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Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

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

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


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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Celebrate The Holidays This Year in Anderson County, SC

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Looking for holiday events in Anderson, SC? You’ve found the right place! We have information on parades, ice skating, shopping, where to find Santa, and more are all waiting for you in this list of holiday events and things to do in Anderson, SC.

Anderson, SC Christmas Events and things to do, Christmas events in Anderson, SC

Holiday Fun In Anderson County

Drive Through The Anderson Lights Display

Thanksgiving Day through Christmas Day | 5:30 – 10 PM
Anderson Lights includes 2.5 miles of light displays, a Christmas village, an opportunity to see Santa, and unique entertainment scheduled on select nights. $10 a car.

Shop From Local Vendors

  • Pendleton Christkindlmarkt
    Fridays and Saturdays December 1st-16th, 2023, 4:30 to 8:30 pm
    An outdoor market located in Pendleton’s Village Square. Hot spice wine, apple cider and beer available for purchase, vendors change weekly.
  • The Holly Jolly Holiday Fair
    November 17th – 19th, 2023
    This holiday fair includes lots of local vendors you already love, plus demonstrations, food trucks, live music, and visits with Santa! The tickets start at $8 per person, and there are VIP options available.

Go Ice Skating In Wren Park

Holiday Ice in Carolina Wren Park– Anderson
On select dates from December 1st 2023 – December 31st, 2023, Enjoy ice skating in the park! Admission is $5 per person ages 7 and older (skates included). Kids 6 and under skate free on the kiddie rink .

Free Fun To Have During The Holidays In Anderson

The holidays can stress our wallets, so free and cheap fun is always a welcome sight! We’ve found ways to celebrate the holiday season that won’t break the bank.

View The Trees at The Christmas Tree Festival

November 15th through November 18th, 2023
View the decorated trees, wreaths, and centerpieces available to purchase to benefit the Hospice of The Foothills. Admission to view the decorations is free.

Attend A Holiday Parade

There are plenty of places to sit along the parade routes, and it’s always a good idea to bring a bag to catch any candy thrown out to the kids from floats. Also, don’t forget that hot cocoa and a comfy chair and blanket to stay toasty depending on the weather!

  • City of Anderson Christmas Parade
    December 3, 2023 | Starts at 3 pm
    Line up on Main Street to see the Christmas parade. The parade route runs from Greenville Street starting at 3 PM and runs to Highland Avenue where it finishes at approximately 4:45 PM.
  • Clemson’s Magic of Christmas Parade
    December 5th, 2023 | Starts at 5 PM
    The City of Clemson’s Parade festivities begin at 5 pm, with the actual parade kicking off at 6 pm. The parade route runs from College Avenue to Strode Circle. 

Christmas Tree Lighting in Anderson

  • Anderson Christmas Tree Lighting, December 1st, 2023 at 6 pm, and cookie crawl

Christmas at the Library

Libraries are always a great source of free fun! While you’ll need an Anderson library card to check out books, you don’t need one to attend the fun, free events they have planned.

See Santa in Anderson

We asked the elves for Santa’s appearance schedule this season. Here’s a list of places where you find Santa this year in Anderson. Snap a photo, enjoy some cookies, and don’t forget to share your Christmas wish list!


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More Christmas Events in Anderson County


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(2023) FREE Fun & Photo With Santa at Cabela’s & Bass Pro Shops

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If you are thinking about bringing your kids to Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s, Santa will be there too! Kick off the holiday season with Santa’s Wonderland at Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops. Truly FREE, a visit to Santa’s Wonderland includes not only a chance to talk to Santa, but also a free studio-quality printed 4×6 photo. You’ll enjoy free activities, candy cane, games, and more. This is one place where holiday magic is really, actually free, and we love it.

See Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s Santa in 2023

  • Bass Pro Shops & Cabela’s: Santa arrives on November 4th, 2023!
  • Free 4×6 high-quality photo
  • Lots of Free fun all season long!
  • Reservations are open NOW! Make your reservation to see Santa at Cabela’s!

