There’s nothing quite like Charleston in December. Don’t believe us? Head to these house tours to really get in the holiday spirit. And while you’re there, remember that wealthy white families weren’t the only ones celebrating the holidays centuries ago. Not all homes highlight the lives of the enslaved who lived and worked there, but those who do offer a rare glimpse into a history we should not forget.
Christmas on the Battery at the Edmondston-Alston House
On Dec. 5 and 6, guests can take a theatrical candlelight tour of the historic Edmondston-Alston House along the Battery. Performers will be dressed in period costumes and will share stories of Christmases past in the Alston family. The tours will be given continuously both nights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 on-site. Advance tickets (and there are only a few left!) can be purchased at middletonplace.org.
Holiday Candlelight and Sarah Rutledge Dinner
On Dec. 20 and Jan. 3, see the Middleton Place House Museum by candlelight at special self-guided tour, then head over to the restaurant for dinner with dishes inspired by Sarah Rutledge’s 1847 cookbook, The Carolina Housewife. Buy tickets online.
Holiday Spirituals Concert at Drayton Hall
While not technically a house tour, the spirituals concert at Drayton Hall on Dec. 14 and 15 is still a special opportunity to see the inside of Drayton Hall; this is the only event that’s still held in the historic home. Guests will hear traditional spirituals from Ann Caldwell and the Magnolia Singers. You can buy tickets at draytonhall.org.
Charleston Strolls Holiday Walking Tour
Throughout the month of December, Bulldog Tours is offering holiday walking tours of classic Charleston landmarks and historic homes. Guests can see everything from the Mills House to the Battery to private residences, all elaborately decorated for the holiday season. In addition, guests will learn about old Charlestowne holiday traditions and stories dating back to the 1600s. Tickets are $29 for adults, $19 for children ages 7 to 12, and children under 6 are free. Tickets can be purchased online.
Nathaniel Russell House
This December guests can sip on a glass of wine while enjoying a candlelit tour of the seasonally decorated Nathaniel Russell House. Tours are offered at 6, 6:30, and 7 p.m. every Thurs., Fri., and Sat. from Dec. 5 through 21. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased online.
Joseph Manigault House
Built in 1803, the Joseph Manigault House reflects both the urban lifestyle of a wealthy, rice-planting family as well as the enslaved African-Americans who lived there. Dec. 6-31, enjoy the home decked out in Christmas finery, decorated by the Garden Club of Charleston. Buy tickets online.