Merry & Bright (Where to See Holiday Lights Around Charleston)


Happy Holidays, Charleston Moms!

There are so many wonderful holiday events happening right now! Festivals, parades, and tree lightings, in nearly every part of the Lowcountry, plus Santa sightings and holiday shopping events! Of all the holiday happenings, my family is most fond of driving around to look at Christmas lights

We tend to do this a few evenings per week throughout December. Sometimes we’ll go out for a half-hour before bed for a quick look. Other nights we’ll make it into a more lengthy and festive affair, complete with Christmas pajamas, hot chocolate, and holiday music on the radio. It’s easy, low-cost (or free) family fun!

Here is a list of our favorite hot spots and festive displays around Charleston, suggested by friends. Enjoy!

No Cost Light Displays

Holiday Tree of Lights, Marion Square, Downtown Charleston

Details: This 64-foot display is the official City of Charleston Christmas tree. Walk under it, look up and feel the magic of the holiday season. Click here for more info and a 2-hour free parking pass in participating garages.

Dates: Opening on Thursday, December 2 at 5 PM with the tree lighting ceremony.

College of Charleston’s Cougar Night Lights, Corner of George & St. Philip Streets, Downtown Charleston

Details: Set in CofC’s Cistern Yard, this 30-minute show features lights set to well-known holiday tunes and was designed by alumnus John Reynolds, an Emmy award-winning lighting designer.

Dates: Runs December 2 to January 1, 2022, from 5:30-9 PM nightly; shows every 30 minutes. December 9 only: 6:30-9 PM. 

Carolina Bay Park, West Ashley

Details: This park, off of William E. Murray Boulevard in the Carolina Bay neighborhood, lights up its communal trees in a festive display. Many of the surrounding homes put up elaborate decorations so a drive through the neighborhood is a good idea this holiday season.

Dates: Ongoing from November 28. 

Hidden Cove Neighborhood, Hidden Boulevard, Mount Pleasant

Details: This neighborhood off of Long Point Road goes all out for the holidays! Many homes set up elaborate displays with lights, music, and gigantic inflatables to compete in a neighborhood-wide decorating contest. Look for the yard signs indicating which decorating award each house won.

Dates: Ongoing.

3241 Morningdale Drive, Mount Pleasant

Details: Homeowner Kelli Frazier Miller is known for her amazing, elaborate Halloween decorations in the Ivy Hall neighborhood. She decorates for Christmas, too! She spends hours upon hours turning her front yard into a winter wonderland. Her display is a must-see in North Mount Pleasant! The entrance to Ivy Hall is across from the Market at Oakland shopping center.

Dates: Ongoing.

Mount Pleasant Towne Centre

Details: The shopping center is beautifully decorated for the holidays with sparkling chandeliers,  giant lighted reindeer, canopies of lights over the streets, and a lovely 40-foot tree. Get some holiday shopping done beneath the twinkling bulbs. Click here to learn about additional holiday happenings including photos with Santa and horse-drawn carriage rides.

Dates: Ongoing from November 20.

Park Crossing Drive & Sailmaker Street, Daniel Island

Details: Homes on these two streets put up elaborate displays for the holiday season. One friend remarked that the decorations are “movie set quality”. One home has a mailbox for letters to Santa so make sure your kids bring their wish lists along with them when you check out these DI gems.

Dates: Ongoing. 

Christmas in Summerville (formerly Lights on Taggert), Plum Creek Neighborhood, Summerville

Details: This family has moved to a new home and brought their amazing light display with them! Set your car radio to the designated station and watch as the lights flash and dance in time to the music. Check out their Facebook page for more info and updates.

Dates: Runs November 26 to January 1, 2022; no set hours. 

Light Displays Requiring Paid Admission

Holiday Festival of Lights, James Island County Park

Details: This two-mile drive-through show is a must-see for my family every year. At night the county park transforms into a twinkling holiday fantasyland with displays that appeal to a variety of interests – dinosaurs, sea life, gardening, outer space, etc. Get out of your vehicle at Santa’s Village and explore the gift shop, check out the sand sculpture, and ride the carousel. Warm up with some hot chocolate and s’mores by the fire.

Dates: Runs November 12 – December 31, 2021; 5:30-10 PM nightly. $15+ per vehicle.

Aquarium Aglow, South Carolina Aquarium, Downtown

Details: The aquarium is hosting its first holiday light display! Come take in the magic of the season amidst the fish, sharks, and sea turtles who call the aquarium home. Food and beverages will be available for purchase and live entertainment is included, too. The aquarium suggests buying advanced tickets to ensure availability for specific dates.

Dates: Runs select evenings through January 2, 2022, from 5:30-9:30 PM. $24.95 for adults, $19.95 for children.

Holiday Lights Driving Tour, One Riverwood Drive, Moncks Corner

Details: Holiday Lights Driving Tour is part of Celebrate the Season, a month-long charitable holiday event organized by Santee Cooper and powered by Berkeley Electric Cooperative. Families are invited to drive past displays made of thousands of Christmas lights at the 11th annual event. Proceeds will be donated to various local charities.

Dates: Runs through December 30, 2021, from 6-9 PM nightly; closed December 24 & 25. $5 per vehicle. 

Bee City Zoo Christmas Wonderland of Lights, 1066 Holly Ridge Lane, Cottageville

Details: Bee City Zoo will transition into a Christmas Wonderland of Lights after dark! Visit in the daytime to see the animals and nighttime to see Santa and thousands of twinkling lights. Activities include a wagon pull, ornament decorating, animal feedings, and s’mores. Visits with Santa are included in the admission price.

Dates: Runs through December 30. Closed on November 22, 25, 29 & 30 and December 6, 7, 13, 14 & 25. Sunday to Thursday, 5-9 PM. Friday & Saturday, 5-10 PM. $12 per person.

Nights of a Thousand Candles, Brookgreen Gardens, 1931 Brookgreen Drive, Murrells Inlet

Details: For a classy holiday experience, walk the grounds of Brookgreen Gardens and see the 2,800 hand-lit candles and thousands of twinkling lights while listening to holiday music. This rain or shine event has been named “Best Christmas Lights in South Carolina” by Travel+Leisure Magazine. A number of food options are available on-site including nightly food trucks, a Lowcountry buffet, a sit-down restaurant and snack shop plus beverage stations throughout the property.

Dates: Open December 2-5, 9-12, 16-19 & 29-31 and January 1-2, 2022 from 4-9 PM. Tickets must be purchased in advance. $30 for adults, $15 for children. 

For even more holiday light displays across South Carolina, check out this website.

Please comment below to suggest additional holiday light displays worth visiting!


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