Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of year. If you are dreaming of spending it in a postcard-perfect location, Hilton Head Island has you covered. While we most likely won’t experience a white Christmas (although it did happen once in 1989), there are several holiday villages and other merry areas worth taking your little elves to. Here are a few of our favorites, in no particular order.
Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina
See the King Neptune statue wearing a Santa hat, surrounded by lights and the tree at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina. Festive decor is placed throughout the harbor and one store, Christmas on the Harbour, is dedicated to the holiday. The Harbourfest stage, many boats and several businesses are lit up as well.
Best Day To Go: Saturday, Dec. 1 Check out the holiday boat light display (6-10 p.m.), all the decorations at the harbor and marina, then mosey across the street to the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina to check out Hilton Head’s official Christmas tree. Other good times to go are Dec. 5-30, before or after performances of “An American in Paris” at the Arts Center.
Shelter Cove Towne Centre
More than 30,000 lights will shine until Dec. 31 as part of its impressive Clark Griswoldstyle holiday display. In addition to the nightly lights, many activities are planned, including local group performances and visits from Santa.
Best Day To Go: Friday, Dec. 7 Begin your holiday celebration with the Winter Wonderland Festival (4-8 p.m.) at Shelter Cove Community Park. There will be hayrides, carnival games, a petting zoo, a children’s parade and a special visit from Mr. & Mrs. Claus. Admission is free but donations are welcome.
Harbour Town Lights
Stroll along the harbor and enjoy the illuminated seasonal figures dotted along the path to the famous lighthouse. The centerpiece of the display is the towering Christmas tree, perfect for family Christmas card photos. Young ones will love the golf cart Christmas train and the Saturday night outdoor movies on the inflatable screen under the Liberty Oak. Benches and a fire pit for roasting marshmallows will be provided. Admission is complimentary with the donation of a canned food item for The Deep Well Project.
Best Day To Go: Sunday, Dec. 23 Listen as Gregg Russell plays his guitar and sings songs of the season for children and adults (5:30-9 p.m.). Before and after the free concert, enjoy a special visit from Santa Claus.
Christmas Village in South Beach
The fun at South Beach Marina Village started after Thanksgiving and will continue through Dec. 23. Enjoy thousands of lights or send a letter to Santa at the North Pole. Several specials are planned for different nights. Admission is free.
Best Day To Go: Saturdays Have a talk and take photos with Santa at the cozy South Beach Inn (3-5 p.m.; Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22). Well-behaved, leashed pets are welcome to visit with Santa and take photos as well.
The Village at Wexford
Every Saturday through Dec. 22, the Village at Wexford will offer a festive holiday atmosphere for family fun. Activities include visits and photos with Santa, cookie decorating on the porch outside of Island Child and an opportunity for kids to write and mail a letter to Santa.
Best Day To Go: Saturdays Don’t miss Storytime with Santa (2:45-3 p.m.; Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22) in a special area on the patio by Island Child. The station includes an area for cookie decorating, children’s crafts, a gingerbread play area and an Instagram-worthy photo station. Admission is free.
Other Merry Locations
The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina • Chinaberry • Coligny Plaza • Compass Rose Park• First Presbyterian Church • Hilton Head Fire & Rescue Station 3 • Main Street Village • Jim and Carolyn Neely’s Port Royal home • Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf • Reilley’s Grill & Bar
Cahill’s Market & Chicken Kitchen • Calhoun Street • DuBois Park • The Promenade • Rose Hill Plantation • Tanger Outlets
Aiken: Hopelands Gardens • Beaufort: Waterfront Park • Charleston: Marion Square • Lady’s Island: Royal Pines
Columbia: Saluda Shoals Park, Riverbanks Zoo • James Island: Holiday Festival of Lights
Moncks Corner: Celebrate The Season Holiday Driving Tour • Murrells Inlet: Nights of a Thousand Candles
North Myrtle Beach: The Great Christmas Light Show • Ridgeland: Brendlen’s Lowcountry Christmas Light Display
Orangeburg: Edisto Memorial Gardens • Savannah: Christmas Lights Tour • Sumter: Swan Lake