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Posts Tagged ‘Free Things to Do’

Storytime, Crafts, Game Nights, & More for the Whole Family at Richland County Libraries

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Have you been to your local Richland County Library recently? Are you looking for events and learning opportunities that your whole family can enjoy? Of course, the libraries have books, but what a lot of people don’t know is that the Richland County Libraries host tons of family-friendly, wholesome events all throughout the week. There are groups for teenagers, crafting events for adults, storytimes for toddlers, learning workshops, and much, much more! 

Need more ideas on free things to do around Columbia? We’ve got you covered with more than 50 awesome free ideas!

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12 Completely Free Things to do in Columbia, SC This Summer

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Are you searching for free things to do this summer in Columbia, SC? Whether you’re looking for money-saving outdoor adventures, ideas for cooling off around water, or if you’d rather stay inside and enjoy the air conditioning, we’ve got tons of great ideas for you! 

Free things to do in summer: Columbia SC

Great Deal: Toucan Tuesdays at Riverbanks Zoo 

Take advantage of BOGO admission and ICEE’s at Riverbanks Zoo every Tuesday from now through August 8, 2023. We know, this one isn’t complete;y free, but it’s too good of a deal not to include on our list!

To participate in Toucan Tuesdays, guests will need to bring at least two non-perishable food items to receive buy-one-get-one-free on admission and ICEE’s. 

1. Home Depot Kids’ Workshop

Head to your local Home Depot on the first Saturday of the month for the free Home Depot kids’ workshop. On August 5th, 2023 kids will build a treasure chest!

Free fun at Home Depot Kids Workshop

2. Cool Off in the Splash Pads 

There are several fantastic splash pads to choose from all throughout the Midlands and the majority of them are completely FREE! From downtown parks such as Emily Douglas and Elmwood Roy Lynch to Will B. Caracter Park in Lexington, splash pads are a great way to beat the famously hot heat! Be sure to double-check the splash pad operational times before you go as some have limited hours.

For more information on splash pads take a look at our HUGE list of more than 30 places you and your family can cool off this summer! 

3. Admire Artwork at The Columbia Museum of Art

Looking for something to do inside this summer? On August 3, 2023, residents can enjoy free admission to The Columbia Museum of Art, courtesy of Dominion Energy! Head to Boyd Plaza in the evening for more free fun such as live music, food vendors, and more. 

4. Enjoy an Outdoor Movie

There is just something about an outdoor family-friendly movie that screams summer fun! Doko Meadows Park is hosting another free summer movie series all summer long:

  • August 19 – Moana 
  • September 16 – Double Feature! Top Gun & Maverick 
  • October 21 – Hotel Transylvania 

Looking for more options to see low-cost summer movies? Check out our Free Movies for Summer for all the details! 

5. Play a Shady Round of Disc Golf

During the middle of summer, being in shaded spaces is about the only way to make the outdoors bearable. Stay active in the fresh air by playing a round of disc golf this summer!

Almost all disc golf courses can be found twisting and turning in and out of shady, wooded areas so keeping cool is a lot more manageable. There are great disc golf courses at Owens Field and Earlewood

6. Stroll Through the Farmers’ Markets 

Columbia is home to tons of fantastic farmers’ markets! Most of them happen weekly and some are larger than others. One of the most popular farmers’ markets, The Soda City Market, takes place every Saturday and makes for such a fun, family-friendly morning!

Here you can find more than just produce, there are also local crafters, food trucks, fresh flowers, street music, and so much more. Don’t forget to take a look at The Best Farmers Markets all around Columbia

8. Participate in an Event at the Library 

The Richland Library is full of great activities and events for kiddos of all ages! Enjoy the cool air conditioning while also trying out a story time, craft activity, family game night event, or just go to let your kiddos discover new books and play with the educational toys!

Don’t forget to participate in the library’s summer reading challenge

Children's Area in Richland County Libraries

9. Explore a Shaded Park 

We know what you’re thinking, an outdoor playground in the Columbia summer sun is the last place you want to go, but we know of a few shaded parks that we think will be a perfect fit:

  • Citadel Park – large green space, tall pine trees, plenty of seating, separate play space for toddlers 
  • Doko Meadows – huge shade coverings, artificial turf, fenced in, restrooms 
  • Hollywood Park – tons of climbing structures, shade coverings, large green space, covered shelter  
Parks: Columbia, SC with playgrounds and fun places to explore

Don’t stop there! Find more great places to play!

