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New Year's Eve

New Year’s is almost upon us.  Charleston, being the celebratory city that it is, has no shortage of ways to ring in 2020 and the new decade.


New Year’s Eve


Of course there’s a large number of fancy evening parties around town.  You might be interested in the 7th annual Charleston Wonderland complete with Cirque du Soleil performers, at Memminger.  Then there’s the ever-popular black tie Snyder Grand Ball at the Aquarium with music by Midnight City and DJ Natty Heavy.  Or check out the Yorktown Countdown, “Charleston’s largest New Year’s Eve Celebration” aboard the aircraft carrier.

Honestly, there’s a slew of options, including a Roaring 2020 20’s themed-party at Middleton Plantation, a Pajama Party at the Brick, an All-White dress-code Countdown at Da Spot, and a Final NYE Blowout at the Historic Harbour Club, which is moving.  Here’s a roundup of the many New Year’s Eve events going on around the Lowcountry, from the Post & Courier.

There are also a couple fun free events.

First, the City of Charleston is hosting its annual “Happy New Year, Charleston!” New Year’s Eve in Marion Square downtown.  It’s a free, family-friendly, non-alcoholic way to celebrate a little earlier in the day.  Happy New Year, Charleston!  will take place from 4:00 p.m. till 9:00 p.m. and is perfect for the younger ones in your group.


Things that Drop at Midnight


Also, Folly Beach is having its own unique version of the Times Square Ball Drop  —  except they drop a pair of giant flip flops from the top of the Tides Hotel.  It’s the Folly Flip Flop Drop.  They’ll hoist them up about 9:30, then drop them right before midnight.   Restaurants will stay open longer than normal for all the revelry.  Fireworks will fly at midnight from 3rd West.

Of course you can always hunker down and watch the ball drop in Times Square, all from the comfort of your luxury house on Isle of Palms.  Not a bad option at all.

Speaking of the ball drop, folks across America drop various and sundry creative things to celebrate New Year’s Eve.  Some examples:  Spencer the Possum (Georgia), Sushi the Drag Queen (Key West, of course), a huge bunch of grapes (where else but California), a giant crab (Maryland), huge pickle (Mount Olive, NC), Peeps (Bethlehem, PA), and more.  Read the whole list here.  It’s a hoot.


New Year’s Day


New Year’s Day in the Lowcountry means it’s time to jump into the surf!

The biggie is the 25th annual Polar Bear Plunge on Sullivan’s Island, just over the Breach Inlet bridge from the Isle of Palms.  It draws quite a costumed crowd to Dunleavy’s on Middle Street, where folks get fortified before heading into the surf.  It’s all good fun for a good cause (“Freezin’ for a Reason”), benefiting the Special Olympics.

Dunleavy’s opens at 9:00 a.m.  Folks will head out to the beach about 1:30, with the actual plunge happening at 2:00.  Dogs are welcome as long as they’re leashed.

Folly has their own “unique” version New Year’s Day from 1:00 till 4:00 p.m.  It’s the 7th annual Bill Murray Look-a-Like Polar Bear Plunge.  This polar plunge honors Bill Murray, the SNL alum, film actor, local resident and  co-owner of the Charleston Riverdogs baseball team.  Head down to the Blu/Tides Hotel dressed as your favorite Bill Murray character and “Come Freeze Your Bills Off.”  This year’s theme is Ghostbusters.

Plunging is free, or just $5 to enter the costume contest.  Local establishments get in on the fun with creative food and drink specials.  Part of the proceeds go to local charities like Surfer’s Healing.   The plunge itself will happen around 2:00.  Folly’s website has the scoop.

So enjoy New Year’s however you choose to spend it.  Please Uber or have a designated driver if you are going out, stay safe, and remember to call EP for the best beach homes around Charleston.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

Christmas candy, ranked

Last blog holiday cocktails, this one Christmas candy!

Americans sure love their candy.  Numerous holidays involve massive amounts of it… Halloween of course, and Easter, and Valentine’s Day.

Christmas is no slouch, either.  Holiday shoppers will plunk down $2 billion for Christmas candy.

