Light up your Holidays at Nights of a Thousand Candles

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There are dozens of ways to celebrate the holidays on the Grand Strand during December, from floating boat parades to Christmas shows. But none of these can hold a candle to the marquee event of the holidays at Brookgreen Gardens.

The Nights of a Thousand Candles celebration is a Christmas tradition on the Grand Strand for countless locals and visitors who flock to the botanical sculpture garden to see a beautiful blend of art, nature and holiday cheer. Patrons are treated to a hearty dose of the Christmas spirit as they admire the always-lovely gardens bathed in the soft glow of candlelight and other natural lighting.

Located in the South Carolina Lowcountry of Murrells Inlet, Brookgreen Gardens goes all out for the holidays with its Nights of a Thousand Candles celebration. Guests at Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort are only about a 15-mile drive away from a winter wonderland nestled inside the 9,100-acre premises. The natural beauty of the gardens, combined with the holiday lights and ornaments, provides a spectacle for the whole family. For many, this event becomes a Christmas tradition that they partake in year after year.

Situated on a former rice plantation, Brookgreen Gardens features a unique display of plants and statues that are normally viewable only during daylight hours. But on Dec. 1-3, 8-10 and 15-18, Brookgreen Gardens opens its gates from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. on those 10 selected nights for a special evening session that gives the property an extreme makeover for the holidays. Guests are treated to a rare glimpse of the gardens at night.

More than 5,500 flameless candles line the walkways to provide both a safe and scenic stroll through the gardens. Tree lights are draped from twisting live oak trees and straight palmettos, floating candles reflect off the pools and fountains, and statues cast long shadows from natural lighting. The centerpiece of the experience is a towering Christmas tree covered with more than 70,000 lights and hand-made ornaments. This awe-inspiring sight is the perfect backdrop for holiday photos.

The Nights of a Thousand Candles is about more than just Christmas lights on trees and statues. There are musical and theatrical performances held throughout the complex, including a main stage under an enclosed tent where live bands play nightly. Visitors can also hear caroling and handbell choirs performing in the gardens, and children will enjoy the storytelling sessions and Christmas displays at the Gullah Culture Center and other indoor venues at Brookgreen Gardens.

No holiday-themed event is complete without festive refreshments. As guests take in the evening sights and sounds, they can enjoy apple cider, hot cocoa and other treats at the concession tents. Winter Lowcountry favorites like Seafood Chowder and She Crab Soup are also available. The Old Kitchen on-site restaurant will be serving dinner each night but seating is limited and reservations are not available. That's why many Compass Cove guests use the trip as an opportunity to sample some of the award-winning restaurants of Murrells Inlet and nearby Pawleys Island. Visit the Murrells Inlet Marshwalk before or after the event and experience more than a dozen dining hot spots all on one wooden waterfront walkway.

Admission to Brookgreen Gardens for the Nights of a Thousand Candles event is $14 for members and $18 for the general public. For children ages 4-12, tickets are $8 for members and $10 for the general public. Call 843-235-6021 for group prices of 15 or more guests. For more information, visit

After an enjoyable night exploring Brookgreen Gardens under candlelight, return to Compass Cove for a nightcap and a relaxing night on the Myrtle Beach oceanfront. It’s one more reason to make Compass Cove Oceanfront Resort your home for the holidays.