepsi products and even dog biscuits are available for purchase halfway through the light show. Follow signs to the designated lane.
  • Request a re-entry pass at the exit gate if you wish to re-enter the light show free of charge.
Carolina Lights at the SC State Fairgrounds

My Family’s Carolina Lights Experience

Opening night of Carolina Lights, my family turns into Gate 6 at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds. Upon entering, there are two lanes for check-in, and a designated person handing out maps at each post. We are greeted immediately and promptly handed a map of the lights and a holiday activity book for my two-year-old daughter. The gentleman then directs us ahead to the two mini houses, where each car pays with either cash or card. Again, there are still two lanes, in order to move things along swiftly.

Pay and On Your Way

My family is greeted by Kathy, the woman collecting money. She politely directs us ahead, giving us the option to turn off our headlights and tune into the FM Radio Station, 88.9. The radio station is playing holiday music of both new and old, and magically synchronized with the lights within the drive-through. Once you pay, the drive-through turns into a single-file lane only. 

Not a Bad Seat in the House

Light displays line each side of the road, so no matter where you’re sitting in your car, front, back, infant car seat or third-row, you’re not going to miss a thing! 

The light show begins with a giant gold-lit “Carolina Lights” archway, complete with a Carolina crescent moon and blue Palmetto tree to the left and right of the arch. 

Holiday Hits of New and Old

As we weave in and out of the light show, we turn the radio station up so we can hear the carefully coordinated holiday music align with the dancing lights. My daughter is thrilled when “Let it Go,” from the Frozen soundtrack, is part of the show. From that song, to country, to both classic and current holiday hits, there’s a song to melt just about anyone’s holiday heart. 

Carolina Lights dancer lights

A Display for Everyone

We see every type of display as we make our way down the drive of blanketed lights. From flamingos, to dinosaurs, a carousel horse and an impressive array of characters from the Twelve Days of Christmas, my family was wide-eyed and in awe the entire ride. 

Cookie Break

Midway through, there’s an option to go stay in one lane and continue driving throughout the light show, or stop for a cookies and milk in another lane. This year, they’ve even added an option to purchase dog cookies for $2, should you decide to bring your family pet along for the ride!

After you’ve been handed your snacks, in a drive-through style fashion, you simply follow the signs back to the light show route. 

12 Days of Christmas at Carolina Lights

Holiday Lights Come to an End

As we make our rounds, the “ooohs and ahhhs” never stop. Everyone in the car points out their favorite display at one point or another. We make our way toward the end of the route, a beautiful archway with the words “Joy to the World” shine above us. Next, the words “Happy Hanukkah” and a menorah line the left side of the driveway and not far ahead a manger scene complete with wise men and animals close out the Carolina Lights.

Or Do They?

If you should choose, your night doesn’t have to end after your first tour through. Just request a re-entry pass and view the lights again on the same night.

Carolina Lights
1200 Rosewood Drive
Columbia, SC 29201

Holiday lights and Christmas lights: Columbia, SC

Find more amazing lights in Columbia, SC!

Here’s the Kidding Around Guide to Holiday Lights in Columbia, SC

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!

Holiday border
Holiday border.

Wild Lights at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden 

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Have you heard about the new Wild Lights at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden? Whether you’re looking for a beautiful place to get in a few steps or just ready to experience new holiday fun, we have found the place for you! Wild Lights at the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is sure to bring a smile to your family’s face! This is truly a light show unlike any other and one you need to experience for yourself! 

Sneak Peek: Just a Bit of What You’ll See

Take a walk through Wild Lights with us.

What to Expect at Wild Lights

The walk up to the entrance is beautiful and gives you just a taste of the dazzling colors and displays that await you inside. The color-changing Angel’s Wings outside the gate serves as a great photo opportunity and the nightly snowfall as you enter is sure to catch the kids’ attention!

Wild Lights at Riverbanks Zoo

Once inside, you are greeted by photographers at a green screen. These creative photos are worth your time as they are transformed into pure magic by the time you circle back. These and other photo opportunities, including Santa, are available for purchase on your way out of the zoo. Be sure to keep the photo cards that you receive in a safe place as you’ll need those to get your pictures, plus, you can scan them after you leave in case you missed the stop on your way out.  

