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Evenings of good cheer: Holiday events in the Midlands 2021

Things to do and places to be in the Columbia area during December

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The holiday season is upon us and family and friends are coming together, some for the first time in years. 

While some may wish to stay indoors where it's cozy and warm, others may choose to venture outdoors to take in seasonal events. Here is a list of things to do and places to go in and around the Columbia area in December.

Now through January 2, 2022: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D at South Carolina State Museum, 301 Gervais St., Columbia. The 10-minute stop-motion animated story, plating in the Rev. Dr. Solomon Jackson Jr 4-D Theater, has been enhanced with 3-D visuals and 4-D effects such as rumbling seats and snow. While you're there, check out the 30-minute laser light show set to holiday music in the Museum's planetarium. More information at scmuseum.org

Through December 31: Holiday Tours of Columbia's Historic Homes. Walk through history and see and experience traditional decorations at the Robert Mills House and Hampton Preston Mansion in downtown Columbia. Tours offered at noon and 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday, and admission tickets include both homes. Tickets are available at The Gift Shop at Robert Mills, 1616 Blanding St. or schedule a group tour by calling (803) 252-1770 ext. 23 or emailing reservations@historiccolumbia.org. More information at HistoricColumbia.org

Through December 30: Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo (select evenings, see calendar online). Come and check out Columbia's longest running holiday attraction that features animated LED Story Tree, Santa's Village, the Candy Cane Carousel, North Pole Express train ride, and treats such as S'mores and hot chocolate and more. Tickets are $12/adult and $10/child age 2-12; children younger than 2 get in free, some attractions may have an additional fee. 

Through December 31: Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals, 6-10 p.m. Drive through millions of twinkling light displays or park and take part in Holiday Lights activities such as a hayride or train ride through the lights, slide down the Winter Wonder tube slide or take in a holiday-themed movie in the Environmental Center. Santa will be at the Shoals December 10-23 for photos and the Santa Claus'et Gift Shop will be open for sales, along with concessions and wine and beer. Tickets are per vehicle -- $25/car; $50/12-15 passenger van, truck with trailer and limousines; $75/16-or-more passenger bus; credit card transactions add a $3 fee. More information and complete Holiday Lights activity program at icrc.net/event/holiday-lights-river

December 2: Cayce Christmas Drive Thru, 6-8 p.m. at Cayce City Hall, 1800 12th St. The Woman's Club of Cayce sponsors this event that features thousands of light displays, live musical performances and a visit from Santa Claus. Bring canned food for donation to Cayce Cares food drive for God's Helping Hands and the Scooter Scott project.

December 2-5: Junior League of Columbia Holiday Market, 9:30 a.m.-5 p..m. Thursday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday at South Carolina State Fairgrounds, 1200 Rosewood Dr. Approximately 170 vendors will be on site, making it easy for you to find that perfect holiday gift. Come back on Sunday for Sundaes with Santa and have your picture taken with the Jolly Old Elf. This is the Junior League of Columbia's big fundraising event. Tickets on sale now at jlcolumbia.org

December 3-5: Festivus kicks off with the Airing of the Grievances Bar Crawl, 6-11 p.m. at participating establishments -- Bar None, Bird Dog, CJ's, Jakes, Pawley's Front Porch, Pinch, and Santa's Pub (Publico). Details and registration (deadline noon Friday for Airing of Grievances) at fivepointscolumbia.com/festivus

December 3-5: The Living Christmas Story drive-through event 6:30-9 p.m. at Union United Methodist Church, 7582 Woodrow St, Irmo. This is the 28th annual living nativity.

December 3: Carols Along the Riverwalk, 6-8 p.m. Local church choirs and musicians perform along the first half-mile of the Cayce Riverwalk in this reverse-caroling event. The music begins at the N Avenue Entrance at 201 N Ave., at the intersection of Axtell and N. Park at Brookland Cayce High School and take the free trolley ride to and from the Riverwalk.

December 3: City of West Columbia 17th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting, 6:30 p.m. at West Columbia City Hall, 200 N 12th St. This truly community celebration features caroling and recognition of the winners of the West Columbia elementary schools' "What Christmas Means to Me" essay contest before the official lighting of the tree. Following the tree lighting, there will be a reception at the New Brookland Room in West Columbia City Hall featuring refreshments from local restaurants, organizations and businesses.

December 3: Town of Lexington Tree Lighting and a Movie, 6:30 -10 pm. at Icehouse Amphitheater, 107 West Main, Lexington. Sing carols, get your picture taken with Santa and see the tree lighting then stick around to watch "The Muppet Christmas Carol" at 7:30 p.m. More at lexsc.com

December 4-26: Carolina Lights at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds. 6-9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 6-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

December 4: Jingle Jog 5K, 8 a.m. at Segra Park, 1640 Freed St., Columbia. Sign up for the run/walk now, $45 per participant. Each runner will receive a long sleeve dri-fit holiday race shirt and a bib that they can pick-up at Strictly Running on Devine Street. The pick-up time for the runner's packages will be Friday, December 3 from 11 am to 6 pm. The race will begin inside Segra Park and run through the BullStreet District before a finish at home plate. Gates to Segra Park will open 30 minutes prior to the start of the 5K and will remain open until 11 am.

