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Spruce up the holiday season

Boost your festive mood at five winter celebrations.

By Daisy Dow

There’s a reason it is known to be the most wonderful time of the year. As we flip to the last page of the 2021 calendar, there’s no time to waste in getting into the holiday spirit. Be sure to mark these holiday highlights on your schedule to fuel your festive fire. From Harbour Town to Mitchelville Freedom Park, Hilton Head Island is humming with tunes of the holiday season. Light up the night at Old Town Bluffton’s tree lighting or bask in the glow of Shelter Cove’s boat light display. Wherever you end up around the Lowcountry, be on the lookout for Santa and Mrs. Claus as they join in our celebrations throughout the month of December. Whether you’re looking to relax with a movie in the park or want to take a stroll through a winter wonderland, there are opportunities aplenty to get your fill of the season’s spirit around the Lowcountry.

I’m Dreaming of a Light Christmas

Shelter Cove Community Park

Shelter Cove is the place to be for a whirlwind of Christmas festivities. Sponsored by the Hilton Head Island Rec Center, the Winter Wonderland Festival is a free event that creates some holiday fun for every member of your family to enjoy. Featuring carnival games, bounce houses and a children’s parade, be sure to come out to Shelter Cove Community Park on December 3 from 4-7 p.m. to take in the sights and sounds of Christmas joy. For the sleuths among us, the Golden Candy Hunt might be the highlight of your holiday season, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be in attendance and cheering us on as the festivities take place. Beyond that, Shelter Cove Towne Center hosts its annual holiday lights throughout the month of December. It would be hard not to get into the holiday spirit while shopping under a canopy of shimmering lights and Southern stars.

Do You See What I See?

Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina

Glittering lights, buzzing shops and seven waterfront restaurants make Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina the perfect spot to celebrate the holiday season with a coastal style. For the entire month of December, come down to the waterfront to admire the coastal Christmas boat lights that span the docks. The vibrant colors dotted along the water are sure to boost your spirit and get you in the mood for a little seasonal shopping. Be sure to check out Christmas on the Harbour, the store that celebrates the holiday 365 days a year, to grab some unique decorations to dress up this year’s traditions. Take a brisk walk along the promenade and let the light on the harbour make a beautiful backdrop for some new holiday memories.

How Lovely Are Your Branches

Harbour Town

Be it the magnificent arms of the Liberty Oak Tree or the beautifully decorated limbs of Harbour Town’s Christmas tree, the trees on the south end of Hilton Head will be the talk of the town this holiday season. Take a ride on the Polar Pines Express Wagon on December 18 from 1-3:30 p.m. Enjoy the island’s chilly weather while hearing the story of “The Polar Express” for $16 for children and $18 for adults. Be sure to make a reservation online at to reserve your spot on this magical journey. At 7:30 p.m. December 23, hear Gregg Russell sing some holiday favorites and prime Harbour Town for a very special visit from Santa Claus! The evenings of December 27-29 will feature holiday movie showings, marshmallow roasting and train rides around the harbor. 

Come, They Told Me (Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum)

Old Town Bluffton

Whether it’s sunny, rainy or by some miracle snowy, come out to Bluffton’s Tree Lighting Ceremony starting at 5:30 p.m., December 3 at Martin Family Park. Stick around for a screening of the movie “Elf” to get the whole family in the holiday spirit. Take in the festivities of Old Town while you walk to the DuBois Park pavilion for a meet and greet at Santa’s workshop. The very next day, December 4 at 10 a.m., join the ranks lining the streets of Bluffton’s Historic District for the Town of Bluffton’s 50th annual Christmas Parade. Spend this holiday channeling your inner little drummer, tapping away to the hustle and bustle of winter cheer all across Bluffton.

Walking in a Historic Wonderland

Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park

Starting the first weekend of December, check out Historic Holidays on Hilton Head Island presented by The Heritage Library and its partners. Take part in one of the island’s newest traditions with the Drive-Through Holiday Light Display at the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park. The next weekend on December 11, take part in a 2.5-mile walking tour that explores the holiday traditions that have been practiced in one of Hilton Head’s historic neighborhoods. The tour is at 9:30 a.m., but those who want to sleep in can still enjoy the free open house from 1-4 p.m. with docents who will guide you through the histories of Gullah traditions. Be sure to register online at for these free events.