Ready or not ... the holidays have arrived. Here, a sampling of upcoming events this season:
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 Thanksgiving and Christmas need info on nights of wonder 12/12-23. (803) 772-3903; http://icrc.net
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
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
“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
JUNIOR LEAGUE HOLIDAY MARKET: 9:30 am.-5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday in the Cantey Building at the State Fairgrounds, Assembly Street and Rosewood Drive. General admission of $8 per person is good for entry to all four days of the market during regular hours. Children 12 and younger are admitted free. Hours are 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday; 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. PJs with Santa is slated for 5-8 p.m. Friday and will feature games, activities, crafts, movies and storytelling; $8 per child/adult (12 months and younger, free). Parking, $2.
A STARRY NIGHT: 4-8 p.m. Thursday in Five Points. Family-friendly event will feature carriage rides 6-8 p.m., hot chocolate and holiday treats at the fountain, DJ, dance and choral groups, Salvation Army toy drive and a visit with Santa. Stores will be open for holiday shopping. http://fivepointscolumbia.com/event/astarrynight
CAYCE TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY: 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 1800 12th St. Sponsored by the Woman’s Club of Cayce, proceeds from the sale of lights are used to fund the club’s scholarship program. They’re also holding a food drive, accepting canned goods and non-perishables; a reception will follow. The Lights of Cayce at City Hall will be on through Dec. 31 and some Cayce neighborhoods will line their streets with lighted trees and decorations, making for a ride through a fantasy winter wonderland. For information on the participating neighborhoods, call (803) 739-5385.
BENNETTS’ COUNTRY CHRISTMAS: Thursday 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 Dec. 12 and 19, so bring your cameras (Dec. 12 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
“WHITE CHRISTMAS”: 8 p.m. Thursday at Town Theatre, 1012 Sumter St. Adaptation of the classic film with songs by Irving Berlin. $25; age 65 and older, active military, college students, $20; age 17 and younger, $15. (803) 799-2510; http://towntheatre.com
SWEET SEASONS: Forest Acres’ signature 10th annual holiday event 5:30-7:40 p.m. Thursday on the rooftop of Richland Mall. Food, entertainment, beer and wine, and a tree lighting at 5:45 p.m.
“THE HOMECOMING”: Thursday through Sunday at Village Square Theatre, 105 Caughman Road. Adaptation of “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story,” the TV movie that served as pilot for the long-running series “The Waltons.” Show times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday; 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $12; youth, students and seniors, $10. (803) 359-1436; http://villagesquaretheatre.com
COLUMBIA NATIVITY FESTIVAL: 5-8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Suber-Marshall Memorial UMC, 3900 Live Oak St. More than 100 creches from around the world, living Nativity, live music, petting zoo, homemade holiday goodies and 10,000 Villages Fair-Trade gift shop. (803) 787-2497; http://subermarshall.org
TOWN OF LEXINGTON SNOWBALL FESTIVAL: Friday through Sunday in Lexington The festival gets started at 6 p.m. Friday with a concert and carnival at Lexington Square Park (East Main Street and South Lake Drive) featuring music by Tara Scheyer and the Mud Puppy Band, magic shows, face painting, balloon animal makers, stilt walkers, visits with Santa and craft vendors. Stick around for the 8 p.m. tree lighting, hot chocolate and s’mores. On Saturday, the PattyPacks Warm a Heart 5K race and Lexington half marathon will start off the day with the half marathon beginning at 7:30 a.m. followed by the 5K at 8; register at http://www.pattypacks.org. Proceeds will benefit PattyPacks, a nonprofit organization assisting families who have children with Congenital Heart Disease. Meanwhile, back at Lexington Square, settle in for a pair of holiday movies, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The bill includes “The Polar Express” and “A Christmas Story.” The Lexington Christmas parade gets under way at 3:30 p.m. Sunday on Main Street. (803) 356-8238; http://lexsc.com
USC CONCERT CHOIR: Christmas concert, 7:30 p.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church, 1324 Marion St. Traditional Christmas carols, Advent and Christmas music that spans centuries with works by Robert Parsons, J.S. Bach, Francis Poulenc and Randall Thompson. Larry Wyatt, conductor; Hannah Watson, accompanist. Free.
