…and other Holiday Delights along the Grand Strand and Nearby
Each year, both locals and tourists flock to the Grand Strand to savor the holiday season with as much revelry, if not more, than they do during the sunny summer months. For a significant number of us, the holidays stand as the most cherished time of the year. While our winter wonderland may not quite resemble a warm and cozy scene from a Currier & Ives print, there’s an abundance of reasons to rejoice and elevate your holiday cheer. Here we’ve highlighted just a handful of the numerous places and activities that could effortlessly transform even the Grinchiest demeanor into one filled with joy.
Every year, Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet is transformed into an illuminated nocturnal dreamscape with its Nights of a Thousand Candles. Walk garden paths amid a jaw-dropping collection of American figurative sculpture illuminated by thousands of hand-lit candles and millions of sparkling lights. Enjoy strolling holiday entertainers, live music, warm cider, food, and more. Advance sale tickets only. www.brookgreen.org
Also in Murrells Inlet, the MarshWalk WonderLand of Lights features thousands of lights, illuminated arches and a 20-foot LED Christmas tree. Duck into one of eight MarshWalk restaurants for a nosh and a beverage. The kids will love the Santa’s Village attraction (see website for select dates) featuring games and activities, holiday characters and Santa himself. www.marshwalk.com
In Myrtle Beach, the Winter Wonderland at the Beach features more than 100,000 lights along nearly a mile of beach and boardwalk – perfect for a holiday stroll. On select nights, expect a Family Fun Fest, a holiday market, live entertainment of all stripes and a holiday movie. www.winterwonderlandatthebeach.com
Don’t feel like walking? Enjoy the grandeur of two million festive lights along two miles of the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex for The Great Christmas Light Show – a drive-through experience featuring more than 500 light displays, some up to 55 feet tall. On select nights, visitors may enjoy s’mores and hot chocolate and meet the big man at Santa’s Village. www.nmb.us/433/The-Great-Christmas-Light-Show
Other illuminated options include Conway’s Celebration of Lights (Nov. 30 – Dec. 24 Thurs-Sun / $2 per person), a Tree Lighting Ceremony at Francis Marion Park in Georgetown (December 1), Lighting of the Landing (Nov. 18) at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach and the Annual Tree Lighting (Nov. 18) and Menorah Lighting (Dec. 7 – Dec. 15) at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach. Broadway at the Beach’s annual tree lighting took place Nov 11, but the giant tree and the retailers lights and decorations will remain in place through the holiday season.
On December 2, bring a folding chair to Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach before the 11 a.m. start time of the annual A Very Broadway Christmas Parade. Expect marching bands, floats, media personalities, holiday vendors and more as they make their way around the perimeter. It’s not over until Santa shows up. www.broadwayatthebeach.com
If you prefer floats that actually float, then the Intracoastal Christmas Regatta (November 25, 5 p.m.) is for you, photo above. From your favorite vantage point along the Intracoastal Waterway in Little River, enjoy a flotilla of vessels festooned with lights, garlands and other decorations. Although viewing is free, spectators are encouraged to drop off unwrapped toys and more at convenient donation boxes along the route to benefit Yachts for Tots of North Myrtle Beach. www.christmasregatta.com
Other notable parades include the Georgetown Christmas Parade (December 2, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.), Conway Christmas Parade (December 9, 10 a.m.) photo below, Surfside Beach Christmas Parade (December 9, 2 p.m.) and the Holiday Golf Cart Parade at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach (December 10, 3 p.m.).
