Best Things to Do in December in Greenville

December is packed full of holiday fun in Greenville

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or Festivus, December is a month of celebration and spending time with friends, family, and loved ones. It also marks the end of the year, changing of seasons, and so many other reasons for merriment. Naturally, Greenville and the surrounding Upstate offer much to do this time of year and the only problem is finding time to enjoy it all.

For those looking to enjoy colder temperatures and the spirit of winter, you can take the family to Ice on Main Downtown for an open-air ice skating rink a la a miniature Rockefeller Center. For the holiday focused, nothing says Christmas like the annual Poinsettia Christmas Parade or the Holiday Fair at the Greenville Convention Center. If shopping needs to get done and you are avoiding the big box stores with a more local focus in mind, holiday markets at Swamp Rabbit Café allow you to support local businesses while you procure some unique gifts you will never find at the mall. Whatever your mood, let this list of 10Best things to do in December be your guide as we close out the year.


Café and Then Some
Photo courtesy of Cafe & Then Some

Café & Then Some has been bringing comedic performances to the stage since 1978 and they are still going strong. Through December you have the chance to see their latest creation, "Some Assembly Required", to help "take the edge" off the holiday season. The show features elves, generic couples, a Pinterest freak, and the entire cast of a megachurch's Christmas pageant all trying to prepare for the holidays, and what is not to love about every bit of that? All of this comes with a full dinner service as Café & Then Some is the Upstate's only dinner theater, making it the perfect date night destination or holiday adventure with friends.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Café & Then Some's performances are always in tune with current events, so naturally a Christmas themed show takes us into the holidays.

Brett's expert tip: Come hungry as this is the Upstate's only dinner theater with a full-service restaurant to enjoy during the performance.

Read more about Café and Then Some →

Festival of Trees
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of David Poleski

Now in its 34th year, The Festival of Trees invites local businesses and other Upstate groups to put their touch on classic Christmas tree decorating. The official kickoff party "Martinis & Mistletoe" at The Hyatt Regency signals the start of the event, followed by a Teddy Bear Luncheon invites guests to bring a stuffed animal to donate for kids in need. Then, all month long, guests are invited to visit Downtown Greenville's Courtyard Marriott, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn & Suites, and The Hyatt Regency for a tour of the trees decorated for the event in each hotel's lobby.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Festival of Trees is a great community event celebrating the beauty of the Christmas tree while raising money for Bon Secours Neurosciences Center.

Brett's expert tip: You do not have to attend the signature events to take your own self-guided tour of the trees around Greenville.

Read more about Festival of Trees →

Usually, to get a car on the track at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway, you need to be a part of a race. During the holidays, however, Upstate families are invited to drive around the track as they enjoy the Upstate's largest display of Christmas lights. This is an interactive event where the lights are synced with the Christmas music on your car's radio and there is no limit to how many times you can drive around the track (no racing, of course). After you have taken your last lap, feel free to park and enjoy the petting zoo, ice skating rink, and Santa Land. Christmas at the Speedway has never been so much fun for the entire family.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Upstate's biggest holiday lights display is the perfect holiday family fun.

Brett's expert tip: Tune in to 104.3 or 92.1 FM for traditional or kids Christmas music synced with the lights display around you.

Read more about Greenville Pickens Speedway →

North Pleasantburg
Greenville Holiday Fair
Photo courtesy of Photo Courtesy of Holiday Fair Greenville

If you want to experience a winter wonderland unlike anything else the Upstate has to offer, you will want to pay a visit to the Greenville Convention Center's Holiday Fair. More than 350 artists, craftsmen, and other vendors from 15 states will set up shop for all of the gifts you will need to get you through the holidays. Now in its 49th year and at one of the Southeast's largest event spaces, the Holiday Fair at the Greenville Convention Center is great family fun that is sure to get you ready for the holidays like nothing you have ever experienced.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Greenville Holiday Fair has been an Upstate tradition for 49 years and boasts more than 350 vendors and crafters.

Brett's expert tip: Wear comfortable shoes as the Greenville Convention Center is one of the Southeast's largest venues and you will be doing a lot of walking as you take it all in.

Read more about Greenville Holiday Fair →

Peace Center for the Performing Arts

The best seasonal performance arts are taking place at the Peace Center all holiday season long. The fun starts with a visit from Robert Earl Keen on his special "Countdown to Christmas" tour and follows with performances of the Christmas Classic The Nutcracker, both from the International Ballet and Carolina Ballet Theatre. The Greenville Symphony Orchestra will perform three days of "Holidays At Peace" later in the month and, over at the smaller Gunter Theatre next door, families will enjoy "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and a special winter dance performance courtesy of the immensely talented students from Greenville's Governors School. It all amounts to a ton of holiday fun in the spirit of the season.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Peace Center has some great performances throughout December to celebrate the season.

