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Christmas in Charleston

christmas in charleston

One of our favorite times to be in Charleston is during the December holidays.

The city is decorated with hundreds of thousands of lights, the weather is mild, and there’s so much to see and do! With Charleston being nicknamed “The Holy City”, Christmas in Charleston is especially spectacular.

Come see the city’s historic homes all decked out and our favorite neighborhoods decorated in lights. Then, shop till you drop at one of our holiday markets.


Is Charleston worth visiting in December?

Yes! A thousand times yes! (But you already knew we were going to say that, didn’t you?)

December is one of our favorite months in Charleston. The weather is mild, the city is decorated for the holidays, and everyone is just a little bit merrier.

A few of our favorite reasons to visit Charleston in December include:

  • Christmas caroling and concerts
  • Holiday festivals and markets
  • Lighting ceremonies and parades
  • Plenty of shopping!


Can we promise you a white Christmas with several inches of snow? No!

But what we “lack” in the white stuff, we make up for in hospitality and warmer weather.


How warm is Charleston in December?

Compared to other cities in the U.S., Charleston is pretty warm in December. 

We see highs in the lower 60s and lows in the mid-40s throughout the month. That means, you probably won’t see any freezing temperatures or frost while you’re here!

On average, it only rains six days of the month in December. And while we always recommend packing an umbrella before heading here (just in case!), you probably won’t really need to use it.

The mild weather means you won’t get too hot or too cold (yet, you’ll still be able to cozy by a fire at night or under a blanket with your sweetie in a horse-drawn carriage). 

a group of people in front of a building

Christmas on Rainbow Row

Is Magnolia Plantation decorated for Christmas?

Yes — and it’s not only Magnolia Plantation, either! Most of our historic homes and plantations are decorated for the holidays.

You’ll find some of Charleston’s most popular historic destinations decked out, replete with candles, carolers, and trees. 

Just a few of Charleston’s historic homes that are usually decorated for the holidays include:


Many of Charleston’s churches will also be decorated for the holidays, including the French Huguenot Church, which features a Festival of Lessons and Carols event as well as two candlelight services on Christmas Eve.

a bridge over a river next to a tree

Christmas at Magnolia Plantation

Where is the Charleston festival of lights?

It depends on which festival of lights you’re looking for! 

Charleston has several holiday festivals, including the popular Festival of Lights on James Island and the Christmas Light Parade in Mount Pleasant.

To find out more about both, read below!


Christmas in Charleston: Things to Do

Festival of Lights, James Island

One of the most popular holiday activities is the Festival of Lights on James Island.

Starting the second Friday in November and running through New Year’s Eve, this festival features a Santa’s Village and Winter Wonderland. 

Take a ride on the Festival Express, snack on warm cookies, and check out the holiday sand sculpture. Little ones can meet the big guy himself, take a spin ‘round the carousel, and make their own furry little reindeer. 

Of course, one of the most popular exhibits is the palmetto trees, decorated with thousands of twinkly Christmas lights.


Holiday Market

The Charleston Holiday Market happens every Saturday and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., starting the first weekend in December and closing just before Christmas.

This market is conveniently located in Marion Square, which is in Downtown Charleston. 

Check out local produce, hand-made gifts, and holiday decor. 

a close up of a flower

Drayton Hall Candlelight Tours

Drayton Hall candlelight tours are held throughout the year (though the one in December is extra special!)

Learn about life at Drayton in the 1700s and 1800s as a docent leads you through the home, by only candlelight. 

Drayton Hall also hosts an annual oyster roast the first weekend in December (which is legendary). The following weekend features Drayton Hall’s Annual African American Spirituals Concert


Illumination Charleston Festival

The Illumination Charleston Festival is the combined effort of Charleston, Southern Living, and the Historic Charleston Foundation.

Through interactive events, guests will celebrate the holidays in some of Charleston’s most historic homes. 

Just some of the festivities include:

  • Designer vignettes at Aiken-Rhett House Museum
  • Opening Night Party hosted by Historic Charleston Foundation
  • Southern Living Illumination Holiday Village 
  • Southern Living Christmas 
  • Design-in-Mind series 


Holiday Walking Tours

Want to ensure you see all of Charleston — from the tippy top to the tippity bottom? (Or, really just from Downtown to Whitehall Gardens.)

You’ll see the exterior of some of Charleston’s most iconic homes, all decked out for the holidays, on our tours, including our Charleston History tour, Charleston’s Most Beautiful Walk, and our Alleys and Hidden Passages tour.

And of course, you’ll see these homes decorated to the nines. 

Our tours pass by some of Charleston’s most iconic sites. Our Alleys and Hidden Passages tour will take you “behind the scenes” to the back alleyways that are traveled by the city’s elite and common folk alike.  

a vase of flowers sits in front of a building


Holiday Dinner Cruise

We happen to love Charleston boat tours, as you haven’t truly seen Charleston unless you’ve seen it from the water. 

Our favorites include:


Or, you can still enjoy Charleston during the holidays by taking a ride on the Charleston Water Taxi.


Christmas Light Parade, Mount Pleasant

The Mount Pleasant Christmas Candle Light Parade takes place on the second weekend in December each year.

In 2022, it will take place on Sunday, December 11.

The events kick off with a pyrotechnic show at 5:30 p.m. (Sunset is at 5:15 p.m. in mid-December in Charleston!), followed by the parade.

Dozens of festively lit floats promenade West Coleman Boulevard, starting at Live Oak Dr. and ending at Coleman Blvd. and Patriots Point Rd.

a fire truck at night

Holiday Street Fest, Old Village

Returning to the heart of the beautiful Old Village on December 3rd is the Old Village Holiday Street Fest.

This festive outdoor market spans across Pitt Street and will feature local vendors, live performances, interactive children’s activities (Santa is said to make an appearance!), a variety of holiday food and beverages, and fun for the whole family!

From 2-8 pm, you can support more than 40 small businesses and artisans while enjoying live music and performances.


Miracle on Market Street

From December 16-18, the Charleston Place will be converting Market Street into a European-style holiday market, complete with snowfall in the street, an array of food and beverage vendors, a pop-up market with local retailers, and live performances.

a group of people standing in front of a building

Charleston City Market

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