Myrtle Beach Spring Festivals
When Spring arrives, so does the action on the Grand Strand, and there are a million ways to have fun while heralding in the warmer weather. From the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and National Shag Dance Championships in March, to the Grand Strand Fishing Rodeo in April, to the world famous Bike Week in a May, there’s plenty of festivals to explore in Myrtle Beach in the Spring season.
Myrtle Beach March Festivals
March kicks off the festival season with events devoted to such things as food, beverage, wildlife, dogs, and more!
Winyah Bay Heritage Festival in Georgetown is rooted in hunting and fishing, specifically duck hunting, in early March. The Georgetown Historical Society runs the wildlife show with exhibitors and food vendors, and proceeds go to support the Georgetown County Museum. Call the festival hot line at (843) 833-9919, or reach the Georgetown County Museum at (843) 545-7020.
The National Shag Dance Championships started in 1984, whereas the Myrtle Beach shag dancing tradition dates way back to the 1930s. That means the contestants have had plenty of practice, and winners of this prestigious contest become national celebrities, appearing on Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, PGA Annual Banquets, and gaining entry to the Shag Dance Hall of Fame.
The competition is fierce and takes place over two weekends in March, a follow-up to the preliminaries held in January. Most recently this event has been held at the 2001 Nightclub, 920 Lake Arrowhead Road in Myrtle Beach, but it’s been held at other venues and the unofficial headquarters of all shag dance events is North Myrtle Beach, where huge organizations throw major parties throughout the year. For more information call (803) 366-5506.
Canadian-American Days Festival is a response to the flood of Canadians that flee their frigid climate at the first whiff of spring and don’t stop driving south until the last of the icicles have faded from the rear-view mirror. Myrtle Beach welcomes our northern neighbors with concerts, games, a golf tournament, a cheer and dance competition for students, and somehow St. Patrick’s Day always manages to get in the middle of all that. The big kick-off event is held at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center the second weekend in March.
The line-up of events and activities may vary from year to year, but some things never change. Every year there’s a Can-Am Doll & Bear Show at the Lakewood Campground Conference Center. First United Methodist Church hosts a Festive Brass of Myrtle Beach Annual Can-Am Concert.
Flanking the central festival district, concerts take the stage on the South Strand and on the North Strand. South Strand’s Can-Am Concert is held at Inlet Square Mall in Murrells Inlet. North Strand’s Can-Am Concert is held at Myrtle Beach Mall, and the Coastal Grand Mall hosts the annual Can-Am Days Festival Celebration Expo, with something in the range of 40 to 50 exhibitors and live entertainment throughout the day.
Mall merchants offer special deals during these events, and all mall events are sponsored by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
Contact Grand Strand Events at its Myrtle Beach office, (843) 626-7444, or at its South Strand office, (843) 651-1010.
St. Patrick’s Day is huge in this area and factors into the Can-Am Days Festival in many ways. The Town of Surfside Beach holds a St. Paddy’s Day Dance at the Surfside Beach Civic Center, 115 Highway 17 North. Call (843) 913-6111. The Grand Strand Senior Center holds a Ballroom Social Dance at 1268 12th Avenue North. Call (843) 626-3991.
Ocean Boulevard’s big blow-out celebration of all things Irish goes on all day, from noon to midnight, with live performances, a pier-to-pier race, a kids’ zone, vendors, food and beverages. This is the main drag through the downtown district and it is closed to traffic from Eighth Avenue North to 11th Avenue North. Call (843) 997-6695.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in North Myrtle Beach starts earlier, at 9 a.m., and beach chairs, blankets and golf carts line Main Street well in advance of that early start time. The parade goes on for about two hours, typically with more than 100 entries and two announcing stations, at the BiLo Shopping Center and at the corner of Hillside Drive and Main Street. WPDE TV 15 broadcasts live parade coverage.
The parade is organized by the North Strand Optimist Club, and it ends at a Main Street festival with arts and crafts vendors and two stages of continuous live entertainment that include bagpipers, Irish folk dancers and a Shepherd’s Pie eating contest. A children’s area (for the wee ones) has rides and games for all ages while food and beverage vendors join Main Street merchants in handing out treats. Cold Irish brews and hot Irish delicacies are served all day. Call (843) 280-5570.
An Irish Fest at Valor Park (located in the Market Common) features an oyster roast, Irish food and beer, live entertainment, children’s activities and vendors. Myrtle Beach Beer & Wine Festivals puts on this show, and you might want to check them out for other events of this type. Call (843) 712-2618.
Huntington Beach State Park holds an Annual Wildlife & History Day at its scenic and historic location in Murrells Inlet. In addition to cultural history events and wildlife exploration, you’ll get food from local restaurants and live entertainment. Call (843) 237-4440.
Taste of the Coast at Barefoot Landing in North Myrtle Beach is a joint effort of the merchants of Barefoot Landing and their neighbors at Risen Christ Lutheran Church, the beneficiary of this annual fundraiser. Local restaurants set up booths and offer samples. A kids’ zone has cooking lessons, pony and camel rides, carnival games, a balloon artist and face painters. The Taste raises scholarship funds for the church’s students and also supports a food drive run by the North Strand Helping Hand. Call (843) 272-8349.
