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South Carolina

Christmastime in Charleston

Program No. 21206RJ
There’s no place like Charleston for Christmas. Come see why as you enjoy Lowcountry traditions, witness the Festival of Lights on James Island and attend a holiday show!
Length
6 days
Rating (4.67)
Activity Level
Starts at
1,659

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DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 22 - Dec 27, 2022
Starting at
1,659
Dec 22 - Dec 27, 2023
Starting at
1,999
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Dec 22 - Dec 27, 2022
Starting at
2,089
Dec 22 - Dec 27, 2023
Starting at
2,499

At a Glance

Embark on a holiday learning adventure to experience the distinctive history and delectable flavors of Charleston and the Lowcountry amid customs and traditions of the season. Festive decorations and delightful holiday rituals abound as you enjoy a cup of cocoa in historic homes decked in holiday finery and hear performances of music from every era of the city’s history. Learn about slavery and the Gullah people and culture on a Carolina Plantation.
Activity Level
On Your Feet
Walking up to two miles, some uneven terrain. Periods of standing for on-site lectures.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Marvel at historic sites on expert-led walks including picturesque downtown and the City Market Place.
  • Explore gardens and plantations as you learn about the people who worked and lived on a Carolina plantation more than three centuries ago.
  • Experience the unique sounds that define Charleston's rich musical heritage at a holiday performance.

General Notes

Program limited to 38 participants.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Ruth Miller
Ruth Miller, a graduate of Duke University, has lived all over America and journeyed throughout the world. As a Charleston historian and excursion leader, she enjoys tying local history into the American story and worldwide events. Ruth is the author and co-author of numerous books, including “Charleston Charlie — A Family Activity Book for Kids of All Ages,” “Touring the Tombstones,” and “The Angel Oak Story.” She is a member of the South Carolina Historical Society and the National Trust.

