If ever we’ve needed a hearty dose of holiday cheer, it’s 2020. And though the calendar of events is looking a little less jolly than in years past, some signature annual events have pivoted their plans and new events have surfaced to get you in the spirit of the season as safely as possible.

Community Merriment

Missing the holiday markets and visits with Santa this year? You don’t have to, because the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center has the space to spread things out and maintain a safe environment in which to celebrate. Shop, have fun in the Kid Zone, grab a local Steel Hands brew in the biergarten, get a picture with Santa thanks to plexliglass protection, enjoy hot cocoa and concessions and more at A Holiday to Remember. 

See the State Christmas Tree light up in all its glory along with live musical performances of your favorite holiday songs at the 54th Annual Governor’s Carolighting at the South Carolina State House. Tickets are limited, so nab yours now. 

And count (scream? cry with relief?) down to 2021 with a special virtual edition of Famously Hot New Year. 

Shop by District

Opt out of online shopping in favor of supporting small businesses and makers who have been hit hard this year. 

Instead of the usual Devine Night Out celebration, enjoy Devine Day Out – a whole day of shopping great sales and dining at your favorite Devine Street boutiques and restaurants. 

Similarly, in lieu of A Starry Night, in Five Points, instead come out for Winter Wonderland Weekend, a three-day shopping extravaganza complete with a Saturday chocolate trail, gift wrapping station and free trolley rides. 

Venture to Main Street for another three-day shopping experience with Soda City Market’s special Holiday Market on Main, where you can shop your favorite local vendors well into the evening in an atmosphere inspired by traditional European holiday markets. 

Finally, Vista Lights is back again this year, albeit in a different format. Foregoing the usual big street party celebration after dark, The Vista is celebrating with a full week of specials and deals at their various shops and restaurants. 

Seasonal Shows

Festive films, concerts and performances are sure to make spirits bright. Travel through the seven levels of the Candy Cane Forest, past the sea of swirly twirly gumdrops and then walk through the Lincoln Tunnel to Segra Park for an Elf Movie Night.  

Enjoy classical tunes from the comfort of your own home as Columbia Baroque Concert: “Home for the Holidays,” goes virtual. 

Get your toes tapping and fingers snapping to the beat of Mark Rapp and his quartet during Jingle Bell Jazz at Trustus Theatre

Visions of sugar plums aren’t the only things dancing this December. The Columbia City Ballet is back at Koger Center for the Arts for a limited run of The Nutcracker.

Frosty Fresh Air

We don’t quite dash through the snow here in Columbia, but the temps do tend to turn crisp. Bundle up as you meander through Riverbanks Zoo’s dazzling light displays, hot cocoa in hand, during Lights Before Christmas.

Socially Distant Celebrations

Though all the aforementioned events are implementing strict safety and social distancing guidelines, there are some, like Movies in the Garden: Christmas Vacation, Holiday Lights on the River, Carolina Lights and the Igloos at Publico, that keep you contained with only those you feel most comfortable with.