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Lights, lanterns, dancers and four-legged prancers for your Charleston weekend

Festival of Lights roasting marshmallows

There's always a spot to roast marshmallows at the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park. The festival opens at 5:30 p.m. nightly and closes at 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Holiday Festival of Lights

I am not the bah-hum-buggy type by any stretch of the imagination, and although I tend to wait until after Thanksgiving to bring the Christmas decorations out, the Holiday Festival of Lights at James Island County Park is something that can put me in the spirit lickety-split. The 30th annual festival returns on Friday with its 2 million light bulbs, and will be open, rain or shine, every night through Dec. 31.

The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission always presents a marvelous spectacle. In addition to the three-mile driving tour, there will be the “dancing light display,” train rides, the “enchanted walking trail” and the old-fashioned carousel. Marshmallows will be available for a little roast-roasty and Santa’s Sweet Shoppe will have concessions, including some hot chocolate to keep you toasty-toasty. There are gift shops, the holiday sand sculpture in the Winter Wonderland and photo opps in Santa’s Village.

Holiday Festival of Lights - kid pointing out of window

The Holiday Festival of Lights returns to James Island County Park on Friday and will run through Dec. 31.

Additional entertainment includes storytelling, carolers and visits with Mrs. Claus, as well as performances by local dance teams, musicians and school bands. Last but certainly not least, the park will host a fireworks display on New Year’s Eve.

WHEN: 5:30-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 5:30-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 15-Dec. 31

WHERE: James Island County Park, 871 Riverland Drive

PRICE: $20 per vehicle ($15 Monday-Thursday with a canned good or dog/cat food donation); admission fee increases for vehicles with more than 15 occupants (see website for details)

MORE INFO: 843-795-4386,

Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival at Magnolia - red lanterns from below

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens will host a Chinese lantern festival, beginning Friday and running through May 15.

Beginning Friday, and for the first time in the venue’s history, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens will be open at night for a special months-long treat, a Chinese lantern festival, “Lights of Magnolia: Reflections of a Cultural Exchange.”

The large-scale installations are custom-designed, and will feature thematically unified lanterns, “a fusion of historic Chinese cultural symbols and images that represent the flora and fauna of Magnolia.” So, yes, there will be alligators. And, of course, there will be a dragon. And nightly food trucks.

The handmade, three-dimensional sculptures will be displayed over nine acres of the Romantic-style gardens. They are constructed by the Zigong Lantern Group, based in Zigong, China, which is recognized as a leader in Chinese lantern festivals.

WHEN: 5:30-9:30 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, Nov. 15-March 15

WHERE: Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, 3550 Ashley River Road, Charleston

PRICE: $26 general; $11 ages 6-12; free for ages 5 and younger; ride-share and shuttle options encouraged with a small, added fee (see website for shuttle options); additional $50 to park on site

MORE INFO: 843-571-1266,

Bollywood Night

Bollywood Night

The India Association of Greater Charleston will present “Rhythms of India – Bollywood Night” on Saturday at West Ashley High School.

The India Association of Greater Charleston will present “Rhythms of India — Bollywood Night” on Saturday at West Ashley High School, featuring a dance program and dinner.

Featured dance forms include traditional folk, Bhangra (martial arts-ish), Bharatnatyam (initially, the art of temple dancers), Kathak (Hindu storytelling) and Bollywood (mix of traditional and contemporary styles for film), from local performers and special guests. Make sure you’ve got your dancin’ shoes on, though, as there will be an opportunity to learn some Bollywood moves when the floor opens to all in attendance after the program.

WHEN: 4:30-10:30 p.m. Nov. 16

WHERE: West Ashley High School, 4060 West Wildcat Blvd., Charleston

PRICE: $12-$20 (RSVP requested); free for ages 5 and younger

MORE INFO: 743-646-5857,

Steeplechase of Charleston

Steeplechase horse race

The Steeplechase of Charleston will be held at The Plantation at Stono Ferry Racetrack on Saturday.

If you love horses and a grand time, giddy-on-up to the Steeplechase of Charleston at The Plantation at Stono Ferry Racetrack on Sunday. There will be five races, "competitive" tailgating, fashion parades and competitions, and live music on the main stage throughout the day. There also will be a Family Zone (with a Ferris wheel!) and a Vendor Village, featuring local shops, regional food trucks and Lowcountry artisans (think holiday presents!).

The Steeplechase has been an annual Charleston event since 1792 and will close out the National Steeplechase Association's fall racing circuit, with a $70,000 purse and national titles up for grabs. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Post and Courier Foundation's Good Cheer Fund, which supports seven local organizations that assist families in crisis, clothe the less fortunate, shelter the homeless and feed the hungry of the community.

WHEN: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 17

WHERE: The Plantation at Stono Ferry Racetrack, 5000 Old York Course Road, Hollywood

PRICE: General admission tickets start at $50; free for ages 12 and younger; increased cost for infield tailgating tickets and parking passes, as well as VIP/hospitality tents

MORE INFO: 843-937-4968,

Paws in the Park

Paws in the Park

The Charleston Animal Society will host its Paws in the Park fundraiser and festival at Riverfront Park on Saturday.

Paws in the Park at Riverfront Park on Saturday will start out with a 5K run/walk, followed by a fun fest, presented by the Charleston Animal Society. As for the races, you can run a timed race (for medals), or you can run with your dog or walk a shorter route with your dog. Included, while supplies last, are a t-shirt, ribbons and one free beer, all great things to have.

As for the free festival, you don’t have to participate in the run/walk to attend. Music will be provided by DJ Luigi of Latin Groove, Hibachi Heroes and Roti Salley. Food and beverage trucks will be on site and oysters available for purchase. Check out the “foam zone,” jump castle and other kids’ activities, more than 50 vendors and adoptable animals.

WHEN: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 16

WHERE: Riverfront Park, 1061 Everglades Ave., North Charleston

PRICE: $45 run/walk (40 percent coupon code SAVELIVES); free festival admission

MORE INFO: 843-747-4849,

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Reach Liz Foster at 843-937-5581. Follow her on Twitter @TheDizzyLizzieB

Senior news clerk and staff writer Liz Foster joined The Post and Courier team in 2012 and, among other things, compiles events and writes the My Charleston Weekend column for Charleston Scene.