The town of Sumter
is giving visitors an early Christmas present — a free holiday light show at its world-famous Swan Lake Iris Gardens.
One of the largest lighted displays in South Carolina, the 24th Annual Fantasy of Lights features more than a million lights, 150 lighted figures and a floating Christmas tree.
Just down the road in the Heath Pavilion at the end of Garden Street is Santa’s Village, open from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 16 and Dec. 17. Along with a visit from Santa, the evening festivities will include choir performances and a presentation of “Dance of the Northern Lights,” featuring synchronized lights and music.
Renowned for its namesake swans and Japanese iris collection, the 150-acre park goes all out each December illuminating the grounds in a spectacle of lights you won’t soon forget.
Come early and enjoy the colorful camellias blooming in the winter garden. Be sure to take a walk around Swan Lake and try to spot the eight swan species — Royal White Mute Swans, Black Necked Swans, Trumpeters, Whoopers, Coscorobas, Bewick Swans, Whistler Swans and Black Australians — that make their home in the gardens. No other public park in the country features all eight species.
As the sun goes down, the park will come alive in a festive holiday display. Your kids will enjoy pointing out some of the characters on parade, among them Barney, Bob the Builder, Sponge Bob and Dora the Explorer.
The drive-through light show is open from dusk to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 Friday and Saturday nights through Dec. 31.
Swan Lake Iris Gardens is located about 40 miles from Columbia
. Admission to the park is free. For more information, click here
or call the Swan Lake Visitors Center at (800) 688-4748.