Travel through the Wild Lights at your own pace and in any direction that you choose with illuminations around every corner. Don’t be surprised if you get captivated by the color-changing lights on many of the displays. The kids will want to stop and ride the Merry – Go – Round and you’ll also want to pause and relax at one of the toasty fire tables. 

Riding the carousel at Wild Lights, Riverbanks Zoo

Santa at Wild Lights

One of the kids’ favorite stops will be the Stepping Board tiles that light up as they bounce across the giant illuminated “2023.” There are nightly visits from Santa and Mrs. Clause and while you wait, the friendliest elf will let your kids know if they made the naughty or nice list.

Visit Santa at Wild Lights

See what visiting with Santa looks like at Wild Lights

In Santa’s Village you can also color a card for the children at Children’s Hospital, details and supplies are provided there. Santa will only be there through December 23, 2023, so keep that in mind if you plan to see him on your visit.

There is light food available for purchase and lots of seating in this area and be sure to take advantage of some beautiful photo opportunities while you wait.  

Wild Lights

Noteworthy Displays at Riverbanks Zoo’s Wild Lights

While each lantern display is stunning, there are a few that stand out. The most memorable is one that absolutely can’t be missed. Situated in the center of the zoo, stands the stunning Lingzhi Tree, which is actually a species of mushroom! Topped with butterflies, it delicately changes color and is relaxing to watch plus makes for a great photo backdrop!

Not far from the Lingzhi, you’ll find illuminated Moonlight Swings that provide a fun place for both adults and kids to play and yet another great photo and video opportunity. Throughout your walk, you can stand and pose inside the mouth of a dinosaur and a crocodile! Remember to look up while you explore and take in the beautifully lit trees, Palace Lanterns, and color-changing butterflies.

The peacock spider and giant crab both have moving elements as well as the salamanders. Possibly the coolest moving lantern in the zoo? The Peacock! Twinkling with rainbow-colored lights the peacock initially appears small but if you wait just a few minutes, you’ll get to see it raise its feathers which creates a beautiful new display to enjoy! A train circles around the peacock and offers another fun activity for kids and parents too! 

Peacock at Wild Lights

Will We See Animals at Wild Lights?

While most of the animals are either off exhibit or sleeping, you may still luck out and find some awake and active! On our most recent trip, we had the pleasure of watching a koala enjoy a bamboo snack and even saw a zebra off in the distance through the dark.

The kids really enjoyed searching the enclosures to see if they could spot anything. The flamingoes were visible, squirrel monkeys were playful and we spotted several other indoor animals as well! The sea lions were very active, vocal, and lots of fun to watch before we headed home!  

Flowers at Riverbanks Zoo

Tips for Wild Lights

Make sure your camera and phone are fully charged.

Plan for your visit to take 1-2 hours depending on your pace and popularity of the day you go.  Allow extra time to capture some stunning pictures and videos and be sure to tag Kidding Around Columbia, Kidding Around Greenville, and Riverbanks Zoo & Gardens (so we can share in all the fun you’re having too!)

Weekends are typically busier than weekdays and of course, the warmer days will likely attract more visitors.

Don’t forget to stop and see how your photos have transformed since you took them upon entry and let the kids pick a couple of favorites to take home.

Stop in the beautifully decorated gift shop on your way out and let the kids give you Christmas gift ideas.

Wild Lights will return annually, however, the displays will rotate each year so it always remains fresh and new. With that said, you won’t want to miss this year’s displays so secure your tickets today!  

Wild Lights Dino

Time to Go Visit Wild Lights: Riverbanks Zoo

Whether you’re searching for a place to see Santa or a fun family night, Wild Lights at Riverbanks Zoo will be a fun adventure for everyone in your family! Immerse yourself in the twinkling wonderland of Wild Lights and prepare for a night of smiles and laughter!

Admission: Free for Zoo members, must reserve tickets online.  

General admission is $19.99 – $24.99 per adult 

 $14.99 – $19.99 per child (depending on the day you select) save up to $5.00 per ticket by purchasing in advance.  Children under two years old are free.   

Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia Zoo, Columbia, SC

Riverbanks Zoo is great any time of year. Find out all about it in our full Riverbanks Zoo Review.

Which Wild Lights are you looking forward to seeing the most? 

Wild Lights
Hours: 5 pm to 9 pm select nights  
Dates: November 17, 2023 through January 14, 2024. 


