With Thanksgiving almost behind us, it’s time we turn our attention to the sights and sounds of the winter holidays.

While I’ve noticed more and more folks jumping on the holiday bandwagon earlier this year than in the past (I saw Christmas stuff in stores before Halloween), in my book, it’s now fully acceptable to embrace the season.

The tough part will be deciding what to do when.

As the holiday calendar of events seems to grow every year, we obviously can’t include everything in print (check www.postandcourier.com/section/arts_and_travel weekly for an up-to-date, all-inclusive listing). In light of that, I’ve pulled out a number of events, from the expected to the unexpected.

Driving toursFestival of Lights

What: One of the Lowcountry’s most beloved holiday traditions, the 24th annual Holiday Festival of Lights offers viewers the chance to see more than 2 million lights along a 3-mile loop. The festival features hundreds of light-up displays, ranging 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.

When: Through Dec. 31; 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Where: James Island County Park, 871 Riverland Drive

Price: $15 per vehicle (up to 15 people), $10 per vehicle Monday-Thursday with the donation of a nonperishable food item or dog/cat food

More info: 795-4386, www.holidayfestivaloflights.com

Celebrate the Season

What: This holiday driving tour and weekend festival returns for a third year. The driving tour is powered by renewable Santee Cooper Green Power and uses energy-efficient LED bulbs in all the displays. On the weekends (Friday through Sunday), a Holiday Fair offers additional season’s greetings with food, crafts, Stony Landing House tours, a carousel, life-size card displays, marshmallow roasts and visits from Santa Claus. All gate proceeds will be donated to charities serving Berkeley County.

When: Friday-Dec. 30, closed Dec. 24-25; 5:30-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5:30-9:30 p.m. Friday-Sunday

Where: Begins at Santee Cooper headquarters (1 Riverwood Drive, Moncks Corner) and winds through the adjacent Old Santee Canal Park

Price: $5 per vehicle

More info: www.celebratetheseason.org

City/town eventsCharleston Tree Lighting

What: Kicking off the city of Charleston’s Holiday Magic series of events, the tree lighting in Marion Square is a local favorite. Charleston Mayor Joe Riley will be joined by Santa Claus and together they will light the 60-foot tree. Accompanying the event will be live gospel music and performances by the Charleston Community Band and the Ashley River Creative Arts School Unichorus.

When: 4:30-6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Marion Square, King and Calhoun streets

Price: Free

More info: 830-3233

Charleston Parade

What: Sponsored by the Tri-County Fire Chief’s Association, the 33rd annual parade will see bands, floats, marchers and performers traveling through downtown Charleston. At the end of the line will be Santa. Road closures being at approximately 1:30 p.m.

When: 2-4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Begins at Broad and Barre streets, heads down Broad Street to King Street ending at Marion Square

Price: Free

More info: www.charleston-sc.gov

Chanukah in the Square

What: The College of Charleston’s Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program has teamed up with the city of Charleston’s Office of Cultural Affairs, Chabad of the Lowcountry and other community organizations to present this ninth annual event. Billed as the largest annual Jewish event in the state, the family-friendly event will see Charleston Mayor Joe Riley make welcoming remarks and local Holocaust survivors will continue the tradition of lighting the candles on the menorah. The event will continue with food, dancing and fun.

When: 4-6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Marion Square, King and Calhoun streets

Price: Free

More info: 953-4930 or www.cofc.edu

Summerville Tree

What: Sponsored by the Flowertown Garden Club, Summerville Mayor Bill Collins will light the town’s Christmas tree and the Town Square. Musical entertainment provided by Summerville High School band and various choral groups will proceed the event.

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Summerville Town Hall, 200 S. Main St.

Price: Free

More info: 821-7260

Goose Creek Lights

What: For the second year, the city of Goose Creek will host this light display. Adding several new light displays this year, including Mrs. Claus and a gingerbread boy and girl, the event will include hayrides, Christmas cookie decorating, marshmallow roasting and more. The display will be kicked off Dec. 5 with a fireworks show, a visit from Santa, and cookies and hot chocolate. Attendees are asked to bring canned goods to donate to Helping Hands of Goose Creek.

When: 6 p.m. Dec. 5; 6-10 p.m. nightly through Jan. 1

Where: Goose Creek Municipal Center, 519 N. Goose Creek Blvd.

Price: Free

More Info: 569-4242 or www.cityofgoosecreek.com

‘Holly-Day’ events

What: Holly Hill is celebrating the “Holly-Day” season with two-days of events. Friday will include a nativity scene with live animals, a bonfire, the tree-lighting ceremony and sing-a-long Christmas carols. Saturday will see Santa participating in a parade, then available for visits and photos with kids. In addition, craft and commercial vendors and food vendors will be set up on-site, and inflatables, pony rides, a trackless train, an interactive petting zoo, live music and more will be entertaining the crowd.

