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Greenville-Spartanburg family-friendly holiday events

Start a new family tradition this holiday season.

The Upstate has enough seasonal events to keep any family busy throughout December.

Choose one or more that can help your children create lasting memories.

Candlelight Christmas at Ashtabula

Ashtabula Plantation, Central

5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Dec. 5, 12

2 – 5 p.m. Dec. 6, 13

Candlelight Christmas at Ashtabula is a welcome chance to unplug and have a very different kind of holiday experience. The event is a celebration of Christmas in the early 19th century at the historic Ashtabula Plantation.

“Ashtabula is full of so many treasures and it’s for everyone in our community to discover,” Susan King, the site’s office manager, said. “It’s completely family friendly. We want families to come out and disengage from cell phones and computers and just enjoy the night.”

The house, built in 1825, will be decorated for an 1848 Christmas, with the quarter-mile drive lined with luminaries. Musical performances from the Celebration Ringers Handbell Choir (Dec. 5 and 12) and the Foothills Chorale (Dec. 13) will be staged in the four downstairs rooms of Ashtabula’s main house and in two rooms of its historic colonial outbuilding.

“People love the ambiance — luminaries and candlelight and especially the costumes,” King said.

Admission is $10 each for adults and $5 each for children ages 5-10. Younger children are welcome, but strollers are not allowed inside the house. Tickets are non-refundable. Purchase tickets online at For details, call 864-646-7249 or email Ashtabula is located at 2725 Old Greenville Highway, Central, about three miles east of the Pendleton town square.

Christmas at the Stables

Whispering Pines Stables, Mauldin

6 – 8 p.m. Dec. 12

3 – 5 p.m. Dec. 13

Debbie Webster’s labor of love expresses the Christmas spirit to families from all over the Upstate.

“Christmas at the Stables tells the story, but it also gives a visual that is so meaningful to so many people,” Webster, the farm’s owner, said. “I tell the story, but we have children playing all the nonspeaking parts and all the flocks, donkey, camel and crowds of people.”

Webster said sometimes the unscripted parts of the performance become the most memorable.

“We do tell the Christmas story, but the children and all these animals keep the audience spellbound and sometimes in stitches,” she said. “Children love seeing the animals, including sheep and goats, and seeing the story come alive.”

The program is an annual event for Webster and her volunteers and its one that she hopes more families will embrace as a part of their Christmas tradition.

“Even though it’s a lot of hard work for our family, we love to tell people the Christmas story,” she said. “Christmas shouldn’t be all about how much we can get, but how much we can give. It’s Jesus’s birthday. The children and families that help us do this know that this act of service is their gift to Jesus. I think people will feel the love and sincerity of our effort and hopefully, will feel welcome to join us in our celebration of Christmas at the Stables. Jesus was born in a stable. That means a lot to me especially.”

Admission is free. All ages are welcome. Groups are asked to call for reservations. The event is held at Whispering Pines Stables, 206 Adams Mill Road, Mauldin. For details, call 864-288-7458 or visit

Chabad’s Chanukah on Main Menorah Lighting

NOMA Square, Greenville

4:30 p.m. Dec. 6

Brave the cold for a festive evening that lights up the night in downtown Greenville.

To celebrate the first night of Hanukkah, the community is invited to light a giant menorah and experience what Rabbi Leibel Kesselman calls “the timeless message of freedom.”

The event includes music, hot doughnuts, apple cider, cotton candy, hot chocolate and more. A magician will be on hand to entertain children, a children’s choir will perform and face painting will be offered.

Kesselman said Hanukkah celebrates the liberation of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, after the defeat the Syrian-Greek king who had tried to forcefully uproot the beliefs and practices of Judaism from the people of Israel. As the temple was rededicated, only a one-day supply of oil was found to light the temple’s menorah. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days.

“There are people from all backgrounds and all faiths who attend this event,” Kesselman said. “Hanukkah became very much a universal message of religious freedom in general. It’s very much a united event. Outside the Jewish community, there are people I recognize from year to year from the menorah lighting. It’s very much a community event and for people to enjoy themselves.”