December 4: The South Carolina Holiday parade, begins at 9:45 a.m. in downtown Columbia. The parade route starts at Sumter and Laurel streets, and proceeds down Sumter toward the historic Horseshoe at the University of South Carolina, ending on Senate Street. This year there will be some very special SC celebrities, new marching bands, drill teams, local churches, dozens of beautiful floats, and of course, the most exciting part of the parade, Santa Claus!

December 4: Elgin Catfish Stomp Parade,  begins at 10 a.m. at the corner of Bowen/Main streets in Elgin, SC, and ends at Potter Community Park at the corner of Main/Green Hill Road. There will be food truck, vendors and Elgin's famous Catfish Stew at the Festival. All proceeds from this event benefit the Elgin Police Department Toys Roundup and Caring Hands Foundation. 

December 4: Festivus continues in Five Points at the Five Points Fountain Plaza. Pictures with Santa and his elves from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., a Feats of Strength gift-wrapping competition from 4-5 p.m., followed by the Holiday tree lighting on Saluda Avenue at 6 p.m.. fivepointscolumbia.com/festivus

December 4: Remembering Pearl Harbor, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum, 301 Gervais St., Columbia. December 4, 2021, will be the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i. The incident lead to the United States joining the Allied nations in World War II against Hitler and Japan. More information at crr.sc.gov

December 4: Christmas on the Hillside, 10a.m.-4p.m. at Hillside Farm, 1184 Bishopville Hwy, Camden. Bring the kids to the farm for photos with Santa, food trucks, vendors, and giveaways

December 4: Town of Lexington Snowball Festival Carnival, 1-5 p.m. for the festival, 6 p.m. for the viewing of "The Grinch Movie" at Icehouse Amphitheater, 107 West Main, Lexington. More at lexsc.com

December 4: Lake Murray's Christmas Light Boat Parade, 4:30-8 p.m. at the Lexington Dam Park Site. Enjoy caroling and local DJs when the gates open at 4:30 p.m.. Boat parade starts at 6 p.m. with a fireworks finale.

December 4: Cayce Historical Museum's Annual Christmas Traditions Open House, 6-9 p.m. at 1800 12th Street, Cayce. Come and experience what it must have been like to celebrate the holidays in the 18th century. Enjoy live entertainment, refreshments and docents in period attire.

December 4: Light Up NOMA, 3-6 p.m. at various locations in the North Main/Cottontown communities in Columbia. Join the Cookie Crawl ($20/ticket in advance, $30 day of event) and sample some tasty treats, listen to the reading of The Christmas Story and see the lighting of the NOMA Christmas Tree at Santa's Workshop at 2222 Sumter St. around 5:30-6 p.m. Santa will be at NOMA Bistro at 2431 Sumter St. from 4-6 p.m. Learn more at nomacolumbia.com

December 10: Elf in the Park, 6:30-9:30 p.m. at Doko Meadows Park, 171 Langford Rd., Blythewood. Settle in at the Doko Park Amphitheater for a showing of the movie "Elf" and bring non-perishable food items for Christian Assistance Bridge.

December 11: Ugly Sweater 5K, 8 a.m. at 5209 Trenholm Road, Forest Acres (across from the Forest Acres Police Department). Runners, walkers, well-wishers, and ugly holiday sweater aficionados are encouraged to register to join the 5k. Registration is only $30 ($5 to enter your furry friend in the "Best Dressed Pet" contest) and includes a t-shirt. The Ugly Sweater 5K will raise funds and awareness for the Met CAC, which annually serves more than 1000 children suspected of being sexually and physically abused each year by providing child-centric forensic interviews and medical exams, as well as referrals for children and families. Other race details are available at friendsofthemetcac.org/ugly-sweater-5k

December 11: South Congaree Holiday Parade, 10 a.m. The parade starts at 119 West Berry Rd.

December 11: Kershaw County Christmas Parade, 10 a.m. Parade begins at the corner of Broad and Laurens streets in Camden and proceeds along Broad Street to end at the City Arena.

December 11: Holiday Parade of Lights -- Christmas in Cayce, 5:30-7:30 p.m. The route for this nighttime parade starts at Cayce Municipal Complex, 1006 12th St., and ends at the corner of Hwy 1 and 12th St. in West Columbia. This is a community participation event, you can register to ride in the parade by November 23 at the Cayce Chamber of Commerce ($25 registration fee). A very popular parade, the Holiday Parade of Lights has drawn crowds of over 20,000 in years past.

December 11: Lights of Lugoff parade, 6:30 p.m. The parade route begins at the BP Station in Lugoff and travels down US-1 South before turning on to SC-34. Spectators are asked to remain on US-1 as both lanes of the highway will be blocked off at 5:45 p.m.. This is a community participation parade! Sign up online to walk or ride the parade route at lightsoflugoff.com

December 11 and 12 and 18th and 19th: The Columbia City Ballet presents the Nutcracker.  Six performances at the Koger Center.  For more information and to purchase tickets click here.