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

These restaurants are open on Christmas 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: 1307 Main Street – 803.569.6881
Details: This Pan-Asian restaurant will be offering fresh, modern Thai; cocktails; and outdoor seating options that are 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

Clara & Ray’s Ristorante Italiano Lexington

Address: 5140 Sunset Boulevard, Suite E & F, Lexington – 803.951.0051
Details: Open noon to 6 pm on Christmas Eve
Clara & Ray’s Ristorante Italiano

Wings and Ale of Lexington

Address: 154 Ellis Ave, Lexington – 803.399.8557
Details: Open 11 am to 11 pm with band Second Spin beginning at 7 pm
Wings and Ale of Lexington

Southern Smoked Tavern

Address: 924 E Main Street, Suite C, Lexington
Details: They will be open until 8 pm on Christmas Eve. Purchase a $100 gift card and receive a $20 gift card on the house. Offer good through December 31st.
Southern Smoked Tavern

Bone Appetite

Address: 309 Oak Drive, Lexington – 803.521.0529
Details: Open from 2 to 7 pm, purchase a $100 gift card and receive a $20 gift card free.
Bone Appetite

Reizod Vegan Experience

Address: 9300 Two Notch Road Suite L, Columbia – 803.862.0045
Details: Open 12 pm to 6 pm Christmas Eve. All entrees and 2 side platters available for $17.99 and when you sign up for a meal plan, receive 50% off your first meal. Reservations highly recommended.
Reizod Vegan Experience

Chubby’s Burgers & Brewhouse

Address: 420 McNulty Street, Blythewood – 803.445.1409
Details: Open 11 am – 3 pm Christmas Eve
Chubby’s Burgers & Brewhouse


Address: 751 Saluda Avenue, Columbia – 803.799.9500
Details: Open for dinner hours on Christmas Eve, 5 to 9 pm.

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 Brewhouse. It’s 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 until 2 pm 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

Halls Chophouse 

Address: 1221 Main Street, Suite 150 – 803.563.5066
Details: Halls will be open on Christmas Eve from 10 am to 9:15 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

LongHorn Steakhouse

Address: 171 Harbison Boulevard, Columbia, SC – 803.732.2482
902 Gervais Street, Ste A, Columbia, SC (The Vista) – 803.254.5100
Details: LongHorn Steakhouse will be open on Christmas Eve until 8 pm
LongHorn Steakhouse

Gyromania Grill – Elgin

Address: 2558 Main Street, Elgin – 803.729.4995
Details: Open 11 am – 6 pm
Gyromania Grill – Elgin

Rioz Brazillian Steakhouse

Address: 410 Columbiana Drive, Columbia – 803.708.3151
Details: Open from 4 pm to 8 pm on Christmas Eve
Rioz Brazillian Steakhouse

Carolina Wings

Address: 1000 Marina Road, Irmo – 803.851.4500
240 Blythewood Road, Blythewood SC – 803.714.0181
Details: All locations open until 4 pm on Christmas Eve, Closed Christmas Day
Carolina Wings

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant

Address: 945 Sabal Street, Columbia
Details: Open from 11 am to 9 pm Christmas Eve
Iron Hill Brewery

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

Hanabi Hibachi & Sushi 

Address: 1624 Main Street, Suite 100 – 803.766.0128
Details: This restaurant will be serving from their full-size, regular menu. They will be open normal hours on Christmas Eve and from 4 pm to 10 pm on Christmas Day. 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 – 803.726.2323
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 during regular hours and on Christmas Day from 4 pm until 10 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

Tipsy Toad Tavern

Address: 103 Beaufort Street, Chapin – 803.932.4470
Details: Open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas from 4 pm to close, they are decked out on the inside with lots and lots of festive lights and will also have karaoke and top notch specials by Chef Toves plus regular menu items available as well. Under 21 welcome until 9 pm.
Tipsy Toad Tavern

Social Grill

Address: 1002 AJ Amick Road, Irmo – 803.764.1594
Details: Social Grill is open Christmas Eve for brunch from 11 am to 3 pm and will be open on Christmas Day, bar only, from 3 to 10 pm and while the kitchen will be closed, they will be serving complimentary Chicken Bog.
Social Grill

Blossom Buffet

Address: 2515 Sunset Boulevard, West Columbia – 803.796.7477
Details: Open 11 am to 9:30 pm
Blossom Buffet


Address: 2208 B Airport Blvd West, West Columbia – 803.936.1118
7335 Garner’s Ferry Road, Columbia – 803.776.3700
Details: Shoney’s is open Christmas Eve 8 am to 8 pm and 8 am to 5 pm on Christmas and will be featuring a Christmas Day Feast fresh food bar. Feast will include ham, turkey and all the delicious trimmings.

