Thursday, April 1, 2010

Festivals, Sports Events Spice Up Spring, Summer in South Carolina

South Carolina likes to party and play, and the spring and summer lineup of special events across the state provides something for everyone – from world-class sporting events to championship barbecue.

Here’s a rundown of just a few of the major events on the calendar. For a complete list and details, go to

April 12-18 – Verizon Heritage, Hilton Head Island – One of pro golf’s iconic stops, the Verizon Heritage at Harbour Town is known as more than just the tournament “the week after the Masters”. It’s one of the most family friendly stops on the tour and regularly draws the game’s top players – and legions of fans – to the sea island retreat for a week of great golf and Southern hospitality. It’s also the only South Carolina visit on the PGA Tour schedule.

April 15-18, Family Circle Cup, Charleston – The Family Circle Cup women’s tennis tournament has been a South Carolina tradition since 1973 and played in Charleston since 2001. This year’s field again includes most of the top names in women’s tennis. Lead sponsor Family Circle magazine is the first to partner with local government to build a world-class tennis facility and this year’s prize purse is more than $700,000.

May 8, Southern 500, Darlington – Darlington Raceway and Mother’s Day Weekend go together like NASCAR and turning’ left. This year’s Southern 500 promises to be no different as the sport’s top drivers get together to see who can best tackle the “Track Too Tough to Tame.”

May 28-31, Freedom Weekend Aloft, Simpsonville – Summer is “up, up and away” when the big balloons take to the sky for the annual Freedom Weekend Aloft near Greenville each Memorial Day weekend. Besides the colorful hot-air balloon competitions and rides, the party includes big-name performers in the amphitheater, car show, the Freedom Family Fun Zone and even the U.S. Disc Dog Nationals.

May 28-June 13, Charleston – The Spoleto USA performing arts festival has become a signature event in one of the nation’s most historic and picturesque venues. Debuting in 1977 as an American counterpart to the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, Charleston has proven to be a perfect fit with its variety of intimate performance spaces and world-class architecture and ambience.

June 4-5, Sun Fun Festival, Myrtle Beach – Summer has “officially” arrived in Myrtle Beach when it’s Sun Fun Festival time again. Now held at the Market Common at Myrtle Beach (on the old Air Force base), the festival include live entertainment, sporting events, pageants, food and arts and crafts vendor, celebrity meets, special areas for the kids and more.

July 3, Lexington County Peach Festival, Gilbert – The Lexington County Peach Festival is one of the state’s largest summer events, filling the little town of Gilbert with thousands of fresh peaches and the people who love them for the one-day annual celebration. A parade, pageants, peaches served up in a variety of ways and hometown entertainment mark this Independence Day tradition. Little South Carolina, by the way, is the nation’s second-largest peach producer, second only to California.

July 4, Torchlight Tattoo, Fort Jackson – There are a lot of great places to see fireworks on the Fourth of July, but perhaps none more patriotic than at the Torchlight Tattoo at the nation’s largest Army basic training post. A longtime favorite in South Carolina’s capital city of Columbia, the celebration of freedom begins in the afternoon and includes the 282nd Army “Victory” Band, food vendors and, of course, spectacular fireworks after darkness falls.

July 8-10, South Carolina Festival of Discovery, Greenwood – The best in competitive barbecue cooking and blues music alike have helped make the S.C. Festival of Discovery a must-see in its short 10 years so far. Besides a big crowd in person, last year’s festival in downtown Greenwood was featured on the Food Network. A specialty of this stop on the barbecue circuit is black kettle hash.

Sept. 3-4, Beach, Boogie & BBQ Festival, Myrtle Beach – Valor Park on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base gets extra lively each Labor Day weekend as the summer season comes to a close with the Beach, Boogie & BBQ Festival. As the name implies, fun, food and music are highlights of this annual end-of-the season beach bash.

Sept. 24-26, Atalaya Arts & Crafts Festival, Huntington Beach State Park – A 1930s “castle” on the beach is the setting for the annual Atalaya Arts & Crafts Festival at Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet near Myrtle Beach. More than 100 juried artists and artisans are expected to display their wares this year, the 35th edition of this end-of-summer tradition on the Grand Strand. Local seafood and live music also will again be on the palette.

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