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South Carolina Christmas Train Rides (2024): A Complete Guide


Last revised: January 1, 2024

By: Adam Burns

Tucked away in Winnsboro, located about 30 miles north of Columbia, is the South Carolina Railroad Museum (SCRM).  Among their collection of historic locomotives and cars, the organization hosts train rides for the public throughout the year.  During the holidays they offer Christmas-themed excursions for the public.  More information about the SCRM can be found further below!

Other Activities

As the holiday season approaches, families in South Carolina are gearing up for festive events that are sure to create lasting memories. From tree lightings to holiday markets, there's no shortage of Christmas events in the Palmetto State. If you are interested in enjoying the holidays with the entire family in other ways besides just a train ride, here are some of the state's most popular events.

Holiday Lights on the River

This event takes place at Saluda Shoals Park in Columbia and features a drive-through light display that's sure to delight visitors of all ages. With over a million lights on display, this event is a must-see for anyone looking to get into the holiday spirit.

Dickens Christmas Show & Festivals

Held annually in Myrtle Beach, this event is a favorite among families who love all things Christmas. With over 350 vendors selling holiday-themed items, live entertainment, and plenty of food and drink options, this festival is a great way to spend a day with loved ones.

Charleston Holiday Market

This holiday market takes place at the Charleston Area Convention Center and is one of the largest holiday markets in the state. With over 100 vendors selling handmade crafts and gifts, there's no better place to find unique and special gifts for friends and family.

Holiday Festival of Lights

Located at James Island County Park in Charleston, this event features a three-mile driving tour of Christmas lights that includes over 700 displays. Visitors can also enjoy an enchanted walking trail, a carousel, and a marshmallow roasting pit, making this a fun event for the whole family.

Holiday Lights Safari at Hollywild Animal Park (Wellford)

The Holiday Lights Safari at Hollywild Animal Park is a unique and exciting way to experience the magic of Christmas. Visitors can drive through the park and see animals illuminated with holiday lights, as well as enjoy a petting zoo, pony rides, and a festive light display. This event is perfect for families with young children who love animals.

ChristmasVille in Rock Hill

ChristmasVille is a four-day festival in Rock Hill that celebrates all things Christmas. The festival features a tree lighting ceremony, a gingerbread house competition, a parade, and a holiday market, as well as live entertainment and plenty of food and drinks. Families can spend a day or the entire weekend enjoying the festive atmosphere and holiday cheer.

Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden (Columbia)

The Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is a magical holiday event that combines animal encounters with a dazzling light display. Families can explore the zoo at night and see animals like giraffes, elephants, and gorillas illuminated with holiday lights. The event also features a train ride, hot cocoa, and s'mores.

No matter which Christmas event you choose to attend in South Carolina, you're sure to create lasting memories with your family. From dazzling light displays to holiday markets and festive parks, the Palmetto State has plenty of options to help you get into the holiday spirit.


South Carolina Railroad Museum

(Winnsboro) The state's largest railroad museum, located north of Columbia in Winnsboro, also operates excursions along what is known as the Rockton, Rion & Western Railroad.  One such event is the Santa Train held during select dates in December where Santa meets with every child. 

The museum makes this a priority and strives to be sure he speaks with all of the children during the trip.  The South Carolina Railroad Museum (SCRM) began in 1973 when a group of enthusiasts wanted to tell the Palmetto State's interesting rail history through a museum. 

This heritage dates back to the industry's earliest days when the South Carolina Canal & Rail Road Company completed its original 136 mile route in 1833.  It later became a part of the modern Southern Railway. 

SCRM entered the railroad business when Martin Marietta Aggregates donated its industrial trackage, known as the Rockton & Rion Railway.  As a nod to this kind gesture the railroad gains its name from its predecessor; the Rockton, Rion & Western Railroad. 

It total it stretches 11.5 miles and the museum eventually plans to restore the entire property for public trips, in addition to building a locomotive shop and display tracks.


Wes Barris's SteamLocomotive.com is simply the best web resource on the study of steam locomotives. 

It is difficult to truly articulate just how much material can be found at this website. 

It is quite staggering and a must visit!