Myrtle Beach Beer Festival is held at The Market Common in late March, a chance to buy a tasting glass for $5 and see how many times you can refill it. Over 120 different beers are available in Valor Park and they come with live entertainment. Call (843) 712-2618.
Myrtle Beach April Festivals
The brisk festival pace slows as the air and water temperatures start to warm up and visitors wander off in the direction of the beach.
Art in the Park is actually a string of events, the first of which occurs in early April in Chapin Park in Myrtle Beach, adjacent to the public library at 16th Avenue North and Kings Highway. The Waccamaw Arts and Crafts Guild has been hosting these events for 40 years to allow local artists to showcase their handiwork, and events in April, June, October and November attract visitors and vendors from all points of the East Coast. Some shows are held at Valor Park in the Market Commons. Call (843) 448-7690.
Society of Stranders (SOS) Spring Safari brings the shag dancers back to town, if it can be said they ever actually leave. This ten-day event is a highlight of the SOS annual calendar, with competitions, dance lessons, nightlife and a parade. Events take place at Pirate’s Cove, Fat Harold’s and Ducks along Main Street in North Myrtle Beach. Popular bands play beach tunes along Main Street and the whole thing winds down with a major parade, floats and fanfare. Call (843) 280-5997.
Coastal Uncorked Food and Wine Festival pulls out the corks. An oyster roast at the Sea Captain’s House kicks off the annual event, followed by a string of culinary experiences along the Market Common at Ocean Boulevard. Restaurants along that strip supply food and wine samplings while Oceanfront Grand Tasting Tents set up between 8th and 9th streets and charge admission. That’s also the spot to catch a strolling music and art promenade.
The Chef’s Challenge and Tasting Finale wraps up the so-called restaurant week with a classic battle of the chefs. The week also includes beer dinners and wine dinners at participating eateries, and package deals are available that will get you into the tents and/or the restaurants. For information call (843) 839-8818.
Grand Strand Fishing Rodeo starts in April and runs through October, awarding cash prizes in a closing ceremony each year. The Spring King Mackerel Fishing Tournament is held in June and the Fall King Mackerel Fishing Tournament is in September. The fish of the month in April is whiting; in May it’s yellowfin tuna and bluefish. June is king mackerel, July is pompano, sheepshead and snapper, August is triggerfish and flounder, September is king mackerel and Spanish mackerel; October is whiting and trout.
Catch the right fish at the right time from the right pier and win a prize. Contact Grand Strand Events at its Myrtle Beach office, (843) 626-7444, or at its South Strand office, (843) 651-1010.
Myrtle Beach May Festivals
Gearing up for the summer season means the festivals gear down a bit – because, as noted previously, Myrtle Beach is festive all on its own, especially when the sun is shining, the sand is warm and the tourists are heading back to the beach.
Rivertown Music & Arts Festival is Conway‘s contribution to the festival scene, just a few miles west of Myrtle Beach. It’s usually an early May offering of local and regional bands playing gospel, jazz, steel drums and who knows what. Local artists display pottery, woods, glass and paintings, and food vendors sell gourmet items and local cuisine. Call (843) 248-2273.
Myrtle Beach Bike Week can last up to three or more weeks. The Harley-Davidson contingency has been coming to the beach during the second week of May since the 1940s, and recently the Cruisin’ the Coast Spring Rally has been rescheduled for the third week of May. Events include music, Harley paraphernalia, stunt shows and tattoo contests.
This thing is big, and there seems to be no reason for bikers to go home in the fourth week of May, when the next wave of bikers moves in. We’re talking tens of thousands of bikers here, converging on Myrtle Beach from all parts of the country, and the collective roar of their muffler-free mean machines can blow the butter straight off your breakfast toast.
After the 2008 Bike Week, the City of Myrtle Beach passed a few ordinances. Among these were a noise ordinance and a helmet requirement, which stole a whole lot of thunder from the cruising and parading elements of a time-honored tradition. Since then the helmet regulation has been repealed and other limitations are under review, but nevertheless a large number of bikers now do not stay within city limits during their annual visit.
It’s not like anyone organizes or coordinates this basically chaotic event. The local Harley-Davidson dealership is as good a contact as anyone to answer questions about a legendary annual gathering that leaves the asphalt reverberating for weeks. Call (843) 293-5555.
Blue Crab Festival in historic Little River is also known as The South’s Great Street Festival. It’s a two-day waterfront celebration of steamed seafood, live entertainment, a beauty pageant and a 5K run. Some of its visitors are bikers who have come to the area for one of the bike rallies and traditionally include this festival in their annual rounds. Stir into that brew a batch of kid stuff, business booths and community groups, and that makes for an interesting mix, in a quaint old fishing town known for its deep-sea and charter fishing boats about 25 miles north of Myrtle Beach. Call (803) 795-9755.
MayFest is an umbrella term that covers a spectrum of Memorial Day events. It covers Military Appreciation Days and the Memorial Day Weekend Parade. It also covers the Beach Blast Christian Music Festival, featuring live music and speakers between 8th and 9th Avenues North on Ocean Boulevard. Past grand marshals in the parade have been Astronaut Buzz Aldrin and Senator John McCain. Contact the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce at (843) 626-7444.