How to Holiday in Paradise
We noticed it about 15 years ago – not so long ago, the way time passes on Hilton Head Island. First, Thanksgiving began to be a busy week at the resort among the vacation properties here in Sea Pines. Talking to our guests, we discovered what they had discovered; it no longer had to be Grandma’s table to make a memorable family Thanksgiving.
Soon, Christmas celebrations followed along. Seems as if families and friends and loved ones found that it was not the traditional setting that made the holidays unforgettable. It was the company of each other. Because that’s the case, why not go to the most pleasant surroundings possible? For many – and for more and more each year – the secret became that the holidays go very well, indeed, in paradise on the island that’s named America’s favorite year after year.
By now, people across the nation are familiar with the sight of Christmas lights in a palm tree, yet long before that became a recognized holiday image, there was one street on Hilton Head Island where everyone went to see the lavish, extravagant Christmas light displays. Dove Street – it was part of the lore that Hilton Head Islanders passed along to close friends, one of the inside stories of how best to enjoy their time in paradise. And a glittering trip it was. Eventually, as more and more people chose to enjoy their holidays here, Dove Street at Christmastime became so popular that the cozy neighborhood could no longer handle all the traffic. Today, the special street for Hilton Head Island Christmas lights has been relocated to Shelter Cove.
The Christmas tree lighting every year in the plaza of The Shops at Sea Pines Center has been part of the inside lore of holidays on Hilton Head Island for decades. This year promises to be in line for the best ever, because the celebration coincides on December 3 with the regular, monthly First Thursdays Art Market there. With artists exhibiting and discussing their work, accomplished local musicians performing, and the plaza glittering in its wintertime splendor, our friends in The Shops at Sea Pines Center host one of the island’s most memorable Christmas occasions.
A Marker in Time and Space
Here at the Harbour Town Lighthouse, we enjoy being the “Times Square” of Hilton Head Island on New Year’s Eve. Although we’ll take a break this year because of health precautions, the custom is for people to gather all around the Yacht Basin to watch a giant golf ball drop from the top of the lighthouse as our traditional marker of midnight. Long recognized as the centerpiece and symbol of Hilton Head Island, our lighthouse has been the perfect place to gather as we cheer the passing of the old year and the arrival of the new, so we look forward to resuming the custom when sensible precautions permit.
The beauty of contrast is one of the reasons that holidays sparkle brighter on Hilton Head Island. The covenants that preserve our natural beauty have, from the very first, included strict discipline about the use of lights. The absence of bright commercial signs serves many purposes, from the obvious to the subtle. Low light keeps our atmosphere unique and calm and restorative, and it also protects our native sea turtles when the time comes for them to lay their eggs each year.
Against this backdrop, the sparkling season of the holidays shines in a special way here at the Harbour Town Lighthouse. We hope you will come and join us, and we look forward to welcoming you.