Events, South Carolina, United States

Saddle Up: How One Small Town Spreads Christmas Cheer in a Big Way

Imagine a town where hundreds of carolers dress as Santa’s elves, mount their horses, and bring the magic of Christmas to each and every doorstep on Main Street. Imagine the sound of hoofbeats and jingle bells ringing through the air, while carolers serenade you with your favorite holiday songs. No, this isn’t the North Pole, and it’s not Whoville. This unique Christmas tradition belongs to a small town called Aiken, South Carolina.

Recently named the South’s best small town, Aiken says go big or go home when it comes to Yuletide carols. The town’s Hoofbeats Christmas Parade, held every December for the past decade, is one of the most anticipated events of the year – and for good reason! Where else in the world can you find a caroling experience quite like this? More than one hundred participants take part in the equine extravaganza, which draws spectators from near and far. The parade includes everything from horseback riders and dog walkers to decorated carriages led by miniature ponies, large Belgians, and horses of all breeds and sizes. Both riders and steeds don their most festive attire for the event, dressing up as reindeer, elves, and Santa’s helpers. Even Santa himself comes along for the ride, much to the delight of the kids (and kids at heart) in the crowd.

If you are planning to spend Christmas in the South, this is one event that you definitely won’t want to miss. Whether you opt to ride in the parade or sing along from the sidelines, everyone is welcome to join in the fun! Here’s what you need to know about this year’s event.

About the 2019 Hoofbeats Christmas Parade in Aiken, SC

Aiken’s 11th Annual Hoofbeats Christmas Parade will kick off at 2 p.m. on Saturday, December 21st. Led by mounted police, the procession begins at Trinity Lutheran Retirement Home on Laurens Street, where participants deliver gifts and sing carols to the crowd of onlookers. From there, the parade continues down Laurens Street, winds throughout downtown Aiken, and stops in front of the historic Willcox Hotel. After one more loop through town, the riders dismount on Barnwell Avenue, but the fun doesn’t end there! Following the parade, everyone is invited to the Willcox Hotel for more caroling around the piano with NYC cabaret singer Kendall Stanish and pianist David Brown. Is there a better way to get into the holiday spirit?

Organized by three equestrian women in Aiken, the parade was designed as a way to bring the community together for the holidays. In addition, they collect Toys for Tots donations. Any equestrian is welcome to participate, from kids on ponies to seasoned fox hunters. South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette says that she plans to ride again in this year’s event, which is expected to be bigger and better than ever before. You can join in the fun, too! Bring your horse, bring your dog, or simply bring your Christmas spirit and get ready to sing your heart out.

Make it a Christmas to Remember in Aiken, SC

The Hoofbeats Christmas Parade is one of many holiday traditions unique to Aiken, SC.  Ring in the season at the annual downtown tree lighting, go ice skating at Citizen’s Park, or take an enchanted stroll through Hopelands Gardens under a canopy of mossy oaks and twinkling lights. Do you need to do some last-minute holiday shopping? Head downtown for Night of 1,000 Lights to stroll the streets and browse the shops that stay open late. And if you have kids, they will love sharing breakfast with Santa or storytime with Mrs. Clause. No matter how you decide to celebrate, Christmas in Aiken is sure to be an experience that you and your loved ones will remember for years to come.

To see photos about the Hoofbeats Christmas Parade in Aiken, SC, check out the event’s Facebook page. For more details about this year’s parade, click here. 

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  1. Anne Rich says:

    What time should we be there to sign up..would love to participate sounds like so much fun..also where do we park our horse trailers

    1. Hi Anne, we would love for you to join us! The parade starts at 2 pm, so please arrive around 1 pm so you have enough time to get ready. You can park your horse trailers at the intersection of Barnwell Ave. and Edgefield Ave., and there will be a check-in desk there.

  2. Anne Rich says:

    The forecast is calling for 80% chance of rain Saturday. .will they continue with the parade or will there be a rain date ? Thanks for your help

  3. […] can experience all of these spring events in Aiken, SC, when you live in the heart of it all! No matter what time of year, there is always something happening around town. If you’re considering relocating to the area, […]

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