It’s Christmas all year long at St. Nick Nacks Christmas Shop inside Callahan’s of Calabash (N.C.). With more than 150 decorated trees and well over four million ornaments, it’s a sure bet you’ll leave with a yuletide bauble or the Department 56 village piece you didn’t know you couldn’t live without. www.callahansgifts.com
As part of the Winter Wonderland at the Beach Festival in Myrtle Beach (Dec. 1- Dec. 3), check out the Holiday Market right next to the SkyWheel. You’ll find something for everybody as you browse the wares of local artisans and unique holiday items from area vendors. www.winterwonderlandatthebeach.com
This year the Kaminski House Museum will host its Holiday Market for two days (Dec. 1 – Dec. 2). The museum’s lawn will be chock full of homemade baked goods, jewelry, local artisanal pieces and holiday gifts galore. A Holiday Village will also be on site for the kiddos. www.kaminskimuseum.org
Want more local markets? Consider the Christmas Fair and Market in Conway (Dec. 9) and the Merry Mistletoe Market at the Cooper House (Dec. 3)
For most children no Christmas would be complete without a visit with Kris Kringle. In addition to the inclusive events already mentioned, you can find him holding court at Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops at the Myrtle Beach Mall [www.basspro.com], Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach [www.bflanding.com], Town Green in Conway [www.conwayalive.com], Coastal Grand Mall in Myrtle Beach [www.coastalgrand.com], the Pawleys Christmas
Festival at the Island Shops in Pawleys Island [www.facebook.com/islandshopspi] and The Market Common in Myrtle Beach [www.marketcommonmb.com] – and that’s only scratching the surface. Be sure to check with venues for dates, times, costs (if applicable) and possible appointments.
Whether your holiday worship is centered around ceremony and ornate sanctuaries or at a more casual church gathering, you have myriad options along the Grand Strand. From advent Christmas masses at Precious Blood of Christ Catholic Parish [www.pbocchurch.com] in Pawleys Island to Christmas services and programs at First Presbyterian Church of Myrtle Beach [www.myrtlebeachpresbyterianchurch.org], First Baptist Church of Conway [www.fbcconway.org], Mt. Zion AME Church of North Myrtle Beach, Carolina Forest Community Church [www.carolinaforest.org] and many more, you may decide to spend a few moments in reflection with like-minded celebrants. Check out Hanukkah services at Temple Emanu-El [www.mbsynagogue.org] and Temple Shalom [www.templeshalommb.org] in Myrtle Beach and Temple Beth Elohim [www.templebethelohim.net] in Georgetown.
The Carolina Opry in Myrtle Beach has been home to spectacle and extravaganza since 1986. This year, The Carolina Opry Christmas Special / The Christmas Show of the South in Myrtle Beach [www.thecarolinaopry.com], presents Chicago-based baritone Moses Braxton, Jr. and The Voice’s Delvin Choice – along with the clogging group All That! Add an ensemble of 35 musicians, comedians and singers backed by a holiday brass section, the Calvin Gilmore Orchestra and the Margaret Rice Dancers, and you’ll find a blend of time-honored holiday music and comedy with fresh changes for 2023.
The South’s Grandest Christmas Show at the Alabama Theatre in North Myrtle Beach [www.alabama-theatre.com] brings you an immersive holiday experience with song, dance and laughter – including traditional and contemporary holiday favorites from talented performers in a festive setting with stunning scenery and special effects. Comedic juggler Slim Chance, a two-time Branson Entertainment Awards Comedian of the Year, joins the production for the first time.
The Long Bay Symphony [www.longbaysymphony.com], with music director/conductor Dr. Charles Evans at the helm, will be performing Handel’s Messiah twice on December 2 [St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Murrells Inlet, 12:30 p.m. / All Saints Church, Pawleys Island, 5 p.m.] and again at First Presbyterian Church of Myrtle Beach [Dec. 3 / 2:30 p.m.]. The oratorio is a Christmas tradition for the group, and follows Christ’s birth, crucifixion and resurrection. An Advent cantata by J.S. Bach, Nun comma, der Heiden Heiland, will also be performed.
Perhaps Let’s Get Jolly, the annual Christmas review at Theatre of the Republic in Conway [December 7-10, 14-17 [www.theatreoftherepublic.com], and the Hot Jersey Nights Christmas Special (through Dec. 29) at Broadway Theater in Myrtle Beach [www.broadwaytheatermb.com], will spark your holiday spirit?