PALMETTO MASTERSINGERS: The Palmetto Mastersingers return to the Newberry Opera House for their popular Christmas concert 8 p.m. Friday. 803-276-6264 or www.newberryoperahouse.com
WEST COLUMBIA CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING: 6:30 p.m. Friday at City Hall, 200 N. 12th St. Performances by the Northside Middle School mass choir and USC’s Carolina Alive. Joe Pinner will serve as master of ceremonies, the Christmas message will be delivered by the Rev. Shane Phillips and the Rev. Kenneth Taylor will deliver the invocation and closing prayer. Winners of the essay contest, “What Christmas Means to Me” will read their essays. Following the program, a reception will be held in the New Brookland room at City Hall. http://www.westcolumbiasc.gov
CAROLS ALONG THE RIVERWALK: 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Riverwalk Pavilion, N Avenue entrance. Area church choirs and local musicians will be located along the first half-mile of the Cayce Riverwalk, which will be decorated with luminaria; don’t forget to try the hot apple cider.
“GOD’S GREATEST GIFT, JESUS CHRIST”: Drive-through Nativity, 7-9 p.m. Friday through Sunday at Pine Grove Baptist Church, 836 Pine Grove Road, Lugoff. Free event will feature live scenes with actors and animals; no buses due to limited space. (803) 438-2025
from more than 40 vendors. Concert tickets are $5 and available at the door, online at http://fineartscenter.org or by phone at (803) 425-7676
LEXINGTON COUNTY CHORAL SOCIETY’S MISTLETOE: Christmas concert, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Saxe Gotha Presbyterian Church, 5503 Sunset Blvd., Lexington. Guest performers will be the Children’s Choir from Saluda River Academy for the Arts. Tickets are $20; age 65 and older, $15; students, $5. http://lexcochoralsoc.org
SANTA’S MARKET CRAFT SHOW: 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Saturday at Seven Oaks Park, 200 Leisure Lane. Complete your holiday shopping with unique gifts, decorations and one-of-a-kind crafts. Free admission; door prizes will be awarded. 772-3336; http://icrc.net
BREAKFAST WITH SANTA: 9 a.m.-noon Saturday in the Richland Mall Food Court, Forest Drive and Beltline Boulevard. Join Columbia Children’s Theatre and Richland County Recreation Commission for a family fun Saturday with activities, breakfast, pictures with Santa and a performance of CCT’s “Jack Frost.” Tickets are $12; http://columbiachildrenstheatre.com or call (803) 691-4548
SANTA’S GINGERBREAD JAMBOREE: 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday 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
HISTORIC HOLIDAYS FAMILY DAY: 10 a.m. Saturday at the Robert Mills House, 1616 Blanding St. Learn about the history of several holiday traditions while enjoying holiday crafts and activities as a family. Free for adults and Historic Columbia members, $6 for non-member youth. http://historiccolumbia.org
CAROLINA CARILLION HOLIDAY PARADE: The 61st annual Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade will be held at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, Saturday on Gervais Street in downtown Columbia. More than 100 entries will wind through downtown and in front of the State House. http://www.carolinacarillon.com
COUNTRY CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at the State Farmers Market, 3483 Charleston Highway, West Columbia. Find the perfect tree in the South Certified Shed, shop for holiday decor and gifts in the Market Pavilion or specialty food items in Five Rivers Market. There will be an antique tractor parade at 2 p.m. with Santa bringing up the rear. Free. (803) 734-2210
CHOIR SHOWCASE AND $1 TOURS: Noon Saturday in front of the Robert Mills House, 1616 Blanding St. Local elementary schools will provide musical entertainment for the community; free and open to the public. Check out the special $1 Historic Holiday tours during the event. http://historiccolumbia.org
SOUTH CONGAREE CHRISTMAS PARADE: 3 p.m. Saturday beginning at Dunn’s Chapel Church, 281 Chapel Road, South Congaree. Participants should arrive no later than 2:30 p.m. to get in the lineup. No entry fee. (803) 622-2015 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
“THE CAROLS OF CHRISTMAS”: 6 p.m. Saturday at Sutton Branch Baptist Church, 420 Sutton Branch Road, Lugoff. Christmas cantata, featuring the Jubilee, Musical and Youth Choirs and directed by Eddie J. Nelson, will feature a number of solos as well as a narration. (803) 438-4811
CAYCE HISTORICAL MUSEUM’S 25th ANNUAL HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE: 6 p.m. Saturday at 1800 12th St., Cayce. Each room of the museum will be decorated with trees and crafts from the 18th century to the present. There will be live entertainment, docents dressed in period attire and light refreshments. (803) 739-5385
WAR BETWEEN THE STATES LANTERN TOURS: 6-9 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of the Cayce Historical Museum, 1800 12th St., Cayce. As darkness falls, scenes from the great American war come to life. Presented by the 20th S.C. Volunteer Infantry. (803) 739-5385
EVENING OPTIMIST CHRISTMAS PARADE: 2 p.m. Sunday on Main Street, Sumter. Marching bands, beauty queens, holiday floats and more. This year’s theme is “What Christmas Means to Me.”