When: 3-8 p.m. Dec. 6; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 7

Where: Downtown Holly Hill, 8603 Old State Road

Price: Free

More info: 803-496-3330

IOP Holiday Festival

What: This street festival will include carnival rides, kids’ activities, live music from Connor Christian & Southern Gothic, a visit by Santa and more.

When: 2-7 p.m. Dec. 7

Where: Isle of Palms Recreation Center, 24 28th Ave.

Price: Free

More info: 886-8294 or www.iop.net/HolidayStreetFestival.aspx

N. Charleston Festival

What: The city of North Charleston is celebrating the upcoming holiday season in a big way. An all-day Holiday Market will include children’s activities, craft and food vendors and live musical performances on two stages. The Christmas Parade begins at Montague and Mixson avenues and proceeds down Montague, around Park Circle, and concludes at Armory Park. After the parade, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey and Santa Claus will light the city’s Christmas tree in front of the Felix C. Davis Community Center. Additional activities include jump castles, a petting zoo, carriage rides and more.

When: 3-9 p.m. Dec. 7

Where: Felix Davis Community Center, 4800 Park Circle, North Charleston

Price: Free

More info: 740-5854 or www.northcharleston.org

Summerville Parade

What: Traditionally known as one of the largest parades in South Carolina, the Summerville parade has featured as many as 3,000 participants and well over 25,000 spectators in the past. Sponsored by Summerville D.R.E.A.M., the annual parade will feature various floats and community organization, as well as local band programs. This year’s parade theme is Sweet Southern Christmas.

When: 2-4 p.m. Dec. 8

Where: Downtown Summerville

Price: Free

More info: www.summervilledream.org

Hollywood Parade

What: The Taste of Hollywood Festival and Christmas Parade will feature food, kids’ activities, live music and more. The parade starts on Baptist Hill Road and will continue down Highway 162, turning right onto Highway 165.

When: 2-5 p.m. Dec. 8

Where: Hollywood Town Center, 6316 Highway 162

Price: Free

More info: 889-3222

Moncks Corner Parade

What: The town of Moncks Corner will host a parade and tree lighting ceremony as part of its seasonal celebration. The parade will begin at Berkeley High School and end at the Main Street extension. The annual tree lighting ceremony will take place at Unity Park and will include various local performers and a visit from Santa.

When: 3:30 p.m. Dec. 8

Where: Unity Park, 317 E. Main St., Moncks Corner

Price: Free

More info: 899-4708 or www.townofmonckscorner.sc.gov

Mt. Pleasant Parade

What: The 18th annual Mount Pleasant Christmas Light Parade will feature more than 100 floats going from the intersection of Coleman Boulevard and Pelzer Drive down Coleman Boulevard and concluding at the Sea Island Shopping Center. The parade will be preceded by the tree lighting and a fireworks display at Moultrie Middle School.

When: 5:30 p.m. Dec. 8

Where: Coleman Boulevard, Mount Pleasant

Price: Free

More info: 884-8517 or www.comeonovermp.com

Folly tree lighting

What: Celebrate the Christmas season with the annual lighting of the tree.

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 8

Where: Folly River Park, Center Street, Folly Beach

Price: Free

More info: www.follybeach.com

Folly Christmas Parade

What: The Folly Beach community encourages folks to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year while at their annual parade. Early arrival is encouraged as Center Street will close 30 minutes prior to the parade’s start.

When: 1 p.m. Dec. 14

Where: Center Street, Folly Beach

Price: Free

More info: www.follybeach.com

Edisto Christmas Parade

What: The Edisto Island and Edisto Beach communities are decking the coast with boughs of holly. The 23rd annual Edisto Christmas Parade, sponsored by the Edisto Chamber of Commerce, will start at the 600 block of Palmetto Boulevard along Edisto Beach and ends at the Pavilion, near Edisto Beach State Park. The town Christmas tree will be lit prior to the start of the parade. In addition, a number of afternoon and evening events hosted by local businesses, including oyster roasts, shrimp boils, barbecue and live music, will follow.

When: 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14

Where: Palmetto Boulevard, Edisto Beach

Price: Free

More info: 869-3867, 1-888-333-2781 or www.edistochamber.com

Holiday classics (ballet/theater)‘Nutcracker’

What: Columbia City Ballet is taking this holiday classic on the road.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5-6

Where: North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive

Price: $26-$46

More info: 799-7605 or www.columbiacityballet.com

Charleston Ballet

What: The folks at Charleston Ballet Theatre have given one of the most famous ballets a facelift with “Twas the Night Before Nutcracker.” This version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale is told through the eyes of young Maria (10-year-old Satya Tranfield), who hopes to get to perform in the classic ballet. A number of guest dancers have joined the production, including Alexey Kulpin, Phyllis Rothwell Affrunti and John Frazer.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6

Where: Sottile Theatre, 44 George St.

