Enjoy Live Music Year-Round at South Carolina Music Festivals

By:Bob Gillespie

Date:6/5/2018

Love music. Will travel?

Then plan your next road trip to South Carolina where you'll find music events all over the state celebrating every musical style from classical to country.

Here's a rundown of some of the best annual music festivals in South Carolina:


Bluegrass

Charleston Bluegrass Festival. Held in March in the small fishing village of Awendaw, this family-friendly event features local and regional bluegrass bands performing on side-by-side stages. Along with live music, the festival features RV camping, local foods and craft beer. Limited to 1,000 spectators.

Hartsville Fiddlers Convention. Guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle and debro musicians battle it out in this bluegrass competition held in September at Center Theater in Hartsville. The festivities also include a "Street & Square Dance" on Carolina Avenue and a winner's showcase.

Music on the Mountain at Table Rock State Park in Pickens. Local musicians gather each month in the park’s lodge to perform traditional bluegrass music. Visitors are invited to bring their acoustic instruments and join the free jam sessions held from 2 to 6 p.m.

Plum Hollow Alternative Bluegrass Festival in Campobello. Bringing together artists from the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia, this event is dedicated to breaking new ground in bluegrass music, from New Grass, Grunge Grass and Jazz Grass to Bluegrass Rock 'n' Roll. Held the last weekend in May at Plum Hollow Farm, the festival is a companion to the Moonshiners Reunion held the first weekend in October at the farm.

South Carolina State Bluegrass Festival in Myrtle Beach. The Myrtle Beach Convention Center plays host to more than a dozen bluegrass groups each Thanksgiving weekend with back-to-back performances starting at noon Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

South Carolina State Fiddling Championship in Pickens. Staged in September at the historic Hagood Mill, this event focuses on old-time, traditional styles with guitar, old-time banjo, junior and senior fiddle, wildcat open and old-time string band competitions.


Blues

Carolina Downhome Blues Festival in Camden. A Midlands staple for more than two decades, this popular October weekend event draws legendary blues artists from around the world performing everything from “roadhouse” blues rock to acoustic blues and folk music.


Country

Albino Skunk Music Fest in Greer. Originally founded as a bluegrass festival, this April event now features a variety of acoustic music, including Americana, folk, alt-country, roots and bluegrass.

Carolina Country Music Fest in Myrtle Beach. This three-day outdoor music festival held in June boasts more than 30 performances by top country music artists like Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, the Zac Brown Band and Toby Keith.


Indie and Hip-Hop

Jam Room Music Festival in Columbia. Held in late September at the intersection of Main and Hampton streets, this free outdoor party features 12 Indie and hip-hop bands performing on two stages. The acclaimed event has drawn such well-known groups as Guided by Voices.


Jazz

Jazz on the Square in Spartanburg. A partner to the city’s Thursday night “Music on Main,” this Friday evening event, held April-May and September-October, brings local and regional musicians downtown with food offered by local restaurants and beer by Spartanburg’s RJ Rocker Brewery.


Classical

South Carolina Chamber Music Festival in Florence. World-class musicians present intimate performances daily in February at the Francis Marion University Performing Arts Center. This unique little festival includes different styles of chamber music from classical to jazz.

Swannanoa Chamber Music Festival in Greenville. Founded in 1970, this acclaimed chamber music festival includes Monday night performances in July by string quartets and other chamber groups at Carolina Music Museum in Greenville's Heritage Green.


Miscellaneous Music

Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston. One of South Carolina’s largest cultural events, this May-June arts extravaganza features performances of Mozart to Mahler, chamber music, opera and all varieties of jazz (including Afro-Cuban), plus country artists such as Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, and Gullah-inspired groups.

Blue Ridge Fest in Pickens. Staged in early May at the Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative, this weekend event combines music with food, entertainment and a classic car cruise-in.

Fall for Greenville. Held in mid-October along downtown's Main Street, the event features free entertainment on seven stages, plus 40 restaurants offering selections from their menus.

Greater Clemson Music Festival. What started in 2012 as a three-day blues festival has expanded to include jazz, rock, reggae, gospel and roots over an entire week in April.

High Water Festival in North Charleston. Orchestrated by the husband and wife team behind the folk band Shovels and Rope, this April show at Riverfront Park is a celebration of music, food and libations, 843.308.4746.

Long Creek Music Festival. Enjoy three days of music, food and fun in this small town in the Appalachian foothills. The festival is held in May at the Chattooga River Resort & Campground in Sumter National Forest. 864.873.7310

Music to Your Mouth at Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton. Mixing mouthwatering Southern food, drinks and music, this multiday festival is held each November and includes more than a dozen events with some of the best chefs, vintners, mixologists and musicians in the South.

River Rocks Music Festival in Columbia. This April event, held on the Wheat Street extension adjacent to the University of South Carolina’s Founders Park, features live music and river paddling on the Congaree River.

St. Patrick’s Day in Five Points in Columbia. While more of a daylong party than an actual festival, this March staple always has multiple stage performances, and in recent years has featured such popular bands as Drive-By Truckers and the Avett Brothers.

Thoroughbred Music and Arts Festival in Aiken. Held in June at Stable View equestrian training center, this event is aimed at the age 35-60 crowd who grew up on the Beatles, Rolling Stones and other timeless groups.

Trondossa Music and Arts Festival in North Charleston. Rock, country, Americana and jam bands all find a place in this May event held at Riverfront Park.

Heritage Park Amphitheatre in Simpsonville. The outdoor entertainment venue offers a full schedule of concerts from June-August with performances by such well-known artists as Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down, Collective Soul and Hank Williams Jr.

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