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

Profile Image of Ruth Miller
Ruth Miller View biography
Ruth Miller, a graduate of Duke University, has lived all over America and journeyed throughout the world. As a Charleston historian and excursion leader, she enjoys tying local history into the American story and worldwide events. Ruth is the author and co-author of numerous books, including “Charleston Charlie — A Family Activity Book for Kids of All Ages,” “Touring the Tombstones,” and “The Angel Oak Story.” She is a member of the South Carolina Historical Society and the National Trust.
Profile Image of Darryl Stoneworth
Darryl Stoneworth View biography
Darryl Stoneworth, along with wife Angela, has been selling home-crafted sweetgrass baskets in the Charleston City Market since May 2009. If you happen by his stand, you'll know Darryl by his omnipresent smile. The couple is also constructing their first roadside basket stand along Highway 17N in Mount Pleasant, N.C. The town has renamed and dedicated this stretch of the highway in tribute to the hamlet's sweetgrass basket makers.
Profile Image of Carole Cloonan
Carole Cloonan View biography
Carole Cloonan once traveled the world working as a chef, sometimes on private yachts, a job that naturally flowed out of her move to the Caribbean to live in the Virgin Islands. As a chef abroad, she developed a curiosity for understanding other cultures. Now Carole is eager to combine her love of travel — especially in the islands of the Caribbean — with her passion to help Road Scholars be educated in the culture, culinary traditions, artists and their art, and literary legacy of Cuba.
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.
Very Charleston: A Celebration of History, Culture, and Lowcountry Charm
by Diana Hollingsworth Gessler
Cobblestone streets leading to perfectly preserved historic homes. Intricate wrought-iron gates opening to lush, fragrant gardens. A skyline of steeples and a river harbor bustling with schooners and sailboats. Charleston is one of America's most charming cities.In vibrant watercolors and detailed sketches, artist Diana Gessler captures the beauty and riches that make Charleston so unique: White Point Gardens, the Spoleto Festival, Rainbow Row, Waterfront Park, Fort Moultrie, the beaches of Sullivan's Island, sumptuous Lowcountry cuisine, and handmade sweetgrass baskets. Full of fascinating details--on everything from the art of early entertaining, the city's inspired architectural and garden designs, and George Washington's Southern tour to famous Charlestonians and the flags of Sumter--Very Charleston celebrates the city, the Lowcountry, the people, and our history. Hand-lettered and full color throughout, Very Charleston includes maps, an index, and a handy appendix of sites. With her cheerful illustrations and love for discovering little-known facts, Diana Gessler has created both an entertaining guide and an irresistible keepsake for visitors and Charlestonians alike.
Charleston! Charleston!: The History of a Southern City
by Walter Frazer
This book records Charleston's development from 1670 and ends with an afterword on the effects of Hurricane Hugo in 1989, drawing with special care on information from every facet of the city's life-its people and institutions; its art and architecture; its recreational, social and intellectual life; its politics and city government.
Charleston: City of Memory
by Harlan Greene
Touring the Tombstones
by Ruth Miller
A series of guide books to Charleston's 18th century graveyards.
Allegiance: Fort Sumter, Charleston, and the Beginning of the Civil War
by David Detzer
An original and deeply human portrait of soldiers and civilians caught in the vortex of war. So vividly does Allegiance re-create the events leading to the firing of the first shot of the Civil War on April 12, 1861, that we can feel the fabric of the Union tearing apart. It is a tense and surprising story, filled with indecisive bureaucrats, uninformed leaders, hotheaded politicians, and dedicated and honorable soldiers on both sides. The six-month-long agony that began with Lincoln's election in November sputtered from one crisis to the next until Lincoln's inauguration, and finally exploded as the soldiers at Sumter neared starvation. At the center of this dramatic narrative is the heroic figure of Major Robert Anderson, a soldier whose experience had taught him above all that war is the poorest form of policy. With little help from Washington, D.C., Anderson almost single-handedly forestalled the beginning of the war until he finally had no choice but to fight. David Detzer's decade-long research illuminates the passions that led to the fighting, the sober reflections of the man who restrained its outbreak, and individuals on both sides who changed American history. No other historian has given us a clearer or more intimate picture of the human drama of Fort Sumter.
Invention of Wings
by Sue Monk Kidd
The Invention of Wings, a powerful and sweeping historical novel by Sue Monk Kidd, begins, fittingly, with an image of flight: Hetty “Handful”, who has grown up as a slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, recalls the night her mother told her that her ancestors in Africa could fly over trees and clouds. That day, Handful’s mother, Charlotte, gave her daughter the gift of hope— the possibility that someday she might regain her wings and fly to freedom. Throughout Kidd’s exquisitely written story, Handful struggles, sometimes with quiet dissidence, sometimes with open rebellion, to cultivate a belief in the invincibility of her spirit and in the sacred truth that one does not need actual wings in order to rise.
A Short History of Charleston
by Robert N. Rosen
A concise small history of Charleston that is easy to read and enjoyable.
A Witness to History: Charleston's Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon
by Ruth Miller and Ann Taylor Andrus
The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the great buildings of Colonial America. Serving as city hall, customs house, post office and prison; as the British Headquarters during the occupation of Charles Towne and then host to a great ball honoring George Washington, the Exchange has been an eyewitness to America’s history. This stoic building-—designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975—-has been described as the best example of the dignity and ornament of the traditional English “exchange-town hall” design of the eighteenth century built in the United States. From within its Great Hall to deep below in the Provost Dungeon, the Exchange has played a vital role in American history. Andrus’ and Miller’s fast-paced and readable survey of the history and significance of the Old Exchange Building will appeal to visitor and serious historian alike.
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 3 L 5 D
DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Charleston, SC
D
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 4:00 p.m. Remember to bring your name tag (sent previously).

