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Make Merry

This Saturday and Sunday, Drayton Hall’s 26th annual Spirituals Concerts feature Ann Caldwell and The Magnolia Singers performing—for the first time ever—in the plantation house’s raised English basement.
Photograph by Jason A. Zwiker

DECEMBER 2, 2009

Make Merry
How much jolly holiday fun can you pack into the opening days of December?


You may have barely polished off the turkey and put away the pumpkins, but it’s official: December’s flurry of shopping, socializing, oohing, and aahing has begun. This week alone is jam-packed with ways to jump-start your holiday spirit. Here, we’ve rounded up our top picks for upcoming festivities—from a spirituals concert to a parade of twinkling lights—but you can also visit to make your own list (and check it twice). Then, let the celebrating begin!

Buy Local Week

Join in Lowcountry Local First’s (LLF) weeklong campaign to support local independent businesses. During this evening’s Eat Local Night, dine at a number of area restaurants, which will donate five percent of their sales to LLF. Tomorrow, revisit a classic Christmas tale as PURE Theatre presents It’s a Wonderful Life: 1940s Radio Show. Friday features the Alternative Giving Fair at Gage Hall, plus a Holiday Stroll among LLF business members in downtown Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and Avondale. Finish up the week at Sunday’s Buy Local, Be Local Bash, offering local fare, beer, and wine as well as live music. Locations, times, & prices vary. (843)740-5444,

Holiday Book Signing

With volumes by more than two dozen authors—including Nathalie Dupree, Jack McCray, Ben Moïse, Marjory Wentworth, and chefs Donald Barickman and Craig Deihl—on hand, you can find a gift for most every person on your list at this Preservation Society of Charleston fundraiser. Get books signed for friends and family members, mingle with the authors, and enjoy refreshments and appetizers. The Preservation Society’s Book & Gift Shop, 147 King St. Thursday, 5-8 p.m. Free. (843)722-4630,

French Quarter Art Walk

According to local tradition, galleries of the French Quarter throw open their doors and offer food, wine, and amazing art four Fridays a year. Admire the holiday decorations while strolling among dozens of galleries and getting up-to-date on the local art scene. Locations vary, French Quarter between S. Market & Tradd sts., Meeting St. & the waterfront. Friday, 5-8 p.m. Free. (843)577-7101,

Celebrity Chili Cook-Off & Oyster Roast

At this spicy annual event, tuck into delicious bowls of steaming chili cooked and served by local stars. Sample them all, then see if your favorites win the praise of judges Frank Lee (S.N.O.B.), Nate Whiting (Tristan), and Bob Waggoner (U Cook! With Chef Bob). Oysters, hot dogs, beer, wine, music, and a new fun zone for the kids make this fundraiser for the Charleston Animal Society a can’t-miss event. Charleston Maritime Center, 10 Wharfside St. Saturday, 1-5 p.m. $25; $10 ages 10-15; free for child under 10. (843)329-1546,

Charleston Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Mayor Joe Riley teams up with the mayor of the North Pole (Santa Claus, of course) to illuminate the 60-foot Tree of Lights that towers over Marion Square. Watch the magical event unfold as local musical groups fill the air with holiday songs. Marion Square, King & Calhoun sts. Saturday, 4:30-6 p.m. Free. (843)724-7305,

Parade of Boats

The channel markers won’t be the only red and green lights bobbing in the water this Saturday night. Register by 4 p.m. on Thursday, and you can decorate your vessel, crank the holiday tunes, and join in the annual Parade of Boats floating through the harbor. Not a mariner? Bundle up by the water’s edge and watch the twinkling boats idle by, with a fireworks display midway through the parade. Charleston Harbor. Saturday, viewing from the peninsula begins around 6:30 p.m. $25 boat entry; free for spectators. (843)724-7305,

Spirituals Concerts at Drayton Hall

After a reception and informal house tours, Ann Caldwell and The Magnolia Singers give a candlelit performance of the Southern music and spirituals that would have been heard in the fields and prayer houses surrounding Drayton Hall. Reservations are required. Drayton Hall, 3380 Ashley River Rd. Saturday, 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, 3 & 5:30 p.m. $35; $30 member. (843)769-2630,


Wed, 12/02/2009