As the werewolves and jack-o’-lanterns go away and the leaves have all fallen from the trees, it’s only a matter of time before the Christmas specials start filling the TV schedule and jolly holiday tunes are blasted from radio stations. So you’ll need to find the perfect display to subtly put you in the Christmas spirit.
While you wouldn’t expect this perfect place to be an aquarium, in Myrtle Beach, it is! Ripley’s Aquarium is known for its spectacular Festival of Trees, a two-month-long Christmas celebration featuring Christmas trees scattered throughout the facility’s halls. The event is so decked with holiday cheer, it can put even the biggest scrooge in the Christmas spirit!
Ripley’s Aquarium has been holding this annual Christmas delight since 2001, when the event featured only 10 trees. As its popularity has grown, so has the number of trees! This year, there will be well over 80 trees on display, representing all 50 states. This year’s newest tree additions include one representing Washington, D.C., given the huge election year, and another representing Puerto Rico, whose tree is the first to represent a U.S. territory.
When you walk around this magical display, you’ll find that each tree is unique to its state and that no two trees look exactly the same. Some favorites among visitors include the very patriotic Pennsylvania tree; the Louisiana tree, which is filled with party beads and masquerade masks to bring a little Mardi Gras spirit to Christmas; and the rose-filled tree of Kentucky, which celebrates the ever-historic Kentucky Derby. The main centerpiece of the festival is always the South Carolina tree, which this year will be 18 feet tall and filled with magnolia blooms, golf tees, and plenty of Clemson University and University of South Carolina pride! While those are typical crowd-pleasers, you’ll find yourself amazed by all the trees and all of the attention to detail put into decorating them by the many aquarium workers and local volunteers. There is also a display-related scavenger hunt available that is perfect for kids, as it is designed to teach them cool facts about each state, such as the state capital, state bird and state flower.
Along with the festival, other activities throughout the aquarium are designed to boost your holiday spirit even more. On weekends, the Ripley’s Ruckus Drumline performs all of your favorite holiday classics throughout the day. There is also a mailbox that goes directly to Santa, so your whole family can drop off their Christmas lists to make sure they get to the big man before Christmas. And with each list that is dropped in Santa’s mailbox, Ripley’s Aquarium will donate one toy to the Toys for Tots toy drive!
The Festival of Trees is included with your regular aquarium admission and is open during regular aquarium hours, so you can make your visit a daylong event at the perfect indoor destination for those chilly, early winter days. You can purchase tickets through the Ripley’s Aquarium website at www.ripleyaquariums.com/myrtlebeach or at the aquarium itself. Whichever way you decide, you will be sure to get the perfect ticket to get you in the Christmas spirit!