Afternoon: Program Registration: 4:00 p.m. After you check in and have your room assignment, join us at the Road Scholar table in the lobby area to register with the program staff, get any updated information, and confirm the time and location of the Orientation session. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Orientation: 5:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/current conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
History Presentation, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
Charleston, SC
B,L,D
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 25 miles throughout the day, approximately 1 hour total riding time. Walking up to 1/2 mile; some uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a local historian and delve into history and holiday traditions. We will get an overview of Charleston and the Carolina Lowcountry, emphasizing the craftsmanship and architecture of the homes decked in holiday finery and holiday customs leading to Christmas.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: After lunch, we’ll ride to Magnolia Plantation. Founded in 1676 by the Drayton family, it has survived the centuries and witnessed the history of our nation unfold from the American Revolution through the Civil War and on to the present day. It is the oldest public site open to visitors in the Lowcountry with the oldest public gardens in America. As part of the Magnolia Plantation field trip, we will experience the beauty of the house and gardens on a narrated nature tram ride around the property and view thousands of beautiful flowers and plants. We will return to the hotel after our field trip with some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Joseph Manigault, History, Sweetgrass Baskets, Performance
Charleston, SC
B,L,D
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 8 miles the day, approximately 1.5 hours total riding time. Walking about 1.5 miles; paved surfaces, some uneven terrain, cobblestones. Joseph Manigault home .3 mile from the hotel and a 10 min walk.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We'll start the morning off by boarding the motorcoach for an educational field trip to see the Battery, Rainbow Row, the Citadel and the Joseph Manigault home. We'll be going into the Manigault home where each year the Garden Club of Charleston uses this magnificent house as a backdrop for their creative arrangements using only plant material that would have been available in the Lowcountry during the first quarter of the 19th century. We’ll smell the fresh greenery and see seasonal flowers before returning to the hotel. Note: We'll ride past the Citadel, which is closed for Christmas but worthy of a ride through, and learn more about life in Charleston.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: Later this afternoon, in our meeting room at the hotel with a local expert, we’ll learn about the history and techniques that have birthed Charleston's unique Sweetgrass Baskets. Brought to the area by slaves who came from the west coast of Africa, basket making is an ancient African art form in this country, which has been passed on from generation to generation. Skilled craftsmanship and long hours are involved in making these baskets.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: We will be treated to a performance at the hotel by a local performing artist, singing jazz, gospel and spirituals. She is the director of the Magnolia Singers and has written and produced local jazz and gospel concerts.

DAY
4
Free Time, Touring the Tombstones, Festival of Lights
Charleston, SC
B,L,D
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 2 blocks of the hotel on a field trip. Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 20 miles throughout the day, approximately 2 hours total riding time as we travel to James Island for the Festival of Lights.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This is Christmas Day and all of Charleston shuts down for church services. The morning has been set aside to enjoy as you like. We will provide a list of churches that will be within close walking distance to our hotel.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll be joined by our study leader for a presentation called Touring the Tombstones. Depending on the weather, we will be walking outside and within a 2 block area of the hotel. Later in the afternoon, we’ll drive to and through the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. This cherished local tradition has achieved national and international renown. Along the three-mile route, there are more than 700 enchanting displays with some two million lights.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Boone Hall, Gullah Culture, Museum, Sound of Charleston
Charleston, SC
B,D
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Walking up to 1.5 miles at Boone Hall; some uneven terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We'll board our motorcoach for Boone Hall Plantation. The mansion that stands today was built in 1936. With blended materials recovered from the original plantation and antique furnishings, we'll enter an atmosphere of a Coastal Carolina family. Addressing the slavery at Boone Hall, we see and go into the different cabins to see how black Americans worked and lived, struggles that were faced, as well as follow periods of historical progression from the 1800's up to present day. We will learn about the Gullah people and culture at a 30 minute Gullah presentation outside the slave cabins.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like. There are many restaurants surrounding the hotel, or venture outside the historic district for more choices. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Afternoon: The Charleston Museum was founded in 1773 and is America's First Museum. It is a story about the South Carolina Lowcountry and the stories that reveal who Charlestonian's are. We will provide a ticket for each person to go at any time on your own at your own pace. There is so much to see and read as you wander through this important museum.

Dinner: At the hotel at approximately 5:00 p.m. in order to arrive at the concert venue in time to get our reserved tickets.

Evening: 7:00 p.m. We’ll attend a performance of “The Sound of Charleston” at historic Circular Congregational Church. Professional performers will bring to life authentic music from throughout the city’s history, from the founding of one of America’s first musical organizations — the St. Cecilia Society (1766) — through Civil War songs, spirituals, gospel, Gullah, Gershwin, and jazz. We’ll hear about the words, context, and meanings of the music as we clap and sing along. “The Sound of Charleston” is the city’s longest running musical production. The church, founded in 1681, is one of the oldest continually worshipping congregations in the country; the present building dates from 1892. Returning to the hotel, prepare for check-out and departure following our closing session in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Charleston, SC
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel. This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Important registration tip:
If you want to attend the live lecture, please do not wait until the last minute to enroll.
If you enroll after a lecture is complete, we’ll send you a recording of the event.