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Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category

See the Earle Street Santas (and Other Holiday Attractions) with the Kidding Around Holiday Greenville Bike Taxi Tour

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As if seeing holiday lights and the beauty of downtown Greenville could be any better – it just did. Introducing the Kidding Around Holiday Greenville Bike Taxi Tour. We did it and have all the info on this new, must-do holiday item for your family. 

When Greenville Bike Taxi opened in Greenville, SC as the only pedicab biking down Main Street, owner Phil thought it’d be a great fit. Bikes use no gas. They are eco-friendly. They allow guests to really take in the sights and sounds of our beautiful downtown. And really, they are just plain fun. 

And fun is exactly what we had with Phil when he took us on the new Kidding Around Holiday Tour designed specifically to enjoy the beautiful Christmas season and see lots of fantastic Christmas lights and one pretty famous street with about 40 blow-up Santas. 

Greenville Bike Taxi Santas
Greenville Bike Taxi

About Greenville Bike Taxi 

Phil grew up in Greenville and moved to the coast to go to school. In Charleston, he ended up working for a bike taxi company and loved it. He peddled all over King Street and through the historic district, taking people to restaurants, markets, bars, and on shopping trips. Literally, anywhere they wanted to go. 

When he decided to move back home to the Upstate, he wanted to bring that same experience to Greenville. So he did. After obtaining the necessary permits and navigating all the business paperwork, Phil opened up Greenville Bike Taxi in the spring and people have loved it. 

It’s easy to see why. It’s such a unique way to get around town and since Greenville is so beautiful and since there is lots to see, it’s far from a boring way to be stuck in traffic on Main Street. 

If you’re in town and want a bike taxi, just call or text (843.670.0418) Phil and he’ll come get you! A standard ride is $7/person for 10 minutes. We’ll give you pricing info on our holiday tour below.

Greenville Bike Taxi
Greenville Bike Taxi Downtiwn

The Kidding Around Holiday Bike Tour

You all know how much we love tours, right? But they are all driving tours. Now we’ve partnered with Greenville Bike Taxi to offer a Kidding Around Holiday Tour! 

Here’s where you will go: 

  • The Gingerbread Competition at the SpringHill Suites
  • The Hyatt Regency to see the Festival of Trees
  • Earle Street to see the Santas – like literally dozens of them – that line the street

The entire tour is an hour long and it’s one of the best tours we’ve done downtown. Phil cranks up the Christmas tunes and you’ll get people waving at you the whole time you’re in the pedicab. Honestly, my daughters and I felt like celebrities. It was our 15 minutes (well, an hour) of fame. 

Greenville Bike Taxi
Greenville Bike Taxi in front of the Hyatt

My daughters (ages 12 and 9) were just elated the entire time. They loved watching Main Street fly by and enjoyed all the stops, especially the ride down Earle Street. The novelty of being in a pedicab was a joy. 

But as an adult, I absolutely loved it also. It’s just a view you don’t usually get and Phil was a great bike rider (even though he didn’t let me try to ride the bike, ya know, insurance and all that!). 

I also loved it because it’s literally your own private tour. You aren’t squished in anywhere with strangers. You’re squished in with your loved ones and nice and snuggly while stopping to see all the cool stuff around town during the holidays. 

Tips on Enjoying the Kidding Around Holiday Bike Tour 

You’ll want to read through these tips so you can enjoy your holiday bike tour with Greenville Bike Taxi. 

  • Dress warmly. It’s chilly so bring hats and gloves and wear a warm jacket. Phil has blankets, which are nice and warm. 
  • Charge your phone for photos. I find that my phone batteries die faster in colder weather so bring your phone charged to document your fun night. 
  • Rides are an hour long. The tour is an hour long but you’ll stop at the two hotels and can use the restrooms if needed.
  • Each bike can fit four people. You’ll be able to squeeze in two adults and two kids to any bike. If you need more space, you can rent two (or three or four) bikes for your group. 
  • Holiday bike tours will go to around Christmas. You’ll be able to book your tours during the week through Christmas with Greenville Bike Taxi. 
Greenville Bike Taxi
Greenville Bike Taxi in downtown Greenville

Booking Your Kidding Around Holiday Bike Tour

The Kidding Around Holiday Bike Tour is being offered at a discounted hourly rate of $30/person for weekdays and $40/person for weekends, which includes all the stops on the tour. If you’d like to change it up, just ask Phil. He’s pretty awesome. 

