With miles of beautiful sand beaches, some of the country’s best golf, fantastic weather, and good old-fashioned Southern hospitality, it’s no wonder Travel & Leisure Magazine voted Hilton Head Island the number one Island in the Continental U.S.!
Your Hilton Head Island vacation is sure to be one to remember, thanks to all of incredible experiences you can see and do. To help you make the most of your Lowcountry getaway we’ve compiled a list of the best festivals and events on Hilton Head Island. Which one will you add to your bucket list?
HarbourFest at Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina is a summer staple for those who love the Lowcountry. Spend the evening on the beautiful shores of Shelter Cove Marina enjoying live music and entertainment, and a spectacular fireworks show every Tuesday night. This event is now in its 29th year and has become a can’t-miss summer event for families.
Dates: May 27 – September 3, 2017
HILTON HEAD ISLAND MOTORING FESTIVAL & CONCOURS D’ELEGANCE
If you’re a car fan, you won’t want to miss this premiere motoring event on Hilton Head Island. Ten days of events and showcases including races, galas, auctions, and of course, the Concours d’Elegance. The Hilton Head Island Motoring Festival & Concours d’Elegance was recently awarded the South Carolina Governor’s Cup for excellence in event and tourism promotion. Join the tens of thousands of people who know why.
Dates: October 27–November 5, 2017
HILTON HEAD ISLAND SEAFOOD FESTIVAL
For a decade, the Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival has been celebrating local chefs, seafood, and culture with a week’s worth of events including collaborative dinners, celebrity chef demonstrations, art showcases, live music, and more.
Dates: February 19–25, 2018
HISTORIC BLUFFTON ARTS & SEAFOOD FESTIVAL
Celebrate two things Bluffton is known for: a vibrant arts and culture scene, and delicious seafood! Every fall, the streets of Bluffton come alive with outstanding cuisine and beautiful works of art from across the region. There’s even a cooking competition and Fun Run!
Dates: October 14–22, 2017
MAY RIVER SHRIMP FESTIVAL
Enjoy all things Lowcountry—good food, good hospitality, beautiful sunsets, and unbeatable live music—at the May River Shrimp Festival at Oyster Factory Park this summer. This event is fun for the whole family; even pets are welcome!
Dates: July 20–21, 2017
MOVIE NIGHT IN THE PARK
Make the most of warm South Carolina summer nights at Movie Night in the Park at Shelter Cove Towne Centre. Weekly showings of your favorite family films in the open air at Shelter Cove Community Park—it’s the perfect family activity for your Hilton Head vacation.
Dates: June 15–August 17, 2017
MUSIC & TASTE ON THE HARBOUR
Head to Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina for the best dance party on Hilton Head Island! Every Thursday in the fall and spring, Shelter Cove restaurants serve up delicious dishes while local bands play live music into the night. This outdoor food and music event has become a favorite of locals and returning Hilton Head guests alike.
Dates: March 30–May 18; September 7–October 19, 2017
Oysters hit their peak in the late fall months, and so what better time to have an Oyster Festival to celebrate our favorite shellfish? This annual festival serves up local oysters in every style, and has non-seafood options, too. Kids will love the Kid Zone and football fans will love the Sports Lounge.
Dates: November 10–12, 2017
RBC HERITAGE WEEK
The Island’s premiere golf tournament is a must-do for golf lovers! It’s a week of plaid, golf, camaraderie, and a good time like you can only have in Lowcountry. Watch your favorite golf pros in action at the RBC Heritage Tournament, enjoy family activities like movies and an Easter egg hunt, and of course, South Carolina sunshine.
Dates: April 9–15, 2018
WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL
Taste the best Hilton Head Island has to offer at this annual event, now in its 33rd year. Oenophiles will love the International Wine Competition, knowledge sessions and tastings. Foodies will delight in the dinners that pair cuisine by the region’s best chefs with the world’s top wines.
Dates: March 5–11, 2018
Stay at the heart of all the Hilton Head action at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. Our vacation homes and villa rentals offer the perfect home base for your Hilton Head adventures, no matter the season! Visit PalmettoDunes.com to view our vacation packages and start planning your Hilton Head Island vacation.
