Keep your camera ready when you visit Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, this holiday season – you never know when you are going to spot the hottest celebrity from the coldest part of the planet. Yep, we're talking about Santa Claus, who loves to lay low on the Grand Strand to get ready for his night in the spotlight. But if you know where to look, and you catch him in a good mood (which is always), there's a good chance you can pose for a quick pic with Santa himself. Here's a good guide for catching up with the jolly ol' elf for a selfie or two:
* Festivals: Santa makes several special appearances during his downtime on the Strand, beginning with the 36th Annual Dickens Christmas Show & Festival November 9-12 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. The Victorian Era-themed event features a marketplace, displays, and a tribute to the history of Santa and his many cultural images over the years. Christmas Towne takes over the same venue on December 10, offering free photos with Santa, snacks and hot chocolate, and other festivities. The Great Christmas Light Show at the North Myrtle Beach Park & Sports Complex runs November 24 through New Year's Eve and features a Santa's Village, where you can sit on Santa's lap and tell him what you want for Christmas.
* Parades: Although he might be too busy to pose for s selfie, Santa serves as the grand marshal of several local Christmas parades where you can get some great action shots. The Myrtle Beach (Broadway at the Beach), North Myrtle Beach (Main Street) and Murrells Inlet Christmas parades are set for December 3, followed by the Conway and Surfside Beach events on December 10. The toughest parade for photos with Santa, but the one with arguably the coolest location, is the November 26 Intracoastal Waterway Christmas Regatta, which features brightly decorated boats leading a flotilla with Santa sailing in the place of honor.
* Shopping Centers: Santa somehow finds time to visit all the local retail outlets so kids can sit on his lap and whisper their wish lists in his ear, including Broadway at the Beach, Barefoot Landing, Coastal Grand Mall and more. With a wide range of activities to get the little ones in the holiday spirit, Santa's Workshop at The Market Common offers more than a simple sit and shoot. Santa's Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops at Myrtle Beach Mall allows children to showcase their skills in arts and crafts projects while their parents shop. You can also celebrate “Breakfast with Santa” at the Hard Rock Cafe (December 9, 16 and 23).
* Tree Lightings: Broadway at the Beach hosts “A Very Broadway Christmas” on Saturday, December 3, featuring a parade, musical performances, a tree-lighting ceremony and a fireworks show. Barefoot Landing holds the “Lighting of the Landing” on November 18, highlighted by the illumination of a 22-foot Christmas tree, fireworks and other festivities. The Market Common's Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony is also set for November 18. Other area tree lightings will be held in Conway and Surfside Beach on November 30, Murrells Inlet on December 1 and North Myrtle Beach on December 5.
Keep your head on a swivel and your finger on your camera. You never know when and where you are going to see Santa on the Grand Strand – you may even find him chilling out at the Caribbean Resort & Villas.