The Kidding Around Columbia Parks and Playgrounds Guide

10. Swim and Splash at Lake Murray Public Park 

At Lake Murray Public Park you will find both a beach area and lake swimming access, making the perfect place to play then jump in and cool off! Along with swimming you can also kayak, fish, and boat.

Keep in mind that there are two places to park when visiting Lake Murray. One lot is completely FREE and the other parking area will cost $5, cash only.

The free lot can be found just past the main parking area and does require a little bit longer of a walk, but if you come prepared with wagons, strollers, or just overall light packing, it is totally doable even with kids! 

Lake Murray beach in Lexington, SC

11. Cool Off at a Public Pool 

Life is cool at the pool and there are several completely free public pools in and near Columbia! 

12. Check Out Events at Icehouse Amphitheater 

Icehouse Amphitheater has several upcoming events this summer that are completely free. From outdoor movies to live music and more, you won’t want to miss these fun, kid-friendly events! 

  • July 21 – Frozen II
  • July 28 – Top Gun Maverick 
  • August 31 – The Hitmen 
  • September 7 – Cat5 Band 

More free things

Kids Eat Free in Columbia, SC

Grab a free meal for the kids!

Kids eat free in Columbia, SC

Summer in Columbia, SC

Summer Guide to Columbia,, SC

The Ultimate Summer Guide to Columbia, SC

Find all the fun in one place!

What is your favorite free summer activity in Columbia? 

Free Movies for Summer, Plus Super Cheap Options in Columbia, SC

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Are you wondering where you can find free movies for summer in Columbia, SC? Regal Movies, the Town of Blythewood, the Icehouse Amphitheater, and The Big Mo are hosting summer movie events that your whole family will love! Below we’ve got the details on where you can see movies for free or super budget-friendly this summer. 

Let’s Go to the Summer Movies: Columbia, SC  

It’s no secret that taking your family to the movies can be quite expensive – the tickets, popcorn, drinks, and candy all add up QUICK! Maybe you’ve even got a toddler or two that you’re just not sure are ready to make it through a whole movie in a crowded, evening theater, but taking them during the day or even to an outdoor venue might seem a little more manageable!

This summer we found great options to not only make going to the movies cheap but also fun and memorable for your whole tribe. Try these summer movies for kids and families this year and don’t break the bank to do it!

free movies for summer, Columbia, SC
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50+ Free Things to Do in Columbia, SC

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Looking for free activities in Columbia, SC? You can fill up a day in Columbia without spending a dime! We’ve compiled a list and it is packed full of free and cheap ideas for you. Grab your family and make some fun-filled memories together for free. Here’s our list of free things to do in Columbia, SC with kids!

Free Things to Do in Columbia, SC

This article includes:
Free Things to Do Outdoors in Columbia, SC
Kids Eat Free
Free Things to Do Indoors in Columbia, SC
Free Events in Columbia, SC

Free Things to Do Outside in Columbia, SC

Go on a walk: Head to Columbia’s Riverwalk for a walk with your family. With more than 20 miles of riverwalk and trails, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors. You can find shade under the trees and bridges, and parking is free!

Paved path at West Columbia Riverwalk

Have a picnic at the Horseshoe at the University of South Carolina: The Horseshoe at USC is a perfect place to have a family picnic and spend the afternoon. Bring some outdoor toys and bikes and enjoy the weather together. While there’s plenty of shade, you will need to bring a little money to park.

Play tennis: Head to one of Columbia’s public recreational tennis courts.

Cool off at a pool or splash pad: One of the most fun things to do in the summer is taking your kids to a pool or splash pad. While the Maxcy Gregg and Greenview Pools have a small fee ($3 – $4 depending on age), the splash pads and spray pools are free and open to the public. 

We have a huge list of 30+ places to cool off, swim, and splash in Columbia, SC. Many of them are totally FREE!

Elmwood Roy Lynch Park Splashpad
Splashpad at Elmwood Roy Lynch Park in Columbia, SC

Spray Pools and Pads in Columbia *Be sure to call the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department at 803.545.3100 or check online for operating hours.

