Oh yeah, you’ve got some 45 year old Flower festival in your town? Snore. Don’t worry Columbians: Cola Town has got you East bound and down. It’s Spring festival season 2017! Want to enjoy yourself while doing something great with your dinero? These community events provide you just that. Get out there, bask in the sun, and enjoy Columbia’s superb Spring event schedule.
World Beer Festival February 18th
The king of craft beer festivals is moving outside to the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in 2017. Adding an International Beer Oasis and a couple of food trucks to its already impressive lineup, World Beer Festival is a must stop for South Carolina beer lovers. Enjoy unlimited samples from over 200 local and international breweries. While there’s no charity involved with World Beer Festival, it does support the fine work of All About Beer magazine and that’s a cause we can get behind.
Mardi Gras Columbia February 25th
As Grassroots as they come, Mardi Gras Columbia is a festival without a merchants association. Instead, its just Krewe de ColumbiYa-Ya, presenting Mardi Gras at City Roots since 2009. It’s the only community event in town featuring a 5k you can run with your dog. This year’s beneficiary is Congaree Riverkeeper. Gulp down an Abita or five… and enjoy up to 25 bands while helping to protect and improve the water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreation of Columbia’s rivers. It’s free to get in.
St. Pat’s in Five Points March 18th
Five Points has played host to St. Pat’s for thirty five years. In that time, over a million dollars has been raised for local charities including another $54,500 in 2016. This year features twenty bands spread across four stages including St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Superchunk, Michael Ray, Drivin’ n Cryin’, the MoBros, and more. There’s even a silent disco. So, hoist a green beer and shake shamrocks with 45,000 of your closest friends. Pretend you’re Irish for a day. Why not? It’s for charity.
River Rocks April 1
If music mixed with food and drinks at a scenic riverside location sounds like your kind of thing, don’t miss River Rocks. It’s a celebration of what makes Columbia truly special, our rivers. River Rocks benefits Congaree Riverkeeper, the local affiliate of Waterkeeper Alliance. Every dollar raised goes to protect and improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreation on the three rivers Columbia calls home. Past performers have included Jason Isbell and Shovels & Rope. Zach Deputy headlines this year.
Tartan Day South April 1
On the other side of the banks is another effort to improve our river-ways. Tartan mixes highland games and celtic culture with a ren fest vibe set in an old motor speedway. Wanna watch guys toss huge logs where Richard Petty once drove the doors off the thing? Monies raised benefit the River Alliance. You know, the folks responsible for the Three Rivers Greenway.
Columbia International Festival April 1-2
Its a showcase of the cuisine, culture, and performing arts of the international communities that call South Carolina home. If you took the Greek Festival and then threw in about seventy other festivals, you’d get a pretty good feel for CIF. Spread over two days at the State Fairgrounds, the festival also features a Global Education Day on Friday. Around 3,000 local school children are expected to attend in 2017.
Hip Hop Family Day April 8
Wanna see a free concert by Kid and Play? Hip Hop Family Day is the festival formerly known as Love, Peace, and Hip Hop. FatRat da Czar and friends provide world-class hip hop in a family-friendly, alcohol-free environment at the corner of Main and Laurel. Experience B-Boy dance crews, dope DJs, the work of hip hop visual artists, and show your kids how old school you are. Open to all ages and race, its a day for peace, love, unity, and fun. It’s world famous, after all, y’all.
Indie Grits April 20-23
Started as a DIY film festival, Indie Grits has grown into something similar to Columbia’s version of SXSW. This year’s theme is Visiones and will feature the work of LatinX and Latin American artists from across the Southeast. It isn’t just a film festival anymore, either. You’ll find art, music, and even a regionally-programmed video game exposition called Indie Bits. Several interactive conferences usually piggy back the event. Indie Grits benefits the Nickelodeon Theater, Columbia’s nonprofit refuge for film lovers since 1979.
Rosewood Crawfish Festival May 6
With 10,000 pounds of Louisiana raised crawfish, Rosewood Crawfish Festival is for serious fans of Creole cuisine. Not your thing? There’s plenty of other food on hand and bands to see. Proceeds fund community improvement projects like cleanup initiatives and the installation of bike racks. Runners can start their day with the Crawdaddy Dash. This 5K run through surrounding neighborhoods exits right into the festival and also benefits local charity.
Freeway Music Festival May 20
Freeway Music School is a great place to get your child a music lesson (or hundreds of music lessons) but did you know they also host their own music festival? Stretched across four stages at the Music Farm and Tin Roof, Freeway is a young but growing music festival. Talk about homegrown. The fifth annual Freeway will raise funds to build a greenhouse at City Roots where area school children will learn how to grow locally sustainable food. That food will then be donated to Harvest Hope Food Bank for years to come. Plans to build an additional greenhouse in a third world country are also in the works.