People & Places with Pierce: Christmas In Hopelands


Take a walk down the winding paths of Christmas in Hopelands.

For many in Aiken, it just isn’t Christmas until one annual light display is back up and running.

Sam Radford, recreation program supervisor for the City of Aiken Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department, says: “This is just one of those things that adds to the charm of Aiken.”

It’s a holiday tradition that’s been around for generations.

“This is the 27th annual Christmas In Hopelands,” added Radford. “This tree: it’s about 26 feet tall. We’ve got some other really great displays. We’ve got a horse and carriage, a snowman.”

This is just a taste of the 30 displays and 100,000 lights along 2 miles of winding pathways at Hopelands Gardens.

“Every night we’ve got free hot cocoa, apple cider, and cookies for people to enjoy,” said Radford.

But getting it all together is a tall order.

“Well, it is quite the process,” explained Radford. “Our staff, our maintenance team, starts November 1st setting up the lights. It takes every day every minute of the work day to prepare. It is quite the transformation. There’s something special about Christmas In Hopelands. The idea of strolling the pathways with the way that it’s lit up for Christmas, I think that definitely draws people plus it’s a free event.”

Christmas in Hopelands has quickly become a yearly tradition that thousands of people look forward to every holiday season. It’s even been named one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast for 4 years.

“They always say it’s special,” said Radford. “You know, it’s not like anything else. It’s not a drive-thru exhibit. It’s not busy. It’s a nice, peaceful, tranquil environment.”

An environment that you can enjoy at any age, something Radford knows all too well.

“I came as a child,” recalled Radford. “I enjoyed it and then growing up it turns into something you do with your friends. And then as you get older and start your own family, it’s something that you want to bring your children to continue that tradition. There are many great holiday events around town, around the CSRA, but nothing is like Hopelands. I think that once you come one time, you’re definitely going to return.”

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