As Thanksgiving comes and goes, we shift our attention to the next event on the holiday calendar.

As tradition stands, this weekend — Thursday night, really — kicks off the Christmas season.

Decorations start to make an appearance, gifts are purchased, Santa makes the rounds and holiday events are in abundance.

Holiday Market

On Friday and Saturday, the Garden Market & Nursery and Museum Shop at Middleton Place are kicking off the shopping season with an open-air market.

With musicians providing festive carols, complimentary hot cider and treats, the setting is guaranteed to take you back to a time when the holidays were much simpler.

Local artisans will be selling their wares, giving a 10 percent discount to those with a South Carolina ID or with admission to the National Historic Landmark.

The market will run 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. both days. There is no cost to shop.

Middleton Place is at 4300 Ashley River Road.

Call 556-6020 or go to www.middletonplace.org to find out more.

Tree lighting

Moving to Summerville after living in major metro areas such as Phoenix and D.C. was a big change — for the better.

It’s a different way of life, a slower pace, and I enjoy it.

Another thing I enjoy about living in a smaller town is traditions such as Summerville’s annual tree lighting ceremony taking place Tuesday.

Hosted by the Flowertown Garden Club, everyone descends on Hutchinson Square to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas.

In addition to the musical entertainment (starts at 6 p.m.) and the tree lighting (at 6:30 p.m.), a Snowball Drop will add to the festivities.

Ping-Pong balls with deals or prizes from local retailers will fall from the sky (a fire truck ladder) in this second annual event.

Find out more at www.summervilledream.org or by calling 871-6000.

Holiday Festival

On Friday, Freshfields Village is kicking off the holiday season with its annual Holiday Festival from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sponsored by the town of Kiawah, events will include a jump castle, face painting, train rides, crafts and live entertainment from the interactive children’s band Big Bang Boom.

Santa will be on site throughout the weekend, and families will receive a complimentary photo with Santa, courtesy of merchants.

Visits with Old St. Nick will take place 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday.

Stores will be open during the festival so attendees can get their holiday shopping done early.

Freshfields is at the crossroads of Kiawah, Seabrook and Johns Island.

For more info about the holiday activities, go to freshfieldsvillage.com.