We’ve got one of the best seats in the world for the upcoming total solar eclipse, and we are flaunting the heck out of it.
With an overwhelming slate of events and activities aimed to entertain locals and hundreds of thousands of visitors, Columbia is not wasting this opportunity – and neither should you.
Here’s how to have the fullest eclipse weekend in Columbia.
Thursday, Aug. 17
Ease into the weekend with “Syzygy: The Solar Eclipse Plays,” presented by the Jasper Project at Tapp’s Arts Center at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Watch six 10-minute plays written by South Carolinians to commemorate the eclipse. And hang out with the playwrights at a reception from 9-10 p.m. between performances. $10. www.tappsartscenter.com
Head down the street to The Whig to finish off the night with a pint (or two) of Eclipse Pale Ale, brewed in collaboration with Catawba Brewing Co. specially for the weekend’s festivities. (Check out more eclipse-themed drinks on Page 18). www.thewhig.org
Friday, Aug. 18
After work, cool off with a Historic Water Balloon Battle from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Robert Mills House, where you’ll learn about military tactics through history. Plus, drinks and apps. Must be 21 or older. $15 for Historic Columbia members, $20 for non-members. www.historiccolumbia.org
Next, get yourself to the Columbia Museum of Art for Arts & Draughts, a night of art, live music, crafts, a scavenger hunt, booze and food trucks from 7-11 p.m. $9. www.columbiamuseum.org
Or, skip the art and go for the comedy at Tapp’s Arts Center. See nationally touring comedian Ben Kronberg perform with local comedians John Gibson and Topher Riddle. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the show starts at 8:30. $10 in advance, $12 at the door. www.tappsartscenter.com
Saturday, Aug. 19
Get up early for breakfast and browsing at Soda City market, starting at 9 a.m. on Main Street. If you’re a late-riser, that’s cool, too. The market’s open extra hours until 3 p.m. today. Plus, a biergarten!
Next, explore the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens. Try to get there by 11 a.m., as the zoo expects to reach capacity early in the day. But it’s worth joining the crowd to experience one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Carolina. Ticket information and more at www.riverbanks.org.
Make a full day of the outdoors by taking a guided walk along the Columbia Canal with park rangers. Have some fun with sidewalk chalk and snag some free eclipse glasses there, too.
Stick close to the canal to see a preview of the “Southern Lights” laser art installation, which when fully complete will light up over the Congaree River every night for the next decade. A free event at Coble Plaza (outside EdVenture Children’s Museum) will celebrate the installation from 7:30-10 p.m. Hear from the artist, Chris Robinson, while you’re there.
After you’ve had your fill of laser lights, head over to the Music Farm for EclipseFest 2017, featuring tributes to favorite rock and roll bands with Synchronicity (The Police) and Hey Johnny Park! (The Foo Fighters). To close the night, these two groups will be joined by Columbia musicians to perform Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 8. $10. www.musicfarm.com
Sunday, Aug. 20
Brunch! Mimosas! Market! Check out Soda City’s first Sunday Brunch Market, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Main Street.
Spend the afternoon at a museum – either the S.C. State Museum, which has special astronomy and space exhibits all weekend, or the Columbia Museum of Art, where you can make your own galaxy prints at a drop-in studio. Or go wild and do both!
Speaking of going wild, let loose at the Eclipse Eve Block Party at Tin Roof and the Music Farm. Catch Kelly Cheats, the Reggie Sullivan Band and Seventy Six and Sunny for free from 2-8 p.m. And stick around later to party with DJ Apollo at Music Farm and Dollar Shots (the band, that is) at Tin Roof. www.musicfarm.com
If running makes you feel good, lace up and hit the trail at Saluda Shoals Park for the Summers End Solar Run 5K. The race starts at 6 p.m., and a celebration with food trucks, beer and live music will help you cool down. www.icrc.net
For a special treat, have dinner at Terra in West Columbia – something you can’t do any other Sunday. Here’s a chance to get a view of “Southern Lights” while you dine. For reservations, call (803) 791-3443.
Wind down the night and gear up for tomorrow’s big event with your pick of space-themed movie showings. There’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” at the Nickelodeon on Main Street, “Escape From Planet Earth” drive-in at Historic Columbia Speedway in Cayce and “Star Wars” movies at Doko Meadows Park in Blythewood.
Monday, Aug. 21
Have lunch at Cantina 76 on Main or Devine streets, where there’ll be $3 Corona and Corona Light beer specials. (Ah, get it? Corona? Eclipse? Yeah.) Also, try the Peruvian shrimp taco. You won’t be sorry.
Watch a livestream of NASA’s Eclipse Megacast and catch a series of mini-lectures in various locations at the University of South Carolina before the arrival of the eclipse in Columbia. And visit 15 eclipse viewing and education stations across the campus to learn more about space and physics (and play cornhole and disc golf). Find out more about USC’s eclipse events at www.sc.edu/eclipse.
Stay on campus to watch the eclipse, or choose from roughly a zillion events planned across the city and beyond. For a super-natural viewing experience, head out to Congaree National Park, Sesquicentennial State Park, Lake Murray or one of Columbia’s public parks. For a partylike atmosphere, consider the Total Eclipse Tailgate at the S.C. State Fairgrounds or Solar Fest West at the West Columbia Riverwalk and Amphitheater.
Find more eclipse-viewing events at www.totaleclipsecolumbiasc.com.