The North Charleston Arts Fest is proudly produced by the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department. The annual five-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 more than 37 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, businesses, 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, film screenings, lectures and readings, workshops and demonstrations, exhibitions, public art installations, and much more. In 2018, the Arts Fest was selected as a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society (an honor also received in 2008).
Principal Festival Events include:
Arty Block Party (May 1, 2020, 5-9pm) – A FREE lively outdoor event combining an art market and street dance! Taking place along 3 blocks in the Olde Village area of North Charleston, the Arty Block Party features live music, vendor booths, roving entertainment, and a kid’s zone. It’s an art-filled evening of fun for the whole family!
World Arts Expo @ Riverfront Park (May 2, 2020, 10am-5pm) – A FREE celebration of visual and performing arts from cultures around the world! The outdoor, family-friendly event includes music and dance performances, live art demonstrations, multi-cultural food offerings, art & craft vendors, hands-on activities, roving entertainment, and a kid’s zone.
Exhibition Encore (May 3, 2020, Noon-6pm) – A FREE closing reception/celebration highlighting the Arts Fest’s Judged Fine Art and Photography Exhibitions, the SC Palmetto Hands Juried Fine Craft Exhibition, and the Tri-County Youth Art and High School Sculpture Exhibitions on view in Exhibit Hall A of the Charleston Area Convention Center. In addition to the vast array of artwork on display, the Exhibition Encore offers musical entertainment, live art demonstrations, hands-on activities, and more.
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 offerings began to appeal to 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 and the North Charleston Performing Arts Center 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. It was awarded this honor again in 2018. Now, entering its 38th year, the festival continues to evolve with a solid five-day schedule that shifts the focus from quantity of events to quality of programming and patron experience. The Cultural Arts Department strives to produce an inclusive public celebration of the arts with a comprehensive, multi-discipline event schedule that exposes, engages, and inspires people of all ages and backgrounds.
Future Festival Dates:
April 29-May 3, 2020
April 28-May 2, 2021
April 27-May 1, 2022