Proud of their heritage and the West African lifestyle they have preserved through the generations, South Carolina’s Gullah celebrate each year with an extraordinary display of cultural riches presented in festivals and shows held all along the coast.
Open to the public, these events offer visitors a fantastic opportunity to learn about the music, folk arts, dance, food and history of the Gullah.
Plan your next South Carolina vacation to catch one of these festivals held throughout the year:
Gullah Geechee Programs in Murrells Inlet. From January to November, Brookgreen Gardens hosts an entertaining and informative program about the culture, food, language, and history of the Gullah Geechee people. The program takes place in the Wall Lowcountry Center, open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration.The month-long February festival includes more than a dozen events designed to introduce visitors to the Gullah people and their history on Hilton Head Island. The impressive schedule of programs includes the annual Arts Ob We People exhibition and sale, Gullah Heritage Music Series, A Taste of Gullah, Ol’ Fashioned Gullah Breakfast and The Gullah Market, an arts, food and crafts expo.
The Original Gullah Festival in Beaufort. The two-day festival showcases South Carolina’s rich Gullah/Geechee heritage and the role Beaufort played in the reconstruction of the South. One of the highlights of the weekend event is The Gullah Marketplace, featuring unique Gullah crafts and authentic cuisine. The festivities also include historical workshops, a fine arts exhibit, demonstrations and an array of musical performances.
Penn Center Heritage Days Celebration on St. Helena Island. This annual three-day cultural event takes place the second weekend of November at the National Historic Landmark that served as the first school for freed African slaves and their descendants. The cultural lineup includes sweetgrass basket and net weaving demonstrations, Gullah storytellers and re-enactors, singers, African drummers and dancers, a craft fair, parade, fish fry and old school jam.
Sea Island Holiday Celebration. The centerpiece of this yuletide event, held each December in historic Beaufort, is the rousing original musical, “Gullah Kinfolk Christmas Wish…Freedom Comin” at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort Center for the Arts. Other weekend events include Gullah Reconstruction Tours, A Taste of Gullah Christmas Buffet with artist showcase, vendor’s marketplace and Christmas variety show, Christmas High Tea and Storytelling, Gullah Jazz Café Christmas Dinner Theater and Gullah Soul Food Buffet.