  • Anna’s Park – 1315 Liberty Hill Avenue
  • Drew Park – 2102 Walker Solomon Way
  • Edisto Discovery Park – 1914 Wiley Street 
  • Emily Douglas Park – 2500 Wheat Street
  • Heathwood Park – 800 Abelia Road
  • Hyatt Park – 950 Jackson Avenue
  • Lorick Park – 1600 Lorick Avenue
  • Mays Park – 4100 Trenholm Road
  • Melrose Park – 1500 Fairview Road
  • Pacific Park – 200 Wayne Street
  • Pinehurst Park – 2300 Pinehurst Road
  • Roy Lynch Park – 900 Abbeville Street
  • Sims Park – 3500 Duncan Street

Play at one of the local parks or playgrounds: What kid doesn’t love to run around at a cool playground? There are plenty of beautiful parks with great playgrounds in the Columbia area.

The Community Park of Irmo, Elmwood/Roy Lynch Park, and the Owens Field Skate Park & Pump Track are all great parks with playgrounds and other amenities such as walking trails, ball fields, zip lines, and splash pads.

If you are looking for a great park with shade to avoid those famously hot Columbia days, Hollywood Park is an excellent choice. For the days you’re wanting to be more immersed in nature, check out Doko Meadows Park.

If you are needing an all-inclusive playground, then Leo’s Landing is definitely the park to go to.

In West Columbia, Carraway Park has an amazing playground space!

The playground at Carraway Park in West Columbia
Carraway Park

Sesquicentennial State Park has lots of amenities, including $5 kayak rentals. Park admission is required unless you have SC State Park Annual Pass. If you do, admission is free.

Check out all the parks and playgrounds in Columbia

Ride bikes: Grab your bikes and go on a bike ride. Download the Sprocket app, an app created by The Cola Town Bike Collective, to help you find the perfect, safe bike route for you and your family.

Go fishing: Enjoy free fishing thanks to the South Carolina Fishing Tackle Loaner program where you can borrow a rod, reel, and tackle box for FREE. Some fishing spots to consider are Lake Murray (head to Dreher Island State Park) or Saluda Shoals Park.

Go Swimming at Lake Murray: Pay $5 to park at the closest parking lot or use the free parking and walk. Either way, enjoy the beach and swimming area on a sunny day with your family.

Playing at Lake Murray Park
Lake Murray Park

Go see an outdoor movie: The Icehouse Amphitheater in Lexington shows movies every now and then. Be sure to check their schedule for upcoming shows and other events. You can also enjoy a summer movie for free at Doko Meadows park.

Or, check out this list of free and cheap movies this summer in Columbia.

Head out for a hike: There are plenty of hiking trails in Columbia. From paved multi-use trails to longer, more rugged trails, you’ll find something for you and your family to enjoy. Check out our list of some of the best hiking trails with free admittance in the Columbia, SC area.

  • Cayce Riverwalk | Main Entrance: 201 Naples Avenue, Cayce, SC 
  • Columbia Canal and Broad River Trail | 312 Laurel Street., Columbia, SC
  • Saluda Riverwalk | Candi Lane, Columbia, SC
  • Guignard Clay Quarry Loop | 634 Old State Road, Cayce, SC
  • Forty Acre Rock Heritage Preserve | 2207 Conservancy Road, Kershaw, SC
  • Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve | 883 Peachtree Rock Road, Lexington, SC
  • Congaree National Park Hiking Trails | 100 National Park Road, Hopkins, SC

Stroll down Main Street for Soda City Market: Every Saturday from 9 am – 1 pm, vendors gather on Main Street for a European-inspired street market for the Soda City Market. Everything sold is unique, hand-crafted, and produced in the Southeast. While strolling and perusing what the vendors have to offer, you’ll hear music and be able to do a lot of people-watching.

Throw a frisbee around at one of the disc golf courses: Grab your disc golf frisbee and play disc golf for free. Udisc has a list of courses in the area.

Go on a public art tour: You can treat this as a scavenger hunt if you’d like, but there are plenty of public art installations around Columbia that you can visit for free. One Columbia has an interactive map for you to find art spots.

The art in Columbia includes the “world’s largest fire hydrant” sculpture located on Taylor Street in Columbia, SC, between Marion and Bull Street.

You can also visit the Interactive Art Park in West Columbia. It’s free!

West Columbia Interactive Art Park with South Carolina art

Grab the family and head to one of the many Columbia area farmer’s markets! One of the most popular, The Soda City Farmers Market in Downtown Columbia, has tons of vendors and is a lot of fun for the entire family. You can also check out The Market at Icehouse, located at the Icehouse Amphitheatre in Lexington.

