Jane Vaughters said Aiken's Christmas in Hopelands is always a festive occasion for her family and friends.
"We've taken them on warm Christmases, we've taken them on bitterly cold Christmases," said Ms. Vaughters, a member of the Aiken City Council and Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch. "I think it's a wonderful time to showcase the wisdom of the planning that went into those beautiful gardens in an atmosphere that's not springlike."
Beginning Saturday, Dec. 9, people again can enjoy the gardens, holiday carols and other festivities at Hopelands.
More than 12,000 visitors are expected to attend this year's free annual event, organizers said.
Lisa Hall, the recreation program supervisor for the City of Aiken's Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, said volunteers and park employees have been putting up and testing more than 70,000 lights in the park for weeks.
"What people may not realize about those light bulbs is you can't store these light lines and these displays and leave the bulbs on them," Ms. Hall said. "Those have to be screwed in and unscrewed every single year - which is quite an undertaking."
Among the performers scheduled to appear at Hopelands this year are the Chukker Creek Elementary School chorus, the Millbrook Baptist Church Celebration Ringers, Harmony River Chorus, Aiken Elementary School chorus, Palmetto Christmas Choir and the Smith Hazel Praise Dancers, Ms. Hall said.
The Rye Patch will feature craft nights for children to create their own take-home crafts, and a Christmas in Hopelands Craft Show featuring the works of local artists is planned, she said.
Reach Nathan Dickinson at (706) 828-3904 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmas in Hopelands will take place from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 9-27, except Dec. 13, 20, 24 and 25, at Hopelands Gardens, Whiskey Road at Dupree Place. Festivities include lighted holiday displays, concerts by local groups and crafts on select nights.
Hot chocolate, apple cider and holiday cookies are served nightly. Visitors should take the shuttle from the Goodwill parking lot on Whiskey Road. Admission is free. Call (803) 642-7631.