Celebrate the holiday season in Columbia, South Carolina by enjoying some of the best light displays in the state. Attend Lights Before Christmas at the zoo, Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park, or Harborside Lights at Lake Carolina. Visitors of all ages will enjoy the seasonal activities.
Lights Before Christmas is one of the signature events at Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens. The zoo grounds sparkle with nearly one million lights and animated holiday displays from November 17-December 30. Enjoy the holiday music and warm up around the Jingle Bell Bonfire. Hot chocolate, marshmallows, and other treats are available for purchase. Children may visit with Santa. The event runs from 6-9 pm nightly, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas. Advanced tickets are $8 for adults and $6 for ages 3-12. Prices are $2 more after 5pm at the gate. Riverbanks Zoo is located at 500 Wildlife Parkway, off I-26 at Greystone Blvd.
Holiday Lights on the River is the largest drive through Christmas lights display in the midlands region. Located at Saluda Shoals Park, the light show runs November 21-December 31 from 6-10pm. The two mile driving loop features more than a million dazzling lights and over 400 animated lights displays. Visitors will see a Victorian Village, Old Man Winter, and the 12 Days of Christmas. The Dazzling Dancing Forest comes alive with dancing, lighted trees synchronized to holiday music. Park the car and walk along the Wetland Wonderland Walking Trail or take the Red-Nose Express Hayride for $1. Enjoy the thrilling Winter Wonder Ride on weekends, or nightly from December 14-23. Riders tube downhill on a 125 foot course through a series of lighted arches. This ride is fun for the whole family. Tickets are $2 per slide and tubes are provided. Visit on Nights of Wonder, December 14-23, for 10 nights of special family activities. Make holiday crafts, visit Santa and the gift shop, purchase refreshments, and roast marshmallows. Ride the Saluda Shoals Choo-Choo for $2 per person. Admission to Holiday Lights on the River is $10 per car and $20 for 15-passenger vans. The park is located at 5605 Bush River Road.
The residential community of Lake Carolina hosts their annual Harborside Lights on December 7 from 6-9pm. Visitors may drive through Lake Carolinas beautifully decorated neighborhoods and enjoy thousands of lights and luminaries at the Village Green and Town Center. The family celebration includes musical entertainment, visits with Santa, horse-drawn carriage rides, and holiday treats. The activities also include the Harborside Lights 5K and Fun Run. The Lake Carolina community is located northeast of Columbia at 100 Lake Carolina Blvd. The event is free and open to the public.