Perhaps the most iconic of all Christmas candy, the beloved candy cane, is a good indicator.  Confectioners produce 1.76 BILLION candy canes for consumption each holiday season.

Here’s a fun fact: “72% of people eat a candy cane starting on the straight end, the rest start on the curved end.”

And of course they aren’t just peppermint anymore.  It seems candy cane flavors get more extreme and bizarre each year.  Why not pick up some macaroni and cheese candy canes, pizza candy canes, “hamdy canes,” or kale candy canes (with “the bitter grassiness of your favorite vegetable).  Ew!

150 million chocolate Santas are made each year.  Ho ho ho!

The happy people at CandyStore.com track candy data for all occasions.  They love to rank favorites (and least favorites) by state, like they did for Halloween, which I blogged about here.  It’s always an interesting read.


Most Popular Christmas Candy by State


Go to CandyStore.com, which has a giant interactive map.  Just click one of the fifty states, and up pops the top three Christmas candy among residents.  Their survey is based on more than 32,000 customers, and it was updated in November of this year.

By the way, here in South Carolina, the favorite is red & green M&M’s, followed by peppermint bark and Pez.

And then there’s the naughty list.  Here are the LEAST favorite kinds of Christmas candy, starting with the worst:

I actually kind of like those peppermint nougats with the little trees on them.  But the cherry cordials and hard candy mix are truly awful, IMHO.

Read all about Christmas candy here.

May you have a very Merry Christmas and blessed holiday season.  By the way, a stay in a Charleston beach house makes a perfect Christmas present.  Just give us a call, and we’ll get you on the calendar.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger


Photo credit: CandyStore.com
Holiday Cocktails Galore

Wintertime is upon us, Christmas is almost here, and it’s the perfect time for holiday cocktails.

Charleston bartenders tend to get particularly creative around holidays, crafting clever themed concoctions to get everyone in the spirit, so-to-speak.

Recently, the Post & Courier compiled a list of some of the best holiday cocktails in Charleston. They entitled it, “Charleston’s 12 Cocktails of Christmas.” Many of the names are fun and Christmas-y.


Recommended holiday cocktails around Charleston…


  1. Sweater Weather – Basic Kitchen
  2. Santa’s Little Helper-tini – The Brick
  3. (Another) Santa’s Little Helper  – Felix
  4. Santa’s Summer House – Wild Common
  5. Bourbon & Clyde – Doar Bros.
  6. Cousin Eddie’s Eggnog  – Bar Mash
  7. No Laws Claus  – The Alley
  8. Tipsy Tito’s Hot Chocolate – Republic Garden & Lounge
  9. Jaliso Jingle – HoM
  10. Holly Jolly Gin & Tonic – 5Church
  11. Hot Mulled Cider – Burwell’s Stone Fire Grill
  12. My Hickory Honey Ham – The Gin Joint

Read the whole list here, where you’ll find ingredients for these holiday cocktails, photos, and how much each one’ll set you back.


It’s a Miracle! Pop-Up Bar


For a special holiday treat, check out The Miracle Pop-Up Bar, guaranteed to get you in the Christmas spirit.

This seasonal entity miraculously appears in certain places all around the world – Switzerland! New Zealand! – and this year Mount Pleasant made the cut.

The Lowcountry’s own Miracle Pop-Up Bar is inside Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails, which is completely decked out for the season. We’re talking 15,000 lights, garlands galore, wrapping paper, ribbons streaming down from the ceiling, ornaments everywhere. It’s like Buddy the Elf and his fellow elves spent the whole night decorating while hyped up on a whole lot of maple syrup.

No surprise – they have a plethora of holiday cocktails, served in Santa mugs and served by waiters in ugly Christmas sweaters. Worth a visit for sure.

Miracle Pop-Up Bar is located at Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails, 735 Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. Check them out on Facebook here.


And a quick update..


Also, a quick follow up to that last blog.  As I shared, Chanukah in the Square is happening this Sunday afternoon, December 22nd, from 4:00 till 6:00. Due to the forecast of inclement weather, they have decided to move the location from outdoors at Marion Square, to indoors in Mount Pleasant.

