Christmas can be expensive and frantic but there are so many things in Charleston to do to get into the Christmas spirit.  Here are some of the things that my family does every year to experience Christmas in Charleston.

The first thing to set off the season is the Parade of Boats – FREE

My family goes to watch the Parade of Boats in early December.  We head downtown to one of the docks with our “camping” chairs, a thermos full of hot chocolate and our coats, hats and scarves (it gets cold along the water, burr).   The boats and kayakers pass by going from Mt. Pleasant, under the Ravenel bridge and then circle around downtown.  They are decorated to the max, some silly, some pretty awesome and all of them in the spirit of the season.  This isn’t about advertising a business or getting a message across; it’s just for the joy and fun of it.  What could be better?


The following day is the Christmas Parade – FREE

The Christmas Parade is fun and silly.  There are all types of floats, groups walking, dogs, schools performing musical numbers, and just everyone having a grand time.  The parade goes from Calhoun street, down King Street to Lockwood Blvd.  People are lining the streets enjoying everything from basset hounds and belly dancers to decorated boats, horses, fire trucks and of course Santa.  This is not a big fancy parade with giant, elaborate floats but that’s what makes it so perfect.

We would never miss the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park – $12-$15 per vehicle.

We load up the car with the family and drive to James Island County Park.  There are lights galore with all sorts of moving designs and decorations.  Not only is the three mile drive around the park fun but getting out at Santa’s Village or Winter Wonderland is a treat.  Walking on the paths there are lights in the woods, music playing and lit decorations of animals and butterflies.  It feels magical.  We get a new family ornament every year to put on our tree, ride the carousel and eat GIANT marshmallows roasted on the fire.

Christmas would not be the same without participating in these three events every year.  If you have never checked them out I would recommend it highly.