You can book your tour by calling or texting Phil at 843.670.0418 or emailing him at movewithPhil@gmail.com

Tours are offered right now Monday-Thursday at 5 pm, 6 pm, and 7 pm. Fridays & Saturdays have just been added at 5 pm, 6:15 pm, and 7:30 pm.

Greenville Bike Taxi
843.670.0418 

Who Has the Best Christmas House in the Upstate?

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Who has the best-decorated house for Christmas this year? You decide! It’s the first Kidding Around Greenville Best Christmas Lights Contest. Go for a drive with one of our FREE holiday light driving tours, then let us know who you think is the best. The winner gets bragging rights for an entire year, so choose carefully.

Christmas Lights Contest in Greenville, SC

Take a Sneak Peek

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the houses on our tour this year.

Take the Tour

Vote!

Voting begins December 7th, 2023 and runs through December 21st, 2023.

Editor’s Note: If the voting box does not appear below, please refresh your page and wait a minute or two for the voting box to load. The voting program takes a little bit of time! Thank you!

Vote once per day.

(2023) Fire Truck Santa Will Visit 75 Neighborhoods in Upstate, SC

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Did you know that Greenville & Spartanburg’s fire departments have an honorary team member who lives in the North Pole? It’s true, and seeing Santa on a firetruck in Greenville, SC, and Spartanburg, SC has solidified a tradition for many families. Santa will visit close to 80 neighborhoods around the Upstate by firetruck, spreading Christmas joy!

He’s really busy this time of year, so the most efficient way to get a last peek at all of the good boys and girls of the Upstate is to hitch a ride with first responders and zip through neighborhoods. Reindeer magic only works at night, in case you were wondering, so this is the best way!

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Your Holiday Table: Here’s Where You Can Find Delicious Food for the Holidays Near Greenville, SC

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Are you looking for something delicious and festive to add to your holiday table this Christmas? In Greenville, Spartanburg and Upstate, SC we have lots and lots of holiday food menus, sides, and treats from Greenville’s amazing food proprietors.

Local restaurants are serving up special dine-in holiday meals, as well as fabulous catered meal deals you can bring home for the holidays. Local bakeries are offering everything from freshly baked pies to cookie and cupcake kits you can bring home for a fun family activity. Local cafes and grocery stores are selling pre-made sides and desserts making your holiday preparations a little easier. Want something a little different? Try a festive charcuterie board or dig into the Mexican tradition of Christmas tamales. We know where you can find all this and more in Greenville!

Your holiday table, Greenville, SC
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Charming Hallmark Mountain Town Sparkles During the Holidays 

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For a unique and completely charming holiday experience, Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries in Western NC is the place to go for the whole family. It’s just two hours from Upstate, SC and three hours from Charlotte, NC. Go make some magical Christmas memories in Dillsboro, NC.

Thank you to Discover Jackson NC, Jackson County for inviting us to experience Lights & Luminaries. 

Taking time to slow down during the weeks leading up to Christmas can seem like an impossible task but when you make the decision to do so and really experience the joy of the magical season, that’s when those special memories happen. And those memories await you and your family in the small, mountain town of Dillsboro, North Carolina, a beautiful two-hour drive from the Upstate in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. 

Lights & Luminaries in Dillsboro

Lights & Luminaries in Dillsboro is the Hallmark experience you’ve been searching for. The quaint town twinkling by the light of sparkling radiance. The candles lit along the streets. The shops that carry all kinds of locally made goods that you can only find there. The kindest people you’ll ever meet who are happy to see you. 

Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries encompasses all of that and more. The festival started in 1983 as a way to celebrate the holidays and has been going strong for 40 years. 

There is a calming, magical ambiance at this festival. There are white lights Christmas lights everywhere, plus 2,500 candles in white paper bags along every street. It’s like you stepped out of your life and into a time from many years ago. 

There are carolers and horse and buggy rides. Santa & Mrs. Claus are available for timeless Dillsboro, NC Christmas photos. Nearly every shop sells only handmade goods from local artists or vintage items like cast iron cooking pans, antique furniture, and iron-wrought bed frames. There are shops that look like the North Pole exploded inside. Cookies, hot apple cider, and candy were in many of the shops and along the streets. I finally had to put a stop to my kids eating their monthly allotment of cookies all in one night. 

And for myself, I was elated to find a grown-up nativity set while browsing at one of the Christmas-themed shops. Everyone was so kind and helpful and wishing us “Merry Christmas”. 

It all felt authentic and genuine and just lovely. 

