Carolina Features · Family

4 Family–Friendly Things to Do for Christmas in the Carolinas

Holiday Festival of Lights

This light show at James Island County Park in the Charleston, SC area has been named by USA Today as one of the “10 Best Holiday Light Shows in America”.  Visitors can enjoy millions of multicolored lights during a three mile drive that features more than 700 magical light displays.  After parking the car, visitors can also enjoy a 50 ton sand sculpture, holiday train experience, Santa’s Sweet Shoppe, handmade gingerbread houses and more!  This light show takes place from mid-November to the first few days of January.

Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Take in the sight of nearly one million lights and countless animated images at the Riverbanks Zoo & Garden in Columbia, SC.  There’s also a Jingle Bell Bonfire, hot cocoa and other food, along with nightly visits with Santa.  Most of the animals will be off-exhibit to sleep, but visitors may sight a few night owls.  This Christmas event starts in late November and continues through December.

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad: The Polar Express

Take a 1 ¼ hour round-trip train ride from the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s Bryson City depot to the North Pole.  Guests will receive warm cocoa as they follow along a magical story.  Santa boards the train upon reaching the North Pole and gives each child a special gift (a silver sleigh bell).  Guests will enjoy Christmas carols during the ride back to Bryson City, NC.  The Polar Express runs during November and December.

Christmas at The Library

The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC not only offers a Live Nativity that depicts the birth of Jesus, but many other activities that are family-friendly.  Free activities include: Live Nativity, Story Time, and Christmas Carolers.  Other activities include: Horse-drawn Carriage Rides and Christmas Dinner.  It’s encouraged that visitors come earlier in the month of December to avoid crowds.

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