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Christmas in Charleston, SC

November 30, 2023

As the weather in Charleston begins to cool off in December, a festive spirit finds its way along the historic streets of our iconic Southern city. Sparkling lights and garlands adorn storefront windows, homes, and churches. Decked out in all its holiday finery, this historic city embraces the charm and magic of the season like nowhere else.

A Charleston Christmas offers a fantastic blend of captivating history, delicious holiday cuisine, mild weather, and numerous festivities, making it a dream destination for the holidays. Use this guide to discover events, performances, and holiday cheer to celebrate Christmas in Charleston with friends, family, and loved ones.

Christmas in Charleston, SC [2023]

Wine under the Oaks during Christmas in Charleston

Wine Under The Oaks

Boone Hall Plantation Back Lawn

December 3

The highly anticipated Wine Under The Oaks event has become a staple of the Charleston social scene during Christmas. Although all General Admission tickets are sold out, a limited number of VIP tables are still available, along with gourmet food selections from local Charleston restaurants and featured wines at the boutique wine tent. Attendees will be treated to wine samples from various distributors and winery partners, complimentary desserts, oysters, and live musical entertainment by The Midnight City Band. Other highlights include specialty-themed tents with food sampling and unique gift options to pick up that perfect gift for friends or family. This is an adult-only event for ages 21 and up.

Oyster Roast in Charleston

Drayton Hall Oyster Roast

Drayton Hall

December 3

The annual oyster roast is a beloved tradition for locals and visitors and one of the best Lowcountry events of the holiday season! Indulge in the historical delicacies of our region with unlimited oysters, a delicious chili bar, and locally crafted beverages. You will have a great time supporting the Drayton Hall mission! Make sure to arrive early and explore the fascinating exhibits before the Oyster Roast begins; your ticket includes admission to the grounds.
Tickets to the 2023 Drayton Hall Oyster Roast make the perfect gift for friends, family, or business associates and clients.

Holiday Parade of Boats in Charleston during Christmas

Holiday Parade of Boats

Charleston Harbor

December 9

Experience one of the most cherished Christmas events in Charleston, the holiday parade of boats! This dazzling parade of brightly lit boats sails from the Cooper River, through the Charleston Harbor, and into the Ashley River. This family-friendly celebration promises to become a holiday staple for everyone.

Observe the procession along Charleston's picturesque waterfront, or join the festivities by decorating your boat and becoming part of the parade. The event begins at 5:00 p.m. along the shores of Mount Pleasant, with viewing from the downtown peninsula starting around 7:30 p.m. This event is free of charge.

The Charleston Christmas Special

Charleston Music Hall

December 14-23

Now in its 29th year, Charleston’s beloved holiday tradition delights audiences of all ages with song, dance, and funny, heartwarming holiday stories performed by a troupe of some of the country's most talented singers, dancers, musicians, and actors. This is an all-new show this year, so come out again for a new take on this family-favorite holiday classic.

Holiday Festival of Lights

James Island County Park

Nightly from 5:30-10 pm until December 31

Marvel at the display of more than two million dazzling lights over three miles of holiday wonder at one of the city’s best seasonal traditions. As you make your way through the park, be sure to visit the Holiday Sand Sculpture, which features a different festive theme each year created from over 50 tons of sand! In addition, check out what local students are up to with the Annual Holiday Greeting Card competition. Admire the giant 4x8 foot cards that feature the talents of many Lowcountry students.

To top off the event, satisfy your sweet tooth with a visit to Santa's Sweet Shop for hot chocolate, kettlecorn, ice cream, and freshly roasted s'mores! Seating is available in the shop or at picnic tables near the concession stands.

Sippin’ Santa Pop-Up Bar

Beachbum Berry’s

Through January 1, 2024

Back for its third year, the holiday wonderland of festive sips pops up at Prohibition Charleston. This event includes an array of seasonal cocktails with a nod to the classic prohibition-era favorites and a featured menu of nibbles and bites. Live music will be performed throughout the month-long festivities, including DJs and bands such as the Me & Mr Jones Band playing every Wednesday and Thursday from 9:30 pm to 12:30 am.

Holiday "Sleigh Ride"

Old South Carriage Co.

Select afternoons and evenings through December 23.

The popular tour is back again this year! Climb aboard a specially decorated horse-drawn carriage driven by one of Santa’s faithful elves for a 30-minute tour through historic Charleston! This one-of-a-kind holiday experience is complete with caroling and more. The last stop is Santa’s stable (just behind our barn), where you’ll join Old St. Nick and his elves for hot cocoa and cookies. Hurry! Tickets are selling out fast; reserve your spot today.