Where to Eat During Lights & Luminaries

There are a handful of restaurants in the small town that have everything from BBQ to pub grub to Greek and Italian cuisine. We chose the Quirky Birds Treehouse & Bistro because it looked really cute. We walked in to a very cozy dining room and friendly employees. We had nachos, vegetarian chili, pizza, and grilled cheese. It was great! The nachos were my favorite as they had guacamole, cheese, chili, and sour cream. I thought the prices were reasonable, around $7-$12/person. 

Dillsboro is small but mighty when it comes to food. Haywood Smokehouse is one of the Top 25 BBQ Restaurants in the country. We weren’t able to try it but it looks amazing. Next time!

Be sure to stop by the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory where you’ll be greeted by an array of handmade chocolates, fudge, and coffee. 

Where to Enjoy the Outdoors in Dillsboro

Dillsboro is close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, home to nearly 900 miles in hiking trails. It’s also only a 20 minute drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway, where you can get to places like Waterrock Knob, the 16th highest mountain in the Eastern United States. 

High Falls Lake Glenville

Cashiers, the Land of the Waterfalls, and a big favorite of us at Kidding Around, is about 40 minutes from Dillsboro. There are no shortage of gorgeous hikes and waterfalls to explore there.

The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad

When we were pulling into our hotel, the Best Western Plus River, we saw the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad train and it was so cool! It was chugging along right in front of us, smoke billowing out from the top. It turns out the railroad is only 20 minutes away in Bryson City. 

If your family goes on the Polar Express ride during November and December, Dillsboro is the perfect spot to enjoy time together, especially if you make the trip during the Lights & Luminaries festival.

Where to Stay in Dillsboro 

Discover Jackson NC put us up in the Best Western Plus River Escape right on Tuckasegee River. Our room overlooked the river and it was so calming and peaceful. 

The hotel is beautiful and you could walk to the town of Dillsboro if you wanted to. They have a heated indoor pool and hot tub, which we made good use of after eating all those cookies at the festival. 

They also have a free, hot breakfast in the morning, which is pretty much equal to Christmas for my kids. They have eggs, bacon, biscuits, gravy, yogurt, oatmeal, a coffee maker that will make pretty much anything you want, juices, pastries, and our favorite: a pancake maker that looks like it came from The Jetsons. Rooms are spacious and clean and the lobby has a beautiful fireplace and cozy chairs.

Planning Your Own Trip to Dillsboro

Lights & Luminaries takes place the first two weekends of December every year, each Friday and Saturday from 5-8 pm. The last two dates for 2023 are December 8th and 9th. There’s still time to plan a last-minute getaway!

For next year, we will update this story with those dates and anything new that the festival has going on. There is no cost to attend Lights & Luminaries either, which makes it a wonderful, low-cost Christmastime adventure with your family. 

I think the biggest thing I loved about Lights & Luminaries was that it was the perfect opportunity to slow down, to enjoy the magical season, and to spend that quality time with my kids that I strive and long for. As I’m sure many parents can relate, the time we have with them goes quickly. I want to make the most of that time and this was a weekend well-spent.

Dillsboro Lights & Luminaries 
December 1, 2, 8, and 9, 2023 from 5-8 pm each night 
Dillsboro, NC

Experience Christmas Magic at the Greenville Zoo’s Holiday Lights Show

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Have you heard about how spectacular the Greenville Zoo lights are during the holidays? Holidays at the Zoo at the Greenville Zoo has holiday music, Christmas decorations, and enchanting light displays that are guaranteed to put a smile on anyone’s face this Christmas season.

Holidays at the Zoo at the Greenville Zoo in South Carolina

Holidays at the Zoo at the Greenville Zoo is a must-see in Greenville, SC for families and anyone looking to experience a bit of Christmas magic this holiday season. I tried it out and absolutely loved it for its amazing lights, relaxed and festive atmosphere, and great Christmas music.

See Christmas lights, Greenville, SC

Want more holiday lights? Check out our big Holiday Lights List for the best displays in our area!

Holidays at the Zoo: The Greenville Zoo Lights You Can Walk Through!

This amazing event has only been going on for a few years now, but it is quickly becoming a holiday staple. If you haven’t heard about it yet, let us introduce you to this awesome show of Christmas lights!

The lights are strewn throughout the entire zoo, right from the entrance gate all along the paved paths. There are two huge light tunnels which are fantastic. One of them, the one nearest the farm animals, is synchronized to music. I’ll be the first to tell you that yes, I was a hundred percent dancing through this tunnel to the music. It was so much fun and my kids thought it was hilarious. I don’t know why they didn’t join me.

