Christmas Lights Illuminate the Grand Strand This Holiday Season

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Looking for Christmas lights during your Myrtle Beach vacation? You don't have to look very hard or far. From the beauty of Brookgreen Gardens in the Lowcountry to a floating parade on the Carolina border, the Grand Strand comes to life as brightly colored lights illuminate the coastline. Here are three light shows you must see this holiday season:

Brookgreen Gardens: The highlight of the Grand Strand holiday lights displays goes unplugged with the Nights of a Thousand Candles event at Brookgreen Gardens, where over 5,500 natural lights burn for ten nights (ending Dec. 17-20). Candles illuminate the oldest largest botanical sculpture garden on the East Coast, which normally closes at dusk. The 9,000-acre property is aglow with candle-lit pathways, lights dangling from live oak trees, and candles floating in the reflecting pools. Special events include Christmas caroling, guided tours, live music, hot chocolate and treats. Be sure to bring a good camera that takes nighttime photos to capture the majesty of this scenic Murrells Inlet attraction.

North Myrtle Beach Sports and Recreation Complex: This new park presents its annual Christmas Wonderland festival through New Year's Eve. Offering a variety of holiday activities for the whole family, this free event features a Hayride Lights Extravaganza for visitors to take a wagon ride through the awe-inspiring light show. Other holiday-themed fun includes a 3D Walk to the North Pole, a Christmas Under the Sea Puppet Show, Rudolph's Buddies Petting Zoo, the Great Christmas Paintball Challenge, and the Cirqu-Du-Elf circus act. Held from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. nightly, Christmas Wonderland also hosts live holiday music at the amphitheater, Santa photos, arts and crafts projects and a fireworks show. Some activities require a small fee.

Ripley's Aquarium: One might expect to see brightly colored fish at this huge aquarium, but Christmas lights? You can see them throughout the month of December at Ripley's Aquarium's annual Festival of Trees event, which adds some holiday spirit and plant life to the attraction filled with sea life. In addition to seeing sharks, stingrays and other fish from all over the world, visitors can see 75 trees decorated to celebrate Christmas and American heritage. All 50 states have their own special tree adorned with decorations that reflect their proud histories, and a new display pays tribute to the cultural influences that make America great. Other holiday activities for children include a drum line, scavenger hunt and photos with “Sharky” Claus.

After a night full of seeing the sights and watching the lights, come back and relax with the lights off in your luxurious room at Compass Cove Resort. It’s the perfect way to pull the plug on your mind and unwind for the holidays.