Bang Back Pinball Lounge

Address: 741 Saluda Ave, Columbia – 803.834.4462
Details: Bang Back Pinball Lounge an arcade/restaurant and is guaranteed to be fun for the whole family! They will be open 12 pm to 5 pm Christmas Eve and 5 pm to 1 am on Christmas Day. Bookings are available for their event space for your last minute holiday gatherings.
Bang Back Pinball Lounge

Big Tuna’s Kitchen and Krafts

Address: 1345 Old Chapin Road, Lexington – 803.520.4172
Details: Open 11:30 am to 11 pm Christmas Eve with Karaoke and 4 to 11 pm on Christmas
Big Tuna’s Kitchen and Krafts

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 3 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: 1614-A Main Street – 803.714.3375
Details: Open on Christmas Eve, at this swanky dessert and cocktail lounge, you are sure to find something to satisfy your cravings! They will be offering award-winning desserts such as Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie, Bourbon Pecan Pie, Chocolate Cream Pie, Strawberry Chocolate Torte, 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!

Christmas (& Christmas Eve) Breakfast and Brunch

Antique Mall Cafe

Address: 1528 Main Street, Little Mountain, SC – 803.941.7189
Details: Located on the lower level of the Little Mountain Unlimited Antique Mall, they will be closed Christmas Day but Cafe is open from 11 am to 3 pm on Christmas Eve and the store will be open from 10 am to 6 pm.
Antique Mall Cafe


Address: 813 St. Andrews Road, Columbia – 803.731.2136
7719 Two Notch Road, Columbia – 803.788.5101
Details: Open both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day from 8 am to 4 pm. Please contact individual location to confirm hours.


Address: Various Locations – 864.288.8893
Details: Open both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and operating normal business hours. Please contact individual location to confirm hours.


Address: Various locations
Details: Always open 24 hours!

Another Broken Egg Cafe

Address: 4600 Devine Street – 803.708.1205
101 State Street, West Columbia – 803.829.0223
931 North Lake Drive, Lexington – 839.205.3291
Details: Open Christmas Eve
Another Broken Egg Cafe

Curiosity Coffee Bar

Address: 2327 Main Street, Columbia – 803.357.2889
Details: Open Christmas Eve 8 am to 3 pm (normal business hours) and Christmas Day from 8 am to 1 pm
Curiosity Coffee Bar


Address: 2208 B Airport Blvd West, West Columbia – 803.936.1118
7335 Garner’s Ferry Road, Columbia – 803.776.3700
Details: Shoney’s is open Christmas Eve 8 am to 8 pm and 8 am to 5 pm on Christmas and will be featuring a Christmas Day Feast fresh food bar.

The Windermere Club

Address: 1101 Longtown Road E, Blythewood 803.786.6088
Details: Open for Christmas Eve Brunch from 10 am until 4 pm and wil serve a buffet featuring scrambled eggs, hashbrown casserole, waffles, french toast, Southern fried chicken, Jack Daniel’s Glazed Pork Bites, Charleston Red Rice, macaroni and cheese, sweet pastries and so much more! Reservations required, Adult $28.95, Kids 12 & under $13.95.
The Windermere Club

Market on Main

Address: 1320 Main Street #150, Columbia – 803.722.4222
Details: Open for Christmas Eve brunch 10 am until 3 pm and Santa will be there from 10 am until noon!
Market on Main

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

Enjoy Holiday Lights on the River (2023): 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

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.

Jen H.
  • 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
Holiday Lights on the River
Holiday Lights on the River in Columbia, SC, Photo Credit: Jen Husson

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.

  • Hayride
  • 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.
Monster Truck Moose Holiday Lights
Monster Truck Moose at Holiday Lights on the River, Photo Credit: Jen Husson

Want to See Holiday Lights on the River?

