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Posts Tagged ‘Holiday’

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

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What is there to do in Columbia this holiday season? Where are the holiday events near me? If you’re looking for Christmas events in Columbia, SC, and holiday season activities, you have come to the right place. We’ll be updating this huge list all season long with holiday parades, seasonal live entertainment, theater, live music, crafts, Santa, tree lighting, light displays, Christmas carols, and lots more! Get ready for Christmas Day and celebrate the season with all of these fun, festive holiday events!



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

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

Christmas in Columbia, SC: Video

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

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

Season-long Holiday Events in Columbia

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

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

  • Wild Lights at Riverbanks Zoo has dates starting November 17th through January 14th, 2023. This is an all-new lights experience at Riverbanks Zoo. The experience will include visits with Santa through December 23rd.


The Biggest List of Christmas Events in Columbia, SC

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

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Holiday Theater & Performing Arts

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

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Where is Santa?

Santa in Columbia, SC

If you’re looking for the big man in red, you’ll want to pop over to our exclusive Santa page. The elves gave us the inside scoop on all of Santa’s visits around Columbia, and we’re passing them on to you. So, go visit Santa in Columbia, SC!


Christmas and Holiday Parades Around Columbia

Is there anything better than a Christmas parade when it comes to free, festive fun? Grab some hot chocolate, pack up some Christmas cookies, bring the kids, and enjoy some holiday season fun!

Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade

The 2023 Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade in Downtown Columbia, SC will be held on December 2nd, 2023. The parade begins at the intersection of Sumter Street and Laurel Street at 9:45 am. The parade route ends at Senate Street.

Christmas parade in Columbia SC

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Tree Lightings Around Columbia, SC

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

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After Christmas! Winter Break and New Year’s

Time to celebrate the start of 2023! How will you celebrate with your family in Columbia this year? We have 7 family-friendly celebrations for New Year’s in Columbia, plus a few more ways you can ring in the New Year!

Winter break in Columbia, SC

Stay Busy! Columbia’s Winter Break Bucket List

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

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

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

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Are you looking for places to see Santa in Columbia, SC this holiday season? Wondering where to see Santa near you? Santa is visiting lots of places around Columbia in 2023. His elves at the North Pole are sending us his appearance list as dates are announced, so bookmark this page and check back regularly. We’ll be updating almost as fast as those elves.

See Santa in Columbia, SC

This list includes all kinds of events with Santa on the guest list.
Check back soon for more 2023 events!

  • Santa Brunches and Cookies with Santa
  • Parades where Santa is expected to make an appearance
  • Tree Lightings hosted by Santa in Columbia
  • Places to get a picture with Santa
  • Places to visit with Santa near Columbia, SC
  • Holiday markets with Santa
  • Santa’s visit schedule with stops in Columbia, Lexington, West Columbia, and more across the South Carolina Midlands.
See Santa in Columbia, SC
Santa at Duck Duck Goose, Columbia

Columbia Mall Santa and More Places to Get Pictures with Santa

Where can I take pictures with Santa in Columbia SC?

Ready for photos with Santa? If you’re looking for a place to visit Santa and get some pictures with the big man in red, this is the list you’re looking for. Find places to get professional photos with Santa in the Columbia area here.

Columbiana Centre

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

Pancakes and PJs with Santa: Photos by Lovejoy Photogrpahy

St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 119 N Church St, Lexington
Friday, December 8th from 5:30 to 7 pm
$20 per child (one free adult per child) $10 per additional adult or child.
Enjoy pancakes in your PJs with Santa and get professional photos with Santa taken by Lovejoy Photography. Each child will also get a craft.
Pancakes and PJS with Santa Event

Santa Experience at Beechcreek Farm

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

Free Photos With Santa in Columbia, SC

  • Where can I take my own pictures with Santa in Columbia?
  • Where can I get free pictures with Santa in Columbia, SC?

Santa knows budgets are tight. We so love the totally FREE opportunities to visit with Santa around Columbia, and we love FREE pictures with Santa even more.

