CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Located in the heart of downtown Charleston, The Charleston Place hotel has decked the halls for the upcoming holiday season.
Decorated with more than 100 wreaths, 131 real fir trees from a farm in Boone, N.C., and 10,000 ornaments, the hotel has transformed into a magical winter wonderland.
The scene is made complete by a custom-built, 41-foot-tall Christmas tree in the center of Market Street Circle that has more than 5,000 ornamental balls adorning it. Out front sits a vintage 1996 Mini Kensington that was donated by a local family.
Though perhaps the most iconic feature is the holiday train situated between two grand staircases in the hotel’s lobby. The display is crafted and hand-painted by the Knappi family, who have traveled from Greenville to Charleston for the past 24 years to assemble it.
“Over 24 years, it’s the same people that were here when they were eight and nine years old and now they have their kids,” son Jonathon Knappi said. “Seeing it put a smile on so many people’s faces is so neat. It’s a tradition that we look forward to as much as Charleston does.”
In order to commemorate the hotel coming under local ownership recently, the train’s design was revamped to highlight South Carolina as opposed to a more European style as in years past.
“This year, in the front, it’s more of the old style of Charleston,” Knappi said. “The colors of the buildings, the cars have changed, the trains have changed, just to kind of try and bring more of a local feel to it.”
A display of this magnitude takes months of preparation, according to the owner of The Drifter, a Charleston-based company that decorated the White House for Christmas during the last two years of the Obama presidency.
“We have been working every day since April up until now and are already planning for next year,” Courtney Zentner said.
Zentner said design elements throughout the hotel are inspired by The Charleston Place’s roots and traditions.
“It’s such an icon in Charleston, but it’s also so classic,” she said. “We used a lot of small details that tie back to stately, nostaglic toys and the magical nature of all of that.”
As guests wander through the lobby, they can hear the sweet sounds of the piano and breathe in the smells of the fresh greenery. A bit further down the hall, near the shops, sits a station where children can write letters to Santa and to patients at MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital.
“Impacting our local community and giving back is at the heart of what we do here at The Charleston Place,” director of communications and special programming JoCatherine Woods said. “Folks can write a letter to Santa that we’ll mail off and make sure it gets to the North Pole, or they can write a letter for a child at MUSC and the hotel team will deliver those prior to Christmas Eve.”
Also included is a tribute to Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, featuring a 7-foot-tall menorah.
But, this year, holiday offerings at the hotel extend far beyond just decorations.
Throughout the season, the hotel will host special events that are fun for the whole family including symphony concerts, a Buxton books popup shop, and even appearances from Saint Nicholas himself.
The highlight, though, is the faux-snow that will magically fall from the sky twice nightly. Each night at 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., a blanket of white will cover the ground while guests listen to carols, enjoy pastries, and sip on hot cocoa from local vendors.
“We are very much looking forward to being a gathering place for little and big kids all season long,” Woods said. “We’re doing all of this to spark joy and create those special moments for our community.”
Photos: The Charleston Place transforms into a winter wonderland
For more information on holiday happenings at The Charleston Place and to reserve your space for ‘Let It Snow,’ click here.