Holiday Lights on the River
Saluda Shoals Park
6071 St. Andrews Road
Columbia, SC

Admission: $25 per car, $50 per 12-15 passenger van and limos, $75 per bus, plus a 3% fee for credit cards.

Saluda Shoals Park Holiday Lights
Holiday Lights on the River, Photo Credit: Jen Husson

Ready for more Christmas Lights Near Columbia?

Holiday lights and Christmas lights: Columbia, SC

We have a whole list for you! Really, we did all the work and now you can choose from over 15 Christmas and holiday light displays near Columbia, SC. Our list includes more drive-thru displays, plus free displays, lights you can walk through, and lots more!

Want to visit another of the South’s fabulous Christmas Towns? Here are the Best Christmas Towns of the South.

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! 

Downtown Columbia, SC Christmas

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 15 until December 30, 2023
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 19, 2023 at 6:00 pm
Cost: FREE 
Governor’s Carolighting

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: November 30th, 2023, 4 to 7 pm 
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 City Ballet – The Nutcracker
    • When:
      • December 9th at 3:00 pm and 7:30 pm 
      • December 10th at 3:00 pm 
      • December 16th at 3:00 pm and 7:30 pm
      • December 17th at 3:00 pm 
    • Cost: From $35 to $60

Celtic Woman: A Christmas Symphony

About: This Broadway in Columbia performance of Celtic Woman: A Chrsitmas Symphony will include a wide variety of seasonal music including the Irish carols Celtic Woman is known for.
Where: Koger Center
When: December 20th, 2023: 7:30 pm
Cost: $29 to $128
Buy Tickets for Celtic Woman in Columbia

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 22, 2023 at 7:30 pm 
Cost: $23 general admission 
Koger Center for the Arts: Jazz Eve of the Eve Celebration

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 8 until December 24, 2023
Cost: $15/car when purchased before December 7; $20/car when purchased after December 3
Kidding Around Mom Review of Carolina Lights
Carolina Lights
See more holiday lights in Columbia, SC

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 2, December 9, December 16 and December 23, 2023 from 11 am to 12 pm and 3 pm to 4 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 2, 2023 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 9, 2023 at 8:30 am
Cost: From $15 to $40 depending on race and sign-up date
Santa Claus Run

Watch a Movie at the Library 

About: Join the Richland County Library as they show “Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone”. This is a family-friendly event that your children are sure to love! 
Where: Richland Library North Main – 5306 North Main Street
When: December 2, 2023 from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm
Cost: FREE
Harry Potter – Richland Library North Main

COlab, Carols and Cocoa

About: Artist-in-Residence COlab (Columbia Operatic Laboratory) presents a free concert with holiday carols at 7:30 pm. Mingle and meet prior to the show starting at 6:30 pm and enjoy cocoa and treats.
Where: Richland Library Main
When: December 15th, 2023 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Cost: Free
COlab, Carols and Cocoa

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

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

Looking for more?

Fire Up Your “Ho Ho Ho”, because this is the biggest list of Holiday Things to Do in Columbia, SC

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 back with the Columbia, SC tradition, 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 

Segra Park is back with Fireflies Holiday Light show! This event will run from November 16 through December 31, 2023. 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: 

  • November Price: $10 per person
  • December Price: $12 per person
  • 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: 

  • Wednesday – Winter Wag-Along
    • Leashed dogs are welcome to join you at the lights! Be sure to bring bags for cleaning-up after them 
  • Thursday – Thirsty Thursday
    • $1 Fountain drinks and hot chocolate, $2 domestic draft beer, $3 craft beer
  • Sundays in December – 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 
  • Check out more Fireflies Holiday Lights Events
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 16 through December 31, 2023
Hours: Daily from 6 pm to 9 pm, except holidays which will have special hours

Holiday lights and Christmas lights: Columbia, SC

See lots more lights!

We have a huge guide to Christmas Lights in Columbia, SC

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

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 a driving tour. 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, are highly recommended.

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

Disclaimer: Kidding Around is not responsible for property damage, neighborhood safety, or any possible injuries of any kind that may happen while driving, stopping, and viewing holiday lights and decorations. Drivers and property owners maintain all responsibility for general safety, operating a vehicle safely, light-viewing enjoyment, and holiday cheer. Drive slowly, be respectful, share holiday magic, and don’t be a Scrooge.

