Excitement builds all through the holiday season, here at the Harbour Town Lighthouse. From far and near, folks make the trip up the 114 steps to the Shoppe at the Top for gifts – and a view – that they can’t find anywhere else. Souvenirs here are curated to remind friends and family of their good fortune to be part of the scene on America’s favorite vacation island. From the ground-floor Maritime Gift Galley, real keepsakes are selected to make the memory of their island holiday a part of home.
This year, on Saturday, December 23, our friend Gregg Russell performs his Christmas concert, from 7:30 to 9 p.m., under the Liberty Oak in the shadow of the lighthouse and at the heart of Harbour Town Yacht Basin. In fact, any time is a gorgeous time to enjoy the view from the lighthouse, and with sunset coming early, it’s the perfect way to launch a twinkling evening of magic. Families, friends, and couples all are touched by the spirit of the holidays that here becomes so abundantly clear.
A Little Bit Different
Our way of marking the climax of New Year’s Eve at the Harbour Town Lighthouse is just a little bit different, and we make it possible for everyone to take part. Prompted by the well-known Times Square tradition of watching a gigantic lighted ball drop to mark the countdown to midnight, our celebration at the lighthouse takes shape with New Year’s revelers gathering to watch an equally gigantic golf ball descend from the top of the lighthouse, as the voices below count down the final seconds of the old year.
The golf ball drop is a sight gag that never gets old, reminding newcomers and returning revelers alike that we put our own slant on the happy times here. Another way we customize the custom is by holding the ball-drop twice. Not only at midnight, but also at 7 p.m. the giant golf ball drops, as everyone enjoys the food and fun, the music, and live entertainment. The early version extends the celebration to families with children, and anyone who no longer has to stay awake to see the old year out.
A Crossroad for Many
Every day of the year, we hear visitors remark on how the view here at the lighthouse inspired a life-changing realization, an inspiration, or – in true lighthouse navigational tradition – a change of course.
Just as Times Square was once known as “the crossroads of the world,” our Harbour Town Lighthouse has drawn to its spell millions of people from all around the world and has made memories that most of them say they find unforgettable. Not such a bad spot to celebrate the passage of a year gone by and begin charting the course of a new one.
Even after Christmas, that wonderful holiday week, from December 27 through 29, we’ll be gathered around the Liberty Oak for classic holiday movies and roasting marshmallows. Admission is complimentary with donation of a canned food item to The Deep Well Project. A mini-train-ride for the children is $5 a passenger.
For those who enjoy the custom, a Polar Bear Swim takes place at 10 a.m. on New Year’s Eve at the Harbour Town Pool. After the plunge, hot chocolate and refreshments are served, and if this sounds kind of “out there,” consider that this year will mark the 20th of these – uh – invigorating events to see out the old year.
What We Share with Broadway
A lot of folks wouldn’t call it New Year’s Eve without watching TV for the ball drop from the top of the Allied Chemical building in Times Square. Just so, Hilton Head Island visitors and residents alike look forward to attending in-person our own kind of ball drop on New Year’s Eve, right here from the top of the Harbour Town Lighthouse. It will surprise almost no one that our ball looks a lot like a golf ball. Just the biggest one you’ve ever seen.
Festivities and Fun
It is not only the significance of this landmark, this icon of America’s favorite vacation island, that magnetizes it during the holidays. It is just a lot of fun. And perhaps one factor we do not share with Times Square is how family-friendly the fun of our New Year’s Eve can be. In fact, we stage an additional 7 p.m. countdown and ball-drop, so that all the family can take part in the observance. The main event, as midnight approaches, is all the more accommodating because of the earlier family offering.
Beginning at 6 p.m. a homegrown band known as The Nice Guys begins performing at the Liberty Oak stage. The Nice Guys met up in high school here on Hilton Head Island, and before they set off for college in Charleston, they had been voted Hilton Head’s best show band. When they return at holiday time, it’s a celebration for old friends and new ones alike. The Nice Guys’ repertoire seems to encompass every genre that makes you happy, and they know how to adapt to a space and an audience, so, as song says, “A splendid time is guaranteed for all.” Lollipop the Clown and juggler Rick Hubbard will be performing for the kids there, too, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
As the Hour Approaches
The musical duo known as Just Keith and Tommy perform from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., and then DJ Craz-E takes over with the music that sees the old year out and the new year in, from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Liberty Oak.
Times like this are when the true brilliance of our neighborhood shines through. All this music is easily heard from the Harbour Town Lighthouse, because Harbour Town was designed to be a neighborhood – just a neighborhood based on the design of a seaside resort on the Italian Riviera. As a result, it’s a strolling place, a sitting place, a listening and enjoying place, and a legendary people-watching place.
Yes, our home is a place to have fun. And the perfect place to see in a brilliant new year.