lighted bridges

One quick trip to the store reveals that the holidays are coming fast upon us.  Actually a lot of red and green started showing up even before the orange and black appeared/disappeared.

Personally, I love it when you start hearing the familiar strains of Christmas carols filling the air, the elevator, the mall, the airwaves.

One of the surest signs around here that Christmas is upon us, is the annual Holiday Festival of Lights  —-  and lo and behold, it’s officially kicking off today.  It will be happening every evening starting tonight (Friday the 13th !)  through January 3rd, 2016.

This year marks the 26th annual installment of the festival.  What started out in 1990 with 18 light displays, now has well over 750.  We’re talking more than two million colorful lights set in very creative, imaginative and animated displays.

Honestly, the first time I decided to go, I wasn’t expecting much.  But much to my surprise, I left feeling enchanted and filled with the holiday spirit.  Now I look forward to it each year and hope to go when I can.

Coastal Living has ranked it one of the top ten holiday celebrations in America.  The American Bus Association calls it one of the top 100 events in the nation.  The Southeast Tourism Society says it’s one of the top 20 events in the Southeast.

It’s particularly fun because you can go with a whole bunch of friends and family.  They charge admission by the carload, and you can take in most of the lights while driving through in your vehicle on the three-mile loop of inventive light displays.  So bring along everybody in your Charleston beach house, or at least those who you think might enjoy the magic.  It’s something that all ages can enjoy.

In the previous 25 years that the Holiday Festival of Lights has been going on, it’s estimated that two million people have ridden through it.

It’s nice to park and walk around as well, since there’s a lot more to see and experience.  There’s a professionally crafted holiday-themed sand sculpture made from 50 tons of sand, as well as interactive light displays.  You can drink hot chocolate and roast marshmallows in Santa’s Village, ride the holiday train through the woods and lighted trails, enjoy goodies from Santa’s Sweet Shoppe, find holiday gifts and ornaments, see handmade gingerbread houses, giant greeting cards made by local students, or ride a Victorian carousel.

As you can imagine, it takes a ton of work to pull it all together, by both staff and volunteers.  Basically, there is someone working on it all year long  –  either taking it all down, maintaining the displays, creating new ones, or setting them all up.  The actual installation  — stringing up two million lights  –  starts approximately 45 days before opening night.

There will be a special new display unveiled for the first time this year.  Word on the street is: it’s a giant pineapple, the traditional Charlestonian symbol of hospitality, as immortalized by the giant fountain in Waterfront Park downtown.

It all takes place at James Island County Park, an easy drive from all our SC vacation rentals, either Isle of Palms luxury rentals or especially a Folly Beach house Charleston.

Hours are:

Sunday – Thursday evenings:  5:30 – 10:00 p.m.

Friday & Saturday evenings:  5:30 – 11:00 p.m.


1 – 15 guests: $15 per vehicle

16 – 30 guests: $40 per vehicle

31+ guests: $100 per vehicle


Tonight is the grand opening kickoff ceremony, and there will be live music by the Lowcountry Power Brass, as well as the awarding of the winners in the gingerbread house competition.

Here’s the official website, with all the details:
For your GPS, James Island County Park is located at 871 Riverland Drive in Charleston, SC.

Girl at Christmas Time --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Also going on this weekend, to get you in a festive mood and kick off some shopping, it’s the Charleston Holiday Market.  It’s going on today through Sunday at the Charleston Area Convention Center.  There will be all sorts of crafts, gourmet goodies, jewelry, décor, not to mention the man himself, Santa Claus.

Here’s the website with the scoop:


On the subject of the holidays  –  a Charleston beach house is a terrific place to spend the holidays with friends and family.  It’s a pretty good bet you won’t have to deal with the hassles of snow and sleet if you spend Christmas in a luxury house on Isle of Palms.  You’ll have a wonderful kitchen to cook up holiday goodies, plenty of bedrooms for everyone to have sweet dreams where visions of sugarplums dance in their heads.  Oh – and the beach is nearby, where kids can go and play with their new toys.

If you are interested in one of our beach rentals Charleston for the holidays, especially one of our Isle of Palms vacation rentals, call as soon as you can.  Our luxury beach house rentals SC are getting all the more popular with each passing year.


Also, don’t forget that this weekend is the Smoke on the Harbor Barbecue Throwdown; click HERE for more info on all the BBQ doings.

So when you are interested in rental homes South Carolina  –  most especially beach house rentals Charleston SC  –  call us at Exclusive Properties.


All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger