Wondering where to see the best twinkling trees, shining shrubs and illuminated displays?
Here are four ongoing displays in the Midlands, most running through the end of the month. Now get out and enjoy this most wonderful time of the year!
1. Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden: Stroll through Riverbanks Zoo aglow with nearly 1 million twinkling lights and countless animated images. Holiday music and a snow machine add to the festive atmosphere. Grab some hot cocoa and marshmallows and sit around the Jingle Bell Bonfire, or tell Santa what you’re wishing for during one of his nightly visits.
See the lights 5-9 p.m. through Wednesday, Dec. 30 (closed Dec. 24-25). Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for children 2-12, and free for children younger than 2. www.riverbanks.org.
2. Holiday Lights on the River: For those of us without elfin energy, Holiday Lights on the River is great because you don’t even have to get out of your car.
Through Thursday, Dec. 31, roll through the Midlands’ largest drive-through lights show featuring more than 400 themed, animated light displays on a 2-mile loop of Saluda Shoals Park.
The Dazzling Dancing Forest has lighted trees synced to classical and holiday music. See the 3-D Victorian Village, Old Man Winter and Twelve Days of Christmas displays all decked out in sparkling lights.
If you do want to get out of your car, you can zip through lighted arches on the 125-foot Winter Wonder Ride, take a spin on the Red-Nose Express Hayride to the Wetland Walking Trail or chug along the Saluda Shoals Choo-Choo through the lights.
There will be concessions (hello, s’mores) for sale, crafts and shopping at Santa’s Claus’ Gift Shop. Santa will be visiting through Wednesday, Dec. 23. There’s also a nightly laser light show open 6-10 p.m.
Admission is $15 per car, $25 for 15-passenger vans or $40 for buses. Activity fees apply. (803) 772-3903 or www.icrc.net/holiday-lights.
3. Fantasy of Lights: Holiday cheer arrives in the form of 1 million lights at the Swan Lake Fantasy of Lights in Sumter. More than 150 lighted figures illuminate the Swan Lake Iris Gardens and help make this event one of the state’s largest Christmas light displays. The floating Christmas tree is always a favorite.
Light displays are open nightly through Thursday, Dec. 31. Hours are dusk to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and dusk to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Drive through or park, walk and take photos. (800) 688-4748 or www.sumtersc.gov/fantasy-of-lights.aspx.
4. Christmas in Cayce: Visitors to Cayce City Hall will find it aglow with thousands of lights and displays. It runs through Thursday, Dec. 31. www.cityofcayce-sc.gov