Dollar Days: Hold on to the holidays with last-chance events

Thursday, December 27, 2012

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File/staff
The banister of the Joseph Manigault House is gussied up for the holidays.
  • The Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park comes to a close Monday.
    ( Provided )
    The Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park comes to a close Monday.

This is it, folks. The end of the holiday season is upon us. And with it brings the last chance to take part in some of the events you maybe haven’t had the time to enjoy.

Festival of Lights

One of the Lowcountry’s most beloved holiday traditions, this spectacle of more than 2 million lights has illuminated James Island County Park since November. But you’re running out of time if you haven’t driven through the 3-mile loop yet as the disassembling will begin next week.

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 (complete 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.

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, roast marshmallows, stroll through the Enchanted Forest Walking Trail, enjoy the card display and more.

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, so if you haven’t been yet this year, get going!

Admission is $12-$15. Find out details, including hours of operation, by calling 795-4386 or going to www.holidayfestivaloflights.com.

Outdoor movie

Speaking of the Festival of Lights, a cool thing the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission is doing this weekend is featuring an outdoor holiday film.

From 6-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, head over to the Main Stage in the Winter Wonderland with a chair and a warm blanket and enjoy a seasonal movie.

The showing is free with paid park entry.

Celebrate the Season

This weekend also offers the last chance to check out Santee Cooper’s second annual Celebrate the Season lights display.

Ending Sunday, the ongoing theme for the display is green.

All the lights used in the more than 60 displays and additional decorations are energy-efficient LED lights, which are 90 percent more efficient than traditional lights.

In keeping with the holiday spirit, all gate admissions from the festival ($5 per vehicle) will be donated to the Trident United Way for Berkeley County programs and the Berkeley County Museum.

Last year’s inaugural Celebrate the Season raised more than $27,000 for local charities from more than 6,000 cars that passed through the 1.5-mile course from Santee Cooper headquarters to Old Santee Canal Park.

Find out more at celebratetheseason.org or santeecooper.com.

Manigault House

Yet another last-chance event this weekend is seeing the Joseph Manigault House decked out for the holidays.

The dwelling is part of the Charleston Museum, and the Garden Club of Charleston goes all out, using the house as a backdrop for its creative arrangements. The club uses only live plant materials that would have been available in the Lowcountry during the first quarter of the 19th century.

This year’s theme is “Charleston’s Antebellum Charms,” on display through Monday.

The Joseph Manigault House is at 350 Meeting St. and is open daily 9:30 a.m.-noon. Admission is free for museum members and free with regular museum admission ($10 for adults, $5 for children and free for kids under 3).

Go to www.charlestonmuseum.org.