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Posts Tagged ‘Holiday’

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

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

Holiday Events and Things to Do Around Columbia

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

Holiday Events in Columbia, SC

Holiday Events in Columbia

A festive day in Downtown Columbia

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

Holiday Treats

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

Visit Santa! Places to See Santa Around Columbia, SC

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

Where to Find Santa Around Columbia, SC!

Santa in Columbia, SC

Where to See Christmas Lights Displays in Columbia

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

Holiday Lights Displays Around Columbia, SC

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

Columbia’s Ultimate Gift Guide

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

Gift Guide Columbia

Find the Perfect Christmas Tree

Where do you get your family’s Christmas Tree? Not sure? Wondering where you can go to cut-your-own tree or visit with Santa? Maybe you’re looking for a place to just quickly pick out a wreath and skip the crowds? Either way, you’ll want to check out our Columbia, SC Christmas Tree Farms and Lots list.

Christmas Trees in Columbia

Free Things to Do at Christmas Time in Columbia

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

Christmas activities for Free!

Restaurants Open for Christmas in Columbia, SC

What restaurants are open on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve in Columbia, SC? This list has 17 Restaurants open Christmas in Columbia, SC. They are serving meals this holiday season with both dine-in and take-out options. We have everything from steakhouse restaurants open on Christmas to great places to grab a festive dessert. Eat well this holiday season!

Christmas restaurants open in Columbia, SC

Wolf Ridge Tubing

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

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!

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 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.

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 teacher gifts.

Teacher Gift Ideas and Tips

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

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Are you looking for places to see Santa in Columbia, SC this holiday season? Wondering where to see Santa near you? Santa is visiting lots of places around Columbia in 2022. His elves at the North Pole are sending us his appearance list as dates are announced, so bookmark this page and check back regularly. We’ll be updating almost as fast as those elves.

This list will include all kinds of events with Santa on the guest list. Check back soon for more 2022 events!

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

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

Get Pictures with Santa at Columbia Malls & More

Where can I take pictures with Santa in Columbia SC?

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

Columbiana Centre

100 Columbiana Circle, Columbia
Reserve your appointment for photos with Santa at Columbiana Centre now. Appointments are available beginning November 17th, 2022.

Junior Leauge of Columbia: Sundaes with Santa

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

Free Photos With Santa in Columbia, SC

Where can I take my own pictures with Santa in Columbia?

Where can I get free pictures with Santa in Columbia, SC?

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

Pictures with Santa: State Farm Christmas Party

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

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

Photos with Santa at Hotel Trundle

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

Free Photos with Santa at Cabela’s

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

Events with Santa in and near Columbia, SC

Ready to bring the kids to see the red-suited jolly man and his elves? Here’s where you can see Santa Claus in Columbia, SC in 2022!

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

Track Santa on Christmas Eve

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

NORAD Tracks Santa

In 1955 a young man accidentally called the Continental Air Defense Command asking if they had seen Santa flying through the sky. While the child had meant to call a Santa Hotline, the person who answered the phone that Christmas Eve just happened to be the Commander in Chief, Colonel Harry Shoup. He instructed his team to keep looking for Santa on the radar screens and ever since NORAD has been tracking Santa annually.
The NORAD Santa Tracker 2022 Website is online.

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

I Heart Radio’s North Pole Radio

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

After Christmas! Winter Break and New Year’s

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

Wolf Ridge Tubing

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

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

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20+ Jolly Places for Christmas Lights In Columbia, SC (2022)

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Are you searching for holiday light shows and displays in and around Columbia, SC? Wondering “where can I see Christmas lights near me?” or “Where to see Christmas lights in Columbia, SC?” Maybe you’re even looking to start a new tradition of spending unique quality time and holiday spirit with your loved ones this season. 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!

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! 

Saluda Shoals Park Holiday Lights

Where to see Christmas Lights: 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.

This article includes :
Top-Notch Drive-Thru Lights Displays in Columbia, SC
Totally FREE Drive-Thru Christmas Lights Near the Midlands
Christmas Lights to Walk Through in Columbia, SC
Worth the Trip- Best Day Trip Christmas Lights Worth the Drive from Columbia
Free Christmas Lights: Homes and Neighborhoods with Great Christmas Lights Around Columbia

All the Lights! Christmas Lights in Columbia, SC

NEW! Holiday Lights Driving Routes for Columbia

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

Christmas Light Driving Tour

2022 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!