I did get to talk to the guy who is responsible for the programming of the lights and a lot of the setup. He confirmed my suspicion that this display was no easy job to create. I really think the Greenville Zoo did a fantastic job with this display.

Santa and (Some) Sleeping Animals

The lights continue on throughout the zoo once you enter and stroll past the reptile house, which is open if you’d like to stop in to see the creepy crawlers, and up to the concession area where you can buy hot chocolate or popcorn and browse the zoo shop. They have really cute stuffed animals, ornaments, and other gifts.

Santa’s workshop is near there as well where guests are invited to take photos. Santa will be at the zoo on December 9th, 16th, and 23rd, 2023 from 4 pm – 7 pm.

Keep on strolling through the zoo, past the birds (you may see a huge owl like we did!), and around the small play area, which is closed for this special event. But don’t worry because once you round that curve, you’ll see a huge Holidays at the Zoo sign that you can use for pictures and then you get to walk through the big musical light tunnel – my favorite. Tag us in videos where you dance. Please.

Light display at Holidays at the Zoo

We went at 6 pm and most of the animals were already sleeping so you probably won’t see many if you go in the evening. If you go during an earlier slot, you should be able to see the animals. One of our readers said she went a little before 5 pm and got to see the animals and then when it got dark, went through again, without exiting the zoo as your ticket does not include readmission, to see all the lights lit up. This way you can enjoy the Christmas decorations and the animals as well!

The experience is such fun and absolutely worth it. It’s obvious how much work and effort the Zoo went through to make this an incredible experience for their guests.

Yummy Concessions

I definitely recommend getting a cup of hot chocolate while you’re at Holidays at the Zoo. I love hot chocolate and it’s even tastier on a chilly winter night.

You can also purchase tokens at the concession stand for milk and cookies, which you can eat while sitting at a little fire on some couches or pretty white wicker chairs that are very cozy and picturesque. There’s also a mechanical reindeer and really, who doesn’t love that?

Best Ages for Holidays at the Zoo

My kids are 8 and 11 years old and they loved this light display. I loved it as an adult. The tunnels and lights and music were my favorite and made me feel like a kid again. It was fantastic.

Light tunnel at Holidays at the Zoo

The Greenville Zoo is stroller-friendly and I saw lots of families making use of them while walking throughout the light display so if your kids are smaller, this is a great option to see some holiday lights and have that fun, family experience together.

I’ve always thought that the Greenville Zoo is such a manageable adventure for families with smaller kids and this event is no different. We spent about 45 minutes, maybe a little longer, going through the whole zoo, stopping to take photos and videos, and just to soak it all in. This is such a perfect excursion because it’s local so you aren’t driving far and also because it will easily capture the attention of kids at any age.

Tips on Enjoying the Greenville Zoo Lights

Here are a few tips to make your experience even more enjoyable at the Greenville Zoo during Holidays at the Zoo:

  • The Zoo is pretty much all outdoors so definitely plan your wardrobe accordingly. Be sure to have hats, gloves, scarves, and a warm jacket, especially when you go at night.
  • I’d recommend going around sunset or later so you can get the whole light show experience.
  • Bathrooms are conveniently located near the concession and shop area right in the middle of the Zoo. It’s always good to know where the bathrooms are!
  • The play areas inside the Zoo are closed during Holidays at the Zoo so just plan for that, especially if you know your kids love to play there.
  • If you have a stroller, you’re welcome to use it. There’s plenty of space to use strollers at the Zoo during this event.
  • Pets are not allowed on Zoo grounds so leave your furry friend home when visiting the light show.
  • Your tickets are one time entry only so you can’t leave and then come back later.

Holidays at the Zoo Dates & Tickets

Tickets to Holidays at the Zoo are $10/adult members and $8/child members; $12/adult non-members and $10/child non-members (online prices). If you choose to purchase tickets at the gate, the cost is $14/adults and $12/kids for non-members. The Zoo is encouraging guests to purchase tickets online to ensure their spot. Plus, it’s cheaper that way!

Holidays at the Zoo is happening at the Greenville Zoo:

  • December 8th-10th, 2023 from 4 – 8 pm
  • December 15th – 23rd, 2023 from 4 – 8 pm
  • December 26th – 30th, 2023 from 4 – 8 pm

Santa will be at the zoo on December 9th, 16th, and 23rd, 2023 from 4 pm – 7 pm, so if you want to see him, purchase your tickets for those dates and times.

The tickets are timed and the last time slot is 7:30 pm but as long as you are in line by 8 pm, you’ll get in.

