The Palmetto state is blanketed in a cloud of smoke, New Zealand became a British colony on this day, Epcot center was first opened by Disney, and the nights just keep getting colder. Bundle up in your favorite sweater (and dust off the festive one for the upcoming holidays) and start planning for one of these glorious events being hosted across the state. We tend to stay indoors, isolated during the winter, but there is no better time to be social as thousands of South Carolinians go out to spread the holiday cheer. Stop stressing about family table arrangements and shopping lists and treat yourself to a weekend of festivities!
Midlands – Lights, Silent Auctions, and a Columbia Tradition
For more than 30 years, Vista Lights has brought the holidays into Columbia like Santa cruising into town with some Ray Bans and a top speed of “takin’ it easy.” Put that summer mentality into storage and enjoy the beauty of the Vista as unique shops and restaurants demonstrate their holiday spirit. The website describes the event as “the neighborhood’s signature open house,” displaying the warm hospitality so typical of life in South Carolina. The event begins at 5 PM on November 17th (the Thursday before Thanksgiving). If you stick around until 7, you will be treated to the lighting of the Christmas tree by Columbia’s Mayor, Stephen K. Benjamin. Bring the family, bring the scrooge from down the street or bring someone from a differing political party, the Vista will make you feel warm, despite the cold!
Materialism typically gets a bad rap when it comes to the holidays, but there is nothing more festive and jolly than giving for a good cause. On Saturday, November 19th and Sunday, November 20th come to the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center for the Festival of Trees. The event benefits the Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital and hosts a variety of “decorated trees, wreaths, stockings and gifts.” Not only that, you can bid for these items at the silent auction. If you want a sneak peek at the decorations, swing by on Friday, November 18th at 7 PM for the auction preview. There will also be several activities for your enjoyment. Last year, the event raised more than $332,000 and they are hoping to exceed that this year, but they need your help.
Upstate – Cold, Hard Ice and Downtown
In Elementary and Middle school, the premier hangout place was, of course, the ice skating rink. A young, beardless Josh became constantly acquainted with the cold, hard ice, but eventually it became a sport I thoroughly enjoyed. Awaken that inner child and let loose with Ice on Main, hosted by United Community Bank. The event starts on Friday, November 18th and continues into January. The rink is open-air and is in downtown Greenville on Village Green, in front of the Courtyard Marriott. For $10 ($8 for Kids 12 and under), rent some skate shoes and take advantage of the chilly weather.
Low Country – More Lights, Kringle, and Tons of Oysters
With many other local customs discussed, it would be a travesty to leave out Charleston’s Holiday Festival of Lights, internationally recognized as a top tourist site by the likes of the American Bus Association, Southeast Tourism Society, and Moscow’s Festival of Festivals. From November 11th to January 1st, drive through 3 miles of light displays, arranged in many different forms and patterns that reflect the holiday spirit. If you feel like walking, the festival doesn’t bind you to your car. Enjoy shopping, food, various kinds of entertainment and activities for the whole family like a Victorian Carousel, Santa’s Sweet Shoppe and more. This weekend the festival is hosting movie night (A Looney Tunes Christmas on November 18th and The Smurfs: a Christmas Carol on November 19th), so pack everyone into the clown car and enjoy this holiday tradition!
Little is craved more than chili during the winter in the Palmetto state. On November 19th, come to the Riverfront Park between 1 PM and 5 PM for the Chili Cook-off and Oyster Roast, benefiting the Charleston Animal Society. Come enjoy food, drinks, and live entertainment such as music, bull riding, corn hole and activities for the kids. There will also be pets available for adoption, so consider giving a home to one of these furry friends. By booking on the site, you and your team can enter the chili competition. Pots and pans in a professional kitchen will be provided, so get your vegetables, portion out the ingredients, and get ready to cook at Duvall’s in your own 4-hour time slot. All you can eat oysters is all the reason you need to make a visit and contribute to such a good cause.