First Thursdays on Main: First Thursdays on Main include free live music and even free admission to cultural venues, like the Columbia Museum of Art on select First Thursdays. Food and other items are available for purchase.

Attend a FREE event at Congaree National Park, like the Ranger Guided Owl Prowl hike. You might get a chance to see or hear one of these amazing creatures in the wild! But even if you don’t, you’ll learn a lot and have some fun!

Play pickleball: Pickleball has become quite a popular hobby in the last few years! There are several public pickleball courts all throughout Columbia that operate on a first-come, first serve basis:

Go Geocaching: Have you ever been geocaching? We can assure you that this is an activity that your whole family will get hooked on! Geocaching is an outdoor game, very similar to a treasure hunt, where you use GPS to locate different “treasures” hidden by others.

Richland County has set up an interactive geocaching game where you can learn how to keep our waterways clean, experience local art, and hunt for geocaches! Start by downloading a “Drains Aren’t Dumps Passport” and you will quickly be on your way to discovering awesome treasure.

Decorate, Hide, and Find Painted Rocks: Most of us are familiar with discovering painted rocks hidden throughout the city, but what you might not know is that there is a Facebook group called Columbia-SC Rocks! People will post pictures of their decorated rocks and give hints as to where they can be found. Along with hunting for them, it’s super fun to paint a few with your kiddos, go around to some of their favorite places, and hide them for others to enjoy.

Visit the Sandhill Children’s Garden: The Sandhill Children’s Garden is located near the Farmer’s Market on Clemson Road, across from the Sandhill Shopping Center. Here you will find beautiful gardens, birdhouses, neat flowers, and much more. There are sometimes even small events that take place here. Looking to introduce your children to volunteer work? The Sandhill Children’s Garden is almost always looking for new volunteers to keep the gardens looking spectacular!

Eat Free

Kids Eat FREE in Columbia: While you’re out and about on your free things to do adventure, grab a cheap meal by taking advantage of these kids eat free deals.

Kids Eat Free in Columbia, SC

Free Things to Do Inside in Columbia, SC

Go Bowling: There are several bowling alleys in the Columbia area where kids up to age 15 can bowl for free in summer. You’ll still need to rent shoes or bring your own.

Anchor Lanes – 1000 Columbia Avenue, Irmo
Royal Z Lanes – 8512 Two Notch Road, Columbia
Stars and Strikes – 700 Columbiana Drive, Irmo

Head to the library: Richland County Libraries and Lexington County Library both have children‘s programs you can participate in, which include storytime, crafts, and movies.

Grab a free DIY Kit from Home Depot: Home Depot has free Kids Workshop kits that you can pick up on the first Saturday of each month from 9 am – 12 pm while supplies last. 

Don’t miss 10+ FREE Things to Do for Kids Across the USA.

Participate in a DIY-U Lowe’s Event: Lowe’s has both in-store and online DIY workshops that are completely free! Workshops for kids usually take place once each month and are led by Red Vest experts. This is a GREAT hands-on activity that your kids will love! Be sure to register in advance for these events!

Tour the South Carolina State House: Want to get a little education with your activity? Head to the State House for a free guided or self-guided tour. Tours are given every half hour from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm Monday through Friday when the chambers are not in session. The State House is also open for tours each Saturday. You do not have to make a reservation, but you can call ahead if you’d like to.

Visit Fort Jackson’s military museum at the U.S. Army Basic Combat Training Museum for an educational trip in disguise. Guests can directly interact with soldiers, ask questions, and learn about the history and evolution of combat training.

Visit the Melton Observatory on the USC Columbia campus. You’ll get a chance to use their huge telescope to check out the sun, moon, galaxies, planets and more!

Bonus! Are you a homeschooling family? The SC State Museum offers FREE admission to homeschooling families. The South Carolina State Museum is a great place to go explore and learn something new!

Free Events in Columbia, SC

What’s free and happening soon in Columbia, SC? This is a list of upcoming events that are free! That means there is no admission cost to attend these events, and may mean there are free crafts, entertainment, food, and more! However, there may be charges and fees for activities or food at some of these events so do check event websites for details.

Just click on each event for more information.



Bonus: Cheap Things to Do in Columbia, SC

Looking for a few more fun things to do for cheap? If you’re looking for some great family activities that won’t break the bank, we have a couple more ideas for you!