Greenville Zoo
150 Cleveland Park Drive, Greenville
Website


Viewing Giraffes and other Wildlife at the Greenville Zoo in Greenville, SC

You can use our Complete Guide to the Greenville Zoo to see what to expect during your next visit, any time of year!


5+ Fun and Free Things To Do This Holiday Season Near Spartanburg, SC

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If you are celebrating the holidays on a budget and are looking for free things to do for Christmas, Spartanburg, SC has a few that are wonderful! The holidays can be a financially stressful time for a lot of families. Finding festive activities to enjoy that are free and low-cost can help when you are trying to keep the kids occupied during winter break.

Free things to do during Christmas time in Spartanburg, South Carolina

For more Holiday fun – check out Kidding Around’s Guide to the Holidays in Spartanburg

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Spark Your Christmas Spirit at the Celebration of Lights: Kannapolis, NC

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It’s the time of year again to enjoy the spectacular display of holiday lights at Village Park in Kannapolis at the annual Celebration of Lights. We visited the event on opening night and were thrilled to watch the annual Christmas tree-lighting celebration. Along with the FREE light display of over 250,000 lights adorning the trees and buildings, there are also some pretty unique things to do throughout the month-long celebration in this beautiful park.

Celebration of Lights in Kannapolis, North Carolina

A special thanks to Explore Cabarrus for their recommendation of the Celebration of Lights and for providing lodging at Homewood Suites by Hilton in Concord so we could enjoy this holiday celebration!

The Celebration of Lights: Village Park, Kannapolis

From November 18th, 2023 – December 30th, 2023, Village Park in Kannapolis is illuminated by lights of all colors, animated light displays, and the town’s Christmas tree display that makes for a magical photo opportunity with your family. To complement the lights, you can also take a train ride around the park, ride a Venetian carousel, and meet with Santa. Or, take the walking trail and just enjoy the lights around the park. Either way, you’re in for a treat!

Celebration of Lights in Kannapolis, North Carolina

Ride the Winterland Express Train Through the Lights

One of the Celebration of Lights most popular attractions is the Winterland Express, a train ride weaving through the light displays! The g-24 scale replica train travels throughout the entire park, blowing its little whistle, while going through light tunnels and beside animated displays while you look for the 12 days of Christmas. The train gives guests the best view of the lights and is a lot of fun for all ages. For 2023, they even added an additional train.

The train runs every 10 minutes and is by reservation only during the week. You can purchase tickets for the Winterland Express for $2 per passenger through the City of Kannapolis. Guest can make train reservations for Sunday through Thursday, but Friday and Saturday will be walk-up only. All you have to do is print your ticket or bring your mobile ticket to the train depot for boarding. The popularity of this attraction makes lines grow long quickly, so keep that in mind and plan for a little bit of a wait.

Winterland Express at Village Park in Kannapolis.

The Carousel

The double-decker Venetian carousel was one of my daughter’s favorite experiences of the holiday season so far! The carousel is housed indoors at Village Park and features beautifully crafted horses, chariots, gorgeously painted in pastels, with 1800 lights along the Brazilian oak decking. We went on the carousel during opening night, so there was a significant line, but it didn’t take long before it was our turn. If you have a tendency for motion sickness, I would recommend grabbing one of the seats instead of standing beside the horse (I learned this very quickly).

Tickets for the carousel are $2 per person, and you do not need to make reservations ahead of time.

Carousel at Village Park in Kannapolis during Celebration of Lights

Meet With Santa, Roast S’mores, and More

It wouldn’t be a true holiday celebration without Santa! You can visit with Santa in his adorable studio and take a photo of your kids rattling off their growing Christmas list. Afterward, head over to the firepits to roast some delicious s’mores and enjoy the warmth. The Celebration of Lights will also have a 30-minute caroling experience from the Kannapolis Singing Bears every hour to really set the mood for the holidays. 

Things to Know Before You Visit the Celebration of Lights

  • Bathrooms– There is a small bathroom located at the park that is kept fairly clean, along with a changing table in the largest stall in the women’s bathroom. 
  • Fireworks occur on the opening night of the Celebration of Lights in conjunction with the annual tree-lighting ceremony. These start right as the tree is lit up, making for a truly magical experience.
  • Lines– If you plan to go to the event on opening night or during the weekend, expect longer lines for the attractions than if you visit during the week.
  • Parking– There is ample free parking at the Kannapolis YMCA, which is located right beside the park. You will also find free parking at Village Park.
  • Inclement weather– If the weather turns bad and the City of Kannapolis decides to cancel events for the night, you can use your tickets another night.

What is Your Favorite Part of the Kannapolis Celebration of Lights?