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

November 26, 2023 from 8 to 9 am, Breakfast with Santa at Flying Biscuit Cafe: eat breakfast at Flying Biscuit Cafe in Five Points and get a free photo with Santa. (There is no cost for a photo with Santa, breakfast menu is at regular cost. )

November 28, 2023: Pets take pictures with Santa for free, and kids and families are welcome to join in. Sponsored by Make a Friend in Animals. This event is at the White Knoll Veterinary Hospital.

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

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

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

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

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

December 14th, 2023: Santa at Top Dawg Tavern, no cost for photos. Santa will be visiting from 5:30 to 8:30 pm and there will be food and beverage deals in addition to the regular menu. Village at Sandhill

December 15th, 2023: Cookies with Santa 2 pm to 5 pm, get your photo taken with Santa and enjoy cookies at Mingo’s Cookies and Bubble Tea in Lexington.

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

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

Free Photos with Santa at Bass Pro Shops/Cabela’s: Includes a FREE Printed 4×6 photo!

Head up to the road to Greenville or Fort Mill, SC to Cabela’s. Visit with Santa and get a totally FREE photo with Santa at Cabela’s. The photo is a professional, quality printed 4×6 photo. There are additional free activities, a letterbox to mail your list to Santa, and you can enjoy the wildlife and aquarium displays throughout the store.
Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops Free Photos with Santa at Santa’s Wonderland

Events with Santa in and near Columbia, SC

Ready to bring the kids to see the red-suited jolly man and his elves? Here’s where you can see Santa Claus in Columbia, SC in 2023!

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

Santa and Me at EdVenture Children’s Museum benefits the Prisma Health Children’s Hospital. Kids can visit with Santa and take a photo, make a special plate with Mad Platter, decorate ornaments to donate to the children’s hospital and more. The tickets are $20. November 19, 2023 12 pm to 4 pm

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

Ride a train with Santa the first 3 Saturdays in December at the South Carolina Railroad Museum. There are a number of train rides with tickets still available throughout each Saturday, December 2, 8 and 16th, 2023. Tickets start at $17 for ages 3 and up. Ticket prices will vary based on the car you select. Purchase tickets for SCRM Santa Trains online

Photos with Santa at Wild Lights

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

Track Santa on Christmas Eve

Didn’t see Santa yet this year? Don’t worry! There are a couple of ways for you to track him on his Christmas Eve journey.

NORAD Tracks Santa

In 1955 a young man accidentally called the Continental Air Defense Command asking if they had seen Santa flying through the sky. While the child had meant to call a Santa Hotline, the person who answered the phone that Christmas Eve just happened to be the Commander in Chief, Colonel Harry Shoup. He instructed his team to keep looking for Santa on the radar screens and ever since NORAD has been tracking Santa annually.
The NORAD Santa Tracker

To track Santa on Christmas Eve night, join the team at NORAD, and you will be able to watch them track “Big Red 1” in real-time as he makes his way across the world.

I Heart Radio’s North Pole Radio

The I Heart Radio streaming service has a station dedicated to all things Christmas, It includes 24/7 Christmas music, plus Santa will be checking in with listeners on Christmas Eve with updates!

After Christmas! Winter Break and New Year’s

Once Santa has returned to the North Pole, how will you fill the rest of the holiday season? We have some ideas, of course!

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

Wolf Ridge Tubing

Time to celebrate the start of 2024! How will you celebrate with your family in Columbia this year? We have 7 family-friendly celebrations for New Year’s in Columbia, plus a few more ways you can ring in the New Year!

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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

Cola’s 

Address: 1215 Assembly Street – 803.451.0051
Details: TBA
Cola’s

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

Saluda’s

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

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

Smoked 

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. 
Smoked

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

Shoney’s

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.
Shoney’s

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

IHOP

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.
IHOP

Wafflehouse

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.
Wafflehouse

Denny’s

Address: Various locations
Details: Always open 24 hours!
Denny’s

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

Shoney’s

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.
Shoney’s

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.

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!

