The North Charleston Arts Fest is proudly produced by the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department. The annual multi-day celebration of arts and culture highlights national, regional, and local artists and performers in the areas of Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, Media Arts, and Literature. For 35 years, the festival has made quality arts programming affordable and accessible to the widest spectrum of the public, attracting more than 30,000 residents and visitors from throughout the Southeast and beyond to experience an array of free and modestly priced performances, workshops, exhibitions, and activities in a variety of venues, including libraries, community centers, schools, civic auditoriums, and parks. The event has matured into one of the most comprehensive arts festivals in the state of South Carolina with a schedule that offers something for everyone, including concerts, theatre presentations, children’s programs, workshops and demonstrations, exhibitions, public art installations, and much more. The Arts Fest Expo, considered the festival’s flagship event, is held the first weekend in May at the Charleston Area Convention Center and offers free admission and parking to more than 40 performances on multiple stages. Other Expo activities include judged art and photography shows, the SC Palmetto Hands Juried Fine Craft Exhibit, demonstrations, hands-on children’s activities, art & craft vendors, live art demonstrations, roving entertainers, and more. In 2018, the Arts Fest was selected as a May Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society.
History and Goals:
The North Charleston Arts Fest began in 1982 as a one-day community celebration in Park Circle with the goal of enhancing the quality of life of residents through showcasing the arts. As the annual event matured, the festival’s reach expanded to include visitors, prompting the addition of tourism development as a goal. In 1995, the Arts Fest moved from Park Circle to the North Charleston Coliseum and expanded to two days. By 2000, the opening of the Charleston Area Convention Center, the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, and additional new venues, provided the springboard for the festival to expand to nine full days of performances and activities for residents and visitors throughout the City. In 2008, the Arts Fest was recognized by the Southeast Tourism Society as a Top 20 Event. Now entering its 36th year, the festival continues to evolve with a 5-day schedule that shifts the focus from quantity of events to quality of programming and patron experience. The Cultural Arts Department strives to maintain the spirit of a public celebration of the arts with the mission of presenting a comprehensive, multi-discipline event schedule that exposes, engages, and inspires people of all ages and backgrounds.
Future Festival Dates:
May 2-6, 2018 (Arts Fest Expo – May 5 & 6)
May 1-5, 2019 (Arts Fest Expo – May 4 & 5)
April 29-May 3, 2020 (Arts Fest Expo – May 2 & 3)