Kannapolis Celebration of Lights
Village Park, Kannapolis
700 West C Street, Kannapolis, NC
Nightly, November 18th – December 30th, 2023
Open 6 pm – 9 pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day
Tickets and Reservations of the Wonderland Express


Places to see Christmas light displays in Charlotte, North Carolina

Looking for more holiday lights? One of these 17+ holiday light displays near Charlotte is sure to get you into the Christmas spirit!


Village Park in Kannapolis is a great place to visit year-round. Check out why we think it is worth the trip.

Village Park Kannapolis

Upstate’s Only Walk-Through Holiday Light Display Now Open at Heritage Park: Simpsonville, SC

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The Nights of Lights is a brand new, walk-through Christmas light display open now at Heritage Park in Simpsonville, SC. We spent a night there and have all the details on how you can enjoy it with your family! 

Thank you to the Nights of Lights for providing media tickets for this review. 

Nearly a quarter mile of thousands of lights are shining bright at Nights of Lights in the Upstate’s only walk-through holiday light display at Heritage Park in Simpsonville, SC. The brand-new event features beautiful light tunnels, a massive igloo, a petting zoo, lots of fun photo ops, ice skating, food, and carnival rides. 

They also have several different discounts and are open nightly through December 31, 2023. Yes, even on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. 

Read on for why you should put this event on your family’s list of to-do’s for the holiday season. 

For more things to do over the holidays, see our giant list of 100+ Things to do Over the Christmas Holiday season.

Night of Lights at Heritage Park in Simpsonville, South Carolina
Nights of Lights

The Nights of Lights: Heritage Park Christmas Lights

When you enter Heritage Park, keep driving all the way past the playground and train depot to the CCNB Amphitheater. There is free parking and that’s where you enter the display. 

The path of lights is all paved and goes for nearly a quarter mile. The Heritage Park Christmas lights have over 200 LED light displays throughout the park. You’ll pass through archways of light where you will see Santa, snowmen, and all kinds of happy Christmas creatures decked out in lights. 

There is a giant, life-size inflatable igloo, which is just really cute to walk through. There are places that have lights where you and your kids can poke your heads inside and instantly become lighted holiday people. It’s a lot of fun and you can take as long as you want anywhere. 

Ice Skating 

The Nights of Lights has a decent-sized skating rink for those of you who want to test your coordination and balance skills. The rink is not real ice but rather closely connected panels of synthetic material. As to how fast or slow you’ll go on skates, it will really depend upon your skates and ability to not fall! I had pretty awesome skates and was able to skate like I would on an ice rink. One of my kids almost mastered skating, but my other daughter wasn’t as coordinated. We all had a blast doing it though. 

Ice skating at Night of Lights in Simpsonville, South Carolina
Skating at Nights of Lights

Skating is $10/person and if you need a little extra assistance in terms of an ice walker, that is $5. The rink is close to the entrance so you can do that first or do it after you walk through the display. 

The Petting Zoo at Nights of Lights

Once you walk through the display, you will come to the petting zoo. The petting zoo is run by Eudora Farms, a wildlife safari based in Salley, SC. Our readers may be familiar with them since we’ve written about this farm in the past. 

The animals at the Nights of Lights are so cute. They have a small camel, fluffy sheep, goats, alpacas, a super fluffy baby Highlands Scottish Cow, and a bull with massive horns. You can purchase feed cups for a few dollars to feed the animals. They looked very happy and well taken care of. 

Camel at Night of Lights
Petting zoo at Nights of Lights

There is also a large enclosure where you can get inside and feed parakeets with a stick of bird seed. These parakeets are so funny. They will land on your arm, hand, shoulder, phone, you name it. It costs $3 for a birdseed stick and it’s so fun to get in there with them. My daughters and I loved interacting with the little birds. 

The Rides, Bounce Houses, and Santa

Nights of Lights also has several rides you can enjoy during your time there. A Ferris Wheel, carousel, and green dragon spinning thing are located in front of the stage, where the 65-foot tall Christmas tree stands, and next to the petting zoo. 

There are also two big bounce houses, including a giant snowman. My youngest daughter did these and loved the obstacle course one the best. 

Photo ops at Night of Lights
Lots of cute photo ops!

The three of us did the Ferris wheel and it was a blast. I hadn’t been on one of these old-school ones in forever and it felt secure plus you get a great view of all the lights at the top of the wheel. All the rides have to be regularly inspected so you can feel good knowing they are safe and secure. 

Rides are one ticket per person and tickets are $3/each. Or you can buy in bulk, which is a little cheaper: 12 tickets for $30.

