Charleston for Christmas and the Holidays

Charleston for Christmas is an excellent place to be. A warmer climate doesn’t take away from the holiday spirit in the Holy City. This post lists many of the best things to do in Charleston in the holiday season from Christmas lights to  holiday markets and more!

Read about other things to do in Charleston in December while you’re visiting us this holiday season!

Charleston Christmas Events

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Sunday, December 2, 2018

The official City of Charleston tree is located in Marion Square. This year the 64 foot tall Tree of Lights will be lit on the first Sunday in December. The ceremony will have musicians and local artisans. The lighting event begins the season of the Holiday market every weekend at Marion Square.

Holiday Parade
Sunday, December 2, 2018

The annual holiday parade runs down Broad Street at Rutledge Avenue, King Street, Calhoun Street, disperses on Calhoun between East Bay and Meeting Streets. You’ll see floats, marching bands, and performers. 

Chanukah in the Square
Sunday, December 9, 2018

Today you’ll find a special Chanakah celebratin that includes the lighting of a nine foot Menorah by Charleston’s Holocaust survivors. Treats will include latkes and other traditional Chanukah foods.

Charleston Parade of Boats
December 8th, 2018 from 5pm – 8pm

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.

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Holiday Festivals and Markets

Candlelight Tours at the Nathaniel Russell House
Dec 7, 8, 14, 15, 21 and 22
630pm OR 7pm

Purchase Tickets Here

While the Nathanial Russell House is included for free on the Charleston Tour Pass, you will need separate tickets for the Candlelight tour.

Visiting this historic house is always on the top of our list of Things To Do in Charleston, but around Christmas you can experience the way the original residence did – by candlelight. A 45 minute tour by candlelight ends with a glass of wine!

Marion Square Christmas Market
Saturdays and Sundays from 9am3pm through the weekend before Christmas.

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.

Festival of Lights

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.

If you don’t have your own transportation, you can take a Holiday Festival Lights Tour that includes complimentary hotel pick up from centrally located hotels.

For 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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Holiday Theatre

Christmas 1860
November 30, 2018

 Charleston has an unique place in American Civil War History (we have a whole Charleston in the Civil War tour dedicated to it!) and the Edmondston-Alston House puts on a special theatreical event that focuses on Christmas just before that tragic event.

Charleston Christmas Special

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 

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 the 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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