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Columbia, SC - (September 29, 2010) - The holiday season is quickly approaching and the famously hot capital city of South Carolina wants to share her spirit of good cheer to everyone.  Columbia's holiday events are great for families, romantics at heart and friends enjoying a night out.

Vista Lights

The Vista

Thursday, November 18

5:00 p.m. - 10: 00 p.m.

Columbia's premiere entertainment district kicks off the holiday season with a night of culture, cuisine and performances.  The district's galleries, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues will open their doors for the night showcasing holiday treasures.  The annual tree lighting ceremony, at 7:00 p.m., will feature Mayor Steve Benjamin. Horse-drawn carriage rides will be available and many businesses will be offering complimentary refreshments.

Lights Before Christmas

Riverbanks Zoo

November 19 - January 2

Nearly one million twinkling lights and more than 350 handcrafted images will be on display at the Riverbanks Zoo.  Families can take a picture with Santa at the holiday village and roast marshmallows at the Jingle Bell Bonfire.  Lights Before Christmas is Columbia's longest running holiday tradition.  When you go, make sure you wear your hat as it snows nightly at Riverbanks during Lights Before Christmas. 

Holiday House Tours

Historic Columbia Foundation

November 19 - January 2

Tuesday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (last tour begins at 3:00 p.m.)

Sundays 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. (last tour begins at 4:00 p.m.)

Add a little history during the holiday season.  Historic Columbia Foundation will have their house museums decorated for the season for guests who participate in guided tours.  The Robert Mills House, Hampton-Preston Mansion and Mann-Simons Cottage will have a variety of holiday décor along with faux food on display.  Rates for the tours vary.   

Sleigh Bell Trot

Saluda Shoals Park

November 23

7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Saluda Shoals Park in Columbia will host a 5k run and family fun walk at night!  Decorative holiday lights will be along the run/walk path for participants to enjoy.

Holiday Lights on the River

Saluda Shoals Park

November 24

6:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

More than 300 brilliant, animated light displays along a two-mile, drive-through loop within the park.  Admission is $10 for cars, $20 for 15-passenger vans and $35 for buses.

Sweet Seasons

Richland Fashion Mall

December 2

6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Residents of Forest Acres invite you to their seventh Annual Sweet Seasons event which will be held on the rooftop of Richland Fashion Mall.  The mall is located at the corner of Beltline Boulevard and Forest Drive.  The holiday party will feature music from the Carillion Carolers, face painting, local crafts, giveaways and food from local restaurants available for $1-$3. 

Holiday Market

SC State Fairgrounds

December 2-5

The women of Junior League of Columbia want to ensure residents and visitors have the most fun shopping this holiday season.  All kinds of unique items will be for sale at the Cantey Building at the SC State Fairgrounds.

Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade

Downtown Columbia

December 4

Columbia's Gervais Street will be packed with visitors as dozens of floats, marching bands and live performances march downtown for the 57th Annual Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade.  The parade will begin at 9:45 a.m. at Gervais and Bull Streets, head west on Gervais, passing the State House and continuing into the Vista to Park Street.  High school drill teams, clowns, animals, and, the most important part of the parade, Santa Claus, will all be on-hand to entertain the crowd.

Candlelight Tours and Carriage Rides

Historic Columbia Foundation

December 16

5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

$6-Adults, $3-Children

Catch a glimpse into the lives of Columbians circa 1860 with candlelight tours of the Robert Mills House and the Hampton-Preston Mansion.  Visitors can enjoy the decorated halls of the house museums, musical entertainment and activities for children.  Interpretations of the houses will reflect the uncertainty of life in the South from viewpoints of enslaved workers to those of wealthy planters.  Carriage rides through the Robert Mills historic district will be available before or after your house tour. Carriage Rides are $5 per person.


Sandlapper Singers presents: American Carols

Dreher High School

December 17

7:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Columbia's own Sandlapper Singers will perform carols from the finest American composers.  The singers will be accompanied by Neil Casey String Quartet and children from Condor Elementary, Gilbert Middle and Hammond academy.  The concert will be in the auditorium at Dreher High School at 3319 Millwood Avenue.  The event is free to the public.


Breakfast with Santa

Historic Columbia Foundation

December 18

8:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.

Children and youth are invited to enjoy a continental breakfast in Historic Columbia's Carriage House while listening to the sounds of seasonal music.  After the meal, kids can make a holiday craft, see the decorated halls of the Robert Mills House and take a picture with a Victorian Santa Claus.  Carriage rides will be available for $5.  Reservations are required and participation cost is $10 for Adults, $5 for children 10 and under.


Tiny Tot Tuesday: Santa's Little Helpers

Historic Columbia Foundation

December 21

11:00 a.m.

Little tots ages 2-4 will play games, make crafts, listen to stories in the Carriage House and visit with Victorian Santa, so be sure to bring along a camera for photos with Santa.  Hot cocoa and cookies will be served.  Tiny Tot Tuesdays is a monthly program for toddlers to explore the homes and grounds of the Historic Columbia Foundation using their senses.  Admission is $6 and $1 for each additional child from the family and $4 for members.