The new location is the modern, lovely Center for Jewish Life/Chabad of Charleston, 477 Mathis Ferry Road in Mount Pleasant. They expect a big turnout, so they’re planning to have complimentary valet parking to help out with the logistics.

So sip on some holiday cocktails and toast the season with family and friends. And when you are searching for the best in luxury beach house rentals SC, be sure to call EP.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

Photo credit: Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails
Visit with Santa at the Gaillard today

The holiday events just keep coming down the pike, including a very special visit with Santa going on this evening.


Come visit with Santa


…at “Sweets with Santa,” a special new event at Charleston’s elegant Gaillard Center downtown.

There will be holiday music, hot cocoa, surprise gifts and goodie bags, and a pop-up café with special sweets.  Be sure the kids bring their Christmas lists for when they visit with Santa.  They can have their photo taken with the big guy as well.

This looks to be a lot of fun.  There’s no charge, but they ask that you reserve your spot online.  You can do so here.

The Gaillard’s at 95 Calhoun Street downtown Charleston.  The event’s from 4:30 till 7:00 tonight.


Elf: The Musical


It’s hard to dispute that “Elf” is one of the all-time best Christmas movies.  It’s definitely one of the funniest and most endearing, with Will Ferrell heading from the North Pole to New York in a search to find his dad.

They’ve made a musical out of it.  The fine folks at Charleston Stage have brought it to life right here at the historic Dock Street Theater.

This is the last weekend of performances, which take place Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Read more and get tickets here.


Last chance for the Charleston Holiday Market


This weekend is also your last chance to check out the Charleston Farmers Market Holiday Market, in Marion Square downtown.  It happens this Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 till 3:00 p.m.

Here’s a link to a voucher for two hours of free parking in one of several downtown parking garages.  The voucher is good through January 1st.


Chanukah in the Square


Then, this Sunday is the annual celebration of the Jewish holiday, also at Marion Square downtown Charleston.

Here is how the Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs describes it:

Family-friendly, Fun and Free! Join the 12th annual Chanukah in the Square extravaganza, organized by the College of Charleston Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies Program and Chabad of Charleston – Center for Jewish Life, and sponsored by the Norman and Gerry Sue Arnold Foundation and the City of Charleston.

Chanukah in the Square is the largest annual Jewish event in the state of South Carolina, and is a wonderful, family friendly way to come together as a community.

Local Holocaust survivors will continue the tradition of lighting the menorah candles. Bring an appetite and your dancing shoes. We will supply the hot food, the live music, and the festive atmosphere! Once again, there will be no shortage of potato latkes.

It’s taking place this Sunday, December 22nd, from 4:00 till 6:00 p.m.  There is no charge, and they’ll be giving away a ton of festive food and the like.  Here is the Facebook event page.

So why not visit with Santa, get jolly with Buddy the Elf, and check out the holiday doings in Marion Square.  And when you are looking for the best beach rentals Charleston, be sure to call EP.  We are running some terrific holiday specials.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

photo credit: Sweets with Santa/The Gaillard Center
Holiday Parade of Boats December 14

As we get closer and closer to Christmas, this weekend boasts two of the last of the holiday parades, including the much-anticipated Holiday Parade of Boats in Charleston Harbor.

Both these parades are Lowcountry favorites and are happening tomorrow  –  Saturday, December 14th.  One is by land, and one is by sea!

First up, it’s the one on dry land, when the Edge of America celebrates Christmas.


Folly Beach Christmas Parade


The merriment starts at noon.  The parade will travel along Center Street, south of Indian Avenue.

Here’s some of what you can expect…

The fun lasts till about 4:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon.  Here’s more.

Then, Saturday evening is the “one if by sea” parade.


Holiday Parade of Boats


This will be the 38th annual Holiday Parade of Boats, presented by the City of Charleston along with America’s Boating Club Charleston.  This longstanding Lowcountry tradition is fun for all ages.

Folks adorn their boats with all kinds of wacky holiday decorations and lights, then motor around Charleston Harbor to make sure everyone gets a good view.

The Parade of Boats officially lasts from about 5:30 till 8:00 p.m., but the time depends on where you position yourself.

