Charleston for Christmas and the Holidays

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Charleston for Christmas and the HolidaysIf you’re visiting Charleston for Christmas and the Holidays in December and looking for something festive to do (other than our walking tours!), you’re in luck!

Charleston for Christmas and the Holidays

Marion Square is always a beautiful photo op place over the holiday season. The middle of the square has a tree made all of lights that you can walk in and around. Your kids can meet Santa and the Holiday Market is fun, too. You’ll find performances throughout the season and a Kwanzaa Kinara Lighting.

The Holiday Market Hours are on Saturdays and Sundays from 9am – 3pm through the weekend before Christmas.

Another tradition is the Charleston Parade of Boats. Starting in Mount Pleasant and cruising across the harbor through the Cooper River and into the Ashley River the boat parade is an annual tradition put on by the Rotary Club. Locals decorate their boats with lights and the parade sails the harbor. No boat? No worries! You can catch the show by heading to Waterfront Park or the Battery (if you’re downtown) or get a ticket for the official Viewing Party at the Maritime Center.

If you find yourself in Mount Pleasant, check it out from Patriots Point or see if a local will invite you onto their boat at the marina. The parade is December 8th, 2018 from 5pm – 8pm.

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Got a car? Head to the James Island County Park and enjoy the Festival of Lights. Every night from November through January you can see over 700 light displays from the comfort of your car. You can always get out and walk around the park and enjoy some other gifts of the season, too. It is a local holiday tradition and has received several awards and honors from all over the world.

Charleston for Christmas and the HolidaysFor 2018, The Holiday Festival of Lights is open every evening – “rain or shine” – from November 9 – January 1, 2019:


  • Sunday – Thursday: 5:30 – 10 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday: 5:30 – 11 p.m.
  •   1-15 guests: $20 per vehicle, $15 per vehicle Monday-Thursday with donation*
  •   16-30 guests: $40 Monday-Thursday, $50 Friday-Sunday
  •   31+ guests: $100 Monday-Thursday, $150 Friday-Sunday

Monday – Thursday, get into the festival for only $15 per vehicle (1-15 guests) with the donation of a canned food item or dog/cat food to benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank.

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If you’re looking for some holiday entertainment, nothing beats the Christmas Special production! For a taste of Broadway in the low-country, visit  the Charleston Christmas Special.

A Charleston annual holiday tradition, Charleston Christmas Special has a little bit of Broadway to the Lowcountry with musical revues, comedy sketches, dancing and more. Former Broadway producers, Brad and Jennifer Moranz are staples in the Charleston musical scene and have been spreading the Christmas spirit with their Charleston Christmas Special.

Charleston Christmas Special

The Charleston Christmas Special performances run from December 8 to December 23, 2018 with evening and matinee performances. They even offer a Kids Free Night on December 20th! A paid adult or senior ticket gets one child under the age of 12 into the performance for free – this event is sponsored by Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry.


$36 for adults
$33 for seniors (age 62 and up) and military
$19 for students 21 and under
$16 for children 12 and under.


Why not make an night of it? With the new dinner and a show option, guests receive one show ticket (evening performances and Sunday matinees only) plus a pre-fixe three-course dinner at Vincent Chicco’s, or Michael’s on the Alley, both located next door to the Charleston Music Hall. Tickets are $68 per person. View the Menu Here.


Charleston Music Hall
37 John Street
Charleston, SC    29403


There are two parking garages nearby to the Music Hall. The Camden Exchange Parking Garage is in between the Music Hall and The Hampton Inn. Entrances are on John Street or Hutson Street.

The Visitors Center Parking Garage one block away on Ann Street.


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Charleston for Christmas and the HolidaysAs you can see, Charleston gets into the spirit of the season. We hope you enjoy your time here over the holidays! We will be open and running tours every day through the month – even on Christmas day. Let us take you on a stroll through the city where you can learn about our history while admiring the beautiful decorations adorning our world famous architecture.


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Things to do in Charleston in November

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This post highlights the best things to do in Charleston, SC in November, updated for 2018, including a top ten list, free and family-friendly activities, and night time events. For even more ideas, make sure to check out our master Things to do in Charleston post.