Two Girls and a Farm in Lexington, SC

Petting Zoo Meet & Greets

Ready for animal fun? Bring the family to Two Girls and a Farm for just $20 for a family of 4. That even includes a bag of animal feed.

More Fun, Free Things to Do

McPherson Park mini golf

There are more free things to do in Greenville, SC.

Take a day trip, for free.

Looking for more fun things to do in Columbia, SC? We’ve compiled the ultimate Columbia list for you.

Play Pickleball, Enjoy Open Green Spaces, and Relax in Nature at Woodland Park in Columbia, SC

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Have you ever been to Woodland Park in Columbia, SC? With the warmer weather rolling in, Woodland Park is a great place to get some fresh air, enjoy the sunshine, and let your kiddos burn off some energy. Woodland Park features a huge playground, large open green spaces, a walking trail, pickleball and tennis courts, and is even dog-friendly. My family and I recently took a trip here and I think we found a new staple to add into our playground rotation – it’s THAT good! 

The playground at Woodland Park in Columbia, SC

Enjoy Nature at Woodland Park 

Just off of Garners Ferry Road, tucked away in the Old Woodlands subdivision, you will find a FANTASTIC park for you and your family to enjoy! Even though we’d consider it a quiet area, you can almost always find a decent amount of kiddos for your children to play with here. Woodland Park is surrounded by trees, making it feel a little less like the hustle and bustle of city-life and a bit more relaxing as you enjoy nature all around. 

Reasons to Love Woodland Park 

There are so many things to love about Woodland Park, but my family’s absolute favorite thing about going here is the variety of playground equipment. For my 1-year-old, there were small slides, bucket swings, a rocking car, and even some climbing features that she could enjoy. 

There were tons of things for my older son to enjoy as well – big slides, a variety of monkey bars, traditional swings, balancing equipment, and a large climbing structure. There is truly something for ALL ages at Woodland Park! 

Kids playing at Woodland Park in Columbia, SC

Open Ended Green Spaces 

Along with the playground itself, my kids enjoyed playing hide-and-seek in the open green spaces. One part of the green space is filled with trees while the other is more open. Both of these areas would be perfect for sprawling out on a blanket and having a nice picnic! You could also toss a football, blow bubbles, catch a frisbee, or even fly a kite on a breezy day. 

Walking Loop 

Under the shade of the trees you will also find a walking trail that makes a large loop. My family and I took a quick stroll along the path and couldn’t help but notice all of the neat signs of nature. Several of the tree trunks were hollowed out which my son loved to carefully peak inside. We even saw and heard an owl flying around and “hoot-ing” up in the trees! 

The walking path at Woodland Park

Pickleball and Tennis Courts 

Have you given pickleball a try yet? With its new popularity, you might be searching for a nice place to play! At Woodland Park you will find 2 pickleball courts and 5 tennis courts. The courts are all open to the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Play tennis at Woodland Park in Columbia, SC

A Few More Reasons to Go to Woodland Park

I know we’ve already given you so many great reasons to give Woodland Park a try, but if you’re still not sold, here are a few more: 

  • Several benches 
  • Picnic tables 
  • Dog-friendly 
  • Shade
  • Free little library 
  • Large paved parking lot 
Swings at Woodland Park

More Things to do Near Woodland Park 

Woodland Park is centrally located to several popular Columbia spots! In just under 15-minutes you can be in Five Points where you can find restaurants, coffee shops, and shopping. Maybe even make your way to the University of South Carolina and stroll through the beautiful, well-known “horseshoe.” 

You could also continue your day of fun with a quick drive to EdVenture Children’s Museum. The West Columbia Riverwalk, SC State House, and The Vista are all close by, too. 

Woodland Park
6500 Olde Knight Parkway 

What is your family’s favorite thing about Woodland Park?

Parks and Playgrounds in Columbia, SC

Need more fun places to play?

These are the best parks and playgrounds in Columbia, SC!

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

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Are you looking for free things to do this holiday season 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.

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 3 epic Columbia Christmas Light Driving Routes.

Free Holiday Events Near Columbia

Seasons Greetings in Five Points

November 20, 2022, @ 1 pm
532 Congaree Avenue, Columbia

There will be photos with Santa by the fountain from 1 pm to 3 pm, holiday music, from 3:30 pm to 5 pm, and the Holiday Lighting of the Fountain from 5 pm to 5:30 pm. The event will also have giveaways, Santas Elves will be attending, and lots of cookies and cocoa!

