Ready or not ... the holidays have arrived. Here, a sampling of upcoming events this season:
A DEVINE NIGHT OUT: Businesses along Devine Street will stay open late (5-8 p.m.) Thursday to offer specials and celebrate the season with food and beverages. Catch an after party 8-10 p.m. at Henry’s, 2865 Devine St. http://devinestreetcolumbiasc.com/
NEWBERRY OPERA HOUSE: “The Nutcracker,” 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; Carolina Ballet Theater production, $40. Crystal Gayle Christmas show, 3 and 8 p.m. Sunday; $40. . “The Messiah,” featuring the Trinity Episcopal Choir and the North Carolina Baroque Orchestral; $25 Newberry Middle School Christmas Concert, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18. “Christmas with Emile Pandolfi,” 8 p.m. Dec. 19; $35. 208th Army Band Concert, 8 p.m. Dec. 20; free. “A Simpler Christmas” with Wynonna and the Big Noise, 7 p.m.; $99. The Newberry Opera House is at 1201 McKibben St., Newberry. (803) 276-6264; http://newberryoperahouse.com
CHAPIN HIGH SCHOOL WINTER CHORAL CONCERT: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Chapin Presbyterian Church, 600 Old Lexington Highway, Chapin. Concert will feature performances from five choirs and joint Christmas caroling from all choirs. Seating will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets will be sold at the door – adults, $10; students, $5; household, $30. All proceeds go to help further choral music education at Chapin High School.
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SANDLAPPER SINGERS: 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Ashland Road UMC, 2600 Ashland Road; and Friday at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 3600 Devine St. “What Shall I Bring?” is a holiday concert that includes music reflecting the changes in America’s holiday customs with traditional carols and a commissioned work that features the voices of the Young Sandlapper Singers. A 12-piece string ensemble will accompany the singers. Tickets are $15. (803) 381-5481; http://sandlappersingers.org
WINTER CHORAL CONCERT: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Chapin Presbyterian Church, 600 Old Lexington Highway, Chapin. Concert will feature performances from five Chapin High School choirs and joint Christmas caroling from all choirs. Seating will begin at 7 p.m. Adult tickets, $10; students, $5; households, $30. All proceeds go to help further choral music education at Chapin High School.
“A CHRISTMAS CAROL”: Through Dec. 20 on the Thigpen Main Stage at Trustus Theatre, 520 Lady St. Five actors will play numerous roles throughout the performance, while creating a live musical score. Show times are 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $22; military and seniors, $20; students, $15. Half-price Student Rush Tickets are available 15 minutes prior to curtain. (803) 254-9732; https://trustus.org/show.php?show_id=74
TRENHOLM ARTISTS GUILD HOLIDAY ARTISANS MARKET: Through Dec. 20 at 4507 Forest Drive (across from Trader Joe’s). The market features a selection of paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery, cards and other fine art items produced by Guild members. Hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2-6 p.m. Sundays. http://trenholmartistsguild.org
BENNETTS’ COUNTRY CHRISTMAS: Through Dec. 27 at 434 Fairfax Road, Saluda. Numerous individual displays including floats and wood art with more than 50,000 lights. Miniature Christmas village, hot chocolate and treats. Hours are 6-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 6-10 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. Santa will visit Friday and Dec. 19, so bring your cameras (Friday is also free hot dog night). The display will be closed if it rains or there are heavy winds, so call in advance. Church groups and buses welcome. Power donations accepted but not required. (864) 445-0009 or http://facebook.com/countrychristmasbennett
SANTA’S GINGERBREAD JAMBOREE: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 20 at EdVenture Children’s Museum, 211 Gervais St. Holiday event will feature photos with Santa, gingerbread cookie decorating, story time with Frosty the Snowman, festive face painting, holiday arts and crafts and Snowville. Preregistration is required, tickets are $18 (includes general admission). (803) 779-3100; http://edventure.org
BLYTHEWOOD HISTORICAL SOCIETY: Train exhibit and family-friendly activities at the Langford-Nord House, 100 McNulty Road, Blythewood. Train display will be open 4-8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Christmas cards designed by Blythewood artist Harold Brabham and the latest in the Society’s series of ornaments – 2014’s ornament will feature Bethel Baptist Church – and limited quantities of ornaments from previous years will be available for sale. Donations welcome. (803) 333-8133
“THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER”: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in Wood Auditorium at the Fine Arts Center of Kershaw County, Camden. Tickets are $15; students, seniors and military, $10. (803) 425-7676; http://fineartscenter.org
“A CHRISTMAS CAROL”: 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Dec. 18 at Trustus Theater, 520 Lady St. The popular offering from last season returns with five actors performing all the characters of Charles Dickens’ classic story and create a live musical score onstage in a re-imagined production. Additional show times will be 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Dec. 19, 20; 3 p.m. Sunday(there will be a talk-back following the performance). Tickets are $22; military and seniors, $20; students, $15. (803) 254-9732; http://trustus.org
SALEM UMC BAZAAR: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at 1321 Salem Church Road, Irmo. Numerous vendors offering everything from aprons to wooden toys. There will be varieties of homemade soups for your lunch (eat in or take out). Proceeds will go to local charities and help fund a youth mission trip.