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Charleston Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter Tours | How To Get There

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This post covers how to take a Fort Sumter tour, how to reach the boats and a visitors guide for when you are on the island. 




Tours on Fort Sumter are very limited. Fort Sumter Tours, a local tour company, is the only authorized concessionaire of Fort Sumter. They offer 1 – 3 tours per day, depending on the time of year. The tours include a 30-minute ferry ride to and from the fort and 60 minutes on the island. The total length of the tour is just under 2.5 hours. Read more »

Charleston halloween

Halloween in Charleston

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Whether you’re ready to get spooked or just to laugh and have fun while dressed up in a silly outfit, Charleston is the place to celebrate Halloween!

Take a Ghost Tour

You have many choices, including walking tours, but also carriage, prison, pirate the true crime tours. For the over 21 crowd, there are even ghost pub crawls. Ghost tours are a great alternative to traditional history tours as they offer insight into the city’s darker history and supernatural legends. Whether you believe in the afterlife or not, ghost tours can be a fun way to explore Charleston’s city center.

Read our post on the Best Charleston Ghost Tours Reviewed

Boone Hall Fright Nights

If you haven’t already checked out Boone Hall Fright Nights at Boone Hall Plantation, you should!  There’s fun for the whole family and it’s a Charleston family tradition – so you’ll get to scream with the locals.

Magnolia Plantation Family Fright Nights.

Want to check out a plantation AND have your kids have a blast, too? Check out Magnolia Plantation Family Fright Nights. Everyone will have a blast! Just about every bar in town will have a Halloween Costume Contest or party going on. Check out the Charleston City Paper Calendar for more details.

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Charleston Haunted Sites

Are there any places in Charleston that have actually been documented as being haunted? Well, we’ll leave it up to you to believe if there are or not ….

    1. Circular Congregational Church

Under near the church grounds on Meeting Street may lay dozens of unmarked graves, the original residents of Charles Towne lost forever. The next stop on our Charleston Ghost Tours…The current structure of the file_01
Circular Congregational Church has grown in size from the original church and may be covering the remains the original churchgoers from the seventeenth century, whose cemetery dates back to 1681 but the oldest grave remaining is from fourteen years after.

The oldest grave in the cemetery and in Historic Charleston dates from 1695 and is that of the Simonds family. They donated the land to establish the church and their unmarked vault is thought to hold the remains of Henry, Frances and an unnamed son.The original meeting house, which led to the name of the adjacent “Meeting Street”, was burned down in a fire, only to have that fate repeated for the next two structures. The current church built in 1891 stands strong today.

The historic cemetery has more than 150 graves from before the Revolutionary War. These historic markers made of slate still today feature the morbid carvings of ancient symbols of death. Some with the skull and crossbones and others “death’s head” but more continued to evolve into “soul effigies” to represent the departing spirit complete with wings.The monuments and cenotaphs of this historic graveyard, covering the past three centuries, evoke a sense of eeriness.

The original theater from the 1700s was destroyed in a fire. It is now located in an early 1800s building that was once a luxury hotel, Planter’s Hotel. While it was a high class place at first it later became the go to for gamblers and drinkers, and with them, working girls. As with most historic theaters, there are a few people from the building that seem to have never left.One of them is reported to be a famous actor, or rather the father of an actor who is not famous for acting, Junius Booth. Booth name ring a bell? John Wilkes Booth’s father is said to watch shows from the balcony. We have no idea if it’s Booth.

In reality, it’s probably not since he died elsewhere but it makes the story better.But more frequently seen is the image of a zombie-like women with ragged hair, wide eyes and a burned red dress. Nettie used the Planter’s Hotel as her “office” until the clients stopped coming. She would stand outside on the balcony wildly yelling at passersby often in the middle of storms. Until one day as she hung from the balcony, ready to fall, a lightening strike took care of that for her.

The Dock Street Theater is open and free to wander around … if you dare. Even better, catch a show while you’re at it! 

