Charleston City Paper created its very own list of best things to do during the holiday season in Charleston, complete (or the old-timey spelling — compleat!) with performances, educational events, celebrations, parades and oh-so-many markets! The list, categorized by date, includes activities recommended by Charleston city and parks officials — and events generally cherished by Charleston residents.  (Make sure to scroll down to find current events.)

Recurring events 

Holiday Festival of Lights
Be amazed by displays made up of two million sparkling lights, indulge in delicious treats and capture the moment with a special keepsake from the gift shop. One of Charleston’s most highly anticipated celebrations, the Holiday Festival of Lights is a great family activity this season. Tickets are available online or at the gate. 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 10 through Dec. 31. Prices vary. James Island County Park 

Aquarium Aglow
Visitors are invited to explore the aquarium after dusk for a spectacular display of lights. Sip on a festive cocktail, take a photo alongside the glowing scenery and wave hello to Scuba Claus. Dec. 1-3, 7-8, 10, 14-23, 26, 27-30. Entry times and prices vary. South Carolina Aquarium. 100 Aquarium Wharf. Downtown. 

A Christmas Carol
A classic holiday event you and your family won’t want to miss, Charleston Stage’s adaptation of The Christmas Carol features performances by favorite Christmas personalities, from Tiny Tim to Scrooge,  plus a variety of carols.  Nov. 29 through Dec. 22. Times and prices vary. Dock Street Theatre. 135 Church St. Downtown. 

Charleston Nutcracker
Three different ballets perform original versions of this classic tale. The first adaptation is brought onstage by Mount Pleasant Performing Arts Company. The Dance Conservancy of Charleston’s performance, taking place Dec. 9 and Dec. 10, features more than 250 students as well as pre-professional dancers.  Palmetto City Ballet’s performance from Dec.15-17 includes 100 children from the Lowcountry alongside talented professionals. All shows are located at the Sottile Theatre.

  • Dec. 1 through Dec. 3, Mount Pleasant Performing Arts Co.; Dec. 9 and Dec. 10, Dance Conservancy of Charleston; Dec. 15 through Dec. 17, Palmetto City Ballet. Performance times vary. Sottile Theatre. 44 George St. Downtown. 

The Charleston Holiday Market
Charleston’s weekly farmers market is transformed during this festive shopping experience in the heart of downtown. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 2 and Dec. 3; Dec. 9 and Dec. 10; and Dec. 16. Marion Square. 329 Meeting St. Downtown. 

Very Merry Footlight Holiday Special 
Bring the whole family to experience this festive journey filled with holiday favorites, featuring Mrs. Claus, Jack Frost and even the Tooth Fairy..  Dec. 8- through Dec. 22, weekends only. Times vary. $32 to $57. Queens Playhouse. 20 Queen St. Downtown.

Who’s Holiday 2023.
Laugh alongside Cindy Lou Who in her raunchy, hilarious one-woman show. Giulia Dalbec portrays a grown-up, boozier Cindy in a 60-minute R-rated comedy.  7:30 p.m. Dec. 9, Dec. 14 and Dec. 21; 6 p.m. Dec. 10 and Dec. 17; 9:30 p.m. Dec. 22. $28. Queen Street Playhouse. 20 Queen St. Downtown. 

Dec. 2 

Kids’ Breakfast with Santa
Enjoy Breakfast with Santa at the Citadel Mall. Donate a toy for Toys for Tots and receive a free Chick-fil-A breakfast. RSVP by calling (843) 766-8321.  9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Citadel Mall. 2070 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. West Ashley. 


10th Annual Homegrown Holiday Bazaar
Enjoy a silent auction, food and beverage vendors, a bouncy house, arts and crafts, pony rides and live music during this family-friendly event.  10 a.m. $2 park admission. Johns Island County Park. 2662 Mullet Hall Road. Johns Island.