CHRISTMAS SAMPLER: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at the Lexington Leisure Center, 108 Park Road, Lexington. Local and regional Christmas craft show will feature entertainment, door prizes and shopping. Free admission but canned food donations will be accepted to benefit Lexington County Meals on Wheels. (803) 957-7828
CHRISTMAS PEDDLER CRAFT SHOW: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at Tri-City Leisure Center, 485 Brooks Ave., West Columbia. Local and regional Christmas craft show will feature entertainment, door prizes and a visit from Santa. Canned food donations will be accepted to benefit Lexington County Meals on Wheels. (803) 939-9309
COLUMBIA CLASSIC CHEVY CLUB TOY DRIVE: Noon-4 p.m. Saturday at Woodbury Plaza, 3200 Augusta Road (U.S. 1). Bring a new, unwrapped toy for a boy or girl (all ages) and make Christmas a little brighter for local children. Stick around and check out the cars, too.
COLONIAL CHRISTMAS IN CAMDEN: 2-5 p.m. Saturday at the Kershaw-Cornwallis House and the Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, 222 Broad St., Camden. The house will be decorated for the season and the dining table laden with holiday fare. Guides dressed in 18th century finery will share some of the Yuletide customs as you tour the house. Meet a Carolina backwoodsman, take part in the Christmas scavenger hunt, try on period clothes, play colonial games and write a holiday greeting with a quill pen. Stop by the newly restored McCaa’s Tavern and enjoy a 10 percent discount in the gift shop. Tickets are $5; ages 6-12, $3; younger than 6, free. (803) 432-9841; http://historic-camden.net
“THE NUTCRACKER”: Columbia City Ballet at the Koger Center for the Arts, 1051 Greene St. Performances are 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 20; 3 p.m. Sunday; 3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 21. Tickets are $15-$42. (803) 251-2222; http://capitoltickets.com
HARBORSIDE LIGHTS 5K AND KIDS FUN RUN: 5 p.m. Saturday at Lake Carolina Town Center. The final race in the YMCA of Columbia’s 2014 race series is being held in memory of Jeep Rogers and goes through Lake Carolina neighborhoods along a course lit by luminaria. Registration for the age 12 and younger fun run is $10; late registration for the 5K is $30 (postmarked by Thursday) or $35 race day. http://columbiaymca.org
CAYCE-WEST COLUMBIA HOLIDAY PARADE OF LIGHTS: 5:30 p.m. Saturday beginning at the corner of U.S. 1 and 12th Street., West Columbia, down 12th Street, ending in front of the Cayce Municipal Complex.
ROCKIN’ AROUND THE CHRISTMAS TREE BENEFIT CONCERT: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Throttle Bar and Grill, 1219 C Ave., West Columbia. Bands include Jet Lag Jones, 4Hire and No Prior Notice. Admission, $5 or a food, clothing or toy donation to benefit God’s Helping Hands.
“A CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER”: 1 p.m. Sunday at New Beginning Baptist Church, 9601 Caughman Road. Dinner will be served. (803) 695-1195
LEXINGTON COUNTY MUSEUM OPEN HOUSE: 1-4 p.m. Sunday, 231 Fox St. Lexington. Many of the museum’s structures will be open and decorated in period fashion. This event will feature free apple cider and gingerbread. 803-359-8369
BLYTHEWOOD CHRISTMAS PARADE: 3 p.m. Sunday beginning at the intersection of Oakurst Road and Main Street, traveling south on Main Street, right on Blythewood Road, right on Boney Road and ending at Bethel-Hanberry Middle school. The stage will be set up at Trinity UMC’s Blythewood Road entrance. WIS-TV anchor Dawndy Mercer Plank will be the grand marshal of the parade that will feature more than 25 floats, three high school bands, five dance groups, classic cars and more. Parking will be available at Doko Meadows, local schools and other areas as allowed by property owners. Information at the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce, (803) 712-3806
JINGLE BELL JAZZ: 9 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17, on the Trustus Main Stage, 520 Lady St. The Mark Rapp Quartet and special guests will entertain. Tickets are $20. www.trustus.org.
