Merry Magical Memories: The 29th Annual Holiday Festival of Lights opens November 9 at James Island County Park

The Holiday Festival of Lights returns to James Island County Park in November for its 29th year! This spectacular light show is one of Charleston’s most beloved holiday events, featuring an estimated two million shimmering lights.

The Holiday Festival of Lights is open every evening, rain or shine, from Nov. 9, 2018 – Jan. 1, 2019. The festival opens at 5:30 p.m. nightly and closes at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Over four million people have toured the Holiday Festival of Lights, which is hosted by the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission at James Island County Park. CCPRC is excited to welcome a new co-presenting sponsor to the 2018 Holiday Festival of Lights, Chick-fil-A!

The festival has earned many awards and mentions throughout the country, including recently being named to the 2018 Top 20 Events by the Southeast Tourism Society.

The Holiday Festival of Lights’ main attraction is the three-mile driving tour through a spectacular light display. However, there is so much more to offer to get guests of all ages into the Christmas spirit! Visitors are encouraged to park the car and explore the family attractions, shopping, dining and more! Highlights of the festival include:

·          Marshmallow Roasting

·          Festival Train Rides

·          Interactive Lakeside Lights

·          The Amazing Dancing Light Display

·          Enchanted Walking Trail

·          Old-Fashioned Carousel

·          Portable Climbing Wall

·          Santa’s Sweet Shoppe and concessions including hamburgers, kettle corn, hot chocolate and more

·          Four Gift Shops, featuring the children’s toy emporium Prancer’s Presents

·          Daytime photo opportunities to “Mingle with Kringle” (register in advance)

·          Entertainment on select evenings

In Winter Wonderland, see the Lowcountry’s largest holiday sand sculpture, holding more than 50 tons of sand. Wander through festival shops for fun gifts, official 14-kt gold on brass collector series ornaments, toys, personalized items, decorations and stocking stuffers. Be sure to take a ride on the train for an intimate tour of the festival, and to see even more light displays.

Visit Santa’s Village, where old St. Nick is available for photos on select dates, starting the day before Thanksgiving. Take a whirl on the traditional 18-animal carousel, make s’mores at the marshmallow  roasting pits, and marvel at the giant 4-by-8 holiday greeting card designs created by local students for the annual holiday art competition. Enjoy entertainment on select nights, including live music, storytelling, visits with Mrs. Claus, carolers, outdoor movies and more.

Looking for a way to save money during the holidays? Join us at the Holiday Festival of Lights on select evenings dedicated to benefitting the Lowcountry Food Bank – every Monday through Thursday! Bring a canned food item on these nights to receive discounted admission. Dog and cat food donations are also accepted.

For more information on the Holiday Festival of Lights, including event hours and fees, call 843-795-4386 or visit This event is co-presented by The Boeing Company, Chick-fil-A, your Charleston County Parks and many supporting sponsors!

Holiday Festival of Lights Special Events Calendar

Most performances take place in Santa’s Village; visit for details and updates.

Nov. 7 & 8: Fun Run and Walk, 6:30 p.m. Get a sneak peek of the festival on foot! Pre-registration required.

Nov. 9: Grand Opening Night! Enjoy live music from Lowcountry Powerbrass (7-9 p.m.) and the awards presentation for the winners of the Giant Greeting Card contest.

Nov. 10: The Charleston Sparks Dance Team, performances at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Nov. 12: First night to save $5 off admission when you bring a canned food item for donation to the Lowcountry Food Bank. Canned dog or cat food also accepted. Discount offered every Monday through Thursday, Nov. 12 through Jan. 1

Nov. 15: Ask a Naturalist – Visit with a naturalist from Caw Caw Interpretive Center! Discover what animals do when temperatures drop. 6 p.m.

Nov. 16: Ticketed Supper with Santa event to benefit The Parklands Foundation, 5:30 – 9 p.m.
            The Footlight Players performing an excerpt from “Miracle on 34th St.,” 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.  Ask a Naturalist, 6 p.m.

Nov. 17: Magic by Julie, 7 – 9 p.m.

Nov. 21: Lowcountry Power Brass performance, 7-9 p.m.

Nightly Nov. 21 – Dec. 23: Santa Claus is at the festival nightly in Santa’s Village! Families and dogs are invited for photos.

Nov. 24: The Break Circuit (American Ninja Warrior Competitor), 7 – 9 p.m.

Nov. 25: Visit with Mrs. Claus, 6-10 p.m.

Nov. 28: Starlight Yoga – The moon and stars enhance this flowing yoga class in the meadow near Santa’s Village, 6:30 p.m. Visit with Mrs. Claus, 6-10 p.m.

Nov. 29: Ask a Naturalist, 6 p.m.

Nov. 30: Visit with Mrs. Claus, 6-10 p.m. Holiday Storytelling with Chick-fil-A, 6:30 & 7:30 p.m. Ask a Naturalist, 6 p.m.

Dec. 1: School of the Arts High School Chamber Music, 6:30 – 8 p.m.

Dec. 2: Tesoro Gypsy Jazz Duo, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.

Dec. 4: Visit with Mrs. Claus, 6-10 p.m.

Dec. 6: Lowcountry Powerbrass, 7 – 9 p.m. Ask a Naturalist, 6 p.m.

Dec. 7: Storytelling with the Charleston County Sherriff’s Office, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. Ask a Naturalist, 6 p.m.

Dec. 8: Roving Holiday Carolers, 6:30–8:30 p.m. Little Dickens Carolers (children’s performance), 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 10: Visit with Mrs. Claus, 6-10 p.m.

Dec. 12: Visit with Mrs. Claus, 6-10 p.m.

Dec. 13: Lowcountry Power Brass performance, 7-9 p.m.

Dec. 14: Storytelling with the Charleston Animal Society, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 15: Roving Holiday Carolers, 6–8 p.m.

Dec. 16: Magic by Julie, 7-9 p.m.

Dec. 17: James Island Charter High School Band Chamber Ensembles, 7-9 p.m.

Dec. 19: Visit with Mrs. Claus, 6-10 p.m.

Dec. 20: Ask a Naturalist, 6 p.m.

Dec. 21: Ask a Naturalist, 6 p.m.

Dec. 22: Magic by Julie, 7-9 p.m.

Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Fireworks at the Holiday Festival of Lights, 9 p.m.

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