Annual Events

 

January

Taking over a week in January (plus one in October), Restaurant Week Columbia should be marked in your calendar. With an ongoing list of restaurant deals this is when you and your date + your girlfriends + your family can finally try that restaurant you have had on your list. 

February

Laissez les bons temps rouler at Mardi Gras Columbia, grab your beads and walk in the parade then head to City Roots for an all-day music festival. Sponsored by Louisiana-based Abita Brewing Company, enjoy some drinks and Cajun cuisine and of course, King Cake.

Join hundreds others at the parade down Harden street for the Annual Black History Parade and Festival. Then, head over to MLK Park for the statewide celebrated party filled with live music, vendors, and more. Be sure to bring your kiddos along, there’s educational games and entire kid zone just for them (and you).

March

Runners in the Run Hard Columbia Marathon are into personal bests, athletic glows, and seeing beautiful city and suburban scenery for 13.1 and 26 miles every spring. Jump into this course for a tour of the city that can’t be beaten.

For over 30 years, a special part of the city gets more green than usual for St. Pat’s in Five Points, one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day festivals in the Southeast. Featuring a daylong lineup of bands, a fun run, and a wee bit o’ parade in the morning, this festival has a little something for everyone.

Dust off those kilts and bagpipes and head to the weekend long festival honoring Celtic culture and heritage, The Tartan Day South Festival. Showcasing the traditions of Ireland, Scotland, and England, through music, athletics, and dancing, this background will be the perfect place to honor your lineage and learn more about history. Sip on a Guiness while watching classic sheep dog herding or place your bets on sword fights.

The annual Indie Grits Festival has grown by leaps and bounds to encompass a citywide event that attracts visitors and locals alike. Centered in and around our own arthouse theatre, the Nickelodeon, Indie Grits is chock full of independent films, live music, and food trucks. Case in point, it lives up to the hype.

April

While it’s typical of The Vista to be buzzing, it comes alive with extra vibrancy during Artista Vista each spring when the galleries keep their doors open later and public art spills out into the streets to bring culture into reach for everyone. 

Believe it or not, our city is a veritable melting pot of cultures. Nothing showcases that aspect more than the annual Columbia International Festival, bringing together the foods, songs, dances, clothing, and more of the people who make up the Midlands.

The weather is warming up and so is all the food, food trucks that, is at the Annual South Carolina Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival. Over 30 trucks congregate at the State Fair Grounds with a plethora of options from vegan eats to snow cones to everything in-between.

May

It might sound like blasphemy, but crawfish are kind of a big deal around here – at least during the Rosewood Crawfish Festival. With 10,000 pounds of crawfish and a healthy dose of other Cajun and Southern favorites + a day full of live music make this a Capital City party your tribe won’t want to miss.

The Governor’s Cup is a Columbia tradition, and one of the oldest continually conducted road races in the Southeast. The 5k and half marathon courses are designed to showcase the city’s most beautiful attractions, making for running views that are tough to beat.

June

While we're not a coastal town, when it comes to shrimp & grits there are lots to be had in Columbia SC. Find out who has the best and enjoy live music at the Columbia Shrimp and Grits Fest.

Sample some of West Columbia’s finest at Taste on the River at Stone River. Unlimited tastings, and open bar, and a silent auction with sponsors from local favorites such as Terra and Café Strudel.

July

Locals know that no matter what day of the week July 4th falls on, the Lexington County Peach Festival will happen, rain or shine. This long-running celebration of America and one of South Carolina’s top crops, the peach, brings people of all ages out for a parade, dozens of peach treats, and a fireworks show to top it off.

Follow the locals to Lake Murray for the annual Lake Murray Fireworks Celebration on July 4th. Dazzling displays light up the night sky and are reflected in the water’s rippling surface making this show one to plan for.

August

Nothing says summer in the South like a plump, ripe tomato. Don’t believe us? Dig into the fruit at the height of tomato season with The Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival at City Roots.

The Main Street Latin Festival spices up the city with an authentic street fair that celebrates the huge impact that Latino culture has on South Carolina. Attendees can get a real taste of the variety of Hispanic culture that infuses our lives.

September

While okra may be overlooked in other cities, it inspires a whole lot of family-friendly fun and a whole lot of fried okra at the Irmo Okra Strut. With a carnival-like atmosphere, parade, and live music, the Okra Strut is a staple for this northwest Columbia suburb.

Experience Jubilee: Festival of Black History & Culture with Historic Columbia, which brings together artisans, dancers, storytellers, and musicians to celebrate the deeply interwoven ties of African American history in our city.

October

Get out of the city and head to Congaree Swamp Fest near Congaree National Park for music, kiddie rides, and shuttles to SC’s only national park. Bring the immediate family, the extended family, and the friends of family – this free event is rooted in kinship and homegrown hospitality.

The city brightens up and paints the town rainbow for the weekend of the Famously Hot SC Pride Festival. It’s an epicenter for entertainment with dynamite performers – think Lil’ Kim & Jordin Sparks as past headliners. Combine that with a parade and a positive, creative culture and you’ve got a recipe for breaking attendance records every year.

While Columbians love having a good time, locals are also just as eager to step up for a good cause. The Palmetto Health Foundation’s Walk for Life and Famously Hot Pink Half Marathon is the pinnacle event for breast cancer research in the Midlands and offers distances for beginners to half marathoners.

Fried Oreos, rides, carnival games, and bright, Insta-worthy photos mean it's time for the South Carolina State Fair. This Columbia tradition is a statewide celebration of family fun and getting back to being a kid. Be sure to check out their concert lineup and what deep-friend concoction will be created this year.

November

A Devine Night Out comes just in time to kick off the holiday shopping season. Full of upscale shopping and some of the city’s best bites, use this time to find unique gifts for friends and family (+ yourself) on this chic stretch of street in the Shandon neighborhood.

When there’s a chill in the air, take in the Holiday Lights on the River display, starting in November and running through December. Stay in the warmth of your car with hot chocolate and snacks as you wind through the sparkly displays. Pro tip: sync your car radio up to their station to listen along to tunes that match the show.

‘Twas the Lights Before Christmas and all through the zoo, the animals were stirring, and people were too. Each holiday season Riverbanks Zoo and Garden puts on a magical display of twinkling lights of every color, and in every shape of animal, that captures your imagination and instantly gets you in the holiday spirit. Visit starting in November - December.

The Vista starts to shimmer with a little extra light at Vista Lights - a kickoff to the holiday season that highlights the best of The Vista’s art galleries and retail shops, plus brings merriment in the form of great bites and sips.

December

Hungry for some of the most creative designs ever? Crafty Feast is the headquarters for the creative set. Just in time for the holidays, it’s here to feed you with a smorgasbord of crafts from cute to sleek to edible that features the South’s best artists serving up a shopping buffet.

Famously Hot New Year brings in hot bands and big crowds for the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in the city, all right in front of the State House. Not to mention, the largest fireworks display in the two Carolinas.

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