Around Greenville: Festivals and Events

by   |     |   kallweil@bju.edu   |  
Downtown Greenville festivals

There is always something going on in Greenville, but some events are more special than others. In every season, Greenville hosts annual festivals and events that draw locals and visitors like flies. Closing down the streets to set up booths for food and craft vendors helps keep the small-town charm of Greenville alive.

Summer Festivals and Events

TD Saturday Market (May–Oct.)

Website: saturdaymarketlive.com

Every Saturday morning from May to October, two blocks of S. Main Street are blocked off for the TD Saturday Market. Most vendors sell produce from local farms, but others sell plants, baked goods and other handcrafted items. While it’s fun to just walk around and look, chances are you’ll find something you want to buy, so make sure to bring some cash with you. While most vendors can accept cards, not all do.

Furman’s Music by the Lake (Thursdays, May–Aug.)

Website: furman.edu/musicbythelake

Furman University’s Lakeside Concert Band performs free summer concerts at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, May through August. Their repertoire includes favorites from big band, jazz, bluegrass, marches and orchestral music. Don’t forget your blanket or chairs—and maybe some bug spray.

Upstate Shakespeare Festival (Thursdays–Sundays, May–June/July–Aug.)

Website: warehousetheatre.com/upstate-shakespeare-festival

The Upstate Shakespeare Festival performs two Shakespearean plays each summer in Falls Park. This year, the featured plays are Romeo & Juliet (May 23–June 16) and The Tempest (July 11–Aug. 4). Local actors perform in an open-air stage next to Reedy River Falls, apropos to the setting of The Tempest. Bring a chair or a blanket, sit back, and prepare to be transported to the world of the Bard. Admission is free, and performances begin at 7 p.m.

Food Truck Fridays (Fridays, June–July)

Website: http://fuelftf.news/schedule

From 11 a.m.–1:30 p.m., June 7 through July 26, the parking lot of FUEL becomes more than just a parking lot. It becomes the go-to spot for Greenville’s food truck fans, thanks to FUEL’s Food Truck Fridays. Each week, two different food trucks will be parked in the lot for those looking to grab something tasty while supporting small businesses. Check the website for the schedule of trucks!

Chautauqua History Alive Festival (June 14–23)

Website: greenvillechautauqua.org/june-festival

The Chautauqua History Alive Festival is one of the more unique festivals in Greenville, mostly because it’s not located in one place. Throughout the city, historical interpreters—impersonators who are also experts on their characters—interact with their audiences, answering and debating questions. This year’s theme “It’s Revolutionary!” featured characters such as Alexander Hamilton, Andrew Jackson and Jackie Kennedy. The best part—most of the shows are free!

Wells Fargo Red, White and Blue Festival (July 4)

Website: greenvillesc.gov/1328/Wells-Fargo-Red-White-Blue

During the Wells Fargo Red, White and Blue Festival, Main Street is once again shut down. Vendors set up from Broad Street to Augusta Street, and two music stages feature army bands in addition to local musicians throughout the event. The Festival begins at 5 p.m. and culminates in one of the state’s largest fireworks displays at 9:45 p.m.

Roper Mountain Blueberry Festival (July 13)

Website: ropermountain.org

The Roper Mountain Science Center hosts an annual blueberry festival on their Living History farm. This farm is a replica of an 1800s pioneer community, complete with blacksmith shop and one-room schoolhouse. During this Greenville festival, visitors can not only see how life used to be lived but can also participate in a number of blueberry-themed activities. Admission to the event is $8 for adults and $7 for kids. The planetarium, butterfly garden and science center are also open during the festival.

Fall Festivals and Events

Indie Craft Parade (Sept. 13–15)

Website: makerscollective.org/indiecraftparade

The Indie Craft Parade celebrates handcrafted items and those who make them. Vendors sell all sorts of goods at the show, from pottery to clothing to stuffed animals to gourmet hot chocolate and popcorn. It does cost $6 to get in, and there may be a line, but the wait is well worth it.