North Pole on the Plaza

Gabrielle Plaza at the Hotel Bennett

Various activities through Jan 6, 2024

Experience the Christmas spirit by heading downtown to Gabrielle Plaza, where various holiday activities occur throughout December.

Admire the stunning seasonal decorations as you visit the first-floor lobby to see the second annual Life-Size Gingerbread House. Crafted by the renowned Executive Pastry Chef Remy Funfrock and Chef Renee Fonseca, this confectionary wonderland is made with an impressive assortment of sweets. Come and marvel at its splendor, which is available for viewing until January 6. Other festive events in the plaza include the Holiday tea, an afternoon tea experience at Camelias, where guests can enjoy seasonal tea blends, holiday-themed treats, and sparkling Champagne for the adult guests. Seatings are available on Thursdays and Fridays until December 22.

Vienna Light Orchestra Christmas Concert

The Circular Church

December 16

Vienna Light Orchestra audiences have raved about this concert! “Mesmerizing, transcendent, and positively stimulating to the senses.” Since 1999, the Vienna Light Orchestra has been delighting audiences worldwide and illuminating orchestral music in a new light. Enjoy a world-class performance of the most beloved Christmas songs, illuminated by over 2,000 mesmerizing, flickering candles. Bring the whole family to experience this Christmas in Charleston for an incredible event performed by professional musicians from seven countries at one of Charleston’s most historic performance venues.

Aquarium Aglow

South Carolina Aquarium

Select evenings through December starting at 5:30 pm

Experience a mesmerizing light spectacle at the Aquarium during select nights this holiday season. As you wander through the aquarium, the diverse lighting effects will transport you from the mountainous icy starscape to the radiant neon coast. Allow the wildlife to guide you in celebrating the festive season and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. Look out for "Scuba Claus" in the Great Ocean Tank and take advantage of multiple photo opportunities to capture those perfect moments. Indulge in delicious festive refreshments, including alcoholic beverages.

Christmas in Charleston at the Holiday Market

Charleston Holiday Market

Marion Square

Saturdays & Sundays Dec 2,3,9,10 &16 (9 am-3 pm)

This December, Marion Square will be graced again by the Charleston Farmers Market and an array of special holiday vendors! Browse unique and locally crafted Christmas gifts while enjoying live music and caroling.

A Very Merry Footlight Holiday Special

Queen Street Playhouse

December 8-17 matinee and evening shows

Charleston's beloved Christmas variety show has returned in full force to bring all the festive cheer again in 2023! This season's musical is family-friendly and features a lineup of holiday favorites. The storyline follows Mrs. Claus as she prepares for her beloved SNOW BALL - the year's biggest party. She welcomes a guest list (cast) of iconic and legendary figures, including the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost, and Mother Nature, leading to hilarious holiday mayhem and unexpected romance. It's a delightful and heartwarming show that even the most cranky Aunt May or Uncle Bob will enjoy this top-tapping performance!

A Christmas Carol

Dock Street Theater

Through December 22

The Stage's original adaptation of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol left audiences spellbound with last year's new scenery, costumes, and special effects. With a stunning score of timeless melodies and a cast of over 50 characters, including beloved figures like Scrooge and Tiny Tim, this joyous musical brings the enchantment of the holiday season to life once again. This Charleston Christmas production features exciting music underscoring the heartwarming story of Ebenezer Scrooge and reminds us all, despite our busy modern-day schedules, of the true meaning of Christmas.

Nutcracker Ballet at Christmas in Charleston

The Nutcracker Magical Christmas Ballet

North Charleston Performing Arts Center

December 26

Experience the enchanting tradition that has captured the hearts of families for years – NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet! This performance features an exceptional international cast and Ukrainian principal artists performing the timeless beauty of classical European ballet at the highest level. You will be amazed by breathtaking acrobatics, larger-than-life puppets, and intricately designed sets and costumes that will transport you into a magical wonderland. Consider your Charleston Christmas complete with this performance!

Christmaskindlmarkt in Charleston

Christkindlmarkt Charleston

4461 N US-17 Awendaw, SC

December 1 through 10

Create a unique and meaningful tradition with your loved ones by visiting the Christkindlmarkt in Charleston, where you can explore the rich German heritage that permeates the market's atmosphere. The experience boasts an eclectic range of items, including locally made goods, seasonal decor, and various European imports hailing from France, England, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, and Nepal. Be sure to stop by the booths of traditional handcrafted German products meticulously crafted and sourced from the Seiffen region of the Ore Mountains.

Are you looking for more things to do in Charleston any time of year? Check out our blog for tips about traveling and discovering this unforgettable city.

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