Holiday Fun Around the Upstate

Nothing says the holidays are here more than twinkling lights and over-the-top Christmas displays, and there are many in the Upstate to choose from.

But beyond the normal Christmas cheer these provide, some of these events have been around for decades and are run by charitable organizations that give back to the community.

If these aren’t part of your standard, must-go-every-year family traditions, consider adding them to your list.

Roper Mountain

This year marks the 25th year of the Roper Mountain Holiday Lights, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Greenville. This upstate tradition allows visitors to meander on a 1.5 mile pathway through lighted up displays. Visitors can also park and strolled through an interactive Winter Wonderland with visits to Santa Claus, lighted walking trails, a balloon artist, giant holiday greeting cards, concessions, and more. 

The event is open through December 30th from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. nightly. Admission is $10 per car, minivan, or SUV Monday through Thursday and $15 Friday through Sunday. Activity vans are $25 and buses $50. Directions and additional information can be found on the website or call 864-355-8900.


In its 26th year, Hollywild Animal Park opens up their 100-acre safari from Thanksgiving to New Years for the annual Hollywild Lights Safari. This unique holiday experience allows visitors to drive through the open range area of the park and motor past millions of dazzling holiday light displays.  Proceeds from the event will be used by the nonprofit organization to help feed the animals throughout the next year.

There are nativity displays and light sculptures such as dancing reindeer all while holiday music is playing from loudspeakers nestled in the displays. 

At Santa’s Village, you can get out of your car and enjoy a huge bonfire and purchase hot dogs and marshmallows for roasting, hot cocoa, and cider. There are baby bottles available for purchase that you can use to feed baby goats, pigs, deer, and antelope. You can also feed and pet other animals such as donkeys, goats, llamas, bison, and camels.

The optional Enchanted Deer Park, available for an added charge, allows you to feed free-roaming deer, zebra, antelope, and cows right from your car.

The Hollywild Lights Safari is open every night (including holidays) thru January 4th from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. with extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays.  Admission is $6.00 per person for the drive-thru lights and Santa's Village. The optional Enchanted Deer Forest is an additional $10 per car which includes animal food.  For additional information, including group rates, call the park office at (864)472-2038 or visit online.

Tiny Town

While not linked to a charitable organization, Tiny Town in Easley has been around since 1974. The Jennings property features building replicas lit up to create an entire mini-town. There about twenty-five buildings themed with a Playhouse, McDonalds, Disney building, fire station, snow building (it has snow on the floor) and nursery. There are two manger scenes, a barnyard, a car lot and even a cross made out of brick, lit with red lights and a Jesus statue at the top.

In addition to the buildings, they acquired quite an extensive collection of dolls and other collectible items that are on display. Some of the items were picked up at flea markets and garage sales while others are donations from visitors.  There are shelves filled with Elvis, Shirley Temple, Colonel Sanders and Urkel dolls (to name a few). 

The family hosts a bonfire and serves coffee each night (it’s free but donations are greatly appreciated). Some visitors bring marshmallows to roast over the bonfire or bring their own hot chocolate.

The lights are on from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Eve from 5:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. every night, weather permitting. Admission is free but donations are accepted. Tiny Town is located at 555 Latham Road, Easley, South Carolina 29640. If you need directions or information you can call Pat Kelly at 864-859-7335.

Lights of Hope

In Anderson, Lights of Hope’s Anderson Christmas Lights is celebrating its 23rd year. The event attracts more than 44,000 vehicles each year and features more than 3.5 million lights throughout the almost mile-long drive.

Santa’s Village, which is run by the Future Business Leaders of America, received a makeover this year. This stop is where the entire family can get out and enjoy Santa's Lodge, Mrs. Claus's Kitchen, ELF Radio, and other interactive attractions.  Special guests appear each night including Scrooge, the Polar Bear, Santa's Elves, Bernard the Elf, Security Elf Pete and others.

At Mrs. Claus Kitchen you can buy marshmallows and s' mores kits for roasting over the bonfire. Hot chocolate and other snacks are also available.

Proceeds from the event are donated to local area charities.

Lights of Hope is located at Darwin Wright Park on Highway 178, at exit 21 off I-85 in Anderson through Christmas Eve. Admission is $10 per car, $20 for 15+ passenger vans, and $50 for a bus.

For an extensive listing of holiday happenings, visit the community calendar.

Sherry Jackson is a freelance writer, editor and entrepreneur. Her articles have been featured in InfoWorld Magazine,, USA Today, Blue Ridge Country, Jetsetter, Bootsnall, Gadling, Yahoo, See the South, Beckett Media, The Simpsonville Sentinel and many other print and online publications. For clips and examples of her work, please visit her website at

 12/16 (12/13)