Hooray! Our Holiday Lights Driving Tour is finally here!! We are beginning the season with two routes but be sure to check back regularly as displays are being added daily!

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.

Christmas lights in Columbia contest

Which house is the best?

The Kidding Around Columbia Christmas Lights Contest

Sneak Peak: Columbia’s Christmas Houses

Christmas Lights Map

Map is being updated often as displays are added! Be sure to check back often!

Columbia Holiday Lights Driving Tour

Chapin/Irmo (Red) Approximately 35 Minutes

2311 Harvestwood Lane

2311 Harvestwood Lane, Chapin is fully framed in bright colorful lights and has trees in every window! Be sure to drive through the rest of this neighborhood as there are lots of festively decorated homes to be admired!

6 Kagle Court, Chapin

Be sure to check out the backyard of this home, which is a sight to be seen and is visible from Westcott Ridge Road, which you’ll likely pass if using the red route.

311 Hollow Cove Road, Chapin

Within the same neighborhood as Kagle court, this home has a pretty display and is at the end of the street.

617 Hamlin Way, Irmo

627 Newton Road, Irmo

402 West Ashford Way, Irmo

10 Walnut Grove Way, Irmo

7 Abbey Court, Irmo

394 Poets Walk, Irmo displays a Christmas Light Show

Warden Way, Irmo Worth the trip to see the neighboring 3 homes synced to the same impressive light show, roll down windows and enjoy the music and dynamic light displays! Tune to 92.7 FM if you prefer to keep your windows closed! This show features 40 minutes of music and lights with the playlist and show alternating every other day!

Warden Way
Warden Way

Lexington Route (Yellow) Approximately 1 hour

Woodberry Christmas house

759 Woodberry Road, Lexington, SC This impressive display expresses the family’s love of the Christmas season. Enjoy through 1/6/24.

Photo Credit: Jayna

Silver Branch

309 Silver Branch Road Yard features several inflatables and lights strung across the front yard.

Photo Credit: Daniel Geddings

303 Lace Bark Lane has a light show that dances to music

284 Black Pine Court has a light show synced to music, tune in to 92.5 FM and enjoy the show!

Carriage Hill Drive Christmas House

142 Carriage Hill Drive, Lexington Features a very dynamic display that dances to music! The show runs Sunday – Thursday 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm and Friday and Saturday until 10:30 pm. Please use the loop at the end of the road to turn around and park across from the house to enjoy! This area will provide the best view!

(Photo Credit: Kris Walling) The Carriage Hill Drive display will be static only (not dancing to music) on December 16th and visitors are encouraged to come enjoy on a different day. This is for safety reasons as they are hoping to reduce traffic on that night only.

213 Meetze Ave Lexington, SC Park your car, tune your radio to 90.3 and enjoy the 100,000+ lights dance to the music.

Meetz Ave Christmas House

301 Southberry Way, Lexington Has lots of inflatables and a brightly lit home.

Photo Credit: Mollohan Bryan

Southberry Way

497 Sandy Point Road, Lexington Features beautiful lighting, a nativity scene. Photo Credits: Missy Porth

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

Worth the Ride: More Lights

These homes are worth the drive, especially if you’re traveling through the area but were not included in the map as they are further out than the others!

Wire Road, Aiken Christmas drive through

2482 Wire Road, Aiken, SC 29805 (Off of exit 29 on I-20) While this free drive-through display is a bit further out, it boasts lots and lots of lights and blow-ups and would be a great pit stop if traveling towards Augusta! PLUS they offer $2 homemade hot cocoa and $1 cookies nightly! Enjoy through 12/30/23.

1820 Birch Drive, North Augusta Drive up and tune in to 90.5 and enjoy the show. Their annual Star Wars Night is happening on December 16th from 6-11 pm and will feature a live lightsaber fight between Jedi, a special appearance by Darth Vader and all will be visiting with families following the battle. Be sure to stick around for the dancing Grinch and Olaf singing!

They have a partnership with the Ronald McDonald House of Augusta. Help meet their goal by contributing here: Ronald McDonald House.