Santa is also scheduled to be at Nights of Lights on November 24 & 25 and December 1-3, 8-10, and 15-17 from 5:30-9:30 pm. Photos are $5 using your own phone or camera. 

Food & S’Mores 

Nights of Lights offers lots of yummy food options. We got a funnel cake, which was utterly amazing. We also roasted our own s’mores at the fire pits located near the rides, which was a blast. 

Other food options are nachos, fries, onion rings, and chicken tenders – all the tasty fair foods. 

Roasting s'mores at Night of Lights
Roasting s’mores

Honest Mom Review 

The Nights of Lights was a really fun experience. My kids, ages 12 and 9, and I all really enjoyed it. I’ve covered all the major light displays in our area and I really liked this one specifically for the walk-through aspect. You can take your time and enjoy all of the neat displays, take as many photos as you like, and make those special memories with your family. 

I also enjoyed the petting zoo. I love animals and I feel that it’s usually easy to see if they are well taken care of and happy. These animals definitely were. The enclosures were clean and they seemed to be groomed well and happy. And the parakeet experience was so fun. Those little birds are cute and mischievous. 

And, lastly, getting to speak with the management and learn all the behind-the-scenes things they are doing to make it affordable for families was fantastic. They set out to make a great event for the Christmas season but also create ways for it to be doable for as many families as possible. Everything was clean and accessible as well, which I thought spoke volumes on the effort put into the event. 

Tickets, Hours, and Special Promotions 

Nights of Lights is open every day from November 20-December 31, 2023. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 5-10 pm and Friday-Saturday from 5-11 pm. You have to pay admission to the entire light display, which includes the display, igloo, and access to Santa’s Village, rides, and the petting zoo. Extras are the cups of food in the petting zoo, pony rides, ice skating, photos with Santa, and rides.

Ticket prices on Sunday-Thursday are $10/age 16+ and $8/ages 6-15. Friday and Saturday ticket prices are $12/ages 16+ and $10/ages 6-15. Kids age 5 and under are free.  No pets allowed; service dogs welcome.

Nights of Lights has promotional pricing nightly. Here’s the schedule: 

  • Sundays: Senior Citizens (age 65+) are free 
  • Mondays: Free admission with the donation of a non-perishable food. One free admission per food item per person.
  • Tuesdays: Free admission with a toy donation for Toys for Tots. Toys must be new in original packaging, not gift-wrapped. One free admission per toy per person.
  • Wednesdays: Free admission for active, reserve, and veteran military members (with valid ID).
  • Thursdays: Free admission for police officers, nurses, EMS workers, and firefighters (with valid ID).
  • Fridays: Free admission for teachers (with valid ID). Homeschool teachers are included (with valid association ID). 

Tickets are only sold at the gate. Nights of Lights is accessible and wheelchair-friendly. You can easily take a stroller. Be sure to follow Nights of Lights on Facebook for up-to-date hours and closure due to weather.

For more holiday light displays, see our big Guide to the Best Holiday Light Displays in the Upstate. 


Night of Lights at the CCNB Amphitheatre at Heritage Park
861 SE Main Street, Simpsonville
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The NC Arboretum Is A Dreamy Holiday Light Experience in Asheville, NC

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Have you visited Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum in Asheville, NC? While the Greenville area has its good share of fantastic Christmas light displays, a completely over-the-top experience at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville for their Winter Lights exhibit is worth the drive. Winter Lights has returned to walk-through light displays, exhibits, treats, smores, activities, and more!

The Arboretum, which is adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway and part of the Pisgah National Forest, is set on over 434 acres of gorgeous gardens, biking trails, and streams, meticulously planned out and designed to deliver a top-notch experience for guests.

Christmas activities in Asheville, North Carolina

Make a day of the visit to North Carolina with The Kidding Around List of Ways To Celebrate Christmas In Asheville!

The Winter Lights at NC Arboretum

The Winter Lights exhibit is no less than that. With nearly half a million LED lights lit up for the exhibit, there is no shortage of amazement.

Guests are greeted in the parking lot – the parking lot – with rows of huge trees adorned with red, blue, green, and white lights, all leading to the entrance, a two-story lodge with staff and volunteers ready to scan tickets and send guests on their merry way into the gardens.

These trees are gorgeous with the lights and make for an incredible entrance. The staff at the Arboretum started putting up the lights on September 1st. That’s how expansive this exhibit is.

