The Grand Strand goes all out for the holidays with dozens of parades, light displays and theatrical performances. But there's one tradition that stands out above the rest – the Dickens Christmas Show & Festivals – which hosts its 34th annual installment on Nov. 12-15.
Held at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, which is only a short walk from The Strand Resort, the event features a 100,000 square foot Christmas village filled with decorations, shopping venues and entertainment for the whole family. Based on the timeless holiday classic “A Christmas Carol”, this award-winning, Victorian-themed celebration attracts thousands of visitors to the main exhibition hall to get into the holiday spirit.
In what has become a family holiday tradition for locals and visitors from out of town for more than three decades, the Dickens Christmas Show & Festivals features a Victorian Holiday Marketplace that allows patrons to check out unique items and do some early Christmas shopping for some gifts you can rest assured you won't find mass-produced at some big-box retail outlets.
Christmas decorations are both for sale and on display along the rows of vendors, many of whom adorn period-appropriate outfits to give guests a true 19th century experience. Shop for handmade jewelry, arts and crafts, holiday décor, wood carvings, paintings, glasswork, and celebrate the season with some hot cocoa, apple cider and baked goods. If you have loved ones on your list that are hard to shop for, this is the place to find it.
For those who don't like to shop, there are lots of activities to keep you entertained. The hall is filled with exhibits like the Santa Through the Ages display that features life-sized replicas of the Jolly Ol' Elf as he has appeared over the years. There's also a real-life Santa for the kids to share their Christmas wishes, as well as strolling Victorian-era musicians, tea-leaf readers, Punch & Judy shows, and shadow box displays, and a Christmas tree exhibit. The Festival of the World display shows patrons how folks from all over the planet celebrate, and a special demonstration of Wreaths from Around the World provides an in-depth look at how different cultures decorate for the holidays.
Off-site offerings include Victorian Holiday Tea Parties and Luncheons, Sherlock Holmes Murder Mystery Dinner Shows, area historical tours, the world's largest drive-through LED Christmas Light Show and the opening of holiday shows at local theaters, such as the Palace Theatre (“Christmas Wonderland”), Carolina Opry (“The Christmas Show of the South”), Legends in Concert (“An Evening With Nat King Cole”), Pirates Voyage (“Christmas on the High Seas), and the Alabama Theatre (“The South’s Grandest Christmas Show”).
Ripley’s Aquarium holds its annual Festival of Trees celebration, featuring 50 trees decorated to represent each state in the US, including the popular South Carolina tree adorned with Palmetto trees and crescent moons and other items from around the state. Christmas tree lighting ceremonies are also held at Broadway at the Beach, the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, Market Common and other areas of the Grand Strand. Murrells Inlet is home to Brookgreen Gardens’ “Nights of A Thousand Candles”.
The Dickens Christmas Show will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, November 12, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, November 13 and Saturday, November 14, and 12-6 p.m. Sunday, November 15 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Admission is $9.50 per day to attend the Dickens Christmas Show & Festivals, and daily tickets may be purchased at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center box office. Passes to all off-site functions are available for purchase via a silent auction. For more information, visit www.dickenschristmasshow.com.