217 McKade Lane, Leesville, SC 29070 Tune your radio to 98.1 FM and enjoy the show!

305 Hudson Street, West Columbia Colorful and fun

Photo Credit: Bo Slice

Hudson Street

433 Glen Arven Court, Chapin features a 27 foot tall light tree, snowman, Santa and sleigh.

936 Trident Maple Lane Chapin has fun, colorful lights all over, “Santa on water” and a tall tree formed by strands of Christmas lights.

118 Judiths Path, West Columbia features handmade Disney Characters highlighted with red and green spotlights and the house is lined with colorful lights.

740 Martin Smith Road, Gilbert is a 3-acre traditional display and photo only shows a small portion of all they have illuminated!

740 Martin Smith Rd Gilbert SC 29054

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. Enjoy through 1/1/24.

Lisznyai lights
Photo Credit: Jennifer Lisznyai

Spring Valley Subdivision: Since you’re already there viewing the Lisznyai 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.

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?

Holiday border

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

Wolf Ridge Tubing

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20+ Totally FREE Holiday Things to Do & Christmas Activities in Columbia, SC

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Are you looking for free Christmas things to do in Columbia, SC? The holidays may drain your pockets when it comes to gift-buying and hosting parties, but these free events, parades, and tree-lighting ceremonies will help you feel a little more jolly, merry, and bright! There is also the added bonus of your kid getting to see Santa around town. Check out our list of the best free events in the Columbia area to get the holiday season started.

Looking for more to do during the holidays? Check out our super festive holiday guide!

Free Things to Do at Christmas, Columbia, SC

This article includes:
Free Holiday Events Near Columbia
Christmas & Holiday Parades Near Columbia
Tree Lighting Ceremonies & Caroling Near Columbia
Bonus: Cheap Holiday Things to do for $5 or less
Bonus: Free Holiday Things to Do Worth the Drive

Free Christmas Lights Driving Routes

Go see some awesome lights for free! We took some of the very best decorated homes in the Columbia area and put them together into Epic Columbia Christmas Light Driving Routes. Our 2023 lists are coming soon!

Free Holiday Events Near Columbia

Carols Along the Riverwalk

December 1, 2023, 6 pm to 8 pm
201 North Avenue, Cayce (Cayce Riverwalk)

Live music, refreshments, and festive Christmas Caroling all along the Cayce Riverwalk! Local church choirs and musicians will be spread throughout the first half-mile. Parking will be available at Brooklyn-Cayce High School.

Christmas Carolighting Ceremony

December 1, 2023, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Icehouse Amphitheater – 107 West Main Street, Lexington

Join the Town of Lexington at Icehouse Amphitheater to light the tree (6:30 pm), sing Christmas carols and take photos with Santa (4 pm – 8 pm)! Food will be available for purchase.

Icehouse Movie Night: The Grinch

December 1, 2023, 7:30 pm
Icehouse Amphitheater – 107 West Main Street, Lexington

An outdoor movie to watch The Grinch animated movie. Be sure to bring your own seating and blankets for this festive, family-friendly event.

Christmas Olde and New

December 2, 2023, 6 pm to 9 pm
Cayce Historical Museum

Take in the sights and sounds of Christmas at the Cayce Historical Museum’s “Christmas Olde and New”. Rooms of the museum will be decorated for Christmas along with live entertainment and refreshments. There will also be an outdoor Christmas market!

Snowball Festival Carnival and Movie

December 2, 2023, 1 pm – 5 pm
Icehouse Amphitheater – 107 West Main Street, Lexington

Enjoy the annual festival with face painting, letters to Santa, balloon art, and rides to enjoy. The carnival will also feature a showing of the movie, Santa Clause, at 5:30 pm. 

Pictures with Santa and His Friends (Elsa & The Grinch)
December 2, 2023, 4 pm – 7 pm
1330 Knox Abbott Drive, Cayce 29033

Free fun for the whole family plus a coloring station, hot chocolate and cookies while you wait. Bring your camera and be ready to capture all the smiles!

Lexington County Museum Christmas Open House

December 10, 2023, 1 pm to 4 pm

Experience historic Christmas decor, with period decorations and demonstrations. There will be light refreshments that are historically accurate to the 19th century, such as hot cider and gingerbread. There will be blacksmithing on-site, cooking demonstrations, and more!

Family Storytime: Warm and Cozy

December 14, 2023, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Richland Library Sandhills

Share winter-inspired stories, songs, and treats!

