The holidays are always a busy time. Between shopping for gifts, hitting the numerous parties, family gatherings, community events and more, there’s barely time to breathe.

While the Charleston area has always been busy this time of year, it seems as though the festivities have kicked into overdrive this season.

A result of being named the top tourist city in the world by Conde Nast, maybe?

Whether it’s the accolades that keep rolling in for the city or just an exuberance for the holidays, we’ll take it.

While the sheer number of holiday happenings in the area is overwhelming, we’ve taken the time to go through them and pick out some prime choices.

But please don’t think this is all the Lowcountry has to offer. The elves here have been hard at work creating a more comprehensive list of everything going on, so make sure you block out some time to check out

In the meantime, here are some events you won’t want to miss.

Holiday magic in downtown Charleston

While some events have transpired on the holiday calendar, this weekend in Charleston really kicks off the season.

Things begin Saturday morning with the Reindeer Run, a family-oriented, pet-friendly 5K run and walk that’s all about celebrating the season. Whether you participate or are watching in amusement, expect to see tons of costumes, hear holiday tunes and maybe see a few snowflakes. Find out more in Get Out.

Events continue later in the day in Marion Square as Mayor Joe Riley and Santa Claus light the 60-foot Tree of Lights. Entertainment starts at 4:30 p.m.

Afterward, head over to the waterfront for the Parade of Boats. Starting about 5 p.m., catch boats of all sizes as they parade across the harbor decked out in their holiday best.

Head back downtown 2-4 p.m. Sunday for the 32nd annual Charleston Christmas Parade. The parade begins at Calhoun and Meeting streets and proceeds down King Street to Broad Street and Lockwood Drive.

When: Saturday-Sunday

Where: Downtown Charleston

Price: Free to attend; the Reindeer Run requires participants to pay a fee

More info: or

Chanukah in the Square

This festive party will feature music, dancing, crafts and tasty treats. But the highlight will be the lighting of the 9-foot menorah by Charleston’s Holocaust survivors.

This is a great multicultural event that’s definitely worth checking out.

All are invited to attend.

When: 4-6 p.m. Dec. 9

Where: Marion Square, King and Calhoun streets

Price: Free

For more info: 724-7305 or

Festival of Wreaths

This seventh annual event is a celebration of the innovative work of notable Charleston designers and doctors, all inspired by their shared commitment to children’s care and wellness.

Guests are invited to eat, drink and be merry as they bid on their favorite wreaths created by some of the area’s top designers. Sip on champagne and nibble on festive treats as you enjoy live music and peruse the creations in the running for prizes such as most holiday cheer, most inspired, best in show and all the glitz and glamour. Proceeds will benefit MUSC Children’s Hospital.

When: 6-9 p.m. Dec. 13

Where: Palmetto Cafe, The Shops at Charleston Place, 205 Meeting St.

Price: $15 in advance, $20 at the door

more info: 937-9142 or

Holiday Festival of Lights

One of the Lowcountry’s most beloved holiday traditions, this spectacle of more than 2 million lights illuminates James Island County Park.

Drawing 225,000 people during its two-month run last year, the festival features hundreds of light-up displays, including everything from a prehistoric cluster of dinosaurs (with an erupting volcano) to traditional holiday fare, such as cartwheel-turning gingerbread men and Santa practicing his golf swing.

There’s also plenty of Charleston imagery, including St. Michael’s Church, the Morris Island lighthouse and the 30-foot-tall juxtaposition of the new and old Cooper River bridges.

The light show frequently ranks among lists of the Top 10 in the country, alongside those in bigger cities like New Orleans and Atlanta. It’s also been voted a Top 20 event by the Southeastern Tourism Society, receiving attention from The Travel Channel and Southern Living magazine.

But the fun doesn’t end there. Also available to folks who want to get out of their car and stretch their legs is the Winter Wonderland and Santa’s Village. While there, visit with Santa, roast marshmallows, stroll through the Enchanted Forest Walking Trail, enjoy the Winter Carnival and so much more.

When: Through Dec. 31; 5:30-10 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 5:30-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays

Where: James Island County Park, 871 Riverland Drive

Price: $12 Sunday-Thursday, $15 per vehicle Friday-Saturday; get a $2 discount Sunday-Thursday with the donation of a canned food item

More info: 795-4386 or

‘A Lowcountry Christmas, Featuring Larnelle Harris’

North Charleston Pops! continues its inaugural season with this special performance of holiday music.

