Bedecked in old oak boughs and Spanish moss splendor, the College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard is charming year-round. But something quite magical happens to Randolph Hall during the holiday season.
Rows of glittering lights adorn the columns of CofC’s most iconic building to put on a show for students and passersby, complete with holiday tunes. And the fifth annual Cougar Night Lights holiday light show will kick off at 5 pm on December 1st, 2021, with a special showing for College of Charleston students.
This year’s display features a shiny, golden “Joy” sign, which signifies a partnership with Explore Charleston and the Historic Charleston Foundation for Southern Living’s Illumination Charleston weekend Dec. 2-5.
“The theme is ‘Spread the Joy,’” says Doug Warner of Explore Charleston. “We chose to include the Cistern lights because the College is synonymous with downtown Charleston and visitation.”
There are four “Joy” signs on the peninsula, highlighting displays of holiday cheer around Charleston. These displays can be found at the Cistern Yard, the South Carolina Aquarium, Marion Square and the Charleston Visitor Center. The “Joy” sign in Mount Pleasant’s Town Centre is not affiliated with Illumination Charleston, but the lights there are also worth a visit!
During opening night for Cougar Night Lights, students can enjoy various make-and-takes (stuff-a-buddy and decorate your own Santa hat, elf hat, stocking or candy jar), carnival games with prizes, a photo booth, a selfie couch, a snow machine and food trucks, in addition to the spectacular lights, which will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Launched in 2017, Cougar Night Lights marks the ending of the fall semester for students and the start of the holiday season for the CofC community.
“Cougar Night Lights is a wonderful part of the College tradition, as we begin to wind down the academic year and help students relax before heading into final exams,” says Christine Workman, executive director of student involvement. “We are glad to be able to celebrate this time of year with our students and to be in person for the experience again in 2021.”
The show is once again produced and designed by CofC alumnus John Reynolds ’97, an Emmy Award-winning lighting designer who has done work for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Super Bowl.
Cougar Night Lights will open free to the public beginning on Dec. 2, so join us at the College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard to celebrate the holiday season. The Cistern Yard is located at the corner of George and St. Philip streets. Public parking garages are available at two locations, including the George Street Garage and St. Philip Street Garage.
Public showings for the holiday season will be held nightly Dec. 2-Jan. 1 every half-hour from 5:30 pm to 9 pm, with the exception of December 9th when showings will begin at 6:30 pm.
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