The James Island Festival of Lights is another one of my favorite Christmas activities to do in Charleston. I had not gone in a few years, but my daughter was in town over Thanksgiving with her husband and three children, so we decided to brave the crowds and go. I am usually not a fan of waiting in lines, sitting in traffic and being out in the cold, but I was very pleasantly surprised.
It was a cooler night when we went, and most of the festivities are outside (except for riding in your car through the light display) so we bundled up. The youngest of our crew was 5 months. He stayed close to his momma in his Ergo (I’m told this is what the baby carrier’s are called.). The whole family enjoyed walking through the light displays, taking in the sights of Christmas, eating marshmallows by the open fire and seeing Santa. My oldest grandson, who is four, exclaimed “It’s so amazing…like a real live winter wonderland!” This is high praise from a little guy from Chicago!
So, after the excursion with all 13 of us, four of those 5 and under…here are my tips.
1. Go Early! Be there when it opens. It is already dark, so don’t worry about that, you will be glad you are there when it opens.
2. Once you drive through the first set of lights..park in the first lot if it is still open. I believe this is Lot A. It is the lot right next to the main building where are the events are. This way you will be close to all the festivities that you walk to.
3. Bring Hot Chocolate, S’more makings and sticks for roasting the mallows….that is unless you want to buy them there. My youngest daughter packed this all up for us and it was worth it. There are two open fire pits where people gather and roast marshmallows. It is a lot of gooey mess. We left our sticks for others that might need them, so you may find some roasters already waiting for you.
4.Walk through the lighted forest. This is what elicited the “Winter wonderland” remark from my grandson.
5. Visit Santa if you want and get a picture. They let you bring your own camera and take a pic if you want, or you can buy theirs. The photographer when we were there was REALLY good at getting the kids to smile.
6. Visit the large Christmas lightbulb and get a free peppermint candy. My grandkids were fascinated by this life size lightbulb that waved at them and smiled.
7.Also…bring your own Christmas music for the car ride. The radio station does not come in very clearly and doesn’t “add” anything to the show.
8.OH yes…the carousel. For $1 you can ride on the carousel. It’s short, but fun. My grandkids all loved it. We opted for this over the train, so I can’t speak to the train. 🙂
Other than that…have fun!
Holiday Festival of Lights 2012 will feature:
• Two Dazzling Gift Shops • Festival Train Rides • Lakeside Lights Interactive
Activity • Enchanted Forest Walking Trail • Carousel Rides • Climbing Wall •
Gingerbread Houses • Holiday Sand Sculpture • Life-size Greeting Card Display •
Musical Concerts • Custom-made Photo Props • Fabulous Group Packages • Photos
with Santa • Santa’s Sweet Shoppe • Grand Opening & Tree Lighting