By Erin Laytham Lentz, Contributor
If you are lucky enough to enjoy a visit to Hilton Head throughout the Fall and Winter months you will enjoy more than the temperate climate. There are many ways to experience a coastal Christmas with an abundance of family-inspired local events to take part in. Hilton Head and its’ surrounding communities combine small town charm and island influence to create the warmth and memories through holiday celebrations.
Dove Street Festival Of Lights is Saturday, November 19, 2016 6:00 pm – Saturday, December 31, 2016 10:00 pm. Every night visitors can explore Hilton Head’s Dove Street Festival of Lights presented by Kroger and the merchants of Shelter Cove’s Towne Centre. The lights return to the Shelter Cove Towne Centre with over 70,000 lights for the 2016 holiday season! Park your car, stroll through the lights and falling snow (bubbles), all while enjoying nightly holiday entertainment, shopping, dining and much more from 6-10 p.m.The Deep Well Project, PEP (Programs for Exceptional People) and Island Rec Center will be accepting donations on site. The festival, which was a Hilton Head holiday tradition for 20 years on Dove Street, returns to the island at a different location this year. When it began in 1990, the festival was just a few strings of lights and a Santa hat but it quickly grew, becoming one of the island’s must-see holiday events with musical performances by church and school groups and greetings and photos with an assortment of characters including Santa and Frosty. In 2010 the festival outgrew its space on Dove Street and turned off their lights for good. A new vision for the project won out and instead of a canopy of lights illuminating homes, the lights now illuminate the shops and restaurants at Shelter Cove Towne Centre, the shopping hotspot on Hilton Head. Visitors can actually get out of their car and enjoy the magical experience of the lights and festive fun up close, including entertainment in the plaza off Shelter Cove Lane.
The Hilton Head Community Christmas Holiday Tree Lighting takes place November 26, 2016 from 3:30-5:50pm. On the grounds of the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. Join Santa, Mrs. Claus and Rudolph to kick off the Town’s official Christmas tree lighting. It is an old fashioned yuletide celebration complete with holiday treats, crafts, Christmas carols and a musical performance from the cast of “White Christmas.” Children’s activities include holiday crafting, face painting and photos with Santa. Hot cocoa and other food is available for purchase. All ages welcome. Admission is free..
The Sea Pines community, on Hilton Head, has also captured the spirit of the season and is rolling out some family fun. Harbor Town hosts outdoor Christmas movies on December 3rd, 10th & 17th at 7:30pm. Gather around the Liberty Oak Tree to watch classic holiday movies and roast marshmallows over a fire pit. Games and activities begin at 4pm. In addition, Harbor Town lights are set aglow from Nov 29th-Jan 1st. Enjoy strolling along the harbor and gazing at the 30ft Christmas tree on display. The official tree lighting is November 29th at 7:30 pm followed by a Gregg Russell Concert.
Winter Wonderland Festival sponsored by the Island Rec Center is Friday, December 2nd, 4-6pm at Shelter Cove Community Park. There will be hayrides, petting zoo and carnival games. Children 2-15 $10. Adults Free.
There’s no better time to plan a special night enjoying the arts then the holidays. Gather your family and reserve your tickets for the featured musical at the local professional theatre. The Arts Centre of Coastal Carolina presents the heartwarming Irving Berlin’s musical, White Christmas December 7-31st. Tickets available at the box office 843-842-2787 or artshhi.com
The Jingle Jingle 5K Run returns Christmas Eve, Sat December 24th at 9am. It is presented by Hilton Head Hospital and Bear Foot Sports. The first 500 participants will receive a long-sleeve t-shirt. Holiday prizes are presented to the top three overall male and female finishers. A free Children’s Fun Run begins at 10am. For race registration visit bearfootsports.com
Just a short drive over the bridge from the island awaits more Lowcountry holiday festivities. Palmetto Bluff hosts Christmas In The Village which kicks off with a showing of Elf on the Village Green, December 2nd at 6pm. Gates open at 4:30pm. Mingle with Santa Claus and bring chairs and blankets. Movie snacks and hot drinks provided. Admission is $20/per car and proceeds go to Our Heroes Foundation.
Enjoy local May River oysters at the Annual Oyster Roast, December 3rd 5-8pm. Held by the Bluffton Historical Preservation Society at the Oyster Factory Park. Tickets are available on blufftonhistorical.org or 843-757-6293.
Love a parade? The Annual Bluffton Town Christmas Parade is Dec. 3rd at 10am. The parade lasts for 3 hours and draws large crowds. The Christmas Parade Downtown Beaufort will be Dec. 4th at 3pm. Floats, bands and more will take to the streets of downtown Beaufort.
A very cool way to kick off the New Year is the 10th Annual Bluffton New Year’s Day Polar Bear Run 5K presented by Bear Foot Sports, January 1st, 2017 at 10am. It includes a 1 mile Fun Run & Dog Walk. Pets, strollers and baby joggers are welcome. For race registration visit bearfootsports.com
If you are lucky enough to enjoy a visit to Hilton Head throughout the Fall and WInter months you will enjoy more than the temperate climate. There are many ways to celebrate a coastal Christmas with an abundance of family inspired local events to take part in.