Stay ahead of those holiday calories and take part in a runner’s event this year: On December 6, come dressed in your favorite holiday attire and run the 5th Annual Under the Lights 5K and Fun Walk/Run in Downtown Conway. This light-guided course includes numerous light displays and other festive features to keep you motivated. Bring your fur baby on a one-mile fun walk led by Santa through the Christmas Village at the marina. [www.cityofconway.com/celebration_of_lights/under_the_lights_5k.php]
Take in the sights and sounds of Winter Wonderland at the Beach in Myrtle Beach on December 14 as you run or walk the Twinkling Two Miler starting at Plyler Park and continuing along the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk. This is an untimed event, but participants will receive race swag and will be entered into a raffle prize drawing [www.runsignup.com/Race/SC/MyrtleBeach/TheTwinklingTwoMiler]
The 2nd Annual Rockin’ Around the Forest Festival and 5K is December 16 at Tanger Outlets on U.S. 501. The 5K portion is a chip timed event, and there is also a one-mile Holiday Hustle for folks with children and pets. This is a family-friendly event and also includes a holiday festival with food trucks, games, crafts, face painting and photos with Santa. [www.runsignup.com/Race/SC/MyrtleBeach/RockinAroundtheForest5K]
The 17th Annual I Believe Children’s Holiday Fundraiser takes place at the Hot Fish Club in Murrells Inlet on December 5. The organization was founded to help less fortunate kids wake up on Christmas morning to things like new bikes, books, toys, clothing and everyday needs. Working primarily from a list provided by Help 4 Kids, teams utilize the proceeds to shop for and deliver the items. [www.facebook.com/iBelieveHolidayFundraiser]
You’ve seen the Toys for Tots boxes almost everywhere provided by the United States Marine Corps Reserve; this time of year they are ubiquitous. But don’t think your donation of an unwrapped new toy will get lost in the process. Your donations make a huge difference to a child who might otherwise go without. Keep that new, unwrapped toy in your car and drop it off the next time you see a donation box. It will make you happy, too. [www.horry-sc.toysfortots.org]
2023 marks the fourth year of an initiative by Horry & Georgetown County Meals On Wheels called Special Delivery: Secret Santa to a Senior. Meals on Wheels has long provided nutritious meals to the homebound – but many seniors find themselves alone and in need during the holiday season for various reasons. Participating seniors sign up and make lists of needed essential items plus holiday gift suggestions – and you can help fulfill those requests. [www.mowhc.org]
Baby Jesus. The wise men. Mary and Joseph. The angel, the bright star and the manger animals. Many of us own nativity sets, most likely handed down through generations with a couple of pieces missing. But to see a live nativity scene is something you will long remember. Take in live nativities at Pirates Voyage in Myrtle Beach [www.piratesvoyage.com/myrtle-beach/christmas-show], First Presbyterian Church of Myrtle Beach [www.myrtlebeachpresbyterianchurch.org], Langston Baptist Church in Conway [www.langstonbaptist.com] and a drive-through nativity at Church of the Resurrection in Surfside Beach [www.resurrectionsurfside.org]
Get a babysitter and head out to the MarshWalk in Murrells Inlet for the 9th Annual Santa Crawl [Dec. 9] Put on your most creative holiday attire or come as a Christmas character, and you might get chosen by a strolling Secret Santa to win a prize (registration required). Enjoy drinks, dinner specials, live music and more as you stroll along this beautiful natural saltwater estuary. [www.marshwalk.com]
Hop aboard the Barefoot Queen Riverboat in North Myrtle Beach for the North Pole Express Cruise (select dates from Dec. 8 to Dec. 23). Come dressed in your Christmas pajamas and cruise the Intracoastal Waterway while listening to the Polar Express Story. You get your very own Believe ticket, a Santa Visit, yummy snacks, hot chocolate and more. And don’t worry, those of age may buy adult beverages from the fully stocked bar. [www.barefootqueen.com]
Bring your family pets to the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex Large Dog Park for Pet Photos with Santa (November 26 and December 9). Use your own camera to capture the perfect portrait or Christmas card photo. Dogs must be leashed, and other pets contained, and all must be well-behaved. [www.nmb.us/625/Pet-Photos-with-Santa]
Explorations of the towns and communities close to home or less than a day’s drive away, are always rewarding and especially so during the holidays. Conway, always pleasant to visit, comes alive with more Christmas activities than you can shake a candy cane at. The Rivertown Christmas Celebration runs every Thursday from November 30 through December 21 and includes candlelight shopping, living window displays, a holiday market, displays from The Great Gingerbread House Challenge – and much more. [www.conwayalive.com]
Charleston absolutely sparkles at Christmastime and is a great place for soaking up the yuletide vibe. Check out “A Christmas Carol” at the Historic Dock Street Theatre [www.charlestonstage.com], enjoy the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park [www.ccprc.com] or check out the stately and historic homes in their Christmas finery. Indulge yourself in Charleston’s thriving culinary and shopping scene, too, and maybe take a holiday carriage ride while you’re there.
Greenville, only a four-hour drive from Myrtle Beach, is also a great option for a holiday getaway. With a bustling and picturesque downtown, a vibrant art scene and top-notch restaurants, you’d have plenty to do any time. During the holiday season there’s even more, including outdoor ice skating (through Jan. 15) the Poinsettia Christmas Parade (Dec. 2), Night of Lights (Dec. 1) and more. On December 4, you can catch renowned soprano and best-selling recording artist Sarah Brightman at the Peace Center. [www.peacecenter.org]
A Southern Times Square at Valor Park at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach has all the bells and whistles you need to ring in the new year in style – live music from Charlotte-based party band Live Take, along with food, NYE merch vendors, a laser light show, activities for the kids and much more – including libations, a live telecast of New York’s festivities on a jumbo screen - and the ball drop. Tickets required. [www.nyemarketcommonmb.com]
Celebrate the new year with your kids 12 hours early at Noon Year’s Eve at LuLu’s North Myrtle Beach. Expect bubble-wrap fireworks, characters from The Character Company, face painting, balloon animals and much more – including a Beach Ball Drop at noon, releasing hundreds of bright beach balls at LuLu’s Beach. Parents: Enjoy the laid-back LuLu’s vibe, a diverse menu and any adult beverage you can think of. [www.lulusfunfoodmusic.com]
In a poignant year for Parrot Heads (Jimmy Buffett’s loyal fanbase) consider a Trop Rock NYE at Margaritaville at Broadway at the Beach, in Myrtle Beach. Remember the tropical troubadour with tasty margaritas, live music, great food and inspiration for that next beach trip in January. [www.margaritavillemyrtlebeach.com]
3001 Nightlife in Myrtle Beach brings you The Biggest New Years Weekend Bash on the Beach. Party like a rock star for three nights (Dec. 29, 30, 31) at all three clubs inside the venue: Club Rewind, Club Envy and Bourbon Cowboy. Enjoy performances from Painted Man, Tim Elliot, Chocolate Chip & Co., The Extraordinaires, Thomas Road and the Tim Clark Band. One ticket gets you in all three days. [www.3001nightlifemb.com]
Other NYE events include a New Year’s Bowling Party at Surfside Bowling Center [www.surfsidebowlingcenter.com], New Year’s Eve on The MarshWalk in Murrells Inlet [www.marshwalk.com], the Comedy Cabana New Year’s Eve Extravaganza in Myrtle Beach [www.comedycabana.com] and New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Broadway at the Beach [www.broadwayatthebeach.com].
The holiday season need not slip by you, now that you’re fully armed with our “12 Ways of Christmas” playlist. Be safe and enjoy!
Images by Robbie Bischoff; Bareffot Queenl Wayne View Photography; courtesy of The Kaminsky House; Bass Pro Shops; courtesy of Pawleys Shops, Market Common & Barefoot Landing; courtesy of Alabama Theater; City of Myrtle Beach; courtesy of Anneka/Shuttershock; City of Charleston Parks & Recreation; City of Conway