Top 10 Holiday Events on Hilton Head Island & Bluffton

In our family, celebrating the holidays on Hilton Head starts the Friday after Thanksgiving and carry thru to New Years Day. It is 30+ days of total Christmas bliss on Hilton Head Island building amazing family memories.

Throughout December we attend as many functions as we can to celebrate the Holidays, including weekend activities in Harbour Town, at Shelter Cove Community Park and in Downtown Bluffton.

Christmas Eve day always starts with a walk on Pickney Island or a visit to The Sandbox Children’s Museum and ends with happy hour on the deck at Reilley’s Bar & Grill. Christmas Day includes an afternoon playdate with friends or a trip to the beach. And New Years Eve is notoriously fun for the kids with the 7pm ball drop at Harbour Town in Sea Pines!

I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into my families Hilton Head traditions – below is a list of fun holiday activities in the Lowcountry for all ages!

1) Holiday Lights at the Hilton Head Fire Station

Started years ago when a few firefighters strung some lights outside the firehouse, this is now known locally as the first place to go on Hilton Head when it’s time for Holiday lights. With luck, you’ll see a firetruck too! We were there on their “official” opening night the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the cars were already lined up! Located next to First Presbyterian Church and across from Port Royal Plantation on Hilton Head Island. Free to attend.


Find outstanding lights at the Fire Station!

2) Community Art at Honey Horn

While the Community Art Project is not Holiday- based, this is a GREAT way to spend the day appreciating the Lowcountry. The exhibit displays 20 large-scale pieces on the property from local and national artists. Plus, I love taking Gray there to see the Marsh Tacky Horses, where he can run off some energy. Spend the afternoon walking the property and stop by the store for local gifts like Sweet Grass Baskets, tea, honey and other goodies. On display till December 31st – don’t miss this at Honey Horn! Free to attend.

snail sculpture

3) Christmas Shopping In Downtown Bluffton & The Bluffton Christmas Parade

Stroll the streets from the Promenade to Calhoun searching for the perfect Lowcountry gift. You will find everything from local art to pottery to baked goods to books – all with a local, Lowcountry feel. Make sure to stop by the Dispensery for a hot-toddie or The Cottage for a stocking-stuffer gift certificate! Mark your calendars for Saturday the 7th as the Bluffton Christmas Parade kicks off, bringing thousands of people to downtown Bluffton while the route wraps around the historic moss covered oak roads. Start time, 11am.


Photo: Bluffton Today

4) See what’s going on at Sea Pines!

The Sea Pines Resort has holiday activities going on each day, with Holiday Lights starting the day after Thanksgiving. Decorated to the max with Christmas cheer the resort is featuring a store window competition, the movie “Polar Express”, bonfire pits, smores, a Gregg Russell performance, Polar Bear Swim and more! Check out their calendar for a full list of events. And make sure to mark your calendar for the Sea Pines Resort signature event of the season, the ball drop ceremony at Harbour Town. Fun for the kiddos and parents, the golf “ball” drop on New Years Eve from the Harbour Town lighthouse is always a great time, packed with young families and Hilton Head revelers. The golf “ball” drops at both 7pm and midnight for those young and old. $5 gate entry into Sea Pines. Free to attend most events.

sea pines

Photo: The Sea Pines Resort

5) Lowcountry Holiday Happenings at Coastal Discovery Museum

Friday, December 6th from 10am till 1pm at Honey Horn. Meet local Hilton Head authors Kathryn Wall, Mary Whyte, Barbara Muller, Island Writers Network, Janet Garrity, Patricia Bee, Stephen Hoffius, Marvin Bouknight and Wanda Lane and have them autograph your Lowcountry book! Food from We Island Gumbo (they have the BEST gumbo) will be available to sample and purchase. Pick up a hostess gift for your holiday party or a take a Sweet Grass Basket Making class. See the full list of events here. Free to attend, classes are additional.

6) Island Rec Center Winter Wonder Festival

Saturday, December 7th from 4pm till 8pm at Shelter Cove Community Park. Featuring a Children’s Parade, Candy Cane Hunt, Winter Hayride, Carnival Games and of course, Gray’s favorite, Bouncy Houses! Admission is $10 for kids 2-15, free for parents and all the proceeds go to the Island Rec Center Scholarship Fund. Click here.

winter wonder festival


7) Ugly Christmas Sweater Bar Crawl

Saturday, December 14th 5:30pm till 2am. Started as a grassroots event 6 years ago by a handful of Hilton Head locals, this has grown to host over 100 people! Locals Beth Doudoukijan, AnnTalley Lauderdale, Neil Castellane and many others organize the bars to accommodate the slew of locals and visitors donned in ugly sweater gear. Ugly Christmas Sweater Bar Crawl koozies available for $5 with all proceeds going to Lowcountry Autism Foundation. Plus this year, bring a pair of flip flops for Food Network Star and owner of One Hot Mama’s, Orchid Paulmeier to take back to the Philippines, “Flip Flops for the Philippines”….event starts at 5:30 at Captain Woody’s and will finish at 11pm at the Board Room. Cab companies will be on hand. Bring lots of cash for cabs and drinks! Full schedule and more info here!

Ugly sweater party


8) Santa at the Bluffton Promenade hosted by Captain Woody’s

Friday, December 6th starting around 5pm – come visit with Santa after the Town of Bluffton Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Captain Woody’s will host free bouncy houses, free face painting and “The Grinch That Stole Christmas” at 6:30pm on the lawn. Bring blankets and chairs. Get a picture with Santa and grab dinner or a hot-toddie from Captain Woodys!

gift basket

Taste of the Lowcountry Gift Basket

9) Shop Local on The Water

Featuring a slew of locally made gifts to satisfy the most discerning gift receiver, The Skull Creek General Store is your place to pick up that “unique” item. From hand-carved oyster shuckers from Charleston to local hand towels to organic chocolate made in Savannah (featured in Garden & Gun Magazine) to Skull Creek Boathouse hot sauces and gift packs – this is a great place to shop local. Stop by for lunch and leave with your holidays all wrapped up – yes, complimentary gift wrapping with your purchases! Free valet parking for the restaurant and general store make for an easy shopping and dining experience! And new in 2013 – sip and shop each night from 4-7pm. Complimentary wine or champagne while you peruse the store. Visit them on facebook here:

ornaments made with oysters

Ornaments made with local oysters and spanish moss

guys gift basket

The Ultimate Guys Gift Basket!

10) Join in the Jingle Jingle Fun at the Jingle Run!

Saturday, December 21st at 9am. This 5k Run and Health Walk on and around the Hilton Head Hospital Campus encourages participants to dress in the Christmas Spirit! Look for plenty of reindeer and Santa’s during this community event. Registration and more information here.

jingle run


Last – you can find Santa at the following locations on Hilton Head Island and Bluffton!

December 7, 14 & 21: Bring the family to Main Street Village and visit Santa Claus from 12-2 p.m.

Every Friday & Saturday at South Beach Inn, see Santa sponsored by the Salty Dog! 3-7pm

Friday, December 6th from 6-8pm have your picture taken with Santa at the Liberty Oak Tree in Harbour Town with donations going to Deep Well.

man carrying child

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