If protagonist Ebeneezer Scrooge is unable to squelch the magic of Christmas, then so is Covid-19. Certainly, the holidays will be different this year, with more at home dinners or intimate outdoor gatherings and less corporate celebrations or fancy galas. Yet, the spirit of Christmas still permeates our community and gifts us with joyful smiles, generous hearts, and festive feelings of hope. Here are a few events in Charleston that are sure to get you in the Christmas spirit!

James Island Holiday Festival of Lights

A holiday tradition for many locals, the James Island Holiday Festival of Lights is a spectacular drive-through display that features millions of dancing lights and lowcountry-inspired themes, including the light structure of the Ravenel Bridge. Located at James Island County Park, the event opens each evening from 5:30 - 10:00 p.m. now through December 31st. This year, guests will remain in their vehicles at all times, save for use of restroom facilities. A visit to Santa’s village for a family photo is available by appointment only, and refreshments are served directly to your car. The cost is $20 per vehicle for 1-15 passengers.

Brookgreen Gardens Night of 1,000 Candles

Awarded “Best Christmas Lights in South Carolina” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, Brookgreen Gardens Night of 1,000 Candles features nearly 3,000 hand-lit candles and numerous white lights along the scenic garden pathway. Guests enjoy sipping hot chocolate, strolling along the magical pathway, and listening to live carolers croon Christmas favorites. Due to covid cautions, guests must pre-purchase tickets to the outdoor event, which is open from 4 - 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday until December 31st. Several restaurant options, including Inlet Affairs, Let’s Ride BBQ, Austin’s Garden Galley, and The Old Kitchen are available on site and offer alfresco style dining. The Harvest restaurant offers indoor and terrace seating; however, advanced reservations are required. Located in Murrells Inlet, Brookgreen Gardens is approximately an hour and a half drive from downtown Charleston, SC. The scenic drive along Highway 17 North is a part of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, gifting guests with various historic landmarks and numerous sweetgrass basket shops.

Charleston Holiday Boat Parade

An annual event, the Charleston Holiday Parade of Boats is set for Saturday, December 12th. Vessels decked with lights, inflatables, holiday music, and passengers in costumes (read: numerous St. Nicks) congregate in the Charleston Harbour, between Ft. Sumter and Mt. Pleasant. At 5 p.m., the parade of boats cruise toward Mt. Pleasant Waterfront Park and then pass under the Ravenel Bridge before making a u-turn. Then, the parade hugs the Charleston Peninsula and finishes at the Ashley River, near the James Island Bridge. Charlestonians may watch the parade from various docks and parks in Mt. Pleasant and downtown Charleston. Of course, perhaps the most iconic place to watch the passage is Battery Park.

2020 Festival of Trees

Honoring loved ones who have battled cancer, the 2020 Festival of Trees is the perfect way to conclude an evening downtown Charleston. Walk through the recently renovated Charleston Visitor Center and view the spectacular trees, each one dedicated and decorated to someone who has battled cancer. Guests are able to vote and bid on their favorite trees, and proceeds benefit the Dragon Boat of Charleston. This inaugural event is free to the public and is open from 8:30 - 5:00 p.m. daily.

SC Aquarium Santa Visit

The South Carolina Aquarium offers Charlestonians an array of holiday-themed activities, including pictures with St. Nick himself. This year, even Santa will social distance and don a mask so that he ensures a safe and healthy holiday for all. Visits are included with admission to the aquarium and can be purchased in advance. Dates are Sunday - Tuesday from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Don’t forget to bring your letters to Santa as the facility has a designated mailbox for the North Pole. Other events include pop-up photo stations, feed the Ray-deers, and special holiday programs throughout the day.

An early Christmas gift, the new vaccine will eventually allow for a return to hugs and handshakes, but until then we hope you and your family enjoy the simple yet magical ingredients of the holiday season: generosity, grace, and gratitude.

Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah from your NV family!

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