    • Battery Carriage House Inn

Built in 1843, this stunning hotel has three resident spirits that are so often seen, there is a even a page for Ghost Sightings on the inn’s website! Rooms 8 and 10 – a headless torso, and a very friendly gentleman.

The headless torso also has no legs or arms and doesn’t seem to be very friendly. Despite not having a head, an angry gasping moan can be heard if you get too close.It is thought he is a Civil War solider who was brutally maimed in a munitions accident nearby at the Battery.

The gentleman likes to climb in to bed with female guests and as soon as they make a sound, he’ll exit through what used to be the door and is now a piece of furniture. One of the previous owners had a sensitive son, college aged, who threw himself from the roof and no one knew why. 

A Victorian home build in 1888, since the 1970s it has been a restaurant named after a dog who refused to leave the porch when his owner moved away. But Poogan wasn’t the only one who refused to leave. Zoe St. Armand and her sister lived in the house at the turn of the 20th century. She dressed in long black dresses, with her hair in a bun and wire rimmed glasses. Her and her sister were spinsters and much more inclined to socialise with each other than anyone else. So when her sister died, so did a piece of Zoe. She would be heard yelling out her sisters name and suffered such a break that she was institutionalized until she died in the 1950s.

Zoe is seen regularly. Sometimes in the mirror in the ladies bathroom, or wandering through the restaurant. Often her presence is felt with dishes flying and chairs being knocked over. Sometimes the kitchen gets order tickets from a waiter who isn’t working that night.

    • 59 Church Street

The only place in Charleston whose city plaque (posted on homes around town to tell you the history of the building) states the word “ghost”is at 59 Church Street.  The Whistling Doctor, Doctor Joseph Ladd, died in this home after he unintentionally ended up in a duel and was shot in the leg. The homeowners have been on television describing their encounters with this gentle soul.

    • Philadelphia Alley

No place in Charleston feels more as if you’ve been transported back to the nineteenth century than Philadelphia Alley, seen our our Charleston Ghost Tour, with it’s narrow cobblestone walkway lined with historic homes and the wall of St. Peter’s Church.

In it’s original incarnation, the alley was built in 1766 by landowner Francis Kinloch to access the tenements behind his house. It was called Kinloch Court until most of it was destroyed in a fire thirty years later. Left derelict and abandoned, the remaining structures succumbed to another fire in 1810 that destroyed much of the city.

To honor the city of Philadelphia, who sent aid to help rebuild, the area was rebuilt once again and renamed Philadelphia Street in 1811. Not much as changed since then. There is even an old stone with the outlines of a metal carriage wheel etched in it.

But the eerie haze and smoky glow around the now electric lampposts are not remnants of the long ago fires. Ask any local the direction to Philadelphia Street and you may be met with a few moments of silence as they try to recall. For a quicker answer, ask how to get to Dueler’s Alley.

Charleston was (and in many ways still is) a Old World city of honor. Following the Irish Code Duello from the end of the eighteenth century, a man who accepted a duel was willing to risk death to defend his honor. One who was not was considered a coward.

The tragic story of Dr. Joseph Ladd, a well-regarded newcomer to the town hoping to establish himself in order to marry his love, takes place here … a carefree young man of 22 who whistled while he walked, and may still whistle down this street.

Visitors often feel a cool air as they enter the alley, ducking out of the way of imaginary gunshots they hear ringing out as they turn the corner. The long lost souls of men defending their reputation have not far to go – a small cutout of the alley leads directly to St. Philips’s Church graveyard, the next stop on our Charleston Ghost tour.

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Things to do in Charleston in August

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Travelers headed to the Holy City in the month of August can expect high heat and humidity but don’t let it deter you from having an amazing time! Charleston hosts a lot of fun, family-friendly festivals and activities throughout the whole month. Here are our top ten.

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Things to do in Charleston in July

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Take the month of July to celebrate America’s independence (among many other activities) in one of the country’s oldest cities. Use this post to learn about a number of events, festivals, and activities for the whole family in the month of July in Charleston. Here’s our top ten!

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