One of the fun, uplifting activities for this time of year is to view Christmas Holiday light displays. South Carolina has several large light displays, and we’ve compiled a list of some of the popular ones (arranged roughly by geographic location from the coast to the upstate).

Dove Street Festival of Lights – Hilton Head
This festival started in 1990 as an effort of a few neighbors and has grown since. Donations are accepted and benefit the Deep Well Project. Viewing dates, other information, and contact information can be found at the Dove Street Festival of Lights site.

Holiday Festival of Lights – James Island
2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. You will make a 3 mile drive through millions of lights and hundreds of sparkling displays. There are also train rides at “Santa’s Village”. The admission fee starts at $10 per vehicle. The lights are open evenings from November 3, 2009 until January 3, 2010. More information at the Holiday Festival of Lights site.

Fantasy of Lights – Sumter
This light display is the work of the City of Sumter’s Parks and Gardens Staff and is known as the largest FREE display in South Carolina. The Fantasy of Lights is part of the annual Sumter Poinsettia Festival. The Fantasy of Lights entertainment schedule begins on December 4, 2009. More information at the Fantasy of Lights page and the Sumter Poinsettia Festival page.

Children’s Garden Christmas and Kid’s Walk – Orangeburg
Hosted at the Edisto Memorial Gardens in Orangeburg, admission is free to this breathtaking display of lights. The Children’s Garden Christmas is a drive through display in the Edisto Memorial Gardens, while the Kid’s walk  includes interactive displays. More information at the City of Orangeburg site.

Lights Before Christmas – Columbia
The Riverbanks Zoo and Garden hosts this annual event that includes nearly a million twinkling lights, animated images, visits from Santa, and hot cocoa. Lights Before Christmas was given a 2008 Palmetto Parent Family Choice Award for Best Holiday Event. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for children 3-12, and free for children under 3. Zoo members get one free visit. More information at the Lights Before Christmas site.

Holiday Lights on the River – Columbia
The Midlands largest drive through light display features over 300 themed, animated light displays on a two-mile loop through Saluda Shoals Park. New this year is a Winter Wonder Ride where you can slide through a series of lighted arches on our outdoor winter fun ride. Admission starts at $10 per car for the Holiday Lights and is $2 per ride on the Winter Wonder Ride. More information at the Holiday Lights on the River page.

Lights of Hope – Anderson
This annual light show has been illuminating Darwin Wright Park in Anderson for 15 years and features over 60 different displays and nearly a million lights on a 0.7 mile drive. Proceeds from the front gate admission go directly to benefit local charities in Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens counties. More information at Lights of Hope.

Roper Mountain Holiday Lights – Greenville
Greenville’s best holiday light show features a drive through the beautiful setting of the Roper Mountain Science Center. During your drive you’ll see a 45 foot illuminated star, drive through a tunnel of lights, and several other themed displays. Admission starts at $10 per car/minivan/SUV with proceeds going to charity. Get the details at Roper Mountain Holiday Lights.

Holiday Lights Safari Benefit – Inman
Hollywild Animal Park hosts this annual holiday lights event featuring a drive
through nearly 100 acres. You will see herds of live animals, millions of twinkling lights, dazzling holiday displays, and a life-sized Nativity. More information and admission rates at Hollywild Animal Park.

Christmas Town USA – McAdenville, North Carolina
While not technically in South Carolina, we would be remiss in not mentioning this display in the small, but very generous mill village of McAdenville just outside of Charlotte. The lights have received rave reviews from visitors and over 300,000 vehicles drive through annually. There is no admission charge to see this wonderland of lights celebrating its 54th year. A schedule and pictures can be found at the Christmas Town USA – McAdenville web site.


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