Area Guide | Events

Charleston Holiday Lights Tour

From baking holiday cookies and decorating the tree with hand-made ornaments to sporting those ugly Christmas sweaters, there are endless holiday traditions that hold a special place in our hearts here at Kiawah River. And one of our favorite activities during this time of year is discovering the most festive holiday light displays throughout Charleston and the sea islands. 

Check out a few of our favorite events and locations where you can catch a glimpse of the best and brightest light spectacles this holiday season. 

32nd Annual Holiday Festival of Lights (James Island County Park)

Featuring an estimated two million dazzling lights across 750 light displays, the 32nd Annual Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park is open every evening now through Dec. 31, from 5:30-10 p.m. Cruise along the three-mile car tour of stunning light displays, including the reimagined Cooper River Bridge display. After the light show, families and friends can enjoy a plethora of activities, including marshmallow roasting, festival train rides, carousel rides, an enchanted walking trail and more. Attendees can also visit Santa’s Workshop where old St. Nick is waiting to take photos. 

The Jasper Star (Downtown Charleston) 

Carrying on the legacy of the old Sergeant Jasper’s iconic rooftop star, which was brightly lit as a tradition that marked the beginning of the holiday season, a showstopping 20-by-20-foot star is located on the ground-level plaza between The Jasper’s office and residential buildings along Broad Street in downtown Charleston. The glittering star rekindles fond memories and traditions for neighbors who recall the old Sergeant Jasper’s familiar holiday beacon, inviting holiday-light enthusiasts to embrace the holiday magic and festive sights at The Jasper. 

Jasper Star Photo Contest: On Instagram, snap and share your photo with the star, tag #JasperStar2021, and follow @JasperCharleston for a chance to win a beautiful gift basket, compliments of The Jasper.

Colonial Lake’s Christmas Tree (Downtown Charleston)

After checking out The Jasper Star, head next door to Colonial Lake where the ever-glowing Christmas tree illuminates the center of the recreational lake for all to see throughout the holiday season. The Charleston Parks Conservancy’s annual Light the Lake takes place on Dec. 3 from 5-7:30 p.m. this year. Friends and families are invited to gather for the highly anticipated lighting of the Christmas tree by Mayor John Tecklenburg. The event also includes food trucks, holiday music, cookie decorating and more.

Charleston Holiday Parade of Boats (Charleston Harbor)

Co-sponsored by the City of Charleston and America’s Boating Club Charleston, the 40th Annual Charleston Holiday Parade of Boards will take place in the Charleston Harbor on Dec. 11. Locals can register their decorated boats for the festive parade to delight thousands of spectators. And for those that prefer to stay ashore, there are viewing points across the Charleston peninsula and Patriot’s Point to enjoy the illuminating nautical parade. 

Happy Holidays, y’all!