Photos with Santa at Hotel Trundle

November 27, 2022, 1 pm to 3 pm
1224 Taylor Street, Columbia

Totally free, visit Santa 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

Looking for more places to see Santa in Columbia? Here’s our list of Where to See Santa in Columbia, SC.

Christmas in Cayce Drive Through

December 1, 2022, 6 pm to 8 pm
1800 12th Street, Cayce (Cayce City Hall)

A drive-thru event with thousands of lights, animated displays, musical performances, and a visit from Santa! You are invited to bring nonperishable food items to donate to the “Cayce Cares” food drive in co-op with The Women’s Club of Cayce.

Cayce Historical Museum’s Annual Christmas Traditions Open House

December 3, 2022, 6 pm to 9 pm
1800 12th Street, Cayce (Cayce City Hall)

This annual event features live entertainment, refreshments, and an all-around essence of the Christmas spirit. There will be docents dressed in 18th-century period attire while the Hall will showcase decorated trees and historical crafts. 

Snowball Festival Carnival and Movie

December 3, 2022, 1 pm – 5 pm
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 Elf at 6 pm. 

Holiday Cookie Decorating with Embellished Dough LLC

December 5, 2022
Richland Library Northeast, 3 pm – 4 pm or 6 pm – 7 pm

Ages 12 and older can learn to decorate holiday cookies with professional bakers! You will get to take home 3-4 decorated cookies Registration is required.

Lexington County Museum Christmas Open House

December 11, 2022, 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!

Movie Matinee- How the Grinch Stole Christmas

December 16, 2022, 3 pm – 5 pm
Richland Library North Main

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

Storytime Songs by the Campfire

December 20, 2022, @ 6 pm
Richland Library Southeast

Enjoy holiday sing-a-longs, stories, and more family-filled fun to usher in the week before Christmas.

Christmas parade with Santa in Columbia, SC

Holiday Parades Near Columbia

Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade

December 3rd, 2022, @ 9:45 am
Downtown Columbia

Head downtown for the 69th 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 Pine Ridge Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony

December 3, 2022, @ 4 pm

Along with the parade, there will be a tree-lighting ceremony, lots of festive activities to enjoy, and a visit from Santa. The parade will start at Congaree Baptist Church and move toward Town Hall.

Town of Lexington Christmas Parade

December 4, 2022, @ 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 10th, 2022, @ 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 10th, 2022, @ 10 am
669 Main Street, West Columbia

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


Tree Lighting and Caroling Near Columbia

Vista Lights

November 17, 2022, @ 6 pm
807 Gervais Street, Columbia

Along with the tree lighting at the corner of Gervais and Lincoln Street, over 60 galleries, restaurants, and local shops will be open and in the holiday spirit! There will be live entertainment and performances at the River Runner Outdoor Center, live music, and a toy drive for Toys for Tots. The event starts around 6 pm, with the tree lighting ceremony at 7 pm. 

Governor’s Carolighting

November 20, 2022, @ 6 pm
1100 Gervais Street, Columbia (South Carolina State House)

Join Governor Henry McMaster and his family for the 56th annual lighting of the state Christmas tree, along with a message from the Governor, special performances, and more.

Blythewood Christmas Tree Lighting

November 27, 2022, 5 pm to 6:30 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!

Carols Along the Riverwalk

December 2, 2022, 6 pm to 8 pm
201 North Avenue Entrance of the Cayce Riverwalk

Holiday music will fill the air as you walk through the trees. This “reverse caroling” event will feature local musicians and church choirs that will be at various points throughout the half-mile walk. There will be a free trolley from Brookland Cayce High School. 

Carolighting Ceremony

December 2, 2022, @ 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 3, 2022, @ 7 pm

Following the Christmas parade, there will be a tree-lighting ceremony held at Town Hall at approximately 7 pm.

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 27th through December 24th, 2022
All Regal Cinema Locations

Enjoy these classic holiday films at your local Regal Cinemas for only $5!
November 27, 2022- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
December 3rd & 4th, 2022- The Grinch
December 10th & 11th, 2022- Elf
December 17th & 18th, 2022- Polar Express
December 24th- How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Sleigh Bell Stroll

November 22, 2022, 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. You can register for the event. 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 camps and things to do 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!