The Christmas Season: How early is too early?

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The “how early is too early?” Christmas season debate is on. Decorations are going up all around the Upstate. Do you think November decorations are too ambitious? How about Christmas music? What album is Alexa playing on repeat at your house? Here’s Kidding Around Contributor, Taryn, with her take on the early start to the holiday season.

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20+ Jolly Places for Christmas Lights In Columbia, SC (2023)

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Are you searching for holiday light shows and Christmas lights in Columbia, SC? Wondering “where can I see Christmas lights near me?” or “Where to see Christmas lights in Columbia, SC?” Take a break from the holiday shopping and catch a holiday light show! There’s nothing more full of holiday cheer than elaborate displays of lights. So, we have put together a comprehensive list of the best Christmas lights near Columbia, SC!


All the lights. Right here. Sort our list with the anchor links below and prepare to get all “fa la la la” with holiday spirit.


Where to see Christmas Lights: Columbia, SC

Our list includes drive-thru holiday lights, walk-through Christmas lights displays, and neighborhoods and private homes with amazing light displays.

Several of these displays offer more than just beautiful twinkling lights. You might also have the chance to take pictures with Santa, enjoy delicious seasonal treats, or even park and explore some displays and activities on foot! 

Holiday Lights on the River with Golly

The Top Drive-Thru Christmas Lights: Columbia, SC 

Holiday Lights on the River: Saluda Shoals

About: With more than 3 miles of lights and fascinating displays, Holiday Lights on the River is sure to be a magical treat! Along with lights, you can also enjoy s’mores, hot chocolate, a gift shop, letters to Santa, and more! Santa will make his appearance at the light show on November 25th through November 27th, December 2nd, December 3rd, and December 9th through December 23rd, 2022.
Check out our review of Holiday Lights on the River.
When: Every evening from November 23 through December 31, 2023
Time: 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Cost: $25 per car; $50 for 12-15 passenger vans; $75 for Bus (16+ Passengers) 
Address: 6071 St. Andrews Road, Columbia, SC
Holiday Lights on the River

Carolina Lights: South Carolina State Fairgrounds 

About: Ring in the holiday season by going to the drive-thru light display at the SC fairgrounds! Here you will see more than 100 individual light displays that are synced to festive songs on 88.9 FM radio station. Chocolate chip cookies and milk will be available for purchase about halfway through the drive. Want to go through more than once? When exiting, you can request a re-entry pass and go back for a second look. Re-entry passes are only good for the same day and end 15 minutes before closing each night. 

Carolina Lights at the SC State Fairgrounds

Here’s our Kidding Around Review of Carolina Lights.

When: December 8 through December 24, 2023
Time: Sunday, Tuesday – Thursday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Friday and Saturday from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm 
Closed Mondays
Cost: $15/car when purchased before December 7th 
$20/car when purchased on or after December 8th
Address: Entry at Gate 6 of fairgrounds, 901 George Rogers Boulevard
Carolina Lights

Columbia Christmas Lights You Can Walk-Thru 

Wild Lights: Riverbanks Zoo

About: Find the magic of Christmas right here at our local zoo! There will be nearly 60 handcrafted, nature-inspired lanterns all around. There will be fun photo opportunities throughout as well as interactive activities, a nightly snowfall and visit with Santa (through December 23). Keep in mind that because this event occurs in the evenings, the chance of seeing zoo animals is low. Ticket price varies, please see calendar for Value and Standard ticket pricing date/time. Members must still reserve tickets in advance, available select nights only.
When: Select evenings from November 17, 2023 through January 14, 2024.
Time: 5 pm to 9 pm
Cost: $14.99-$19.99 children, $19.99-$24.99 adults
Address: 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia, SC 

Check out our Kidding Around Review of Wild Lights.