COLab, Carols, and Cocoa

December 15, 2023, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Richland Library Main

Sing familiar holiday carols, enjoy tasty, festive treats, and more! This event is for families and children of all ages.

Movie Matinee- How the Grinch Stole Christmas

December 19, 2023, 2:30 pm – 5:15 pm
Richland Library North Main

Enjoy a screening of the holiday classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Crafternoon: Ornament Workshop

December 21, 2023, 4 pm – 5 pm
Richland Library St. Andrews

Kids and adults of all ages can get in the holiday spirit by making ornaments! All materials will be supplied.

Storytime Songs by the Campfire

Christmas parade with Santa in Columbia, SC

Holiday Parades Near Columbia

Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade

December 2, 2023, @ 9:45 am
Downtown Columbia

Head downtown for the 70th annual Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade to enjoy the state-broadcasted parade! There will be marching bands, local churches, drill teams, and decorated floats before Santa Claus comes to town! The parade will start at the intersection of Sumter Street and Laurel Street and will head toward the USC Horseshoe and Senate Street.

Town of Lexington Christmas Parade

December 3, 2023, @ 3 pm
Main Street, Lexington 

The Town of Lexington and the Lexington Jaycees will host the annual Christmas Parade, featuring floats and more. The parade will begin promptly at 3 pm. 

Holiday Parade of Lights

December 9, 2023, @ 5:30 pm
Cayce, SC

This wildly popular parade features ANYTHING, as long as it’s covered in lights! The parade starts at 5:30 sharp at the front of the Cayce Municipal Complex and will travel down 12th Street until ending at Highway 1 and 12th Street in West Columbia. Crowds are large, so arrive early and plan ahead!

Christmas Parade – Town of South Congaree

December 9, 2023, @ 10 am
669 Main Street, West Columbia

Enjoy the family-friendly holiday parade with lots of sights and sounds for children to enjoy!

Christmas Parade – Blythewood

December 10, 2023, 2 pm – 4 pm
Main Street, Blythewood

The parade will start at the EMS Station on Main Street, travel along Blythewood Road, Langford Road, and end at Doko Meadows Park. Be sure to arrive early!

Tree Lighting and Caroling Near Columbia

Blythewood Christmas Tree Lighting

November 27, 2023, 5 pm
Blythewood Town Hall

Join the town of Blythewood for the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. There will be food, lots of fun, and the opportunity to meet Santa!

Carolighting Ceremony

December 1, 2023, @ 6:30 pm
107 West Main Street, Lexington

Enjoy a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, listen to Christmas carols, and get your photo with Santa at the annual Carolighting Ceremony at Icehouse Amphitheater. 

Town of Pine Ridge Tree Lighting Ceremony

December 2, 2023, @ 4 pm – 7 pm

The Christmas parade will begin at 4 pm with a tree lighting ceremony held at Town Hall to follow.

Visit with Santa in Columbia, SC

Cheap Holiday Things to do for $5 or less

Coffee Shop Hot Cocoa and Festive Treats

Visit one of our favorite coffee shops in Columbia for a cup of hot cocoa or maybe a peppermint mocha. Much cheaper than going out for a meal, but still loaded with all the holiday cheer.

$5 Holiday Classics at Regal

Select Saturdays and Sundays from November 26th through December 23th, 2023
All Regal Cinema Locations

Enjoy these classic holiday films at your local Regal Cinemas for only $5!
November 26, 2023- Elf
December 2nd, 2023- Polar Express
December 3rd, 2023- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 10th, 2023- How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Sleigh Bell Stroll

November 21, 2023, from 6 pm to 8 pm
Saluda Shoals Park East
6071 St Andrews Road, Columbia

For $5 per person, you can explore the park on a 2-mile nighttime walk as it is decorated in festive light displays along the river. Children 2 and under are free.

Totally Free Christmas Activities Worth the Drive

Day trips are sweeter when they are filled with free things to do. If the free Christmas events and things to do we already listed aren’t enough for you, try one of these awesome, and totally free, holiday events within just an hour or two of Columbia.

After Christmas! Winter Break and New Year’s

The fun continues with many free and low-cost options in Columbia!

Time to celebrate the start of 2023! We have lots of ideas to help you celebrate and stay busy. Some of them are totally free!

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 and some of them are totally free, too!