Guests first exit the lodge onto a patio where they can choose to begin their walk through the lights or go straight to the Cocoa Shack, where they can purchase hot chocolate or hot cider and many different goodies like a chocolate-dipped Oreo cookie or chocolate-covered pretzel rod, or even a s’mores kit to be used at one of the supervised fire pits throughout the Arboretum.

Bent Creek Bistro will also be selling sandwiches, soups, and more during Winter Lights. Here is the Bent Creek Bistro Menu for Winter Lights 2023

What To Expect: Gum Drops and Chandeliers

Passing the Cocoa Shack, guests can meander under a lighted trellis where lights on the ground look like gumdrops. Gaze to your left and you’ll be greeted with an enormous structure of string lights that look like a Christmas tree. Head to your right for the light display that lights up in sync with captivating Christmas music.

Keep walking to the white lights strung up on trees that mimic snow falling off of branches. Or stroll under the tunnel of lights that lead to chandeliers – several of them – hanging from trees. The Arboretum also expertly decorated some of the larger trees to look like elaborate gowns, which made that part of the gardens look like a gorgeous, darkened dance hall, where a ghost of Christmas past may be seen floating among the chandeliers, dressed in a flowing gown.

The imagination can easily wander in this place.

The NC Arboretum Wishing Tree

Heading past the chandeliers is the Wishing Tree in the bonsai garden (where bathrooms are as well, in case you need to know). Guests are invited to write their warm holiday wishes on little cards and hang them from the Wishing Tree.

This was honestly my favorite part. While people wrote all kinds of interesting wishes (one guy wrote his name and number and asked pretty ladies to call him…), there were some that left me feeling like I was peeking into someone’s heart. One woman wrote that she wished to see her late husband. Another wrote that they wished everyone would feel valued this holiday season.

It was beautiful. I’m not going to say what I wished for, though.

Reindeer Games and Crafts

Past the Wishing Tree was the “Reindeer Games” section, where people could play “tic tac snow” – you and your partner could press buttons that would correspond to a tic, tac, toe board of holiday wreaths, which would light up according to the moves each player would make. They also had a game of Jenga and a nearby fire pit for making s’mores.

Past the games was another inviting building, where families could do a free craft with their child (or just do it themselves because it was fun). When we went, my kids made a butterfly that had a glowstick inside, which was perfect for when we got back outside.

In the same room, there was an animal storytime, “Storytime at Woodland Cove”, a set-up of deer and bears and squirrels that all talked (think a Disney ride but without any actual ride) and told a story of a baby bear going through his first winter alone.

On our way back through the exhibit outside, we happened to come across a train exhibit, which was fun to watch. We saw it atop the bridge that led to the big Christmas tree-like light display, but you could walk down below and see the trains up close as well. My oldest wanted to go to see, as did I, but my youngest was reaching her breaking point so we had to head out. Next time!

Winter Lights

Making The Trip To Asheville, NC

The NC Arboretum is just over an hour from Greenville. There are nearby restaurants that are great for families if you want to eat before you go. I was given the recommendation to go Papas & Beer, which is five minutes from the Arboretum, and it was awesome.

It’s a late night for little ones but depending on your child’s temperament and mood, they will probably love it. My three-year-old was hitting her limit about an hour and a half into the exhibit so opted to head out.

There were a bunch of families, children, couples, and grandparents all enjoying the exhibit. One dad even had on a hiking backpack where he stowed his smaller child. Smart thinking.

To enjoy as much of the exhibit as possible, try to get there when it opens at 6 pm. You’ll have to show your tickets and park, which takes about 20-25 minutes, and then you have the rest of the time to wander around the exhibit and enjoy the magical experience.

2023 Winter Lights Ticket Info & FAQ

  • DATES
    November 17th, 2023 – December 31st, 2023
  • HOURS
    The gates open for the Winter Lights Display at 6:00 PM. Tickets are timed and guests may enter anytime between the time on their ticket and 9 pm. All guests must be off the property by 10:30 pm. Don’t not arrive early and block the gate.
  • TICKETS
    Tickets for a standard passenger vehicle range in price from $40-$70 per car when purchased in advance. Peak days will be priced at a premium. All the pricing details can be found on the NC Arboretum Winter Lights Ticket page If you have your ticket on your smartphone, take a screenshot before you arrive. Cell service is limited at the ticket gate.
  • North Carolina Arboretum Winter Lights -100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville, NC | 828.665.2492

Know Before You Go

  • Animals are not allowed in the Arboretum and food and drink cannot be brought in either.
  • Bathrooms are in the main lodge entrance building, near the Wishing Tree in the bonsai garden, and in the building where the restaurant and crafts are located.