Holiday Street Festival Isle of Palms
Holiday celebration hosted by Isle of Palms with festivities such as free live performances, fun activities for kids and a photo-op with Santa.  2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Free to attend. Front Beach on Isle of Palms. Isle of Palms.

Tree Lighting and Parade at Nexton Square
Offering face painting, crafts and letter writing to Santa. Admission is free, but a donation for Toys for Tots is recommended.  5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Free to attend. Nexton Square. 801 Newton Square Drive. Summerville. 

Town of Moncks Corner Christmas Parade
Enjoy the family-friendly annual Christmas Parade featuring nearly 100 lit-up floats.  6 p.m. Free to attend. Main Street. Moncks Corner. 

Dec. 3

Thrifters and Drifters Holiday Market
The Royal American hosts a holiday market featuring shopping, food and a DJ — and more than 25 Lowcountry vendors selling original art.  11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free to attend. The Royal American. 970 Morrison Drive. Downtown.

Mingle with the Makers & Friends Holiday Market
Support recent graduates of Lowcountry Local First’s Community Business Academy at this holiday market featuring jewelry, embroidery, gourmet foods and more.  1 p.m to 4 p.m. Free to attend. Local Works and Bevi Bene. 1859 Summerville Ave. Neck area.

City of Charleston Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting
Joyful celebration beginning at Broad Street and Rutledge Avenue and ending on Calhoun and Meeting streets. A tree lighting ceremony will take place in Marion Square after the parade finale. 3 p.m. Free to attend. Begins at Broad Street and Rutledge Avenue. Downtown. 

Dec. 6

Holiday Hoedown
Mrs. Claus invites people with disabilities to the annual Holiday Hoedown with a western-themed twist. Chaperones are required but receive free admission with participant registration. To register, please call (843) 795-4386. 5 p.m. $4 in advance; $5 day of event. Cypress Hall at Wannamaker County Park. 8888 University Blvd. North Charleston. 

Gibbes Holiday Market
Showcasing a variety of local arts and crafts vendors with regular short performances from the cast of The Hip-Hop Grinch. 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Children younger than 17 free; $5 members; $15 non-members. Gibbes Museum of Art lecture hall. 135 Meeting St. Downtown. 

Holiday Movie Night: Polar Express
Put on your most spirited holiday outfits for an evening watching the classic holiday movie, The Polar Express. Two local bakers will be onsite offering delicious cookies and cocoa.  Doors open at 6 p.m.; show starts at 6:30 p.m. $10. The American Theater, 446 King Street. Downtown. 

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical
Enjoy the holidays with your favorite reindeer in this twist on a classic holiday story with all of the beloved characters from your childhood Christmas favorites.  6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $26. Charleston Gaillard Center. 95 Calhoun St. Downtown.

Ginger Minj’s Winter Wonderland! A Christmas Musical & Drag Spectacular
Watch a cherished Charleston holiday performance featuring the fabulous Gidget Galore, known for her appearances on season 7 and All-Stars season 2 of Ru Paul’s Drag RaceDoors open at 7 p.m.; show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets range $25-$40; $15 meet-and-greet add-on available. Charleston Music Hall. 37 John St. Downtown. 

Dec 7

Howlidays at the Park
You won’t want to miss this free event with Santa Paws, cute puppies from Dusty Tails looking for forever homes, a food truck and pet vendors.  5 p.m. Free to attend. Mixson Park. 1474 Monitor St. North Charleston. 

2023 Holiday Market at The Exchange
Experience the annual holiday market at The Exchange with more than 30 vendors, including artisans and food trucks. 5 p.m. Free to attend. 3003 Dunes West Blvd. Mount Pleasant. 

Holiday Magic on King Street
Enjoy this holiday block party fit for the whole family with live music, various artisanal and food vendors and festive libations.  5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Free to attend. King Street. Downtown. 

