By Samantha Rudd, Guest Contributor

Originally from outside Philadelphia, PA I’m used to temperatures in the 30s during the holiday season. It was an adjustment getting into the holiday spirit here in Charleston, SC as many of the days leading up to Christmas can be anywhere from 50° to 70°.  Now, after 4 years in the Holy City, I’ve learned exactly how to make the most out of a Southern holiday season, and Charleston never disappoints! Charleston goes BIG for the holidays. King Street is hung with lights, South of Broad homes are dressed in swags of greenery and holiday wreaths, Marion Square boasts a huge Christmas tree and menorah, and storefronts show-off their glittery holiday decor. But, aside from just the holiday trimmings, Charleston offers many classic holiday must-dos that will get anyone into the spirit, even on a warm December day.

James Island County Park Festival of Lights

Gather your friends, pour some hot cocoa to-go, and take a drive through the incredible Festival of Lights holiday light display at James Island County Park. This glittering display of lights will surely get you in the holiday spirit, and it even includes a Winter Wonderland, and Santa’s Village! While the streets of Charleston may not boast all the lights your neighborhood back home does, the Festival of Lights is a light show that certainly will go above your expectations. A range of displays from classic Santa and his reindeer to snowy scenes will have you in the festive mood! There’s even a carousel, a train ride, and a gift shop for picking up those last minute gifts.

Charleston Strolls Walking Tour

A combination of holiday and history can transport you back to a nostalgic time! Imagine the holiday season in 1880 with stunning candlelit windows, elegantly dressed aristocrats, and beautifully decorated Christmas trees. Bulldog Tours offers a unique holiday walking tour that will guide you through the historic district and allow you to imagine it 100 years ago during the Holiday season and the city is overflowing with cheer. The tour is offered solely in December, but if you’re in need of a holiday pick-me-up it is definitely something you do not want to miss!

Holiday Market in Marion Square

Held in the heart of the city downtown at Marion Square, Charleston’s popular Farmer’s Market takes a hiatus during the winter, but December is still a great time to head to the gorgeously decorated Marion Square.  Just in time for a tree lighting ceremony and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, all of the festivities continue with the holiday farmer’s market. Many Charleston visitors plan their seasonal trips to the Holy City around the dates of this one-of-a-kind Holiday Market and tree-lighting ceremony that is held for three weekends in December.

A picturesque decorated city is just what is needed to get into the holiday spirit even when the temperatures don’t feel like winter. There are so many ways to enjoy the holidays in a city as full of charm and holiday cheer as Charleston.  I like to stop into one of the many amazing restaurants in the city and see what their menu is offering this holiday season, maybe a fun holiday cocktail or classic comfort dish. For a fun destination outside of the city, check out the Holiday Market at Middleton Place to grab a gift for a loved one and experience all the holiday cheer.

While it may not be covered in a fresh blanket of snow, Charleston is simply stunning during the holidays.  The one thing I’ve learned is, to get into the spirit in Charleston, it simply takes grabbing some friends and making a plan to explore all the holiday sights and sounds the city has to offer!

If you’re looking for a chance to explore the southern-style, holiday hospitality that can only be served up in the Holy City, let us help you plan your wintertime getaway to Charleston.  Whether you want to stay in the heart of the downtown historic district, or catch a glimpse of a surfing Santa at the beach, we can help you plan a memorable holiday celebration in Charleston. Start planning your trip today by booking one of our luxury vacation rentals and then let our Concierge Team handle all the details. We’ll help ensure your holidays in the Holy City deliver once-in-a-lifetime memories. We can’t wait to see you and ring in some holiday cheer.

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