Everyone loves fireworks; it is hard to imagine someone who cannot associate the magic of fireworks to a childhood memory, favorite holiday or great story. Often, when people recount their favorite fireworks memory, they remember their family’s summer vacation and the Tuesday night fireworks at Shelter Cove for HarbourFest Summer Celebration. After 27 years of sending fairy dust into the sky and watching everyone’s eyes light up, we figured it might be fun to give you the inside scoop.
How much really goes into setting up a fireworks show? You just light the fuse and let them do their thing, right?
HarbourFest and Tuesday night fireworks begin in mid-June and continue through mid-August, but planning for the event begins immediately following the closing night of HarbourFest. Applications & Permits with a variety of law enforcement entities involved are required to stage such an event. We work closely with the Town of Hilton Head Island Fire Department, Beaufort County Sherriff’s office, the South Carolina State Fire Marshal’s office, SC Department of Natural Resources, etc. Once all the logistic & planning details are approved, the Tuesday night fireworks events are given the green light. The Shelter Cove HarbourFest event has been fortunate to have the continued and generous support of Greenwood Communities and Resorts, Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, the Shelter Cove Harbour Merchants Association, the Town of Hilton Head Island & local business sponsors for many years and has received funding to help offset the cost of producing the shows, security, traffic management and facilities maintenance. This additional funding has helped sustain and keep this event going even through the economic downturn.
With six to eight months of planning complete, it is show time (literally!). Preparation for a Tuesday night fireworks show begins around 2:00pm with fireworks scheduled to shoot at dusk (usually 9:00-9:30pm). As is the case with all outdoor events, weather and safety conditions play a huge part in the execution of the event. Here in the South Carolina Lowcountry, afternoon thunderstorms are a frequent occurrence. The daily weather conditions and forecast are tracked constantly and they dictate when and if we can set-up a show.
On the show dates, the Fire Marshal & Marina Dockmaster are called by the pyrotechnic company to alert them of their arrival time at the designated location. Once the crew and marina team are assembled, a safe zone clearance of 50 feet is created around the area and boat where the fireworks are being moved. The pyrotechnic company and crew can then begin to transport more than 500 pounds of fireworks (the July 4th show generally exceeds 1,000 pounds of fireworks and entails an 8-10 hour set-up time) onto a boat which is then driven to the barge that is positioned outside the Shelter Cove Marina in Broad Creek.
The loaded vessel leaves the marina and makes the trip to the barge just a few miles away. All of the fireworks are then offloaded onto the barge, individually wired and covered, if necessary, in case of inclement weather. The fireworks crew then gets back on to the boat to shoot the fireworks remotely from a safe 100 yard distance from the barge. Two additional boats must secure the perimeter of the barge for additional safety measures until the end of the fireworks show.
The entire loading, unloading and set up process takes four to five hours, weather permitting. As mentioned, factors like rain, wind, lightening and even heat advisories can disrupt the set up of the show and cause a show delay or cancellation. Simply put, if there is a threat of severe weather or any inclement weather during the set-up or firing of a fireworks show, our staff has no choice but to delay or cancel the show.
We have faced nights where we had to cancel a show at 4:00pm because the fireworks crew cannot set up in thunder and lightning conditions. But when the weather clears and it is sunny and nice by 6:00pm, people want to know why on Earth the fireworks were cancelled. The answer? Safety. The safety of our staff and guests is our main priority and is not something we take lightly.
Trust us when we say there is no one more disappointed than our staff when a fireworks show is forced into cancellation. We speak to residents and visitors every week who tell us that the Tuesday night fireworks at HarbourFest is the event they look forward to the most every summer with their family. We hate to let these folks down, but unfortunately, sometimes the weather just doesn't cooperate.
We hope that by explaining the process of Tuesday night fireworks, guests, visitors and locals will gain a better understanding of the reasoning behind a cancelled show. No matter, the magic occurs every Tuesday night, mid-June to mid-August! … Weather permitting. : )