South Carolina

A Cultural Christmas Feast in Historic Charleston

You’ll catch the holiday spirit in Charleston as you attend a Christmas show, see the James Island Festival of Lights and learn about historic homes decked out in their holiday finest.
Rating (4.67)
Program No. 14327RJ
6 days
Starts at
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.

At a Glance

Experience time-honored holiday traditions and a unique cultural legacy in "America's Most Historic City." Get caught up in Charleston’s particular brand of holiday spirit on a visit to historic homes decked out in their holiday finest, at the Festival of Lights on James Island and at a theatrical Christmas production in historic downtown. Enjoy Christmas music through the centuries with live performances, observe traditional sweetgrass basket sewing and admire the architectural heritage of Charleston with a historian.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Minimal walking and standing on this program.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Experience the Holiday Festival of Lights on James Island, featuring millions of lights, carols, gingerbread houses, a life-size greeting card display and more.
  • Walk with an architectural expert through Charleston’s Battery to analyze the exterior features of elegant Colonial and antebellum homes.
  • Visit the Manigault and Aiken-Rhett homes decorated for the holidays and reflecting Charleston's celebrations of early Christmases.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room.
Featured Expert
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Al Miller
Al Miller received a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Speech-Dramatic Arts from Baptist College — now Charleston Southern University. He is a recognized historian specializing in Charleston’s Black History with an emphasis on the Gullah-Geechee Culture and Porgy & Bess. He brings his musical talent to his lectures from a unique perspective. Al enjoys leading educational excursions which is evident in his tours of the Charleston area and Lectures. He is a licensed real estate agent, and also a member of numerous local organizations.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Al Miller
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Ann Caldwell
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Pegi Roberts
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Christmas: A Candid History
by Bruce David Forbes
Written for everyone who loves and is simultaneously driven crazy by the holiday season, Christmas: A Candid History provides an enlightening, entertaining perspective on how the annual Yuletide celebration got to be what it is today. In a fascinating, concise tour through history, the book tells the story of Christmas&#8213;from its pre-Christian roots, through the birth of Jesus, to the holiday's spread across Europe into the Americas and beyond, and to its mind-boggling transformation through modern consumerism. Packed with intriguing stories, based on research into myriad sources, full of insights, the book explores the historical origins of traditions including Santa, the reindeer, gift giving, the Christmas tree, Christmas songs and movies, and more. The book also offers some provocative ideas for reclaiming the joy and meaning of this beloved, yet often frustrating, season amid the pressures of our fast-paced consumer culture.
The Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd
Inspired in part by the historical abolitionist figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in search for something better, and Charlotte’s lover, Denmark Vesey, a charismatic free black man who is planning insurrection. This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at one of the most devastating wounds in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.
A Woman Rice Planter
by Elizabeth Allston Pringle
A self-portrait of an admirable plantation mistress spanning a period from antebellum days until World War I, originally published under the pseudonym "Patience Pennington."

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