Things to do in Charleston in December
This post covers the best things to do in Charleston in December and has been updated for 2018. It includes a top ten list, evening, free, and family-friendly sections. For more great ideas for how to spend your time in Charleston, make sure to check out our master Things to do in Charleston post.
This section covers our top ten things to do in Charleston in December. When possible, we’ve marked when activities are kid-friendly or free.
Some of the items within this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.
Enjoy a Candlelight Tour at the Nathaniel Russell House
Throughout the month of December, enjoy a 45 min candlelit (with safe, LED light candles!) tour of the historic 19th Century Nathaniel Russell House. The house will also be adorned with beautiful holiday decor. After your tour, enjoy a glass of wine. Tickets for adults are $25. More information and tickets are available here.
See a Show! (kid-friendly)
There are a number of holiday themed stage performances taking place through the month of December! Get in the holiday spirit with a classic performance of A Christmas Carol or enjoy the musical Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and an original mystery production, We Three Thieves.
ArtWalk – December 7
Over 40 galleries participate in this free event as they keep their doors open later into the evening and invite visitors in. At ArtWalk, stroll through the historic streets of Charleston and enjoy what local artists are showcasing. The event goes from 5pm-8pm.
Holiday Parade of Boats – December 8 (kid-friendly)
A holiday tradition that is in its 37th year, the Charleston Holiday Parade of Boats will dazzle the Charleston Harbor. Bring the family to the waterfront to watch this free event where dozens of boats adorned with thousands of holiday lights make their way through the harbor. The event begins at 5pm.
See The Nutcracker (kid-friendly)
Get lost in the magic of the sugar plum fairies! See the Moscow Ballet perform this holiday classic at the North Charleston Coliseum & Performing Arts Center on December 8th. The Charleston Ballet will perform the show for its 50th year December 14-16 at the Sottile Theatre.
Yorktown NYE Countdown – December 31
Ring in the New Year with Charleston’s premiere New Year’s Eve event aboard the USS Yorktown. Guests will be able to explore the ship, listen to a variety of live entertainment, dine on classic Charleston cuisine, and indulge in an open-bar! This event is 21+.
Take a Tour with Free Tours by Foot (kid-friendly)
We offer a variety of pay-what-you-want walking tours through the Holy City. Whether you’re interested in a thorough historic overview of the city, want to dive deeper into Civil War history, or are just eager to be spooked by the city’s ghosts, we’ve got something for you!
Acclaimed to be one of the city’s best and most sought after restaurants, Husk offers an ever rotating menu of fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients. The restaurant is housed in a restored Victorian-era home and focuses on a celebration of true Southern cuisine. Reservations are strongly encouraged.
Rent a Bicycle (kid-friendly)
Renting a bicycle is great way to actively explore any city! Charleston’s bike share program, Holy Spokes, offers a $12 day pass option and has 25 corals throughout the city making it easy for you to dock your bike as you go. The bike share is available to those 16 years and older.
Visit Firefly Distillery
Head over to Wadmalaw Island and spend an afternoon at Firefly Distillery, home to the world’s first sweet tea vodka! Come to the distillery to enjoy $6 tastings, tours, and special events. The distillery is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11am-5pm and is 21+.
Here we offer a few activities and attractions that are great evening events in Charleston during the month of December. For more ideas on popular night time activities, check out our master Things to do in Charleston at Night post.
Holiday Festival of Lights on James Island (kid-friendly)
Every evening throughout the month of December the whole family can enjoy the Holiday Festival of Lights on James Island. This driving tour features thousand of holiday lights and additionally offers sand sculptures, a holiday train, seasonal treats, a Victorian carousel, and more! Check the website for tickets and more information.
Moonshine County Christmas
The 34 West Theatre Company presents a musical romantic-comedy that makes for a great date night! YOu’ll hear roadhouse tunes from Dolly to Gaga as you try and figure out where the latest shipment of hooch has gone missing. Children under 6 are not permitted.
Watch a Movie at Terrace Theatre (kid-friendly)
This small and retro cinema takes you back to the good old days of film. Enjoy a blockbuster or independent movie on one of the handful of screens the theatre has and have a beer or glass of wine with your bucket of delicious popcorn during the show.
Tip: Don’t forget to check out our Things to do at Night in Charleston post for even more ideas!
If you look in the right places there are lots of free activities in the Holy City. Some of the events we’ve listed like the Holiday Festival of Lights and ArtWalk are free of charge. Here are a few more ideas for the month of December.
Enjoy Waterfront Park (kid-friendly)
A great place to take a stroll or relax on a bench and enjoy the view, Waterfront Park is conveniently located in downtown Charleston adjacent to the harbor. This 10-acre park has tree lined walkways, grassy areas, and a beautiful pineapple fountain to enjoy.
Consider Purchasing a Tourist Discount Pass (kid-friendly)
Sure, the pass itself has a fee but once you’ve seen a couple attractions or done a couple of activities, everything else is included for free–you don’t spend a dime! These passes are packed with value and might be the right fit for you during your stay in Charleston. Make sure to check out our post on tourist discount passes where we compare the very best passes in Charleston.
Spend time visiting the shops on King Street during the second Sunday of each month to see what special offers or discounts they have, enjoy special activities, product launches, and even some food and wine offered by the shops. This event is free and open to all ages.
Families can enjoy the Holy City throughout the whole year! Some of the activities we’ve listed like seeing a movie at the Terrace Theatre or enjoying Waterfront Park are great for people of all ages! Here are a few more kid-friendly ideas.
Reindeer Run – December 8
Bring the family out to participate in this 5k walk/run through the lower peninsula of downtown! Dress as your favorite holiday character and participate in the costume contest or just enjoy the run. It’s all for a good cause, as the run raises thousands of dollars for the MUSC Children’s Hospital.
Chamber Music Charleston’s “The Night Before Christmas” – December 22
An 11am matinee that’s geared especially for kids, “The Night Before Christmas” is a sing-along for children and their families. Come join in the fun with a variety of holiday favorites. Tickets are available on the website.
Visit the South Carolina Aquarium
Visit this aquarium to see a large variety of marine life including exotic fish, sea turtles, American alligators, and more! A fun activity for the whole family to enjoy. Hours and ticket prices vary.