Holiday Sip ‘n’ Shop
Peruse The Station’s 60-plus local and sustainable vendors at this vintage marketplace while sipping on your favorite refreshments. Acclaimed local poet Marcus Amaker will be signing books at one of the tables.  6 p.m. The Station. 4610 Spruill Ave. North Charleston.

Dec. 8

Tradesman Grinchmas Party
Dress in your best Whoville costume for a chance to win prizes at this beer-filled Grinchmas party.  6 p.m. Free to attend.Tradesman Brewing. 1647 King Street Extension. Neck area.

Dec. 9 

Closet Case Thrift Store – The HoliGAY Market 
In tribute to the event’s slogan, Don We Now Our Gay Apparel, Closet Casee Thrift Store’s HoliGAY Market will feature a clothes swap, shopping and holiday cheer.  11 a.m. Closet Case Thrift Store. Free to attend. 1801 Reynolds Ave., Unit B. North Charleston. 

Holiday Market and Craft Show at Mount Pleasant Farmers Market
Attend this fun holiday event with local artisans, food and goodies at Mount Pleasant’s very own farmers market.  11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free to attend. Mount Pleasant Farmers Market, 378 Simmons St.

Folly Beach Annual Christmas Parade
Spectate or take part in this vibrant display of floats, marching bands and community associations spreading holiday cheer. 12 p.m. Free. Center Street. Folly Beach.

Gullah/Geechee Holiday Celebration
Join the Gullah/Geechee Angel Network Family for a celebration with drumming and Gullah/Geechee vendors selling handmade crafts. The night also includes poetry and live music.  12 p.m. Pure Theatre. Free to attend. 134 Cannon St. Downtown. 

Buffalo Vendor and Artist Market
Artisan vendors will display their finest work for sale at this North Charleston live music venue. This event is for people ages 21 and older. 4 p.m. $11 entry fee. The Purple Buffalo, 2702 Azalea Dr. North Charleston.

A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage! 
Step into the enchanting world of the animated television special in this classic stage adaptation. 4 p.m. Tickets start at $25. Charleston Gaillard Center, 95 Calhoun St. Downtown. 

PJs with Santa
Kids can come dressed in their favorite pajamas to meet Santa, create arts and crafts and enjoy hot chocolate, face painting and tasty desserts. Proceeds from the event benefit Dorchester District 2 and District 4 Supply Fund.  4 p.m. $7. Hutchinson Square. 102 South Main St. Summerville. 

PoHo Holiday Night Market
Various artisan vendors will sell goods during the holiday celebration at this cherished music venue. Live performance on the deck starts at 5 p.m., with the market open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.  5 p.m. Free for those aged 21 and older; $5 for individuals younger than 21. Charleston Pour House. 1977 Maybank Hwy. James Island. 

Holiday Parade of Boats
Watch a festive procession of lighted boats pass through the Charleston Harbor during this holiday celebration. 6 p.m. Charleston Harbor. 

Dec. 10

Park Circle Holiday Record Show
Record sale with albums spanning various genres. Peruse items from Loosejoint Records, Sylvia’s Records, and a special guest. This event is for individuals ages 21 and older. 1 p.m. Free to attend. The Sparrow. 1078 E. Montague Ave. North Charleston.

40th Anniversary Holiday Spirituals Concert
Watch this highly popular seasonal event with Ann Caldwell and The Magnolia Singers performing ancestral hymns. Savor beverages and light bites at the pre-show reception.  3:30 p.m. $65 for members; $75 for non-members. George W. McDaniel Education Center at Drayton Hall. 3380 Ashley River Road.  West Ashley.

Chanukah in the Square
Celebrate Hanukkah at the largest Jewish event in South Carolina — the 16th annual gathering in Marion Square with latkes, a giant menorah, treats and giveaways.  4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Free to attend. Marion Square, Downtown. 