Several BJU faculty, staff and alumni are often found among both vendors and buyers. Also, BJU Art + Design alumni and faculty played a role in organizing the first Indie Craft Parade back in 2010. More of a curated craft show than a parade, vendors must make it past a panel of jurors before being chosen to participate, and BJU faculty were some of the first jurors. Each year, BJU’s Art + Design department is represented in some way. Last year, the department sponsored a changing booth for visitors to try on clothing.

Fall for Greenville (Oct. 11–13)

Website: fallforgreenville.net

Perhaps the most popular of Greenville’s downtown festivals is Fall for Greenville. The aromas of over 40 restaurants’ 200+ menu items lure visitors down Main Street. The festival runs on “Taste Tickets”—$5 for a sheet of 10—which buy food, drinks and admission to attractions. Some of these attractions are cooking demonstrations and competitions. Local restaurants participating in the festival are judged on best entree, best dessert and tent decoration. There is also a kids’ area with special activities, rides and attractions just for little ones. And while visitors are tickling their taste buds, local performing artists supply background music from the seven stages along Main Street.

U.Day (Oct. 12)

Website: homecoming.bju.edu

Though not one of the more well-known Greenville festivals, BJU hosts Homecoming & Family Weekend every October. U.Day—the Saturday portion of the weekend—is a community event. Children can sign up for three sport clinics: soccer (second grade and up), volleyball (junior high and up) and basketball (second grade and up). An educational street fair begins at 10 a.m. and ends with a performance of Peter Pan by Artios Academies of Greenville at 2 p.m. in Rodeheaver Auditorium. Tickets for the performance are $2.50 per person and $5 per family.

While the kids are outside getting their faces painted, parents can wander the M&G Maker’s Market on the second floor of the Student Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Everyone is invited to stay for the Bruins women’s soccer match at 4 p.m. and the men’s match at 7 p.m. More information will be available on the website as the event draws closer.

Boo in the Zoo (Oct. 18–20, 25–27)

Website: greenvillezoo.com/168/Special-Events

Every October, things get a little spooky at the Greenville Zoo. Boo in the Zoo features an extinct species graveyard, Dragon Alley and a fun house in addition to trick-or-treat stations and character photo ops. While mostly geared toward trick-or-treating youngsters, kids and adults alike are welcome to come to the zoo in costume. Prices vary based on age and membership, so check the Greenville Zoo website for admission fees.

Greenville Open Studios (Nov. 9–10)

Website: greenvillearts.com/greenville-open-studios

During the Metropolitan Arts Council’s Open Studios weekend, local artists open the doors of their studios to the general public. According to the MAC, the goal is to “open up the world of visual artists to everyone—from the seasoned collector to the first-time art buyer to the curious general public.” The MAC provides a map of participating artists along with their preferred media. All studios are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 12–6 p.m. on Sunday, with some studios also open 6–9 p.m. on Friday.

Winter Festivals and Events

Ice on Main (Nov.–Jan.)

Website: greenvillesc.gov/344/UCB-Ice-on-Main

Not much says “Christmas time” like outdoor ice skating. Thanks to United Community Bank, Greenville has its own outdoor ice skating rink. Open after 3 p.m. on weekdays and after 11 a.m. on weekends, the rink is on Village Green next to City Hall from the middle of November until the middle of January. Tickets are $10 for adults, but the rink offers a 50% discount if you bring your own skates. They also have several promo nights, such as buy one get one free Mondays and $5 skate Tuesdays. Check the website or Facebook page for details.

Greenville Poinsettia Christmas Parade (Dec. 7)

Website: greenvillesc.gov/1330/Poinsettia-Christmas-Parade

Greenville’s Poinsettia Christmas Parade is a blend of the coziness of a small-town celebration mixed with the excitement of a big city. Local businesses, high schools and troops design floats and routines to entertain audiences from near and far. The parade route runs down Main Street from Augusta Street to North Street. Grab a cup of hot chocolate or coffee at one of Greenville’s many coffee shops, then find a spot to settle in and enjoy!

