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Best Winter Festivals of Hilton Head Island And Lowcountry
St. Patrick's Day Parade Photo
Beautiful Hilton Head Resort
Beautiful Hilton Head Sunset
Fun Winter Activities in Hilton Head Island
If Hilton Head Island triggers thoughts of oceanside resorts that will pamper your body and soul and world class golf courses but you think you can't afford to vacation there, winter may be the ideal time for you to take a romantic or family get-away to Hilton Head.
There are surprisingly economical ways to vacation on this sub-tropical island with its thousands of palm trees blowing in the salty seabreezes and one of them is to visit in the off season when average daily temperatures are in the 60 to 69 degree range, perfect for attending one of the 200 arts, cultural, theatre and wine events held during Winter Carnival throughout the months of January and February. Festivals and events continue in March when the island's thousands of trees burst into full bloom in stunning contrast to the evergreen color of the palm trees.
The mild winter temperatures are perfect for taking long walks on the beach, island tours, island cruises, golfing at the Harbour Town Golf Links in the Sea Pines plantation or one of the many other fine courses on the island and for playing tennis at the famous Van Der Meer Tennis Academy which holds camps and clinics for adults and juniors.
For the past few years I have been blessed to have the opportunity to spend much time on the island in winter. This hub will feature some of my favorite annual festivals that are held on Hilton Head Island, nearby Savannah, GA and the charming southern town of Beaufort, SC. Photos and dates are from 2012 and I will be adding 2013 info as it becomes available. I shall also provide resources for accommodations at the end of the hub should my descriptive writing inspire you to plan a winter vacation in Hilton Head.
So grab a glass of juice mixed with ice in a blender and pretend it's an island cocktail with a colorful umbrella in it and come on a tour of winter festivals.
Photo of Low Country Soup Challenge Volunteers
18th Annual Low Country Soup Challenge
Food Festivals That Benefit Hilton Head Island Charities
Many of the affluent year round residents of Hilton Head are very generous with their time and spend hours volunteering for non-profits. Two of my favorite festivals are fundraisers for non-profits that provide vital medical and educational services to the island's less well off residents, but that doesn't make these festivals any less fun or less delicious than the other food festivals in the region. It just means you can enjoy yourself, eat well and know that the cost of your all inclusive entrance fee is going to a worthy cause, not just your belly. These are social events where locals enjoy talking with visitors, and talented chefs from the most popular restaurants on the island whip up their most sumptuous foods. Think lobster bisque, clam chowder, gumbo, lobster and shrimp appetizers, strawberry tarts, cheesecake topped with cherries and whipped cream and the only task you have is to decide which sample tastes the best. Believe me, you'll need the score card and pencil they give you and will probably find yourself revising your choice as you work your way through the many tables of samples.
The 20th Low Country Soup Challenge will be held on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at the Westin Resort and Spa in Port Royal on Hilton Head Island. The event will begin at noon. Tickets can be purchased in advance through www.vimclinic.org. The event winds down around 2:30 when the People's Choice award is announced and by 3 pm the event is over. This year more than twenty-two restaurants will participate in the challenge and each Chef will be cooking their signature soup. This is a fabulous opportunity to sample soup from some of the finest restaurants on the island!
All proceeds and donations benefit the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic (VIM). VIM is staffed by professional and lay volunteers and provides free medical, dental and mental health care to individuals who live or work on Hilton Head or Daufuskie Islands who don't have health insurance.
Cooks and Books is another fun festival and it benefits the Literacy Volunteers of the Lowcountry. Authors from the lowcountry sell autographed copies of their books and enjoy talking with attendees as chefs from some of the best restaurants on the island compete against each other in "The Heat is On" competition in order to win the Peoples' Choice Award.
Annual Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration
Gullah Bus Tours
17th Annual Hilton Head Gullah CelebrationClick thumbnail to view full-size
February is a Month Long Gullah Celebration
The term Gullah refers to the descendants of the freed slaves who are native inhabitants of Hilton Head Island. Before the bridge onto the island was built in 1982 so that the island could be developed into a world class tourist destination, these African American native islanders were isolated and retained much of their original culture which was passed down from generation to generation.
During Gullah Celebration month descendants of the native islanders will be showing off their customs, food and crafts. Their joyous spirit and welcoming natures make tourists feel welcome at all the festivities. And it's a great opportunity for children to learn about another culture in a fun and exciting way.
February 2013 will be the 17th Annual Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration and the festival takes place in various Hilton Head Island locations throughout the whole month. My favorite part of the month long celebration is a "Taste of Gullah," which will take place on Feb. 2, 2013 at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina from 12 pm to 4pm. This is a great opportunity to fill up on distinctive and delicious Gullah food including okra gumbo, "Geechee" conch stew, barbecue ribs, and fried chicken, then watch performances of gospel music and traditional Gullah storytelling.
Another favorite event is the Marsh Tacky Run & Exhibition at Coligny Beach which drew a crowd of 7,000 plus people last year. This event showcased the Marsh Tacky Horses that played an integral part in Gullah history and survival of the Gullah people. Marsh Tacky Horses are workhorses that were used for plowing and cultivating the fields. Unfortunately, the race will not be held in 2013, but some Marsh Tacky Horses will be on exhibition.