Price: $30-$45

More info: 737-0698 or www.charlestonballettheatreschool.org

‘A Christmas Carol’

What: The Footlight Players are putting a musical spin on Charles Dickens’ classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his Christmas Eve encounter with spirits who show him his own miserable existence, what opportunities he wasted in his youth, his current cruelties and the dire fate that awaits him if he does not change his ways.

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 6-7, 12-14, 19-21; 3 p.m. Dec. 8, 15, 22

Where: The Footlight Players, 20 Queen St.

Price: $25 adults; $22 seniors; $15 students; $12 kids under 13

More info: 277-4487 or www.footlightplayers.net

‘The Nutcracker’

What: The Mount Pleasant Performing Arts Company will present the classic ballet.

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 7, 3 p.m. Dec. 8

Where: Lightsey Chapel Auditorium, Charleston Southern University, 9200 University Blvd., North Charleston

Price: $15 advance, $18 at the door

More info: 971-7880 or www.mpspa.com

‘The Little Match Girl’

What: The Charleston Dance Institute, in collaboration with UNED!TED and Chamber Music Charleston, is bringing this Hans Christian Andersen tale to the stage. Billed as the world premiere of “The Little Match Girl,” this ballet features choreography by Jonathan Tabbert and an original score by Laura Ball. Dancers from the Charleston Youth Ballet, with accompaniment by musicians of Chamber Music Charleston, will tell the tale of a poor young girl selling matches on a stoop during the winter holiday season.

When: 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 14, 3 p.m. Dec. 15

Where: Rose Maree Myers Theatre, Charleston County School of the Arts


More info: 284-8151 or www.charlestondanceinstitute.com

‘Night Before Christmas’

What: The Classic Kids Series gets a holiday spin as Chamber Music Charleston teams up with special guest dancers from the Ballet Academy of Charleston and guest actor Michael Easler from the Actors’ Theatre of South Carolina for this special show. Attendees will get to hear the stories “The Night Before Christmas” and “Snowmen at Christmas” and sing along to such songs as “Jingle Bells,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

When: 1 p.m. Dec. 21

Where: Sottile Theatre, 44 George St.

Price: $10 adults; $5 kids ages 4-16; free for kids under 4

More info: 763-4941 or www.chambermusiccharleston.org

‘Russian Nutcracker’

What: The Moscow Ballet 40-person company returns to the Lowcountry to perform its special take on the classic Christmas ballet. Performed to Tchaikovsky’s iconic score, watch as Masha meets her Prince and is escorted by the Dove of Peace, where two dancers become one bird with a 20-foot wingspan, to the Land of Peace and Harmony, where ambassadors from Hispanic, African, Russian, Asian, and European heritages entertain and offer symbolic gifts in the form of playful silk puppets. Featuring 200 hand-embellished costumes, this performance is sure to be a feast for the eyes.

When: 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 26

Where: North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive

Price: $29-89

More info: 202-2787 or www.northcharlestoncoliseumPAC.com

Off the beaten pathBurlesque

What: Sprinkles Productions presents the premier of Santa’s Naughty & Nice Burlesque, an original interactive musical event that evokes the spirit of burlesque as portrayed in Hollywood films from the 1930s to the 1950s. Celebrating the style of choreographer Jack Cole, the cast includes professional headline singers, the signature Holy City Harlettes and “Tabletop Tootsies,” who serve drinks in character.

When: 8:30 p.m. Dec. 5, 12, 19; 9:30 p.m. Dec. 6-7, 13-14, 20-21

Where: South of Broadway Theatre Company, 1080 E. Montague Ave., North Charleston

Price: $25 with a two-drink minimum ($5 per drink)

More info: 633-1263 or www.charlestonburlesquetheatre.com

Cabooty Holiday Party

What: Put on by Camp Happy Days, this annual holiday party benefits their year-round programs for South Carolina’s children fighting cancer. What started as a tree-trimming party in an apartment 24 years ago, the event has grown into one of the can’t-miss holiday events. Attendees will enjoy live music from Super Deluxe, heavy hors d’oeuvres, a full bar, and a live and silent auction. The auction will include items such as travel packages, sports memorabilia, spa days and more. Dress is cocktail attire.

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 6

Where: Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain St.

