Though steeped in Southern-ness, South Carolina reflects a mosaic of cultures. This diversity is celebrated annually at festivals across the state. Not only are they educational and entertaining, but they are delicious, too. Here is a sampling of annual events where you can experience global flavors without leaving the country:
Shepherd's pie, corned beef, cabbage - everyone gets lucky at an Irish festival. Add a mug of Irish beer for a little extra good fortune.
Lowcountry Irish Festival, Mt. Pleasant (February)
Fun features: Four performance stages and after-fest jam sessions
Fun features: Leprechaun parade and highland games
Fun features: Leprechaun scavenger hunt and a bar hop
St. Patrick's Day Festival and Parade, Myrtle Beach (March)
Fun features: Leprechaun competition and shepherd's pie eating contest
There's nothing like the aroma of sausages on the grill to put you in the mood for a fair or festival. When you're noshing at an Italian festival, however, it's just the tip of the cannoli. Pasta, pizza, eggplant Parmesan, zeppoli, gelato and more make these celebrations of Italian culture "musts" on your festival to-do list.
Summerville Italian Feast, Summerville (October)
Fun features: Roll up your pants for the grape stomp and sample Italian wines
St. Phillip Neri Italian Festival, Fort Mill (May)
Fun features: Cannoli 5K run and Italian idol contest
Bavarian white sausages, knackwurst, bratwurst, spaetzel and more - it's just a sampling of some of the German goodies you'll find at these lively Oktoberfests. Do a polka and roll out the beer barrel!
SpartOberfest, Spartanburg (September)
Fun features: 10K Pretzel Run and a Christmas market
Greek communities across South Carolina take a lot of pride in their culture, as evidenced by the many Greek festivals happening each year. Here are just a few where you can indulge in dolmades, spanakopita, moussaka, gyros, baklava and so much more:
Charleston Greek Festival, Charleston (May)
Fun features: Church tours and wine tastings
Greek Festival, Florence (May)
Fun features: Greek dancing and a drive-thru for carryout meals
Columbia Greek Festival, Columbia (September)
Fun features: Live Greek battle re-enactments and Greek grocery store
Greek Festival, Greenville (May)
Fun features: Greek marketplace and concert of traditional hymns
Check out these festivals where the cuisine and heritage go hand-in-hand:
Lowcountry Nosh Jewish Food and Heritage Festival, Charleston (November)
Foods include corned beef, chopped liver, bagels, knishes, rolled cabbage and homemade sweets.
Fun features: Live music and tours of the Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim, the second oldest synagogue in the U.S.
Korean Festival, Columbia (October)
Foods include bul-go-gi, udon, kimchi, fish cakes, bibimbob, roasted rice and dumplings.
Fun features: Korean fan dances and martial arts demonstrations
Main Street Latin Festival, Columbia (August)
Foods include arepas, cuajito, pork and chicken pinchos and tostones.
Fun features: Salsa, merengue, reggaeton and grupero - be ready to dance, dance, dance!
Hilton Head Gullah Festival (End of January- February)
Foods: At ticketed events, dine on West African-inspired Gullah dishes such as okra soup, conch stew, seasoned shrimp, stewed oysters, shrimp and gravy, fresh fried fish, grits and biscuits.
Fun features: Gullah gospel choirs and art exhibit and sale