From our family at Charleston Carriage Horse Advocates to yours, we wish you a joyful holiday season and much happiness in the new year. As you and your family choose holiday-related activities to bring you closer throughout this season, we invite you to take a look at a variety of enjoyable, enriching, and humane activities in Charleston this holiday season. 

Charleston is famous as a walking city and with its milder winter climate, be sure to bring your walking shoes since so many of the holiday activities are within easy walking distance in the downtown area.  If you are a first-time visitor, there are many walking tours of the historic district with expert tour guides. Some tour groups, like Charleston Strolls, have access to private homes which will be decorated for the holidays.  

If history is your primary interest while visiting Charleston, our historic museum houses will be a special highlight to your holiday season. A visit to Charleston is incomplete without touring at least one of our beautiful museum houses, most now decorated for the holidays. Each historic home offers something unique to celebrate the holidays. A tour of the Joseph Manigault House features holiday decorations by the Garden Club of Charleston, while a candlelight tour at the Nathaniel Russell House takes you back in time as you learn about 19th century holiday gatherings, and you will see Victorian holiday decorations as you tour the Edmondston-Alston House. In December, Drayton Hall hosts its beloved holiday tradition of African-American Spiritual Music in concert with a reception and informal house tours.

For theatre fans, Charleston has much to offer throughout the holiday season. The historic Dock Street Theatre  will once again be hosting Charles Dickens’s, “A Christmas Carol” from November 30th through December 19th. Celebrate the warmth and joy of the holiday season with Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future as you enjoy this fun, memorable classic. Celebrating 20 years now,  The Charleston Christmas Special at Charleston Music Hall is a favorite holiday musical revue that will be sure to get the whole family in the holiday spirit!  And, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without “The Nutcracker”, as performed this year by the Moscow Ballet at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. 

Holiday celebrations continue into the evening here in Charleston. A drive through James Island County Park Festival Of Lights is a wonderful opportunity for the whole family to experience the magic of Christmas after the sun goes down. Enjoy the one-of-a-kind light displays in the comfort of your own car or in a climate-controlled tour bus operated by Adventure Sightseeing. Another popular holiday light display takes place on December 8th, with the 37th Annual Charleston Holiday Parade of Boats.  Don’t miss this spectacular procession of boats of all sizes, decorated with festive lights, as it passes along Charleston’s historic waterfront.  Bring a blanket and grab a seat at Waterfront Park or join in the fun at the Rotary Club’s private party at the Charleston Maritime Center.

The holiday season in Charleston is not complete without a little shopping. At the holiday Charleston Farmers Market at Marion Square taking place December 1,2 8,9,15 &16, there is always a variety of unique, festive items offered by the vendors. You’ll be able to find plenty of gifts for the whole family, including the notoriously ‘hard-to-buy-for.’ Bring your family and friends of all ages to shop for holiday gifts and enjoy fresh foods and beverages. From there you can head to King Street, Charleston’s main shopping district, with its distinctive, local boutiques, brand name stores, and many dining options.

Known as the Holy City, Charleston has a long tradition of religious freedom. There is a variety of traditions and services that are open to the public all through December, as well as on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Handels’s best known work, “Messiah” will be performed at select churches in Downtown Charleston. This collaboration will feature the Charleston Symphony Orchestra along the Charleston Symphony Orchestra’s Chamber Chorus. The locations include Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, East Cooper Baptist Church, and St. Theresa The Little Flower Catholic Church.  Chanukah in the Square is an annual celebration of the festival of lights and will be held December 9th at Marion Square Park. It is a family friendly, free event open to the entire community. This is the largest Chanukah celebration in South Carolina. The Lowcountry Kwanzaa Celebration takes place from December 26 to January 1 and includes many special events and activities throughout Charleston to honor African heritage in African-American culture.

We love the holiday season here in Charleston, and hope that you and your family will, too. As you choose what activities to include on your Charleston holiday bucket-list, we hope that you will consider some of the wonderful, humane activities we recommend. Whatever your reason for visiting our enchanting city, take in the history and views with one of our alternative ways to enjoy the Jewel of the South. Learn how you can take action for a safer, more humane visit, here.