Price: $75

More info: 517-4336 or www.camphappydays.org

Made in the South

What: Billed as an award-winning, nationally acclaimed event, Christmas Made in the South celebrates its 21 year. Offering dozens of exhibitors selling their ways, this will be a good way to ease into holiday shopping and maybe find that gift for the “hard to shop for” folks. Offering everything from art to gourmet food, clothing, crafts and more, you’re sure to find something for everyone on your list.

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 6-7, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 8

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

Price: $6 for adults, kids 12 and under get in free

More info: www.madeinthesouthshows.com/Charleston_Christmas.html

‘Plaid Tidings’

What: The Flowertown Players are offering you “Plaid Tidings” this holiday season with this humorous show. Elves Francis, Jinx, Smudge and Sparky have returned to Earth for another posthumous performance, this time to perform Christmas carols with a twist and to poke fun at holiday icons such as the Rockettes, The Vienna Boys Choir and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 6-7, 12-14, 19-21; 3 p.m. Dec. 8, 15, 22

Where: The Flowertown Players, 133 S. Main St., Summerville

Price: $25

More Info: 875-9251 or www.flowertownplayers.org/plaidtidings

Christmas Special

What: Brad and Jennifer Moranz present an all new two-hour musical show featuring traditional and contemporary Christmas songs and carols, along with yuletide comedy. Starring a cast of 30 singers, dancers and musicians from all over the country, this show has become a holiday tradition, seen by more than 8,000 people annually. Leading the cast is Broadway performer Brad Moranz and Jennifer Moranz, a former Radio City Music Hall Rockette.

When: 7 p.m. Dec. 6, 10, 12-14, 19-21; 2 p.m. Dec. 7-8, 14-15, 22

Where: Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St.

Price: $18-$36

More info: 853-2252 or www.charlestonmusichall.com/events

Holiday Parade of Boats

What: One of the more unusual light shows in the Lowcountry is the Parade of Boats, this year celebrating its 32nd year. Thousands of spectators line the route from Mount Pleasant to Charleston to watch as decorated boats glide by. If you’d rather get in on the action, decorate your boat “from stem to stern with lights” and join the line. Those participating in the parade will have the chance to win awards at an after-party at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina.

When: 5 p.m. Dec. 7

Where: Cooper River, Charleston Harbor and Ashley River

Price: Free

More info: 724-7414 or www.charlestonarts.org

‘A Rockin’ Christmas’

What: The North Charleston Pops!, which was founded in June 2012, is still relatively new to the music scene, combining “an orchestra with a rock band and vocalists.” For the holiday show, the second show this season, the group will present seasonal pop hits such as “Santa Baby,” “White Christmas,” “Jingle Bell Rock,” “Merry Christmas Darling,” “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and “The Christmas Song.” This high-energy holiday show is sure to be enjoyed by the whole family.

When: 7-9:30 p.m. Dec. 7

Where: North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive

Price: $15-$35

More info: 202-2787 or www.northcharlestoncoliseumPAC.com

Holiday Pops

What: If you love holiday songs and find yourself humming or singing along, then this concert is for you. The Charleston Symphony Orchestra and the CSO Chorus are teaming up to perform this annual holiday celebration and are inviting attendees to join in on traditional classics and pop favorites. Promising to appeal to all ages, the musical program and sing-a-long sheets will be provided the night of the performance.

When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 13-14

Where: Sottile Theatre, 44 George St.

Price: $24 adults; $20 students

More info: 723-7528 or www.charlestonsymphony.com

‘Christmas on Ice’

What: The holiday-themed “Carolina Country Christmas on Ice” will feature local skating pros and 2012 U.S. Junior silver medalist Timothy Dolensky.

When: 6 p.m. Dec. 14; 3 p.m. Dec. 15

Where: Carolina Ice Palace, 7665 Northwoods Blvd., North Charleston

Price: $3-$7

More info: 572-2717 or www.carolinaicepalace.com

Jingle Bell Ball

What: MIX 95.9 is celebrating the holidays in a big way by bringing together The Fray, Avril Lavigne, Daughtry, Jesse McCartney and ZZ Ward for what’s likely to be one heck of a show. The Fray, known best for the hit singles “How to Save a Life” and “Over My Head (Cable Car)” will co-headline with pop-punk princess Lavigne, best known for “Complicated,” “Sk8er Boi” and “Girlfriend.” Also performing will be Season 5 “American Idol” finalist Chris Daughtry’s band, singer-songwriter-actor McCartney and “Put The Gun Down” singer Ward.

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 18

Where: North Charleston Coliseum, 5001 Coliseum Drive

Price: $34.25-$71

More info: www.mix959.com