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! 

Kayla Simmons
About the Author
Kayla grew up right outside of Charleston, SC and is a proud graduate of the University of South Carolina. She has lived in Columbia for a combination of 5 years. Kayla has a background working with special needs children, but now enjoys nothing more than being a stay-at-home mom of two. She enjoys keeping her kids busy by finding unique play spaces and events, involving them in hands-on activities and watching them learn about the world through play. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercise and spending quality time with her family and friends.

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