Wild Lights at Riverbanks

Fireflies Holiday Lights

About: The Fireflies Holiday Lights is returning for the second year here in Columbia, SC, and is all the rave this year, boasting an even bigger and brighter experience than last 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! They will also have Richardson Tree Farm on site November 16th – December 17th with trees ready for purchase (pull up after your visit to pick up tree).
When: November 16th through December 31st, 2023
Time:  Nightly from 6 pm to 9 pm, last entry at 8:45 pm except they will be Closed 11/20, 11/27 and Thanksgiving Day (11/23) and Christmas Day (12/25) 
Cost: $10 per person for November
$12 per person for December, age 2 and under is free
Address: Segra Park, 1640 Freed Street, Columbia

Here’s our Kidding Around Review of Fireflies Holiday Lights

Lights at Segra Park
Lights at Segra Park

Sleigh Bell Trot: November 20, 2023

About: See the lights at Saluda Shoals while running this four-mile nighttime run! Awards will be given to 1st-3rd place runners in multiple age categories and all registrants receive a t-shirt, refreshments and finishers medal. T-shirt can only be guaranteed for early bird registrants so be sure to register by 11/10. The event is rain or shine with a non-refundable registration and dogs are not allowed at the Sleigh Bell Trot.
When: November 20, 2023
Time: Trot: 7 pm to 9 pm, Check-in: 5 pm- 6:50 pm
Cost: $30 – $40 per person
Address: 6071 St. Andrews Road, Columbia

Sleigh Bell Trot

Sleigh Bell Stroll: November 21, 2023

About: The Sleigh Bell Stroll also leads guests through the Holiday Lights on the River display by foot, but this a family fun walk rather than a timed race! The stroll is only 2 miles long and concessions from Tin Can Kettle Corn will be available for purchase. Pre-registration is required for this event and must be complete by 11/20/23. There will be bus transportation back to the parking lot available and please do not bring dogs to this event.
When: November 21, 2023
Time: 6 pm – 8 pm
Cost: $7/person ages 3+
$2/child ages 2 and under
Address: 6071 St. Andrews Road, Saluda Shoals Park (Park at East Entrance)
Sleigh Bell Stroll

FREE Christmas Light Displays Around Columbia, SC 

Children’s Garden Christmas and Kids’ Walk: Edisto Memorial Gardens 

About: Drive-thru the beautiful Edisto Memorial Gardens as they transform into a spectacular holiday light show. There will be an opportunity to park and stroll through the “Kid’s Walk” which includes interactive light displays such as Twelve Days of Christmas, moving animals, and more! 
When: November 19, 2023 through January 1, 2024
Time: Drive-thru open from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm; “Kid’s Walk” open from 5:00 pm until 9:00 pm
Cost: FREE
Address: 200 Riverside Drive, Orangeburg, SC
Edisto Memorial Gardens

Fantasy of Lights: Swan Lake Gardens

About: South Carolina’s LARGEST free Christmas light display is back for another year! Drive through this winter wonderland to see more than 1 million twinkling lights. You can also make a quick stop at “Santa’s Village” where kiddos can write letters to and take photos with Santa and enjoy sweet treats. 
When: December 1 through December 31, 2023
*Santa’s Village is open December 2nd, December 8th, December 9th, December 15th and December 16th from 6:00 pm until 8:00 pm
Time: Sunday – Thursday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Friday and Saturday from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm 
Cost: FREE
Address: 822 West Liberty Street, Sumter, SC 
Fantasy of Lights

Drive-Thru Christmas Lights From Further Away 

Maybe you’re looking to take a quick family trip this winter. If that’s you, there are two fantastic drive-thru light shows in the Charleston, SC area that would make for the perfect weekend getaway. Create a new family tradition, use this as part of your children’s Christmas present, or even just go to see something exciting and new!

Here are two great options for drive-thru light shows that are around 2 hours from Columbia. 