The parade of boats begins near Fort Sumter, travels up the Cooper River past the USS Yorktown, goes under the Ravenel Bridge, loops around and heads back south along the Charleston peninsula.   The parade then curves and runs along the Battery and heads up the Ashley River, ending near the Coast Guard Station and the James Island Connector.   You can see a map of the parade route here.

Anywhere along the waterfront should give you a good view, especially along the Battery at the base of the peninsula downtown.  Another good option is at one of the two area Waterfront Parks  – either Mount Pleasant or downtown Charleston.

Here’s the official website with videos of past parades plus all the details on this, “Charleston’s premier on-the-water holiday event.”   Ahoy and Ho Ho Ho!


Charleston Holiday Market continues


Last, a quick reminder that the Charleston Farmers Market Holiday Market continues this weekend, both Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 till 3:00 p.m.  Like the regular market, it takes over Marion Square, right in the middle of downtown Charleston.

So check out the beloved Parade of Boats or the fun at Folly.  And we at EP are running some terrific holiday specials on our Isle of Palms luxury rentals  –  up to 40% off.  Just give us a call and we’ll fill you in.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

Holiday lights abound

Displays of holiday lights are one of the most surefire ways to get into the Christmas spirit.

And thankfully, the Lowcountry has plenty of great options.

The good family-centric folks at Hulafrog have compiled a list of the top 13 places to see festive holiday lights around Charleston and all across the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

Many of these you can experience from the comfort of your vehicle.  You can even hit several of them in a single outing.  Some take place in various neighborhoods known for decking the halls and their homes with an abundance of holiday lights.

Others, like the “biggie,” the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park, probably make up an entire evening all by itself.  It’s a “destination holiday light spot” for sure.  Yes, you can drive through and see some of the millions of lights, but then you can park and explore a whole lot more by foot. (Like Santa’s Village, a gigantic sand sculpture, the Holiday Train, and a whole lot more, which I covered in this blog.)

Some are traditional, some are more creative.  But all are worth a look.


13 Places to see Holiday Lights around the Lowcountry


Here are the entries on the Hula Hot List:

I would also add to this list, Lights of Magnolia, which I covered in this blog.  That display runs longer than any of the others and will be up till March.

Click here to see the whole Hula Hot List, with dates and times, admission when applicable, along with any websites with more information.

So pile the kids of all ages into the minivan, and head out to see some of the many holiday lights in the Lowcountry.

And be sure to call EP to give you all a perfect Charleston beach house home for the holidays.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

Holiday markets galore and more

Hold onto your Santa hat and grab your ugly Christmas sweater, because this weekend is overflowing with holiday markets, street festivals, parades and a whole lot more.

There are multiple festive fun events every day this weekend.  I’ll lay them out chronologically, for your planning pleasure.


Friday, December 6th


First up, tonight is the annual holiday celebration at the downtown Charleston City Market.  They call it “Charleston’s Most Magical Tree Lighting & Fantasy Filled Parade.”  It kicks off at 6:30, with the parade led by Frozen and Star Wars characters happening at 7:00 p.m.

Get set for Dickens carolers, photos with Santa, Princess Jasmine arriving in a horse-drawn carriage, and live music by the likes of Aladdin, Kristoff, Chucktown Trippingtones, Tim Falvey, and the Mason Prep Choir.  Free hot chocolate for those who donate a toy to Toys for Tots.

Charleston City Market is open daily at 9:30 a.m. and on weekend evenings from 6:30 till 10:30 p.m. for your holiday shopping pleasure.  Find out more about the Charleston City Market at their official website.

Also tonight is Light the Lake at Colonial Lake, which I covered in that last blog.  Be sure to wear your ugly Christmas sweater as there will be prizes.  It’s happening from 5:00 till 7:30 p.m.

And in yet a third fun thing tonight, it’s the December incarnation of Art Walk.  Stroll around among around 40 different art galleries downtown, which will be open from 5:00 till 8:00 with libations a’ plenty.  It’s sponsored by the Charleston Gallery Association.


Saturday, December 7th  –  holiday markets and an island street festival


Then tomorrow, two different holiday markets are happening.  First up, it’s the first holiday installment of the Charleston Farmers Market, taking place in Marion Square downtown Charleston.

