This blog was written by Experience Columbia SC Ambassador, Merrell Johnson.

The Heart of Columbia is full of diversity! We celebrate and appreciate our differences because together, our differences make us the great city we are. Juneteenth is just ahead (June 19th), celebrating the emancipation of slavery in the United States. In Columbia we celebrate it BIG! With a three-day celebration that starts on June 17thwith the 7th Annual Juneteenth Freedom Festival. Taking place at Segra Park, this all-day family fun affair features local live music, food, vendors, and performers. 

It attracts visitors from all around the country and is a experience you don’t want to miss. On June 18th, the Joy Fest will take place, featuring gospel recording artists; Yolanda Adams, Tye Tribbett, Le’Andria Johnson, Kelontae Gavin, Jeffrey Lampkin, and Jekalyn Carr. 

The following Monday, we celebrate with a parade! This year’s Grand Marshall is Coach of the Year, Chennis Berry, Head Football coach for one of two Historically Black Colleges and University in our city, Benedict College. I hear the organizers are also working on another special guest! I suggest keeping your eyes open. You can find out more by visiting their website Family Friendly Event | Juneteenth Freedom Fest | Columbia .

Say for instance you’re in town and you’d like to experience the spirit of Juneteenth before or after the Federal Holiday. It’s easy to do! Simply experience some of the locally owned shops, bakeries, restaurants, and public art. I promise you’ll be glad you did! I have curated a list of places you can visit, eat and play, suggested by my friends and me. 


When it comes to nightlife there are three places, that my friends and I agree on! 

  • Chayz Lounge, located just across the bridge in West Columbia offers a fun environment and a night fill with Jazz music and good food! 
  • Silk Lounge, located in the Vista offers a different vibe every night, and can satisfy almost any musical craving you can think of! 
  • Barcode, Located in Northeast Columbia, has great food, Karaoke night, and themed nights to keep you right! 


If there is one thing, I love to do with my friends (and alone) is eat. Whether it’s for coffee, breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, it’s easy to think of a place to satisfy almost any craving.


  • Stop by Artisan Sunrise and visit Tizima Brown. She’s a Veteran and her handmade soaps, body washes, bath bombs are the best! 
  • Fazel, and sunglasses eyewear company started by Kayla Rogers, offers fantastic sunglasses for men and women, and while she doesn’t have a brick and mortar store, she does offer local pickup and mailing worldwide. 


Lastly, as a lover of art. I invite you to take a tour around town and admire some of the beautiful murals completed by Ija Charles. I also invite you to check out the Columbia Museum of Art’s Affinity Group, Friends of African American Artist webpage, they have great programming coming up. If you like a little more, visit if Art Gallery in the Vista and tell Michaela, I sent you! 

After you’ve played all day, head back to five points and have a glass of wine at Goat’s! You’ll be glad you did!