Explore Charleston by Land and Sea

Explore Our Tours

WE'RE OPEN AND SAFELY CRUISING. See our COVID-19 Safety Information.


Lighting up the Charleston Sky: Top Holiday Light Attractions in the City

holiday festival of lights tour

Of all the times to visit Charleston, winter may or may not be the top of your list. However, this top travel destination city has year-round activities. Us locals love a good party, and the chill settling into the air makes no impact on that. What better way to celebrate this season than with thousands of twinkling lights wherever you turn? We’re breaking down the top holiday must see light displays and things to do in Charleston.   From James Island to Mount Pleasant, there are plenty of Holiday activities including the Charleston’s Festival of Lights at James Island County Park.

Festival of Lights

Perhaps the most iconic of Charleston’s celebratory displays is the Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. Three miles of illuminated joy, amounting to over 700 Christmas light displays and two million bulbs, wrap around Santa’s Village. Features of this subtropical North Pole include the following: a 50-ton holiday sand sculpture, a holiday train, gift shops, Santa’s Sweets Shop, and of course the big fellow himself, Santa Claus. Gather ‘round the fire or the Victorian carousel with some hot chocolate. Grab a s’more or two (or three!) and  peruse the enchanted walking trail and enjoy the company of those around you this season.

If driving and parking seems a hassle, and the Charleston traffic each year certainly is, Adventure Sightseeing offers an all-inclusive sightseeing bus tour shuttling you from the conveniently located downtown Charleston to the Festival of Lights in a climate-controlled bus, offering spectacular views of the lights from the large windows during the holiday trip, and giving you an hour-and-a-half’s free reign of Santa’s Village with your very own s’more kit to add that much more sweetness to the cozying around the fire sure to happen during your visit.  Reserve your spot today.

Aquarium Aglow

Just a few blocks from the departure location of Adventure Sightseeing’s Festival of Lights tour is another unforgettable gem.  This holiday special presented by the South Carolina Aquarium, Aquarium Aglow. This after-dark crawl features tens of thousands of lights, each professional light installation tailored to any guest’s tastes. From elegant and innovative to festive and nostalgic.  Paired perfectly with these visual delights are drinks and refreshments, and live performances.  Plus the ever-present entertainment of the South Carolina Aquarium exhibits.

Charleston Holiday Boat Parade

The lights for this Christmas boat parade are provided by the boats cruising down the Cooper River into the Charleston harbor.  A truly unique Charleston experience, the holiday lights adorning the boats and reflecting off the gently rippling waves of the harbor as they cruise Charleston are guaranteed to steal your breath. Charleston boating clubs and festive individuals alike participate in the Charleston Holiday Boat Parade. Bring a chair and your favorite blanket, and take in the unique floating light displays for a night you will never forget.

Convenient, Comfortable Cheer

This holiday season, take the tradition of twinkling lights a step further by visiting a one-of-a-kind Charleston light display.  You certainly won’t regret it. And if you’re visiting Charleston from elsewhere, these attractions will be sure to draw you back again and again. If winter in this subtropical climate can be this magical, why not come back for summer?