NEWBERRY OPERA HOUSE: “Christmas With the King,” 7 p.m. Sunday; Travis Powell recreates the memory of Elvis’ Christmas music. Tickets are $25-$30. “Home For the Holidays,” 3 and 8 p.m. Tuesday; the American Big Band will perform lush arrangements of Christmas favorites. Tickets are $30. “Viennese Christmas,” 3 and 8 p.m. Wednesday; the New Sigmund Romberg Orchestra and vocalists will present seasonal standards, songs from Broadway musicals. Tickets are $30. “The Nutcracker,” 8 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12; Carolina Ballet Theater production. Tickets are $40. The Newberry Opera House is at 1201 McKibben St., Newberry. (803) 276-6264; http://newberryoperahouse.com
CHRISTMAS OPEN HOUSE: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Monday at the S.C. Governor’s Mansion, 800 Richland St. Free, no reservations required.
HOLIDAY CONCERT: 7 p.m. Monday at the Koger Center for the Arts, 1051 Greene St. Free performance by “Fort Jackson’s Own” 282nd Army Band. Come early for a picture and visit with Santa Claus. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Koger Center box office. (803) 751-4844; http://koger.sc.edu
COLUMBIA COMMUNITY ORCHESTRA: Christmas concert, 7:15 p.m. Monday at Unity of Columbia, 1801 Legrand Road. Performance will include familiar carols and holiday favorites. CCO principal flutist Patricia Harleston will be the soloist for Busoni’s “Divertimento for Flute and Orchestra.” The audience will be invited to join in the traditional carol sing. Free, but donations will be accepted. http://columbiaorchestra.com
A DEVINE NIGHT OUT: Businesses along Devine Street will stay open late (5-8 p.m.) Thursday, Dec. 11, 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/
CHAPIN HIGH SCHOOL WINTER CHORAL CONCERT: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 and 12 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.
SANDLAPPER SINGERS: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11 at Ashland Road UMC, 2600 Ashland Road; and Dec. 12 at St. Joseph Catholic, 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. Dec. 11 and 12 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.
“THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER”: Dec. 11-14 and 18-21 at the Sumter Little Theatre, 14 Mood Ave., Sumter. Show times are 7:30 p.m.Thursdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $10; students/children, $8. (803) 775-2150; http://sumterlittletheatre.org
SALEM UMC BAZAAR: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 13 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. Dec. 13 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. Dec. 13 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
COLONIAL CHRISTMAS IN CAMDEN: 2-5 p.m. Dec. 13 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 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. Dec. 13 and 20; 3 p.m. Dec. 14; 3 and 7 p.m. Dec. 21. Tickets are $15-$42. (803) 251-2222; http://capitoltickets.com
CAYCE-WEST COLUMBIA HOLIDAY PARADE OF LIGHTS: 5:30 p.m. Dec. 13 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. Dec. 13 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.
LEXINGTON COUNTY MUSEUM OPEN HOUSE: 1-4 p.m. Dec. 14, 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
JINGLE BELL JAZZ: 9 p.m. 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.
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.