Thanksgiving is officially over, so that means the holiday season is here! 

Our fall guide to Columbia detailed a variety of activities, festivals and specialty food/drink happening in the fall.  

But now it’s time to say goodbye to Halloween and apple picking and hello to candy canes and Santa! 

Here’s what’s happening in Columbia this December holiday season.  

Activities and attractions 

Riverbanks Zoo will host a new event this year called Wild Lights, where guests will be able see sights such as handcrafted lanterns, nightly snowfall and will even get to meet Santa. The event will take place on specific nights from Nov. 17 through Jan. 14. Read more about dates and times here.  

In Irmo, Holiday Lights on the River is a drive-through light show located in Saluda Shoals Park. Guests also can participate in activities such as a winter wonder tube slide, a hayride and a laser light show. Read more here 

Carolina Lights, a drive-through light show at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds, will be open from Dec. 8 to 24. Halfway through the drive, guests will be able to buy milk and cookies to munch on. Even your pup can enjoy a cookie, as dog biscuits also will be for sale.   

Columbia SantaCon 2023 is a Santa bar crawl happening Dec. 9 in Columbia. Read more here.  

The bar crawls aren’t done just yet. The Columbia Official Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl will take place Dec. 16.  

South Carolina Ballet will present The Nutcracker at the Koger Center for the Arts on Dec. 9-10 and Dec. 16-17. Read more here.  

Specialty food & drink 

The holidays go hand and hand with festive food and drinks.  

Market on Main will be hosting a New Year’s Eve event on Dec. 31 with a gourmet 3-course dinner, open bar and champagne toast. Read more here.  

A pop-up bar called Santa’s Pub is coming to Publico Kitchen and Tap from Nov. 27 through Jan. 1. The establishment will be festively decorated, and holiday cocktails will be available. Read more here.  

Azalea Coffee Bar will be hosting their 3rd annual holiday market on Dec. 10.  

Knowledge Perk Coffee has their seasonal flavors out. Choose lattes from flavors such as Candy Cane White Mocha, Gingerbread and Boozy Eggnog. Read more here.  


The Carolina Carillon Holiday Parade will take place on Dec. 2 with performances from marching bands and much more.  

The 7th Annual Winter Fest Toy Giveaway will take place on Dec. 2 at the Rehoboth Baptist Church Family Life Center. Read more here.   

Things are spicing up with Group Therapy’s 34th Chili Cook-Off Dec. 2. Read more here.  

Lights on a Christmas tree (File photos by Carolina News and Reporter)

Coffee cups 

A man holds a child as he admires a Christmas tree