Spring is here.
And boy, are we ready.
Spring, more than any other season, wakes up our senses with cool things to do around some of Columbia’s best features – water, food, music, to name a few.
So we’ve pulled together some of our staff’s favorite events to help prime you for a spring – and soon, summer – state of mind.
Now get out and enjoy.
Oh sure, the Carolina Cup, in its 81st year, bills itself as a horse race.
But here’s the thing: You may not even see a horse the entire time you’re there. That’s because there’s so much to look at – from tailgate spreads to the latest spring fashions, elaborate hats, and of course, the people – that the track may be the furthest thing from your mind.
From College Park to the infield and all the spaces in between, this is the place to see and be seen among the partying crowd.
(P.S.: Challenge yourself to see at least one of the steeplechase races).
Saturday, April 2 at Springdale Race Course, 200 Knights Hill Road, Camden. Tickets and other details: www.carolina-cup.org
Fireflies at Congaree National Park
Come spring, the fireflies come to town – and we mean the ones that helped inspire the name of Columbia’s newest baseball team.
Nature puts on a spectacular show, typically around late May through mid-June, at Congaree, South Carolina’s only national park. Hundreds of fireflies mysteriously synchronize their flashes in the floodplain forest. In the dark reaches of the park southeast of Columbia, it’s a naturally awesome light show.
Only a few places in the nation boast habitats for this species, called synchronized fireflies.
Head to the park in the evening as the sun sets, and don’t forget your bug spray and personal flashlights. Head down the boardwalk for a look. The fireflies start blinking as soon as it gets dark.
Contact the park or watch the website for exact dates. Congaree National Park, 100 National Park Road, Hopkins. (803) 776-4396, www.nps.gov/cong
Indie Grits began a decade ago as a small, low-budget film festival but has expanded to become a premier event of film, music, technology and art.
There are changes on tap for this year’s event – among them that admission will be free and more events will take place outside the home base of Nickelodeon Theatre. An all-day music event along the Congaree River also is planned, with acts including Big Freedia, New Madrid, TOMBOi, Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band, The Difference Machine, Dear Blanca, Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba, and the C.A. Johnson High marching band.
The theme for this year’s event is “Waterlines.” The theme began as a way for artists to celebrate the river as one of the city’s defining features, but evolved after October’s historic flooding into a means of documenting and interpreting the flood’s impact, festival co-coordinator Seth Gadsden has said.
“ ‘Waterlines’ visually and metaphorically represents what’s left behind when the water recedes,” he added.
Thursday, April 14 through Sunday, April 17. Various locations. Event schedule and other details, www.indiegrits.com
On the river
The beauty of being in downtown Columbia is that you’re never more than minutes away from one of the rivers.
And getting out into that water is easy.
A number of outfitters offer trips during the prime spring and summer seasons. A small sampling: Adventure Carolina (www.adventurecarolina.com) has a 3-mile guided canoe trip; Palmetto Outdoors (www.palmettooutdoor.com) offers tubing packages for a leisurely way to explore the rivers; and Carolina Outdoor Adventures (www.carolinaoutdooradventures.com) offers guided kayaking trips.
There are few better ways to beat the heat.
Spring and summer are about food and music – and so, it makes sense that several of Columbia’s most popular festivals are in these seasons.
A couple we like:
Rosewood Crawfish Festival: Start the day with the 5K race, then stay on to enjoy live music (Cowboy Mouth, Eve 6 and Everclear have performed there in years past), an Artist Village, kids’ activities – and, of course, thousands of pounds of bright red, Old Bay-slathered, Louisiana-bred crawfish.
Saturday, May 7, along a stretch of Rosewood Drive. www.rosewoodcrawfishfest.com
Lexington County Peach Festival: Peaches and patriotism are on display in this popular old-fashioned festival on the Fourth of July weekend. There’s a big parade, vendors, live music, kids’ activities, and of course, more ways to eat a peach than you can count. Fireworks cap off the day.
Monday, July 4 in the Lexington County town of Gilbert. www.lexingtoncountypeachfestival.com
Dawn Kujawa, email@example.com, and staff reports