Things to Do in Greenville, South Carolina, This Holiday Season

Plan a getaway to Greenville, South Carolina, where you can walk in a (mild-weather) winter wonderland.

Tucked up against the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Greenville has built a reputation for great Southern food and hospitality, but this place really turns on the charm come December. From outdoor events that make the most of cooler temperatures to ice skating and tree trimming, there is fun to be had for the whole family in and around the South Carolina Upcountry.

Downtown Greenville, SC at Christmas

Cameron Reynolds

Find Magic on Main Street

Each year, the city lights up with community activities, and you can find something around every corner. Part of the credit goes to the annual Window Decorating Contest on Main Street, which invites area merchants to dress up their storefronts. Look for gifts at Mast General Store, O.P. Taylor's toy shop, M. Judson Booksellers, and the Greenville Soy Candle Company. Then stock up at Christmas pop-up shops and markets like the one hosted by Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery.

As you stroll through town, prepare to encounter a giant Christmas tree or two. While some evergreens are trimmed for the Festival of Trees competition, the most dazzling is the official city tree that stands 30 feet tall and is located downtown at Main and Court Streets in the plaza just outside M. Judson Booksellers. In NOMA Square, visitors will discover an oversize menorah, which is lit at the annual Chanukah on Main to mark the first night of the holiday.

267United Community Bank Ice on Main in Greenville, SC3601_AnEveCameronReynolds_GVL_IceonMain-9892
Cameron Reynolds

Go Ice Skating

During your trip, you will also notice an outdoor ice-skating rink that might seem a bit familiar. The United Community Bank Ice on Main is a miniature replica of the iconic one found at New York City's Rockefeller Center. Strung with lights and filled with skaters, it has become a popular draw for families. (The rink usually opens in November, and tickets can be purchased online.)

Catch the Parade

Most of the seasonal crowd travels via ice skates or walking shoes, but a certain very special guest has a showier mode of transportation. During the annual Poinsettia Christmas Parade, you could catch a glimpse of Santa Claus' motorized sleigh, which is actually an upgraded 1993 Ford Aerostar. Plenty of floats, marching bands, and dance troupes join him during the parade, a 75-plus-year tradition on the first Saturday of December.

Wander Down By the Riverside

Unless there's a rare South Carolina snowfall, follow the lead of Greenville locals and explore the outdoors. Walk along the city's tree-lined sidewalks illuminated by twinkling lights. Cycle the Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail, a 22-mile greenway that runs next to the Reedy River in the footprint of an old railroad corridor. Stop at the shops, restaurants, and breweries along the way. Wander through Falls Park on the Reedy, a serene local favorite in the heart of Greenville. Then check out Unity Park, a 60-acre downtown green space that opened in 2022. There are plenty of places to roam and play, plus a pedestrian bridge extending over the Reedy River.

See a Show

You'll find a multitude of museums, art galleries, and theaters in town too. Each year, the International Ballet puts on The Nutcracker at the Peace Center, and there's also the Holiday at Peace concert with the Greenville Symphony Orchestra. (Be sure to warm up your voice beforehand: This event has included audience sing-alongs in the past.)

Whether you've come to sing, shop, sightsee, or cycle, this riverside city delivers—offering a generous dose of seasonal spirit.

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