Holiday Festival of Lights in Charleston, SC

Holiday Festival of Lights – James Island County Park 

About: This is an incredible holiday festival that you won’t want to miss out on! With so much holiday magic and festive activities, you and your family are sure to make memories that will last a lifetime. Here, you can drive-thru the lights as many times as you’d like! Along with the thousands of fantastic light displays to drive through, there is also a chance to park and get out of your car to enjoy more Christmas magic on foot. 
Between November 10 through December 23, your children will have the chance to meet Santa! You will also find rock wall climbing, holiday artwork, a carousel, a “reindeer workshop”, delicious holiday treats, and more! 
Check out our Kidding Around Review of Holiday Festival of Lights.
When: November 10 through December 31, 2023
Time: 5:30 pm until 10:00 pm 
Cost: “Green Nights” – Lighter Traffic & Crowds – $15 Online, $20 at gate
“Yellow Nights” – Moderate Traffic & Crowds – $25 Online, $30 at gate
“Red Nights” – Heavy Traffic & Crowds – $30 Online, $40 at gate
See Calendar for details.
Address: 871 Riverland Drive, Charleston, SC  

Holiday Festival of Lights

Holiday Festival of Lights
Holiday Festival of Lights

Want more lights? Head to the Upstate!
Here’s where to see Christmas Lights near Greenville, SC.

Celebrate the Season – Santee Cooper

About: For the 14th consecutive year, Celebrate the Season is back! Bundle up in the car with your loved ones and drive-thru this great holiday light display. You will see thousands of beautiful lights and interactive displays all along the route. Holiday In The Park is included with paid admission to the Holiday Lights Driving Tour and includes free visits with Santa, food, crafts and holiday activities. Holiday In The Park is open Dec. 8-9, 15-16, 22-23 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
When: November 24 through December 30, 2023 – CLOSED ON Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Time: 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Cost: $10/vehicle (Cash Only)
Address: 1 Riverwood Drive, Moncks Corner, SC 

Celebrate the Season

Columbia Homes, Neighborhoods, and More with Great Christmas Lights: Free Holiday Lights to Enjoy

Private homes with huge holiday light displays

Check out beautiful displays throughout the Columbia and Midlands community! Remember that these are private homes and are the result of a lot of hard work and expense. Please don’t enter the property unless invited to walk through. Do not block roads.

Remember that these displays are often dependent on the weather. Many cannot operate in the rain or on wet ground.

Lisznyai House

Lisznyai House, 725 Formby Drive, Columbia in the Spring Valley Subdivision. Synchronized display, tune to 88.7 and enjoy the lights from your car or you are welcome to walk the lighted paths!
Hours: 5:30-10:30 pm nightly Thanksgiving through December 31st. Please use the North Springs Road or Two Notch Road entrances (Flora Drive gate is closed).

Yinzer Yuletide

Yinzer Yuletide, 137 Timber Knoll Drive, Irmo Lights started December 3rd! Hours are 7 to 10 pm on weekdays and 7 to 11 pm on weekends.

McFarland Lights

McFarland Lights 133 Autumn Oaks Lane, Lexington

Gallery Cliffs Drive

Gallery Cliffs Drive, Chapin Exceptionally large static display

Nesbitt House

740 Martin Smith Road, Gilbert SC 29054
This display gets bigger and bigger every year. View the lights from 5:30 pm to 9 pm nightly. If the gates are open, visitors are welcome to pull into the driveway and view the display from their cars. Please stay inside your vehicle. There is a parking area where vehicles can turn around to exit.

Visitors are also welcome to park along the road and view the display from the fence. Please do not walk inside the fence.

Light igloo Nesbitt Christmas lights in Columbia
Photo credit: Tonya Nesbitt

Home in Lexington

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

Lexington Home With Singing Light Bulbs

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

Multiple Homes in Irmo

Waterford Neighborhood in Irmo, SC. Turn left after the pool. Tune in to 92.7 to watch this synchronized display.

Danger Zone House in Irmo (Woomer Family Christmas)

6 Marway Court, Irmo, SC 29063, These lights are rocking out to Top Gun, Danger Zone, plus a few holiday tunes.

Check them out on You Tube at Woomer Family Light Show.

Johnstone Lights in Blythewood

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

Loaded with Decorations in Pineridge, SC

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

Home in Camden

1678 Brewer Spring Road, Camden
This home is a little farther from Columbia than the others, but it has roughly 22,000 lights and a huge display including reindeer and even a Minnie mouse.

