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The Best Things to do in Charleston in December

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This post covers the best things to do in Charleston in December, including events, performances, free, family-friendly, as well as nighttime activities, all updated for 2019.




This section covers our top ten things to do in Charleston in December. 

For more information on popular tourist attractions in Charleston, make sure to check out our posts: 

Some of the items within this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.

(1) Enjoy the Theatre

This December, you can find two major theatrical productions in Charleston. 

The award-winning Lion King musical is at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center from December 4 - 15, 2019. 

This wildly famous musical is known for its imaginative and colorful costuming and stage design. The musical is based on the animated 1994 Lion King and Elton John’s music. 



If you’re a fan of the classic Nutcracker ballet, you can catch it on December 21 at the same North Charleston PAC. 

There is a 3:00 pm matinee and 7:00 pm evening show with the Moscow Ballet. 

You can find all theatre performances here

(2) Catch a Sporting Event

December is a good time for sports fans to be in Charleston. You can find a few teams playing home games this month. 

College basketball fans will be able to catch a few games for the Charleston Southern Buccaneers:



The ECHL hockey team the South Carolina Stingrays have several home games this month as well. 

Find all the games you can attend in Charleston here

(3) See a Concert

Looking for a concert in Charleston? There are several artists stopping in the city on their tours this month. 



Find all the concerts available in Charleston here.

(4) Take a Sightseeing Tour

One of the best ways to see a city is by taking a tour, and December is a great time of year to join a tour group! While it’s chilly outside, there are fewer crowds for a better experience.

We offer a variety of pay-what-you-want walking tours. Whether you’re interested in a thorough historic overview of the city or want to dive deeper into Civil War history, we’ve got something for you!



Chilly nights make for the perfect atmosphere for a ghost tour.

If you want to get into the Christmas season with some old-fashioned transportation, there are also some great carriage tours through Charleston’s Historic District.

(5) Holiday Parade of Boats 

A holiday tradition that is in its 38th year, the Charleston Holiday Parade of Boats will dazzle the Charleston Harbor on December 8, 2019.



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 5:00 pm.

(6) Yorktown NYE Countdown – December 31

Ring in the New Year with Charleston’s premier 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+.

(7) See the Major Attractions

December is the perfect time to see the major historic sights in Charleston since everything is decked out in lights and Christmas decorations. There are several fun plantation tours available for you to take, which are great for the whole family.



You can also find something for everyone at the Charleston City Market, including crafts, art, and spices.

If you’re willing to brave the cold breeze on the ferry ride to Fort Sumter, this historic location and National Historic Park are a great place to take a walk and see the Maritime Museum. 

(8) Save Money with an Attraction Discount Pass

If you’re looking at going to multiple paid attractions, like the plantations and tours mentioned above, you might consider purchasing a tourist attraction discount pass. Discount passes work by bundling multiple tickets into one price, which means that depending on how you use it you could save up to 50% off retail prices.   



The two main discount passes are the Charleston Tour Pass and the Charleston Heritage Passport. 

The Tour Pass is a great option for visitors looking to pack in as many activities as possible on a short trip. It also includes meals and discounts at restaurants and distilleries or vineyards.

The Heritage Passport is the perfect option for museum lovers and includes entry to plantations, history museums, and art museums.

Read our post comparing the different Charleston tourist discount passes. Several bus tour companies, including hop-on-hop-off buses, also offer discounts and deals. 

(9) Reindeer Run

Bring the family out to participate in this 5k walk/run through the lower peninsula of downtown on December 7, 2019!

Dress as your favorite holiday character and participate in the costume contest or just enjoy the run.



It is a family-friendly and pet-friendly event that starts at 9:00 am. The costume contest starts at 10:00 am.

It’s all for a good cause, as the run raises thousands of dollars for the MUSC Children’s Hospital.

(10) Holiday Festival of Lights on James Island 

Every evening throughout the month of December the whole family can enjoy the Holiday Festival of Lights on James Island.



This display features thousands of holiday lights and additionally offers sand sculptures, a holiday train, seasonal treats, a Victorian carousel, and more! 

For more Christmas-themed activities, check out our Christmas in Charleston post.


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About The Author

Scott Nelson

Scott has led over 2,000 tours of Charleston and has more than 1000 5 star reviews. He started working in museums at the age of 16 (Unsinkable Molly Brown House) and hasn't looked back. He was the Executive Director of Heurich House and on the historic interpretation/ education staff at Mount Vernon, both in Washington DC, for over 6 years. Scott moved to Charleston in 2012 for a job with the Historic Charleston Foundation and began leading tours for Free Tours by Foot.
Updated: July 31st, 2023
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