Light up holidays from Aiken to Grovetown and beyond

Christmas in Hopelands opens Thursday



Beginning Thursday night, more than 100,000 lights will illuminate Hopelands Gardens for the 21st annual Christmas in Hopelands in Aiken.

The walk-through display will be open 6-9:30 p.m. Dec. 13-23 and 26-27 and stretches along one and a half miles.

Local artists and artisan craft vendors will sell their wares at the Rye Patch, and there will be a children’s craft area. Several evenings will include concerts beginning at 7 p.m., including:

• Dec. 13: Chukker Creek choirs

• Dec. 14: AAA Homeschool Band

• Dec. 15: Suzuki Strings of Augusta

• Dec. 17: Aiken High Wind Ensemble

• Dec. 18: The Aiken Singers

• Dec. 20: Harmony River Chorus

• Dec. 21: New Horizons Band

Admission is free, but donations are accepted to purchase lights and equip­ment for next year, said Kiersten Warfield, recreation programs coordinator.

Parking is available at Citizens Park on Banks Mill Road. A free shuttle will run continuously. Handicap parking is available at the gardens at 135 Dupree Place.

Also, free refreshments will be available. For information, call (803) 642-7631.


FIVE MILLION LIGHTS continue to shine in the 100-acre forest at Lights of the South, 633 Louisville Road in Grovetown, which opened in late November. Hours are 6-10 p.m. through Dec. 30 (closed Dec. 25).

Traditional holiday music plays throughout the park as 12 John Deere tractors pull hay rides through the lighted displays.

Activities include marshmallow roasting ($1 extra), a Christmas tree maze and refreshments for sale in Mrs. Claus’ kitchen.

Tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for ages 4-17 from


IF YOU FEEL like taking a drive, there are more lights displays out of town:

Lights Before Christmas: 6-9 p.m. through Dec. 30 (closed Dec. 24-25), Riverbanks Zoo and Botanical Garden, 500 Wildlife Parkway, Columbia; nearly 1 million lights, animated displays, refreshments, visits with Santa;

Magical Night of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands Resort: Through Dec. 31; more than seven miles of illuminated giant characters; live Nativity scene; holiday village, shopping, more; Night Light Canopy Tours, 30-minute express tour featuring four zip lines and a sky bridge; ice skating;

Garden Lights, Holiday Nights: 5-10 p.m. through Jan. 5, Atlanta Botanical Garden, 1345 Piedmont Ave. NE, Atlanta; nearly 1 million bulbs light a winter wonderland; carolers, refreshments; (404) 876-5859,



Pop Rocks: Augusta, my Christmas wish list has one thing

My family often accuses me of being a difficult person to Christmas shop for. While it is true that my tastes run toward the particular and tend to lean heavily on easy-to-wrap standards such as books and records, I believe that as I get older, I’m less concerned with the item than the idea. Give me something I believe you have thought about and carefully considered, and I’m happy. The present clearly purchased at the drug store the day before is met with considerably less enthusiasm.

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