Bon Secours Festival of Trees (Dec. 1–31)

Website: stfrancisfoundation.com/festival-of-trees

A favorite Greenville Christmas tradition is the Festival of Trees. Sponsors fill the lobbies of four downtown hotels—Courtyard Marriott Downtown, Embassy Suites Downtown, Hampton Inn & Suites – RiverPlace and Hyatt Regency—with decorated Christmas trees. The public is invited to view the trees for free during the month of December. Here’s an idea: Make a day of it by visiting the Festival of Trees before watching the Christmas Parade.

Spring Festivals and Events

Imagine Upstate STEAM Festival (April)

Website: imagineupstate.org

The iMAGINE Upstate STEAM Festival is one of the most innovative of the festivals in Greenville. In 2015, the team behind iMAGINE Upstate wanted to find a way to introduce K–12 students to STEAM careers and the annual STEAM Festival was born. From Touch-a-Truck experiences to drone racing to robotics competitions, all ages will find something interesting at this free festival.

This year, Bob Jones Academy’s award-winning robotics team participated in the STEAM Festival as an exhibitor. The team showed guests how to guide robots to a designated location.

See Also: BJA Robotics Team Advances to World Championship

ShalomFest (April)

Website: templeofisrael.org/shalomfest

Greenville also hosts a few religious festivals throughout the year. One of the more noteworthy is ShalomFest. The schedule for the event includes both a Passover seder (or supper) and a Jewish wedding ceremony. A few special exhibits are also put on display during the festival such as this year’s exhibit of South Carolina Holocaust survivors and liberators. Traditional Jewish music, dancing and food round out the event, giving visitors an authentic taste of the Jewish culture. Admission to ShalomFest is free, and parking is available on-site and at Butler Springs Park (shuttle provided).

Artisphere (May 8–10)

Website: artisphere.org

Perhaps the most prominent of the annual Greenville festivals is Artisphere. This event celebrates art in all its forms—visual, performing and culinary. From City Hall to the West End, Main Street features exhibits of photography, painting, pottery, sculpture, hand-crafted jewelry, blown glass, and other visual artists and artisans. Local dance troupes and bands perform on stages along the street, and street performers entertain among the crowd. The two Kidsphere locations let kids craft their own artwork and investigate musical instruments or theater costumes. Also, the Main Street Bridge hosts booths of local restaurants who bring out their best—and sometimes special recipes created just for Artisphere. With so much going on, it’s no wonder Artisphere brings thousands of people to Greenville every year.

Greenville Greek Festival (May)

Website: greekforaday.com

Another of the more noteworthy of the religious Greenville festivals is the Greek Festival hosted by Saint George Greek Orthodox Cathedral. The food alone is more than worth the $1 entrance fee. Gyros, baklava, souvlaki, loukoumades and more are available for purchase both inside the Church’s Hellenic Center and at the outdoor food booths. Each day, different groups of traditional Greek dancers perform from adorable pre-K students to adults. And the audience can get involved, too, with a Greek dance lesson! The cathedral is open for tours during the festival, and if you time your visit right, you can even catch a Byzantine chant concert.

Moonlight Movies (Wednesdays, May and Sept.)

Website: greenvillesc.gov/1324/Fidelity-Moonlight-Movies

Greenville takes advantage of its outdoor spaces during warmer months to show classic family films under the stars. The May series included titles such as The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins. Local food trucks and Poppington’s Popcorn are on-site for showings, so get there early to grab a bite to eat before the movie starts. Showtimes start at dusk (usually 8 or 8:30 p.m.) and are free. Don’t forget seating and a jacket! (If you’re looking for outdoor movies not on Wednesdays, try Greer’s Moonlight Movies or Travelers Rest’s Movies in the Park.)