As the year winds down and travel plans are underway thanks to some much-needed time off from work or school, let this be your guide to filling these December days with things to do with family and friends. From holiday celebrations and local business anniversaries to concerts and exhibits, make the last days of 2021 count in Columbia, SC. 

Holiday Cheer

The festivities are not in short supply this holiday season. Get your plan together now so you can keep the merriment going all month long. 

Start with some local holiday light displays. Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo, Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park, Carolina Lights at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds and the Holiday Planetarium Lighting at the South Carolina State Museum will have your eyes all aglow.

Raise a glass to the most wonderful time of the year. Sip on seasonal offerings from holiday pop-ups like Miracle on Main in the soon-to-be Prohibition space or Santa’s Pub at Publico. Make it a full on tasting with the annual Cookies and Beer Pairing at River Rat Brewery or Holiday Wine Tasting & Charcuterie Night at Swamp Cabbage Brewing Company. Or try your own hand at creating a cup full of cheer at The Main Course’s Mixology – Christmas Themed Cocktails. 

Support small businesses and shop local this year. Head to the Midlands Clay Arts Society 2021 Holiday Sale, Junior League Holiday Market, Piecewise Coffee’s Holiday Market, Y’all-Mart Presents Y’alltide Greetings at New Brookland Tavern and Femme x COLUMBIA’s Holiday Market to cross everything off your list. 

If you missed Devine Night Out, Vista Lights and the Governor’s Carolighting last month, don’t fret. This month, you can catch Christmas in Cayce, the 68th Annual Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade, Town of Lexington’s Snowball Festival Carnival & Movie and Five Points Festivus!

Santa! I know him, I know him! And you can get to know him, too, as the man in the red suit can be sighted during Sundays with Santa at Columbia Metropolitan Airport, the Santa Run 5K at the Garners Ferry Sports Complex, Holidays at EdVenture (they even have days with Sensitive Santa for children with sensory sensitivities!) and Santa Saturdays at the South Carolina State Museum. 

Who doesn’t love a festive special, show or performance? Koger Center for the Arts is a holiday hub this month, featuring an array of events like Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis: Big Band Holidays, A Magical Cirque Christmas, The Nutcracker performed by the Columbia City Ballet and Eve of the Eve: Swing Into the Holidays. The whole family will enjoy Elf in the Park at DOKO Meadows Park, Santa’s Swingin’ Christmas Party at Columbia Marionette Theatre, Elf: The Musical at Town Theatre and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4D at the South Carolina State Museum. Get your toes tapping at Trustus Theatre’s Jingle Bell Jazz and Noel & Maria: Together Again for the Holidays at Columbia Museum of Art, feel the music at Columbia R&B Holiday Jam at Colonial Life Arena and take in the beauty of The Christmas Angel at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College. 

Plus, give back at Merry MIRCI Holiday at Market on Main and revisit holidays past with Historic Columbia Holiday House Tours

Finally, cap off the season and the year as a whole and figure out where you’ll be when the ball drops and the clock strikes midnight. Carolina Together, the folks who bring you the Gervais Street Bridge Dinner, are dropping a brand-new event, New Year’s Eve on the River at Stone River. Enjoy drinks, hors d’oeuvres, live music and more as you ring in the new year. Cozy up in Lexington with barbecue, an oyster roast, a champagne toast and music at New Year’s Eve on The FARM. Celebrate with sky high views at Capital City Club’s New Year’s Eve Party. Get gussied up and head to West Columbia for the 5th Annual Jazzy New Year’s Eve Soiree at Chayz Lounge. Clink your glasses together as you peer out over Main Street at New Year’s Eve on the rooftop of Hendrix. Keep it casual and intimate with Brandon Mullis & O’Hara’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve

Local Love

There’s still plenty going on in December outside of holiday-themed events. Kick off the month at First Thursday on Main

Shop for local goods at The NoMa Flea every Friday night and Soda City Market each Saturday morning. 

Dress to the nines at the CMA Gala or just come out and enjoy some tunes at CMA Chamber Music on Main.

Support the arts with on-campus entertainment like the UofSC Student Choreography Showcase at Drayton Hall Theatre and Columbia Baroque Concert: “The Musical World of Georgia O’Keeffe” at the UofSC School of Music. 

Cultural Exploration

Columbia Museum of Art has no shortage of opportunities to keep you occupied this month. Check out the 30 Americans exhibit and Opening Celebration: Meet the Artists of 22 South Carolinians, plus special programming like Art Class: Rethinking Inking, Drawing 101 or Intuitive Painting, FAAAC Presents Sip & Scribble, 30 Americans: From Canvas to Score, Let’s Talk Race Community Conversation, Book Discussion: The Vanishing Half and Winter Workshop: Exploring Altered Books, Holiday Hop and Mixed-Media Marvels

Or head to the UofSC campus, where you can request a tour of the Anne Frank Center at the Barringer House (make sure to email in advance!) or pop into the McKissick Museum on the Horseshoe to see Carolina Knives: The Roots of a Revival


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