Five-time Grammy winner Larnelle Harris will join the North Charleston Pops! to perform a selection of secular and sacred Christmas classics, including “Silent Night,” “O Holy Night,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Let it Snow,” “The Christmas Song,” “Silver Bells,” “Sleigh Ride” and more.

Harris also will perform some selections from his Grammy-winning Christmas CD, “A Larnelle Christmas.”

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 8

Where: North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive

Price: $15-$35

More info: or

Mannheim Steamroller

What better way to celebrate the holidays than with the No. 1-selling Christmas artist of all time.

In its 27th year, the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas is coming to North Charleston for one show only.

Part of the North Charleston Performing Arts Center’s Best of Broadway series, expect to hear the favorite Christmas music of Mannheim Steamroller combining the group’s signature mix of Renaissance instruments with rock ’n’ roll beats, along with state-of-the-art multimedia effects in an intimate setting.

Named one of the top 20 concert tours in the nation last year, this show will not disappoint.

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive

Price: $65

More info: www.northcharlestoncoliseumpac.comor

Cabooty Party

One of the biggest holiday parties each year, this event always delivers. The 23rd annual event will feature music, food, drinks, and a live and silent auction. And what’s better, you are partying for a purpose as all proceeds will benefit Camp Happy Days’ year-round programs for South Carolina’s children fighting cancer.

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 7

Where: Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain St.

Price: $50

more info:

Christmas Made in the South

Celebrating 20 years, this holiday arts event is sure to please. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or a loved one, you’ll likely find something, even for that hard to shop for person in your life. Artisans and crafters will be on-site selling their wares and demonstrating their talents. Expect to see everything from jewelry to wearables. Live entertainment and food are part of the fun.

When: Friday-Sunday

Where: Exchange Park Fairgrounds, 9850 U.S. Highway 78, Ladson

Price: $6, children 12 and under get in free

More info:

‘On a Winter’s Night’

Best-selling piano artist Jim Brickman will bring his 17th annual holiday concert to North Charleston.

Brickman, along with special guests Luke McMaster, Anne Cochran and Tracy Silverman, will perform classic and contemporary holiday music, fan favorites and songs from Brickman’s latest CD, “Believe.”

Presented by Y1025 FM, the show will feature a local choir group that competed for the chance to perform.

When: 3 p.m. Dec. 9

Where: North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive

Price: $31-$76

more info: www.northcharlestoncoliseumpac.comor

‘The Charleston Christmas Special’

Brad and Jennifer Moranz present this two-hour musical spectacular.

Watch an all-star cast of 30 singers, dancers and musicians from all over the country as they perform traditional and contemporary Christmas songs and carols, along with hilarious yuletide comedy.

Performers include a number of Broadway and off-Broadway actors, a former Radio City Rockette, an eight-piece live orchestra and more.

This show is fast becoming a Lowcountry favorite.

When: Dec. 8-22

Where: Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St.

Price: $34, $31 for military and seniors 62 and over, $19 for students 21 and under with valid ID, $16 for kids 12 and under

more info: 800-514-3849, 416-8453 or


It wouldn’t be Christmas without a performance of the “Nutcracker,” a holiday staple in so many minds. And the great thing is, Charlestonians will get a double shot as the Charleston Ballet Theatre is putting on a performance midmonth before the Moscow Ballet brings its “Great Russian Nutcracker” to town.

The CBT will be bringing its 26th annual performance of “Nutcracker” to the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. It also will be joining forces with the Charleston Animal Society for the second annual “Muttcracker,” which aims to find dogs homes for the holidays.

With 90 children’s roles in the CBT version, they are performed by rotating casts of the Charleston Ballet Theatre School as well as dance students from throughout the Lowcountry who auditioned.

The Moscow Ballet is presenting a 20th anniversary production of the “Great Russian Nutcracker” featuring more than 40 Russian dancers. Starring some of the best dancers, the Moscow Ballet’s show features a Christmas tree that grows to seven stories tall, falling snow, 200 costumes and the new “Dove of Peace,” where two dancers become one stunning bird.

Without a doubt, the holidays wouldn’t be complete if you missed out on catching this classic story.

When: CBT performing Dec. 15-16; Moscow Ballet performing Dec. 23

Where: North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive

Price: $30-$50 for the CBT shows; $29-$89 for the Moscow Ballet shows

more info: