Thursday, November 6, 2014

Charleston's massive display of holiday lights celebrates 25th year

Charleston's holiday season kicks in on Nov. 14 with the opening of the Holiday Festival of Lights, at James Island County Park. It continues through Jan. 1 at the sprawling site, southwest of downtown. And it is sure to draw crowds.

The 3-mile drive-through tour takes you past 2 million lights worked into more than 700 displays -- from the expected Santas and reindeer to dinosaurs, space ships and more.

The event is celebrating its 25th year. Part of the local hoopla is the creation of a new display based on ideas offered by kids. The winner of this year's Light Display Design Contest, submitted by a 9-year-old, is of a seal pup.

The Nov. 14 6:30 p.m. opening is occasioned by live entertainment, various awards and a fireworks display that begins at 9 p.m.

Most stationary events at the festival are staged at Santa's Village. Check the website for special events on other days, like the Nov. 21 outdoor movie (they're screening a holiday-related film).

Hours throughout the run are 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Admission is per vehicle: $15 91-5 guests), $40 (hauling 16-30 guests) and $100 (31 or more guests -- in some kind of super humongous bus, I'd guess).

Sweetening the 25th anniversary pot? One guest each evening of the festival will receive a special gift valued at $25 as they enter the park. Charleston County Parks will also give away a five-night cruise in a no-purchase-required sweepstakes. To enter, go to between now and the end of the year.