Is your home totally decked out with lights? Want us to add your home to our list? Complete this form and attach a picture of your lights! Holiday Lights Form

Neighborhoods With Christmas Lights to Drive Through

Spring Valley Subdivision, 100 Spring Valley Road, Columbia
Lake Carolina, North East Columbia
Long Creek Plantation, Blythewood

Help us out! Do you have a favorite neighborhood with amazing Christmas lights that you like to visit? Let us know in the comments!

Downtown Columbia Christmas Lights

Head to Downtown Columbia for festive holiday displays and lights, especially around the Captial Building to Blanding Street.

Tips for Drive-Thru Christmas Lights: Stay Jolly, Be Prepared!

Drive-thru light displays are a VERY popular seasonal event each and every year. Something about the twinkling, colorful lights, festive music, and seasonal treats get everyone into the holiday spirit – It’s all just part of the magic of Christmas! We do want to warn you, however, that because these events are so popular, you might find yourself waiting in lines longer than what you were hoping for. Here are our best tips for being prepared and keeping everyone jolly while you wait: 

  • Extra snacks and drinks – or maybe even pack an easy dinner and eat together while in line
  • Tablets/IPads
  • Books for reading Christmas stories as a family 
  • Fidget toys
  • Homework – if you’ve got older kids 
  • PATIENCE…remember Santa is still making his naughty and nice list! 

All the Lights! Christmas Lights in Columbia, SC

Holiday Lights Driving Routes for Columbia: 2023 Routes are here!

Christmas lights driving tour Columbia, SC

We brought the famous Kidding Around Holiday Lights Driving Tour to Columbia!

We have driving routes linking some of the best-decorated homes with awesome synchronized lights set to music, huge static displays of lights, inflatables, and more! These are the Christmas homes you don’t want to miss!

2023 Holiday Light Displays: Do you want your light display included in our list? Fill out our Holiday Light Display form and be sure to include a photo of your display!

Where is your family’s favorite place to see Christmas lights around Columbia, SC?

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Don’t Miss Christmas in Columbia, SC: Find Your (2023) Fa La La!

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What are you doing for the holidays in Columbia? Are you looking for holiday events and things to do, places to shop, or maybe a place to visit with Santa? How about a parade, cookie decorating class, or Christmas light show? You’ve found the Kidding Around Holiday Guide to Columbia and it is packed with holiday fun and Christmas things to do around Columbia.

Holiday and Christmas in Columbia, SC

Holiday Events and Things to Do Around Columbia

We have a huge event guide for the holidays around Columbia and it’s full of family-friendly things to do over the Christmas and Holiday Season including parades, tree-lightings, craft events, and more. There’s no reason to be bored this time of year!

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

Here’s our huge guide to Holiday Events in Columbia, SC

And, there’s more:

A festive day in Downtown Columbia

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

Holiday Treats

Visit one of the locally owned coffee shops in Columbia for delicious coffee and holiday treats. There’s nothing cozier as the weather cools down than the perfect cup of coffee and peppermint treat, or maybe a gingerbread muffin. Yum.


Visit Santa! Places to See Santa Around Columbia, SC

Whether you’re looking for a place to get a photo with Santa or just a place to wave at the jolly man in red, this is the list for you! We have a bit of an elf connection and know Santa’s appearance schedule in Columbia.


Where to See Christmas Lights Displays in Columbia

Driving through elaborate displays of holiday lights is a time-honored family tradition for celebrating the season. Columbia has some amazing drive-thru light displays, plus some cool walk-through displays and even some free options. Holiday lights don’t get much better than this.

Holiday lights in Columbia, SC

Holiday Lights Displays Around Columbia, SC

  • Drive-thru displays
  • Decked out homes to check out
  • Walk-through lights
  • FREE places to see amazing lights

Columbia’s Ultimate Gift Guide

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

Where to buy gifts in Columbia, SC

Find the Perfect Christmas Tree

Where do you get your family’s Christmas Tree? Not sure? Wondering where you can go to cut-your-own tree or visit with Santa? Maybe you’re looking for a place to just quickly pick out a wreath and skip the crowds?