For more information about the month long Gullah Celebration call the Gullah Celebration hotline: 843-255-7304 or call the Native Island Business & Community Affairs Association, Inc (NIBCAA) at 843-255-7303 or visit www.gullahcelebration.com.
For information about Gullah Heritage Tours that include regularly scheduled tours of ten Hilton Head Island historic Gullah neighborhoods call 843-681-7066 or visit www.gullaheritage.com.
Photos of Gullah Dancers, Art and SouveniersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Beautiful Lowcountry Scenery Inspires Film Makers
Breathtaking Lowcountry Sunset Photo
Beaufort Film Festival
The Beaufort Film festival began in 2007 but for the past 25 years the beautiful region of Beaufort and the surrounding lowcountry has provided breathtaking scenery for over 20 major motion pictures including audience favorites such as Forrest Gump, The Big Chill, The Prince of Tides and many more.
The Beaufort Regional Film Commission created the Beaufort Film Festival to recognize independent film makers and films including documentaries, short and long features, animation and music features, but it also hoped that by holding this festival in this beautiful region current film makers will be reintroduced to the stunning vistas of sweeping marsh, beautifully restored antebellum homes, and alluring quiet charm of the old south. It would seem as though their goals are being met as two of southern author, Nicholas Sparks' books, Dear John and The Last Song were made into movies and filmed in the lowcountry.
The 7th annual Beaufort International Film Festival will be held on February 13-17, 2013 at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, Center for the Arts.
The film schedule and details about films is posted on the Beaufort Film Festival website at http://www.beaufortfilmfestival.com.
Savannah Book Festival
The 2013 Savannah Book Festival
The Savannah Book Festival is an annual event that draws thousands of visitors to the heart of Savannah. Over 40 authors will be speaking at the 2013 festival which will be held Feb. 14 - 17. Author and humorist, Dave Berry will kick-off the event on Valentine's Day, evening.
The full schedule and roster of authors plus special discounts and deals with local hotels, parking information and tourist venues can be found at the Savannah Book Festival website, http://www.savannahbookfestival.org.
Some of the 2013 highlights will include a keynote address on Friday evening by James Patterson, who will discuss and sign his latest novel, "Private Berlin."
Saturday, Feb. 16, is the main day of the festival and includes free presentations by authors who have written books in the genres of fiction, memoir, biography and lifestyle.
David Balducci will be the special speaker at the closing ceremony on Sun. He will discuss and sign his latest novel, "The Forgotten."
With average winter temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees, it's a perfect time to visit the stunningly beautiful city with its park like squares, meet famous authors and enjoy the many Savannah historic tours, museums, carriage rides, boat rides, fabulous restaurants and exciting nightlife.
Photos of the 2012 Savannah Book FestivalClick thumbnail to view full-size
Savannah GA and Hilton Head Island, SC St. Patrick's Day Parades
The Savannah St. Patrick's Day Parade is the largest and most spectacular parade in the region and 2nd largest in the world, drawing 250,000 visitors who love to party all day and all night. The 2013 Savannah St. Patrick's Day Parade will be held on Sat. March 16 starting at 10:15 AM. The parade will last 3 hours and will have over 350 units including award winning bands and the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales. For more information about Savannah's St. Patrick's Day Parade visit the parade's official website at http://www.savannahsaintpatricksday.com.
The Hilton Head Island Parade, though not as spectacular as Savannah's is still fabulous and also draws thousands of visitors each year. Kids of all ages, including the young at heart will love getting the free T-Shirts, candy and other goodies that are thrown from the brightly decorated musical floats. After the parade, local restaurants offer special deals, extended happy hours and musical entertainment. Those who have partied hard can take advantage of easily accessible taxi service back to their hotel or residence. The 2013 St. Patrick's Day Parade on Hilton Head Island will take place on Sunday, March 17. The parade goes up Pope Avenue from Coligny Plaza to Office Park Rd.
To double your pleasure, plan on attending both parades as it is less than an hour's drive between Savannah, GA, and Hilton Head Island, SC, and the parades are on consecutive days.
Photos of the 2012 St. Patrick's Day Parade on Hilton Head IslandClick thumbnail to view full-size
Vacation Rentals By Owners Can Provide Great Lodging at Steeply Discounted Winter Rates
For even greater savings, you can rent a condominium, townhouse or private home directly from the private owners through a website called Vacation Rentals By Owner. The website can be accessed by clicking on the link below:
- Hilton Head Island VRBO Vacation Rentals - Hilton Head Island SC Rentals
Hilton Head Island Vacation Rentals - VRBO is Vacation Rentals by Owner - View a list of Hilton Head Island vacation rentals, hotels, condos, home rentals and golf vacation accommodations direct from owners. Most properties include photos.
Winter Festivals on Hilton Head Island Are Fun
I hope this partial listing of winter festivals on Hilton Head Island will inspire you to visit this stunningly beautiful local that always has interesting places to see and things to do regardless of what season it is.
However, tourists will find that prices are lower during winter and those who love participating in outdoor sports such as golf, tennis and bike riding will find the cooler temperatures of winter perfect for these activities.