Lit decorations and entertainment return to Hopelands Gardens for the 21st Christmas in Hopelands. Atlanta jazz artist Joe Gransden comes to town. If you enjoy hunting for Easter eggs, head to Barnwell for candy cane hunting. More chances to visit with Santa, candlelight ceremonies, Christmas plays and even Elvis-like performances are ahead for the weekend. Here's a roundup to help you plan.

Today and Saturday

Hopelands Gardens will be illuminated with more than 100,000 lights at its 21st annual Christmas in Hopelands event today until Dec. 27 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. The lights will not be lit on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Area bands will perform throughout the event. The Rye Patch Reception Center will be selling local crafts and will host activities for kids. The Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum and The Doll House will be open. Refreshments will be served outside the Hall of Fame and the Guest Cottage. Parking and shuttle service is available at Citizens Park. The event is free, though donations toward the growth of the program are welcomed. For more information, call the City of Aiken Parks, Recreation & Tourism Department at 642-7631 or visit

Come see barns created from gingerbread while supporting Toys for Tots and local horse organizations today from 4 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Hotel Aiken. Admission to the event is an unwrapped toy for the toy drive. At 6 p.m. both nights, there will be carolers performing Christmas songs. The gingerbread barns will be sold through a silent auction benefiting the Equine Rescue of Aiken, Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame Museum, Aiken County Pony Club and the ASPCA. For more information, call 652-1181.

There will be a Christmas candle lighting at 5:30 p.m. on today at Graniteville Cemetery. The candles and bags can be picked up at Napier Funeral Home. Glass containers are not allowed. The Graniteville Cemetery Association can be contacted at 663-8938 for more information.

Hayrides, pictures with Santa and roasting marshmallows will all take place at Cumberland Village's third annual Festival of Lights from 6 to 8 p.m. today and Saturday. Admission is a nonperishable food item or monetary donation, all going toward the Jumpstart Ministries. For more information, call 643-0073.

Palmetto Dance Academy will perform the timeless Charles Dickens' tale “A Christmas Carol” today at 6:30 p.m. at the Batesburg-Leesville High School Fine Arts Center. Admission is $5, with children ages 3 and younger admitted for free. Toys can be brought for the academy's annual drive, according to Edgefield Daily.

Heights Church will show Jesus's life from his birth to his death with its gospel drive-thru presentation from Friday to Sunday. The show will run at the Midland Valley Recreation Association off Highway 421 in Clearwater from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Friday and from 5 to 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 593-3054.

Atlanta trumpet-player and singer Joe Gransden will perform with his trio and the Symphony Orchestra Augusta on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the Holiday Pops! concert at the Bell Auditorium will be at 7:30 p.m., with tickets from $15 to $40; for more information, visit On Saturday, Aiken Symphony Guild's December Pops Concert will be at 8 p.m. at the USC Aiken's Etherredge Center; tickets are $40 for adults and $7 for students. For more information, call 640-1297.

The original Christmas story gets warped by the lying, thieving, horrid Herdman children in the “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” put on by The Abbeville Opera House on Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $10 for students. The opera house is located at 100 Court Square in Abbeville. For more information, call (864) 366-2157.

Children 12 and younger can come start off their morning at 8:30 a.m. by eating breakfast with Santa on Saturday at H. Odell Weeks Activities Center in rooms 6 and 7. After breakfast, holiday crafts can be made. Children must be with an adult, and everyone had to be registered by Dec. 9. For more information, call the center at 642-7631.

Storytime, crafts and breakfast will be a part of Aiken County Public Library's “Polar Express” Breakfast at 10:15 a.m. Saturday. The event is for preschoolers to fifth graders, with children ages 8 and younger needing to accompanied with an adult. Registration is required and can be arranged by calling 642-2023 or visiting the library.

Take a ride on the wild side while donating for a good cause on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. For its Toy Run Ride and Lunch, Aiken Motorcycle Sales and Service will offer one bike ride per $20 cash donation or per unwrapped toy; the toy must be at around a $15 value or greater and will be donated to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. The ride will be to the Toys for Tots warehouse on Richland Avenue for the toy drop-off, then across Aiken County and back to the business for lunch and door prizes at around 12:30 p.m.

The movie “Arthur Christmas” will be shown at the Aiken County Public Library at 2 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, call 642-2020.

Breakfast is an option, but Santa will be at the North Augusta Sunrise Grill on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, he will be there from 9 a.m. until noon and, on Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A Holiday Market will be held in the Barnwell High School gym on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The market is hosted through the school's Improvement Council. The school is located at 474 Jackson St. For more information, call 541-1390.

A clothing and toy giveaway will take place on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. at Harrison-Caver Park in Clearwater. The event is through St. Phillip Missionary Baptist Church Women's Ministry, Ladies of Virtue and Excellence. For more information, call the church at 593-4638.

The search is on at the 3rd annual Candy Cane Hunt in Barnwell at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Children up to the age of 12 are invited for free to hunt Lemon Park for an variety of candy canes. Everyone should bring his or her own basket. For more information, call 259-3266.

Musicians, actors and other volunteers will take those who visit the Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site on Saturday back to the Civil War during the “Christmas Canceled: A Civil War Holiday Program.” Held at Redcliffe Plantation State Historic Site in Beech Island from 4 to 6 p.m., tours of historic slave quarters and decorated historic mansion and games will also be part of the event. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for ages 6 to 16 and South Carolina seniors and free for those 5 and younger. For more information, call 827-1473 or email

People are invited to bring ornaments to the GVW Christmas Tree Lighting on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Hickman Hall on Marshall Street in Graniteville. There also w be caroling and refreshments.

Elvis tribute artists Jeff Lewis and Cliff Wright band together to raise money for Toys for Tots on Saturday at 7 p.m. during their “Carolina Christmas” dinner show benefit. Tickets are $15, excluding dinner. Reservations are required; the concert is located at 4656 Jefferson Davis Highway in Clearwater. For more information, call Terri Futreal at 474-2411.

A Christmas Scholarship Ball is being held through the East Central Savannah River Area Chapter of BIG on Saturday. The event is from 7 p.m. to midnight at the North Augusta Municipal Center on 100 Georgia Ave. For ticket information, call Terry G. Provost at 439-0550 or Alescia Almond-Parson at 645-4174.


Rev. Benjamin Ryans will speak, and dinner will be served at the Family Life Worship Center's Men & Women in Red Christmas program on Dec. 16. at 5 p.m. For more information, call 641-0218.

A holiday brunch will be hosted by the Myelinators, the Aiken Area National Multiple Sclerosis Society self-help group, at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Columbia on Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon. Attendants MS patients, their families and caregiver are asked to bring a dish; drinks will be provided. For more information, call 644-1342 or email

Woodridge Baptist Church, 401 Birch St. in North Augusta, will hold a children's nativity play at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free, and refreshments will be served.