Admission is free. All ages are welcome. The event is held at NOMA Square on Greenville’s Main Street. For details, visit

Ice skating

Skating on the Square

Morgan Square, Spartanburg

Through Jan. 3

Ice on Main

Village Green in front of the Courtyard Marriott, Greenville

Through Jan. 18

Even with a cold, wet winter in the forecast, the Upstate isn’t a place for ice skating outdoors — except in Spartanburg’s Morgan Square and Greenville’s Village Green. Add an extra layer clothing and bring the entire family for a day on the ice. Rent skates at both locations. Check the online schedules for special events, pricing and more.

But wait… there are additional holiday events

Here are additional holiday-related events happening in the Upstate. Find additional information in our Daily Adventures calendar on Page 51.

THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS PAST FESTIVAL is Dec. 4 – 19 in Fountain Inn. The event includes carriage rides, ice skating and more. For details, visit

CHRISTMAS AT HERITAGE PARK, featuring Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland, continues through Jan. 3. For details, visit

THE LIGHTS BEFORE CHRISTMAS celebration is 5 – 9 p.m. through Dec. 30, except Dec. 24 – 25, at Riverbanks Zoo. The event includes almost a million lights, visits with Santa, nightly snow and more. For more information, call 803-779-8717 or visit

SNOWVILLE is open through Jan. 11 at EdVenture. The exhibit includes an ice cave, snow, sledding and more. Visit

WINTERFEST is Dec. 19 – 23 and Dec. 26 – Jan. 3 at the South Carolina State Museum. “Frozen” Sing-A-Long night is Dec. 30. Planetarium shows include “The Star of Bethlehem” and a laser light show. “The Polar Express 4D Experience” shows in the museum’s 4D theater. For schedule and details, visit

HOLIDAY LIGHTS ON THE RIVER is 6 – 10 p.m. through Dec. 31 at Saluda Shoals Park. The drive-through lights display includes more than a million lights on a two-mile loop. Admission is $15 per car, $25 per 15-passenger van and $40 per bus. Call 803-772-1228 or visit

CHRISTMAS AT BILTMORE ESTATE in Asheville continues through Jan. 10. In Antler Hill Village, Santa will visit with children and families from 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 20. Candlelight Christmas Evenings continue through Jan. 2. For details, visit

THE CHRISTMAS GIFT LIGHT FESTIVAL is at 5:30 p.m. nightly through Dec. 25 at the Anderson County Recycling and Education Center. For details, visit

“THE POLAR EXPRESS 4D EXPERIENCE” is at the S.C. Aquarium in Charleston. The show continues through Dec. 31. Scuba Claus appears through Dec. 23. Visit or call 843-577-3474.

ROPER MOUNTAIN HOLIDAY LIGHTS is open 6 – 10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 30 at Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville. The event includes drive-through lights displays, a winter wonderland, visits with Santa and more. Winter Wonderland is open 6 – 9 p.m. nightly. For events and costs, visit

SPEEDWAY CHRISTMAS is at the Charlotte Motor Speedway through Dec. 30. The event is a drive-through Christmas light park and village with movie nights and more. Visit

SHADRACK’S CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND is dusk – 10 p.m. through Dec. 30 at the WNC Agricultural Center Fairgrounds in Fletcher, North Carolina. Drive through the fairgrounds and watch the thousands of Christmas lights dance to music. Admission is $20 per car or family van, $40 per activity van, mini bus or limousine and $80 per tour or school bus. For more information, call 888-321-7547 or visit

NIGHTS OF A THOUSAND CANDLES are Dec. 3 – 5, 10 – 12 and 17 – 19 at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet. For details and tickets, visit

THE HOLIDAY FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS continues through Jan. 3 at James Island County Park in Charleston. The event is a three-mile drive through light displays, as well as a sand sculpture, gingerbread houses and more. For details, visit