Charleston is an incredible city to celebrate the holidays. The lowcountry comes alive with a wide array of activities and Christmas events to make the 2023 holiday season unforgettable. Whether you’re headed to the glimmer of the Holiday Festival of Lights or Christmas parades with a little coastal charm, there’s something fun for everyone in Charleston.

Holiday Festival of Lights – November 10 – December 31

The annual Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park is the perfect way to kick off your holiday festivities. The Festival of Lights is a three-mile long driving tour with over 700 displays, two million shimmering lights, and a whole bunch of holiday-themed attractions. Their winter wonderland includes Santa’s Village, holiday train Santa’s Sweet Shoppe, and holiday sand sculpture.

Aquarium Aglow – November 16 – December 30

Dive into the holiday spirit at South Carolina Aquarium’s annual Aquarium Aglow winter event. This one-of-a-kind celebration is an immersive holiday light experience with thousands of lights and installations spread throughout the Aquarium. Enjoy food, beverages, and live entertainment all with a blend of enchantment under the sea and seasonal joy.

Illumination Charleston – December 1-2

This two-day event brings together designers, artisans, and tastemakers from all across the lowcountry to celebrate the creative spirit the way only Charleston can. Illumination Charleston has demonstrations, tours of historic houses, holiday markets, and special nighttime tours and gatherings.

Charleston Christmas Parade – December 3

The Charleston Christmas Parade returns this year with bands, festive floats, and fun-filled performers marching through the streets of historic Charleston. Join the community in celebrating the season starting at Broad Street at Rutledge Avenue and concluding on Calhoun Street. The Charleston Christmas Parade is a must-see event for locals and visitors alike.

The 2023 Folly Beach Christmas Parade – December 9

Experience the holidays with a little bit of that beachside life at the Folly Beach Christmas Parade. This celebration adds some coastal charm to traditional holiday festivities. Afterwards head to Folly River Park to receive goodies from a surfing Santa Claus! Other Folly Beach holiday events include the tree lighting, Menorah lighting, and Folly Beach Flip Flop Drop on New Year’s Eve.

Ice-skating in Charleston

It’s time to lace up your skates and hit the ice at one of Charleston’s temporary ice-skating rinks. The best spot is at the Skate The Stadium offers a  custom-built ice rink at the Credit One Stadium from November 24 through December 31. Whether you’re an experienced skater or brand new to the sport, skating in the stadium is worth checking out. Besides Credit One Stadium, there’s also the Folly Beach Ice Skating Rink. This rink is open from December 15-17.

Holiday Market in Charleston

Get a head start on all your holiday shopping at any one of Charleston’s popup holiday markets. There are plenty of holiday markets to pick from in Charleston that all showcase unique Christmas crafts and gifts that you can all find in the city.

  • Holiday Market in Marion Square – December 2, 3, 9, 10 & 16

  • Holiday Market at Wild Dunes Resort – December 7

  • Holiday Market at the Port – December 10

  • Holy City Holiday Market – December 16

In Charleston, the holiday season isn’t only about celebration and having fun; it’s a testament to the Lowcountry’s rich and diverse history, as well as Southern hospitality and vibrant community spirit. If you’re headed to any of these holiday events in Charleston, the best way to start is with a GCT car service. Reserve a GCT chauffeured car service to holiday activities throughout Charleston today.