Christmas Trees in Columbia, SC

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


Free Things to Do at Christmas Time in Columbia

Free Things to Do at Christmas, Columbia, SC

It’s here!

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

We have 20+ ideas for completely free, family holiday fun in Columbia. Then, we threw in a few cheap options under $5 per person. To top it all off we added a couple of totally free holiday things to do in nearby cities so you can head out on a whole day trip full of free fun!


Restaurants Open for Christmas in Columbia, SC

These restaurants are open on Christmas in Columbia, SC

What restaurants are open on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve in Columbia, SC?

This list has 17 Restaurants open on Christmas in Columbia, SC.

They are serving meals this holiday season with both dine-in and take-out options. We have everything from steakhouse restaurants open on Christmas to great places to grab a festive dessert. Eat well this holiday season!


❄️Winter Break is Coming❄️

Stay busy with activities and camps.

Columbia’s Winter Break Bucket List!

Wolf Ridge Tubing

Find Great Gifts for Everyone On Your List: Columbia, SC

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Looking for the perfect gift? Your gift list is long and time is short. We have some great ideas for everyone on your list. From places to shop local, to the gifts teens want this year, and what to get your child’s teacher, this gift guide has it all. Happy shopping!

Where to buy gifts in Columbia, SC

Shopping Local in Columbia, SC

Don’t you just love finding the perfect gift? Shopping local is a great opportunity to find unique, one-of-a-kind gifts they will love.

Looking for places to shop local around Columbia?

Gifts for Families in Columbia, SC

Giving a gift to a whole family is a great idea and experience gifts make exceptionally good family gifts. You can give the gift of zoo admission, a family dinner night out, or a fun art class. And of course, we have lots more ideas!

Go see the Circus!

The new Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming to nearby Greenville, SC at The Bonsecours Wellness Arena in February. Kidding Around was invited to view the show in Milwaukee so we have a great Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus review for you. Check it out and then put some circus tickets under the tree this year.

Gifts for Teens

Are you shopping for a teen this year? If you’re struggling to find quality gifts for the teen in your life, you’re not alone. Teens are not easy to buy for. Too old for toys. Those electronics on the wish list are way too expensive, and that funky pair of socks just doesn’t seem like quite enough.

So, we consulted some local teens to gather some ideas.

Check out our teen gift list for quality gifts teens will love.

Check out our teen gift list for quality gifts teens will love.

Gifts for teens, Christmas gifts for teens

Practical Gifts for Kids

When you just can’t load your house up with any more legos, stuffed animals, or toy cars, but still want to get the kids something they’ll love, try these fun but practical gifts for kids.


Board Games for Every Age

Board games make an awesome family night, are great for quality time with the kids, and are an amazing no-screen alternative. They deliver brain-building strategy, opportunities for teamwork, and light-hearted fun with the kids. Check out our list of great board games for the whole family.


Teacher Gifts: Dos and Don’ts

What will you give your child’s teacher this year? Those “Number 1 Teacher” mugs and notebooks don’t seem like they’ll cut it this year, but what do you get that they’ll love and is also in your budget? We asked some teachers and came up with some great ideas, plus a few Dos and Don’ts for giving teachers gifts.

Teacher Gift Ideas and Tips

Holiday Markets and Christmas Shopping Events Around Columbia, SC

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Ready to shop from small businesses and vendors this holiday season in Columbia? If you’re looking for opportunities to shop local, nothing beats a vendor fair or holiday market full of handmade gifts, crafts, and tasty treats. They are the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list, plus, you know you’ll be supporting local people and your local economy with your holiday purchases.

With that in mind, we made this list of local holiday shopping events in Columbia, SC. We will be updating throughout the 2023 holiday season as more fabulous local shopping events are announced.

holiday markets and holiday shopping in Columbia, SC

Holiday Shopping Events Near Columbia, SC

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