The holiday season in Columbia includes many great events, festivals and celebrations.
We picked 16 of our favorites and asked you to do the same – adding some friendly competition to the mix.
Which is better, making room for mountains of food at the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day, or twirling on skates at the Main Street ice rink? Shopping for holiday gifts at Starry Night in Five Points or bidding on auction items at Palmetto Health’s Festival of Trees?
The results are in, and out of all the holiday events, you picked the Singing Christmas Tree at Shandon Baptist Church as the best of the best. The annual Yuletide tradition features music and drama to celebrate the Christmas story, with a cast of hundreds.
Here, a look at how our “Sweet 16” holiday bracket played out. Plus, get some ideas on how to spend your November and December in the Midlands.
Erin Shaw, email@example.com
Boykin Christmas Parade The parade where almost anything goes and everyone can participate. 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20 in Boykin, in Kershaw County. www.theboykinchristmasparade.com
Governor’s Carolighting Choirs! Singing! And, the lighting of the official state Christmas tree. Monday, Nov. 30. Festivities at 6 p.m., program at 7 p.m.
Lights Before Christmas Columbia’s longest-running holiday tradition, with Riverbanks Zoo aglow with nearly 1 million lights. 5-9 p.m. Friday through Wednesday, Dec. 30 (closed Thursday, Nov. 26, Thursday, Dec. 24 and Friday, Dec. 25). $10 for adults, $8 for children 2-12, free for children younger than 2. www.riverbanks.org.
Holiday Lights on the River Drive-thru light tour along a 2-mile loop at Saluda Shoals Park featuring more than 400 themed, animated light displays, plus a walking trail and laser light show. Through Dec. 31. $15 per car, $25 for 15-passenger vans, $40 for buses. Other activities in conjunction with the lights. (803) 772-3903, www.icrc.net/holiday-lights
Junior League Holiday Market Homemade crafts galore –from sweaters and scarves to candles and more. Includes a preview party, Ladies Night Out and PJs with Santa events. Wednesday through Sunday, Dec. 2-6 at the S.C. State Fairgrounds. $8 adults, good for all days; children under 12 months, free. See website for schedule. www.jlcolumbia.org
Crafty Feast An independent juried craft fair specializes in experimental, nontraditional and unique handmade or repurposed crafts. Noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. $3 for adults, free for ages 10 and under. www.craftyfeast.com
“The Nutcracker” – Columbia Classical Ballet Led by Radenko Pavlovich. Friday through Sunday, Dec. 4-6 at Koger Center for the Arts. $5-$32. Performance times and other details on the website. www.columbiaclassicalballet.com, www.kogercenterforthearts.com
“The Nutcracker” – Columbia City Ballet Led by William Starrett. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13-14 and Dec. 19-20 at Koger Center for the Arts (Nutcracker Teas before the show all days except Sunday, Dec. 20). $20-$45. Performance times on the website. www.columbiacityballet.com, www.kogercenterforthearts.com
Starry Night Holiday celebration in Five Points, with store specials, kids’ activities and more. 4-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3 in Five Points. www.fivepointscolumbia.com
Festival of Trees A benefit for Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital featuring decorated trees, wreaths, stockings and gifts, children’s menorahs and dreidels for auction. NOTE: This 2015 event took place Nov. 21-22. www.festivaloftreescolumbia.org
Main Street Ice A winter tradition in Columbia, the Main Street Ice skating rink in front of Columbia Museum of Art will run through Jan. 18. Opening day, 5-10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 26. $8 for adults, $5 for children ages 12 and under. Open 1-10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27. Other hours and pricing, www.ColumbiaSC.net
Turkey Day 5K & Family Fun Run A 3.1-mile run on Thanksgiving Day to benefit Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands. Thursday, Nov. 26, starting and ending at the Colonial Life Arena. Registration information and deadlines: www.strictlyrunning.com.
Carolina Carillon Considered the “official” holiday parade of South Carolina and set along Columbia’s Main Street. 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 5 in downtown Columbia. Related events and details: www.carolinacarillon.com
Holiday Parade of Lights The official parade of Cayce, it’s held in the evening along 12th Street. 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, beginning at 12th Street and U.S. 1. Related holiday events in Cayce: www.cityofcayce-sc.gov
The Living Christmas Story Drive-thru event featuring 20 scenes associated with the birth of Jesus, culminating in a live Nativity. 6:30-9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Dec. 4-6 at Union United Methodist Church, Irmo. Details: www.unionunitedmethodist.org
Singing Christmas Tree The annual holiday event at Shandon Baptist Church features music and drama to celebrate the Christmas story, with a cast of hundreds. Friday through Sunday, Dec. 11-13, at Shandon Baptist Church, Forest Acres. Show times and free ticket details: www.christmasatshandon.com