Annual Holidays at Riverfront Park
Enjoy a self-led historic tour of North Charleston’s Riverfront Park with performances by Voices of Deliverance and School of the Arts 8th-grade Choir.  5 p.m. Dec. 10-11. Free to attend. 1061 Everglades Ave. North Charleston. 

28th Annual Town of Mount Pleasant Christmas Light Parade
Enjoy this parade showcasing floats, lights, community organizations and a firework display to kick off the celebration.  5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Free. Starts at 355 W. Coleman Blvd. Mount Pleasant. 

Christmas Semiformal Swing and Blues Dance
This one-hour long swing lesson is followed by a semiformal dance and revelry.  6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. $12. Ballroom Dance Charleston. 2408 Ashley River Road. West Ashley.

Dec. 13

Holiday Candlelight Tours at the Nathaniel Russell House
Experience the season with a docent-led holiday-themed tour of the Nathaniel Russell House Museum aglow with candlelight that brings visitors back to an era before electricity.  5:30 p.m. Dec. 13-16. $45. Nathaniel Russell House Museum. 51 Meeting St. Downtown.

Holiday Movie Night: The Grinch
Put on your most spirited holiday outfits for an evening with The Grinch. Two local bakers will be onsite offering delicious cookies and cocoa.  Doors open at 6 p.m; show starts at 6:30 p.m. $10. The American Theater, 446 King Street. Downtown. 

Gullah Christmas Concert
Immerse yourself in Gullah culture with Gullah Christmas stories and songs by the Plantation Singers, and grab a warm drink from the Cotton Dock prior to the performance.  7:30 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. $15 for kids ages 13 through 17; $30 per adult. Boone Hall Plantation. 1235 Long Point Road. Mount Pleasant. 

Dec. 14 

Ashley Hall Carolers
Enjoy performances by Ashley Hall’s elementary school choirs outside the Hotel Bennett on the Gabrielle Plaza looking out to Marion Square.  6 p.m. Free to attend. Hotel Bennett. Gabrielle Plaza. 404 King St. Downtown. 

Dec. 15

Ice skating at Folly Beach
Beach meets winter wonderland at this synthetic ice skating rink by the sea.  Times vary. Dec. 15 through Dec. 17. $9. 202 East Arctic Avenue. Folly Beach. 

Dec. 16

Deck the Paws at Hotel Bennett
Experience a heartwarming celebration of the season with a special dog adoption event in collaboration with the Charleston Animal Society.  11 a.m. Free to attend. Hotel Bennett, Gabrielle Plaza. 404 King St. Downtown. 

Dec 17

Holiday Puppy Yoga
Wear festive clothing and enjoy a gentle yoga flow with adorable puppies during this event to support Pet Helpers. 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. $10. O2 Fitness, 1119 Wappoo Road. West Ashley. 

Dec. 20 

Kids’ Holiday Workshop
Create festive decor and decorate ornaments for the Little Hayward House or your own home. Enjoy hot chocolate and treats in the spirit of the season. 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. $10 for members; $15 for non-members. Charleston Children’s Museum. 360 Meeting St. Downtown. 

Dec. 21

New Realm Brewing Co. Christmas Comedy Night
Join the merry-making at this night show, which includes talented comedians and an audience ugly sweater competition halfway through the show. Be sure to wear your best apparel!  7 p.m. to 9 p.m. $20. New Realm Brewing Co, 880 Island Park Dr. Daniel Island. 

Holiday Pops
Enjoy Charleston Symphony holiday tunes, carols and even a few noteworthy performances from the most beloved and infamous Christmas characters, such as the Grinch and Santa.  7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Dec. 21 through Dec. 23. Charleston Gaillard Center, 95 Calhoun St. Downtown.

Dec. 26

A Kwanzaa Celebration – Storytelling
Listen to a narrative session about the historical roots and celebration of Kwanzaa led by experienced storyteller Julian Gooding. 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 26 through Dec. 29. International African American Museum. 14 Wharfside St. Downtown.