The Charleston Farmers Market is ranked in the top ten in the United States, and they pull out all the stops for the holidays.  Santa and Mrs. Claus will both be there, ready to have their picture taken with you.

This holiday market will be from 9:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. will be repeated on Saturdays and Sundays until Christmas.  So in other words  –  here are the dates for this year:  December 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th, 21st and 22nd.

Mount Pleasant has its holiday market and craft show tomorrow as well, from 11:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m.  As a matter of fact, it’s the 20th Annual Holiday Market & Craft Show.  There will be plenty of food and holiday-themed booths and artisans, perfect for some holiday shopping.  Admission and parking are free.  It takes place at the Farmers Market pavilion at Moultrie Middle School, on Coleman Boulevard in Mount Pleasant.  Read more here.

Isle of Palms kicks off the season with its Holiday Street Festival, going on from 2:00 p.m. till 7:00 p.m. at Front Beach on the IOP.  There will be carnival rides, food and craft vendors, mechanical bull, jump castles, face painting, balloon artist, photo booth, visits with Santa, and a lot of live music  –  by SIES Chorus, Lauren Hall Band, and Warrick McZeke.  Then, around 5:30, they’ll light up the 24-foot tree at Front Beach.  Here’s a link.


Sunday, December 8th


It’s day two of the downtown Charleston Farmers Market holiday market, in Marion Square.  It, too, runs from 9:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m.

Then, Sunday night, it’s the 24th Annual Christmas Light Parade in Mount Pleasant.  It kicks off at 5:30 with a fireworks show, with lit-up floats parading down West Coleman Boulevard from Live Oak to Patriots Point Road.  The merriment should end about 8:00 p.m.

You’re encouraged to pick your favorite at #VoteTheFloatMP.


Whew, that’s a whole lotta holiday going on this weekend.  Hopefully you can at least check out one of the many holiday markets, or maybe the holiday street festival on the Isle of Palms.

It’s a great time to be in the Lowcountry.  If you’d like to be here in a gorgeous luxury house on Isle of Palms, just give us a call and we’ll help make it happen.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

Handel's Messiah & Light the Lake this week

This, the first week of December and Advent, is filled with special holiday treats, like a free performance of Handel’s Messiah in one of Charleston’s most historic churches.


Handel’s Messiah in the Holy City


Handel’s Messiah is some of the most beloved music ever written.  It’s often performed around the holidays, as it has both Christmas and Easter portions celebrating the life of Christ.

Tomorrow  –  Wednesday, December 4th  –  is a chance to hear it in a gorgeous and very sacred setting, the Holy City’s own St. Michael’s Church.

Here are the specifics:

Here is its event page on Facebook.

The Charleston Symphony will also present three holiday concerts of Handel’s Messiah, entitled the “Holy City Messiah.”  Maestro Ken Lam with conduct, with the CSO Chamber Chorus and special guest soloists.  These concerts will happen downtown in the Citadel’s Summerall Chapel on December 12th, at East Cooper Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant on the 14th, and at St. Theresa of the Little Flower in Summerville on the 15th.

The Charleston Symphony will also perform several other holiday concerts, including Holiday Strings, CSO Holiday Brass, and the very popular Holiday Pops.

Here’s a link to times and tickets for all of the above.


Light the Lake this Friday


Colonial Lake in downtown Charleston has undergone a wonderful $5 million renovation, with extensive new landscaping and improvements galore.   Located on Broad Street between Rutledge and Ashley Avenues downtown, this 150-year old Charlestonian park has never looked better.

This Friday, it officially kicks off Christmas with “Light the Lake,” when Mayor John Tecklenburg will light up a beautiful large Christmas right smack in the middle of the water.

Charleston Parks Conservancy and Publix sponsor the celebration, which will happen from 5:00 till 7:30 p.m. this Friday evening, December 6th.

Check out the following festive fun:

Here is the official website with more.


So check out a special free performance of Handel’s Messiah.  Then, later in the week, why not help Light the Lake while wearing an ugly Christmas sweater.  And when you are interested in a great beach house Charleston, be sure to call us at EP.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger