Spending the holidays in Columbia this year? Check out our roundup of festive events and activities that’ll keep you feeling merry and bright all season long!

Kickoff Events

What’s better than an evening of carols, shopping deals, cocoa, holiday lights and general good cheer? Getting FOUR chances to celebrate the start of the season in our different neighborhood districts! Jump right into the holiday spirit with Devine Night Out and Vista Lights. Then, go shop to shop in Five Points for A Starry Night. Finally, congregate in front of the South Carolina State House to see the state Christmas tree all aglow at the 51st Annual Governor’s Carolighting.


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The season is all about giving, so cross everyone off your list early while supporting small businesses at the Junior League Holiday Market, Crafty Feast and Soda City Market. (Go ahead and treat yourself to a few unique, handmade items, as well. We won’t tell.) We even made you a handy guide for shopping local products here.



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Our lineup of holiday shows is so stellar, it’ll have you saying, “Rockettes who?” Kick back with some popcorn at The Nick for their Holly Jolly Hollywood Series featuring showings of Home Alone, Little Women, Edward Scissorhands, It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. Delight in the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy as Columbia City Ballet, Columbia Classical Ballet and Ann Brodie’s Carolina Ballet all present their own productions of “The Nutcracker.” With snow falling and the comforting smells of cocoa and pine filling the room during The Polar Express 4-D Experience at the South Carolina State Museum, you’ll feel like you’re actually there. Sing along to all your favorite carols at the Columbia Christmas Spectacular, Holiday Pops, USC Concert Choir Christmas Concert, Soulful Sounds of Christmas and CMA Jazz on Main: Jingle Bell Jazz. You may even hear a sleigh bell or two! Follow the antics of Ralphie and the gang as he strives to get a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas as Broadway in Columbia Presents “A Christmas Story.” Plus, you’ll get a bonus lesson in Italian – Fra-gee-lay! Lastly, settle in at Trustus Theatre for what is sure to be a hilarious production of “A Christmas Miracle at the Richland Fashion Mall” or a mellow evening listening to “Mark Rapp’s Jingle Bell Jazz.”



Twinkle, Twinkle

Columbia SC is shining bright with dazzling light displays. It won’t be the lions and tigers and bears that will have you saying, “Oh my” at Riverbanks Zoo this season, but nearly a million lights sparkling throughout the zoo at Lights Before Christmas. Pack up the car and head out to Saluda Shoals Park for their magical, drive-through display featuring animations and more at Holiday Lights on the River. Line the streets and watch the floats pass by in a festive blaze of glory at the Greater Cayce – West Columbia Holiday Parade of Lights.



Lights before Christmas! At the zoo!

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Christmas Past

Take a trip through time to see how Columbia citizens celebrated the holidays back in the day. Join Historic Columbia for their Historic Holiday Tours and their special Candlelight Tours & Carriage Rides. Keep the history train rolling with a visit to Cayce Historical Museum’s 28th Annual Christmas Traditions Holiday Open House.

candlelight tours




Festive Fun

You’ll be walking in a Winter Wonderland at EdVenture with the return of their annual Gingerbread Jamboree, which includes activities like Saturdays with Santa and the Festival of Sharing. Stay frosty with Jingle Days and the Frozen Party at South Carolina State Museum. Glide along the smooth surface of Main Street ICE, the outdoor ice skating rink set up outside the Columbia Museum of Art from Thanksgiving through January. Stock up on all of your favorite treats for Hanukkah at Beth Shalom Synagogue’s 9th Annual Bubbie’s Brisket & Bakery. Go all out with the holiday feels with a morning spent at the 64th Annual Carolina Carillon Parade, then an afternoon elfing around at the St. Nicholas Festival. Take your kids for some one-on-one time with the man in red himself at Breakfast with Santa (we know him, we know him!).



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Close the year out early with the kids at EdVenture’s New Year’s Eve at Noon. Later, get gussied up and hit Main Street with your loved ones for food, fireworks and a headlining performance by Elle King at Famously Hot New Year.