Saturday, November 4th, 2023: Santa’s Arrival Parade at 5 pm in front of Bass Pro Shop.
November 5th, 2023 through December 24, 2023: FREE photos with Santa at Cabela’s.

Note: The times listed above are for Santa at Cabela’s of Greenville, SC. Times and dates may vary by location, but the offerings will be very similar.

Just check with your local Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop for their Santa’s Wonderland schedule.

Santa arrives via boat at Cabela's
Photo credit: Cabela’s

See Santa and Where to Mail Your Letter: Video

FREE Arrival Parade Event

Santa will arrive on a boat straight from the North Pole at Cabela’s & Bass Pro Shops on November 4th, 2023 at 5 p.m.

The arrival event will include:

  • Carolers
  • Free special giveaways
  • Hot chocolate and cookies
  • Various vendors
  • Free games and activities

Free Photos With Santa and Visit to Santa’s Wonderland: Yes! It’s Really Free!

  • Make a reservation in advance.
  • Visits include a FREE 4×6 photo with Santa that you will receive on-site.
  • A visit to Santa’s Wonderland includes FREE crafts and games
  • Use the letterbox to drop off your list to Santa
Santa at Cabela's

Want more photos? Purchase Additional Photos with Santa at Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops

Love your free photo? Copying is prohibited, but you can purchase a photo package for additional photos. They’ll print right in the store. Use your CLUB Mastercard® and you can purchase a special CLUB Members Exclusive Photo Package for just $20.

But, remember, no purchase is necessary to visit Santa’s Wonderland at Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shops. No purchase is necessary for a free photo with Santa. You can have a great time with the kids and spend nothing at all.

Santa’s Wonderland: What you need to know before you visit with Santa

Kidding Around Guest Contributor Lauren Justus brought her family to Cabela’s of Greenville for a visit with Santa. Here are her parent tips: everything you need to know before you go for your visit with the big man in red.

Plan Ahead

In order to visit Santa’s Wonderland, you are required to make a free online reservation with Santa. It takes just a minute to register and you will receive a confirmation email with your booking date and time.

Reservations are available up to seven days in advance, November 5-December 24, 2023. No walk-ins are allowed at this time. 

Visiting Santa at Cabela's
Photo Credit: Cabela’s

How It Works

Upon arrival, one of Santa’s helpers will ask to see your booking confirmation. After your photo is taken, each family will receive a complimentary 4 x 6 print as part of their free online booking. There are additional photo packages available for purchase.

Santa at Cabela's
Photo with Santa provided by Cabela’s at Lauren’s visit.

Extra Touches

Before our exit, Santa’s helpers provided our children with an individually packaged holiday activity kit full of festive surprises. They were also given a huge candy cane and a “Letter for Santa” printout to send to the North Pole in the coming weeks! 

Santa’s Letterbox

There is a letterbox at Santa’s Wonderland so you can send your list! You can take some time to fill out your list right away and mail it, or bring it back to the store to mail when you’re done.

Do some shopping or enjoy the displays

Don’t forget to take a walk through the store before or after your visit so you can enjoy the large aquariums and wildlife displays throughout each store. That’s actually something that’s great to do any day, but even more fun when you’re making a day of it and visiting Santa, too!

Where will your family visit with Santa this year?

Festival of Trees at the Hyatt in Greenville, South Carolina

The holidays do not always have to be expensive! Check out these Free Things to Do This Christmas Near Greenville, SC!

Find Delicious Pies for Your Holiday Meal in Spartanburg and Greenville, SC

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Wondering where you can purchase a fabulous pie in Greenville, SC for your holiday meal? Greenville and Spartanburg restaurants are offering some delicious holiday pie options. Plus, our readers chimed in with their favorite local pies to help you fill your holiday dessert table!

Looking for more fun things to do for Thanksgiving? We’ve got everything you need to know about celebrating Thanksgiving around Greenville and Spartanburg, SC.