Dec 11 2013

The 24th Annual Holiday Festival of Lights Shines Bright

The Holiday Festival of Lights is one magnificent holiday sight to see.  The James Island County Park is hosting the 24th Annual Holiday Festival of Lights, and whether you’re young, old, have kids or not, the festival has something for everyone.  This year, the Holiday Festival of Lights is comprised of more than 700 lighting displays and over 2 million lights.  According to James Island County Park, the Holiday Festival of Lights was named, “One of the Top 10 Holiday Celebrations,” by Coastal Living. 

The Holiday Festival of Lights gives back to the Charleston community by collecting canned food items for the Lowcountry Food Bank, according to an official press release.  Last year, “over 8,200 pounds of food were donated, which equated to an estimated 6,800 meals.” The James Island County Park is aiming to collect 10,000 pounds this year.  Patrons can receive  $5 off admission Monday through Thursday when they bring a canned food item.  What better way to get into the holiday spirit than by helping give back to the community while enjoying holiday lighting displays.

The lights are displayed throughout the park which cover three miles and are truly exciting to see.  We drove through the lighting displays twice because we didn’t want to miss anything, and patrons are welcome to drive through the lighting displays as many times as they want.  Not only is the Holiday Festival of Lights a driving tour, but it also includes carousel rides, photos with Santa, a walking trail, train rides, and a giant greeting card and gingerbread house displays. 

The Giant Greeting Card Competition was held with entries received from Charleston County students.  Local high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools participated and winners received a cash prize to fund their school arts program and a trophy, according to the Holiday Festival of Lights new release. The Gingerbread House Competition chose winners based on overall appearance, creativity, theme, craftsmanship, and difficulty level. Both the giant greeting card and gingerbread house winners are on display for festival goers to enjoy. 

The Holiday Festival of Lights displays begin as you drive into the James Island County Park.  Once in the park, palmetto trees are decorated and an incredible lighting display of the old Cooper River Bridge can be seen across the county park pond.  Just behind the old Cooper River Bridge display, the new Ravenel Bridge display lights up.  After driving around the pond, we enjoyed views of a nativity scene, a farmhouse, and a pirate ship.  The Holiday Festival of Lights features different themes of displays.  Sealand, Toyland, and Santaland all feature themed lighting displays.  The Sealand lights displayed an octopus, seaturtles, whales, and a shark, and in Toyland, neon dinosaurs of all types were on display. 

The Holiday Festival of Lights also features special events.  From now through December 31st, enjoy a visit with Mrs. Claus, Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry Craft Night, and performances by Lowcountry Power Brass and Katrina Rose.  Feel free to bring your own marshmallows and sticks to roast by the fire in the Winter Wonderland section of the park.  The Holiday Festival of Lights ends on December 31st, so come enjoy the Fireworks on New Year’s Eve that begin at 9 p.m.

From now through December 31st, enjoy the Holiday Festival of Lights Sunday through Thursday from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 p.m. until 11 p.m.  Admission is $15 per vehicle with 1-15 passengers, $40 per vehicle with 16-30 passengers, and $100 per vehicle with over 31 passengers.  Remember, you can receive a $5 admission discount when you bring a canned food item Monday through Thursday.  The Holiday Festival of Lights has something for everyone to enjoy, so go see what Coastal Living and the American Bus Association have been raving about.

Bob Hart Author

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