Brett's expert tip: If you spring for the upper level box seating, you can preorder beer or wine to enjoy throughout the show.

Read more about Peace Center for the Performing Arts →

Bon Secours Wellness Arena

Greenville's premier arena and event space, the Bon Secours Wellness arena features some great seasonal events, both on stage and ice. The annual visit from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a great Christmas tradition and nothing says winter sports like a Swamp Rabbits hockey game which calls the arena home all season long. If strapping on some skates and getting on the ice yourself is more your speed, the arena opens up for their "Skating on the Big Ice" series where you can skate on the pro's ice every afternoon from December 21 through the end of the year (Christmas excluded).

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The biggest arena in Greenville has some great seasonal events and opportunities throughout December.

Brett's expert tip: Main St. is just a block away so treat yourself to a meal at one of Downtown Greenville's 100+ restaurants before the event.

Read more about Bon Secours Wellness Arena →

North Pleasantburg
Paris Mountain State Park
Photo courtesy of Brett Barest

Just because it is cold outside does not mean you should not get out and enjoy it. A wintertime hike is a great way to warm up and burn some of the extra calories we have consumed during our holiday revelry. Plus, with the leaves off the trees and maybe some ice on the lakes, even your most frequented trails can look completely different in colder temperatures. With Paris Mountain State Park only minutes from Downtown Greenville, there are a ton of trails to explore without having to travel too far from home. With all the stress and congestion that the holiday season often brings, escaping into the woods is a perfect respite from December's hustle and bustle.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Winter in the woods offers all new perspectives and views from visits in the warmer months.

Brett's expert tip: It is so close to town you are going to want to visit a lot, which makes the SC State Park Pass a wise investment.

Read more about Paris Mountain State Park →

Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery

Swamp Rabbit Café & Grocery celebrates the local food system all year round and that is especially on display during the holidays with an assortment of special events. Their annual "Holiday Flea" events bring together nearly fifty local artisans for a great way to knock out some Christmas shopping without ever stepping foot in a big box retailer. The store also features movie nights which, in December, will no doubt feature some Christmas classics paired with wood-fired pizza, soups, and hot cider to warm your bones on a cold December evening. Finally, December also features Swamp Rabbit Café's masquerade ball featuring pizza, drinks, and a DJ to benefit the non-profit organization Girl Up GVL.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Swamp Rabbit Café & Grocery's emphasis on locally sourced everything provides a great taste of the Upstate.

Brett's expert tip: Parking at the store can get a little nuts but the lot just across the Reedy River makes life much easier.

Read more about Swamp Rabbit Cafe & Grocery →

Some celebrate Christmas as soon as decorations go on sale in December. Others start the moment the last bite of turkey is eaten on Thanksgiving. For the City of Greenville, however, the start of Christmas is marked by the annual Poinsettia Christmas Parade and the arrival of Santa Claus to Downtown Greenville. A holiday tradition for more than 75 years, the parade route connects Augusta St. to North St., spanning most of Main St. in the process. Floats, marching bands, dance troupes and other holiday activities are the order of the day with plenty of fun to be had by kids and kids at heart alike.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: An annual tradition for 75 years, the Christmas season does not officially start in Greenville until Santa's sled cruises Main St.

Brett's expert tip: Check out the map of the route to make sure you get the best view of Santa.

Read more about Poinsettia Christmas Parade →

Ice On Main
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Ice on Main

There are few images more iconic, American, and in the spirit of the season than the outdoor skating rink at New York City's Rockefeller Center. That great American city is far, cold, and expensive so why not have our version right here in the heart of Downtown Greenville? A holiday tradition since 2011, Ice on Main has welcomed over 115,000 skaters to Downtown Greenville to capture the full spirit of the winter season. A true holiday celebration, the rink opens just ahead of Thanksgiving and runs through Christmas and New Years before closing out the season on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January, offering plenty of opportunities to celebrate winter and life on the ice.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Hitting the ice at a classic outdoor winter skating rink is an American tradition.

Brett's expert tip: Bring your own skates for 50% off the cost of admission.

Read more about Ice On Main →


Meet Brett Barest

Brett Barest is a freelance writer in Greenville, South Carolina that has watched the city grow from cow pastures and boarded up buildings to the tourist destination it has become today. He...  More About Brett