CANDLELIGHT TOURS AND CARRIAGE RIDES: 6-9 p.m. Dec. 19 at Historic Columbia’s historic house museums. Visitors can explore the Robert Mills House, Hampton-Preston Mansion and Mann-Simons Site by candlelight, enjoy musical entertainment and children’s activities and take a ride through the Robert Mills historic district. Carriage rides are $5 per person; tours are $12 for adults, $8 for youth and free for HC members. (803) 252-1770, ext. 23; http://historiccolumbia.org
COOKIES AND MILK WITH MRS. CLAUS: Noon-2 p.m. Dec. 20 at Tri-City Leisure Center, 485 Brooks Ave., West Columbia. Story time with cookies, milk and holiday treats.
VISITS WITH SANTA: 1-5 p.m. Dec. 20, 21; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 22 and 23 at the State Museum, 301 Gervais St. Bring your cameras, free with museum admission. http://scmuseum.org
COLUMBIA MARIONETTE THEATRE: “Santa’s Holiday Party,” 1:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at the State Museum, 301 Gervais St.. Free with museum admission. http://scmuseum.org
LIVE OUTDOOR NATIVITY: 7 p.m. Dec. 20 and 21 at Living Springs Lutheran Church, 4224 Hard Scrabble Road. Re-enactment of the story of Jesus’ birth will feature live animals, characters and more. Free, bring your lawn chairs.
“A CHRISTMAS CAROL: COLUMBIA”: 3 p.m. Dec. 21 at Town Theatre, 1012 Sumter St. Radio play adaptation of the Dickens classic by Frank Thompson and Fred Kirk, featuring Town Theatre regulars, holiday music and cookies and punch before the show. $10. (803) 799-2510
MAIN STREET ICE: Columbia’s outdoor ice skating rink now is open in Boyd Plaza, Main and Hampton streets. Special operating hours Monday through Jan. 2 will be noon-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and noon-10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays and 1-9 p.m. Sundays. Jan. 3-19, will be 4-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 4-10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays and 1-9 p.m. Sundays. Closed Christmas Day, open until midnight New Year’s Eve. Adults, $10; age 12 and younger, active duty military and seniors age 55 and older, $8. (803) 545-3100
HOLIDAY LIGHTS ON THE RIVER: 6-10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31 at Saluda Shoals Park, 5605 Bush River Road. Midlands’ largest drive-through light show features the Dazzling Dancing Forest, animated scenes, Wetland Wonderland Walking Trail, Winter Wonder Ride downhill tubing, Santa’s Claus’et Gift Shop and more. Holiday Lights will be open 6-10 p.m. every night until Dec. 31. Admission is $15 per car, $25 per 15-passenger van and $40 per bus. Winter Wonder Ride ($2 per slide with admission or $10 for an all-you-can-slide pass) and the Gift Shop will be open 6-10 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays except Christmas Nights of Wonder runs Friday through Dec. 23 – in addition to Holiday Lights on the River, you can take the Red-Nose Express Hayride to the Wetland Walking Trail or ride the Saluda Shoals Choo-Choo through the lights; don’t forget the make-and-take craft activity and a visit with Santa. (803) 772-3903; http://icrc.net
HISTORIC COLUMBIA HOLIDAY TOURS: Through Jan. 4 at the Historic Columbia homes (Robert Mills House, Hampton-Preston Mansion and the Mann-Simons Site). Guides will provide stories of holidays past in Columbia and discuss how families decorated and entertained during the 19th and early 20th centuries. $8; youth, $5; Historic Columbia members and age 5 and younger, free). The houses are open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays (last tour starts at 3 p.m.) and 1-5 p.m. Sundays (last tour starts at 4 p.m.). Closed Mondays and major holidays (Thanksgiving,Christmas and New Year’s Day). (803) 252-8842; http://historiccolumbia.org
LIGHTS BEFORE CHRISTMAS: 5-9 p.m. through Dec. 30 (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, 500 Wildlife Parkway. Music in Motion lights spectacular, Jingle Bell bonfire, nightly snowfall and you can visit with Santa from 6-9 p.m. through Dec. 23. Some of the zoo’s indoor exhibits will remain open – Gorilla Base Camp, Koala Knockabout and Riverbanks Farm. Tickets are $10, ages 2-12, $8. Riverbanks members are eligible to receive one free visit with their current membership card and picture ID; guest passes are not accepted. To avoid long lines, purchase your tickets in advance online at https://etickets.riverbanks.org/eTickets/LightsBeforeChristmas/tabid/161/Default.aspx
SWAN LAKE FANTASY OF LIGHTS: Through Dec. 31 at Swan Lake Iris Gardens, 822 W. Liberty St., Sumter. More than a million lights and 150 lighted figures. Hours are dusk until 9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, dusk until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Free.