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 24 through December 31, 2022
Time: 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Cost: $25 per car; $50 for passenger vans 
Address: 6071 St. Andrews Road, Columbia, SC
Holiday Lights on the River

Monster Truck Moose Holiday Lights

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. 
When: December 3 through December 26, 2022; CLOSED on Christmas Day
Time: Sunday – Thursday from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Friday and Saturday from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm 
Cost: $15/car when purchased before December 4th 
$20/car when purchased on or after December 4th
Address: 1200 Rosewood Drive, Columbia, SC
Carolina Lights

Columbia Christmas Lights You Can Walk-Thru 

Lights Before Christmas: Riverbanks Zoo

About: Find the magic of Christmas right here at our local zoo! There will be several animated displays and beautiful lights all around. You will also have the opportunity to get pictures taken with Santa, enjoy a crafting workshop, use large fire pits to roast s’mores, and more! Keep in mind that because this event occurs in the evenings, the chance of seeing zoo animals is low. 
When: Select evenings from November 19 through December 30, 2022
Time: 5 pm to 9 pm
Cost: $12 children, $15 adults
Address: 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia, SC 

Lights Before Christmas

Fireflies Holiday Lights

About: The Fireflies Holiday Lights is a brand new tradition here in Columbia, SC, and is all the rave this year! The Segra Park baseball stadium, home of the Fireflies, is decked out in tons of twinkling lights and interactive displays, there are several “stations” for families to stop and enjoy seasonal treats and kid-friendly crafts, and even booths for holiday shopping! 
When: Through December 31st, 2022
Time:  Sunday – Thursday from 6 pm to 9 pm, Friday & Saturday from 6 pm to 10 pm 
Cost: $9-$16 per person, depending on the day you go, age 2 and under is free
Address: Segra Park, 1640 Freed Street, Columbia

Fireflies Holiday Lights

Lights at Segra Park
Lights at Segra Park

Christmas at the Castle

About: Stroll through the light path in the woods, enjoy live music and shows, and visit with Santa. There will also be fair-style games, concessions available, 10-minute escape rooms, and more.
When: December 16th through December 23rd, 2022.
Time: 6 pm to 9 pm, (10 pm on Friday and Saturday)
Cost: Free admission- lights and shows are free, and concessions and specific activities can be purchased.
Address: 2076 Highway Church Road, Elgin, SC

Christmas at the Castle

Sleigh Bell Stroll: November 22, 2022

About: See the lights at Saluda Shoals but rather than driving, tonight you can walk through them. The 2 miles of lights making up Holiday Lights on the River make a fun, family evening walk.
When: November 22, 2022
Time: 6 pm to 8 pm
Cost: $5 per person
Address: 6071 St. Andrews Road, Columbia

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 20, 2022 through January 1, 2023
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
Children’s Garden Christmas and Kid’s Walk

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, 2022
*Santa’s Village is open December 2nd, December 3rd, December 9th, and December 10th 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 21 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 11 through December 31, 2022
Time: 5:30 pm until 10:00 pm 
Cost: “regular nights” – $15 in advance, $20 at gate; “peak nights” – $25 in advance, $30 at gate
Address: 871 Riverland Drive, Charleston, SC  

Holiday Festival of Lights

Holiday Festival of Lights
Holiday Festival of Lights

Celebrate the Season – Santee Cooper

About: For the 13th 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. 
When: November 25 through December 30, 2022 – CLOSED ON Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Time: 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Cost: $5/car
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.

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.

Check out some 2022 photos of the Nesbitt home display. We are loving the new igloo and aliens! Thanks to Tonya Nesbitt for sharing these photos with us!

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! 

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

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

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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 lightings, 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.

Our guide is broken down into a few categories of holiday favorites, plus a huge, all-inclusive list of holiday events that you can scroll through by date. Use the table of contents below to help you navigate.

This Guide to Holiday Events Around Columbia Includes:
After Christmas! Winter Break and New Year’s Celebrations in Columbia
Christmas Parades Near Columbia
Holiday Shows and Theater
Tree Lighting Ceremonies Near Columbia
Season-long Holiday Events in Columbia, SC
Everything! The Biggest List of Holiday Events in Columbia, SC

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

Season-long Holiday Events in Columbia

See Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4D at the South Carolina State Museum. Shows run from November 19th, 2022 through January 1st, 2023. Purchase Rudolph tickets in advance!

South Carolina Railroad Museum Santa Train runs the first 3 Saturdays in December, 2022. Get your tickets online now!

The Biggest List of Christmas Events in Columbia, SC

Back to the top.

Holiday Theater & Performing Arts

So many holiday shows and concerts to choose from! Columbia is fortunate to have the Kroger Center with a wide variety of shows for Christmas ranging from the traditional ballet The Nutcracker to holiday concerts, and more!

Back to the top.

Where is Santa?

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!

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 2022 Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade in Downtown Columbia, SC will be held on December 3rd, 2022. 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

Back to the top.

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 camps and things to do in Columbia, SC

Stay Busy! Columbia’s Winter Break Bucket List

Don’t be bored! 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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Enjoy Holiday Lights on the River (2022) in Columbia, SC

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Looking for an amazing drive-thru light display? Holiday Lights on the River in Columbia, SC may be just what you are looking for. This display features millions of lights along the 3-mile route, with themed sections of the display, lots of animation and family activities like a winter tube slide, hayride and Santa! Here’s everything you need to know about Holiday Lights on the River in Columbia, SC.

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

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!

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.


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 2022 holiday season as more fabulous local shopping events are announced.

Holiday Shopping Events Near Columbia, SC

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