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Annual festivals and events happen year-round in Beaufort, South Carolina so there is never a dull moment for locals and visitors. Make plans to attend these special events and take advantage of the fun times while you are here.
We kick off the year with the Beaufort Oyster Festival, conceived as an 11-day festival week coinciding with Tides to Tables in conjunction with South Carolina Restaurant Week and culminating in a weekend of mini-festival events throughout Northern Beaufort County. Enjoy the drinks and entertainment while shucking the “Queen of the Sea Islands”, the elegant oyster.
In February the Beaufort International Film Festival starts, celebrating both the past and the future of filmmaking in Beaufort and the surrounding Sea Islands. For five days, international and local short films, feature films, animation, filmmakers' surprises, educational forums, guest speakers, parties, and the quiet charm of historic Beaufort are all on display. The festival recognizes aspiring filmmakers from every genre and showcases the extremely film-friendly region of Beaufort. For the past 25 years, Beaufort has served as the backdrop for more than 20 major motion pictures, including Forrest Gump, The Big Chill, The Prince of Tides and many more.
If you are visiting during Memorial Day Weekend, you may want to attend The Original Gullah Festival. This festival celebrates the rich Gullah Geechee heritage of the Sea Islands and honors the preservation of the Gullah culture and the descendants of enslaved Africans who ended up in the Lowcountry. Enjoy the arts, music, and cuisine of the Gullah people and learn about their ancestors through workshops.
Beaufort’s largest event is The Annual Beaufort Water Festival. Still going 65 years later, this festival is held every year in July and attracts visitors from near and far. Complete with concerts, food from local restaurants, a talent show, competitions, children’s programs, arts and crafts, and fireworks, this is the event you won’t want to miss. It has something for people of every age and interest and the schedule changes accordingly every year to keep up with the times. Every year, over 400 volunteers work long hours to bring the events to the Festival. The Festival is able to offer first-class entertainment at reasonable prices because of the generosity of various loyal sponsors.
In October, keep your eye out for two big events; the Shrimp Festival and the Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens. During the first weekend in October, the Beaufort Shrimp Festival is one of Beaufort’s highlights every year and it is easy to see why. With FREE admission, the City of Beaufort brings you to the beautiful Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park as the backdrop for this awesome event. 15 local restaurants participate every year and provide a delicious array of shrimp dishes. Towards the end of the month, take this opportunity to attend the Fall Festival of Houses and Gardens. Tour the historic homes located in “The Point” that represent centuries of Beaufort architecture. These houses and affiliated gardens are still owned by private families and only open up once a year to the public.
Historic downtown Beaufort brings the holidays to life every year with days of celebration that include seasonal entertainment, shopping, Santa, and parades on land and by sea. “A Night on the Town” begins a three-day event in December, when downtown retailers stay open late and local choirs, dance groups and clubs provide entertainment to downtown visitors. Santa Clause lights the city’s official Christmas tree and the Parris Island Marine Corps band performs holiday hits.