Charleston City Market

December | Things to Do in Charleston, SC

By Bailey Laskowski

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! There are many celebrations going on around the Charleston area and the cool weather makes it a great time of year to walk the historic streets of the Holy City. Grab your favorite cup of hot cocoa and see what’s going on this month.

Celebrate the Season

Holiday Festival of Lights: Through Jan. 1

Journey through 3 miles of 700 magical light displays of all shapes and sizes at James Island County Park. This much-heralded event brings to life holiday scenes and Lowcountry landmarks outlined with 2 billion lights. USA Today has named it one of the “10 Best Holiday Light Shows in America.” After driving through the lights, stop off for a train ride, roast marshmallows, visit the gift shop and enjoy holiday entertainment. The festival opens at 5:30 p.m. daily and admission is $20 per vehicle (1 to 15 guests). 

Candlelight Tours at the Nathaniel Russell House Museum: Dec. 2 & 9

Step back in time to witness the romance of the day’s end and the flicker of flame in this stately early 19th-century townhouse, restored to its 1808 appearance. Admire the house and its furnishings, splendidly decorated with natural greenery for the holidays. The Nathaniel Russell House, widely recognized as one of America’s most significant neoclassical dwellings, is a National Historic Landmark. Note: The 45-minute candlelight visits use LED candles for the safety of guests and of the house museum and its collection.

Wine Under the Oaks: Dec. 3

Wine Under the Oaks at Boone Hall PlantationHead to the beautiful Boone Hall Plantation for wine samples from a variety of wine distributors and winery partners, complimentary “bubbles” provided by Biltmore Estate, complimentary desserts, food and wine pairings with complimentary gourmet food and wine samples provided by Boone Hall Farms and wine and cooking demonstrations. Plus, see the plantation home beautifully decorated for Christmas.

Charlotte’s Ballet Nutcracker: Dec. 2 & 3

Celebrate the magical sights and sounds of the holidays at Charlotte Ballet’s Nutcracker coming to the Gaillard Center. Enjoy the choreography by Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, live music, and professional dancers from Charlotte Ballet joined by student dancers from the Charleston community.

The Charleston Christmas Special: Dec. 8-23

Tiffany Parker, Charleston Christmas SpecialA blend of old and new – from favorite returning cast members to entertainers coming to the show for the first time. Former Broadway stars and Charleston producers Brad and Jennifer Moranz have created everyone’s favorite holiday show featuring classic Christmas favorites blended with new holiday tunes. The Charleston Christmas Special runs Dec. 8-23 at the Charleston Music Hall. Tickets range from $19 to $41; purchase at the Charleston Music Hall Box Office.

Be sure to read our blog post on the 15 must-do holiday events in Charleston this season.


Shop for Everyone on Your List

Holiday Shop & Stroll: Dec. 15

Head to King Street for a night of holiday shopping and celebrating at a select assortment of downtown Charleston retailers. There will be special pricing and sales, plus complimentary refreshments, makeovers, trunk shows, specials and gifts.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Pop Up Shop: 332 King St.

Need a gag gift for the company holiday party? Throughout the month of December, find an unreasonable amount of light-up ugly holiday sweaters at this Charleston pop-up shop.

Charleston City Market: 73 North Market St.

Visitors to the City Market will find iconic Charleston gifts, such as the famous sweetgrass baskets and stone ground grits, as well as paintings, cookbooks, jewelry and other crafts at the more than 300 vendors.

Check out our 2017 holiday shopping guide for great Charleston-inspired gift ideas.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Happy New Year, Charleston in Marion Square: Dec. 31

A non-alcoholic, family friendly New Year’s Eve celebration in Marion Square. This free event includes a variety of programs: comedy, African dancing, children’s activities and plenty of music, including classical, gospel and jazz.

SpiritLine New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruise: Dec. 31

SpiritLine Dinner CruiseEnjoy a four-course dinner and live music and dancing aboard the elegantly decorated Spirit of Carolina. Cost is $99 per person and includes party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. Boarding begins at 9 p.m.

Looking for more ways to ring in the New Year? Visit our Calendar of Events – updated regularly with new things to do around Charleston.

Enjoy a Sweet Treat

Don’t forget the sweets! These are some of the best spots for holiday desserts.

Kaminsky’s Dessert Bar: 78 North Market St., Charleston. Choose from delectable desserts made in house daily, specialty coffees plus dessert

Kaminsky’s Dessert Bar:

Photo/Kaminsky’s Dessert Bar

martinis and hot toddies.

Gala Desserts: 829 Savannah Highway, Charleston. Take a break to refuel at this European-style cafe with decadent desserts, espresso and seasonal favorites.

Sweet Lulu’s Bakery and Cocktail Caravan: This food truck has been featured on the Cooking Channel’s “Unique Sweets” and in The Huffington Post – and it’s a favorite of Billy Murray’s. Find Sweet Lulu’s at Vintage Market Days Charleston Dec. 8-10 at the Exchange Park Fairgrounds in Ladson (just off Interstate 26). 

We’d love to see how you’re celebrating the holiday season in Charleston! Tag us on Instagram @TravelerofCharleston, Twitter @Traveler_Mag and on Facebook. Use #CharlestonTraveler