The 2013 North Charleston Arts Festival poster.

The North Charleston Arts Festival is coming

The annual North Charleston Arts Festival is set to kick off on May 3 running through May 11.

Now in its 31st year, the nine day event has matured into one of the most comprehensive arts festival in the state, drawing thousands of residents and visitors to experience the talents of national, regional, and local artists and performers in the areas of Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, Crafts, Photography, Media Arts, and Literature. Nearly 100 festival offerings are scheduled to take place in a variety of venues throughout North Charleston and the surrounding area, including libraries, community centers, schools, civic auditoriums, and parks.

Recognized by the Southeast Tourism Society as a Top 20 Event, the North Charleston Arts Festival offers something for everyone. The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department organizes and presents the event each year, striving to maintain the spirit of a public celebration with the mission of presenting a broad, multidiscipline event schedule that provides a wide range of performances, exhibitions, and activities for people of all ages and backgrounds. Many of the offerings are free, and those that are ticketed are moderately priced.

“The variety of Arts Festival offerings and the inclusiveness of the event have really become a point of pride for the City of North Charleston,” says North Charleston Mayor, Keith Summey. “The event provides both our residents and visitors from throughout the Southeast a myriad of opportunities to experience high quality programming in every arts discipline in a variety of traditional and non-traditional settings.”

The Arts Festival Main Event, held on Saturday, May 4, and Sunday, May 5, at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center and Charleston Area Convention Center, offers free admission and parking to over forty performances on four themed stages: General Audience, Cultural Heritage, Youth Entertainment, and Bands. Other features include judged fine art and photography exhibits; the 12th annual South Carolina Palmetto Hands Fine Craft Exhibit; youth art from Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester county students; the Lowcountry Gem & Mineral Society show and sale; the Village Antiques & Collectibles show; children's activities at Box City and Creation Stations; art & craft vendors, a food court, and much more. 

Individual events take place throughout the nine days of the festival at various locations.  An exciting array of free and ticketed offerings include concerts, street dances, theatre presentations, film screenings, art workshops and demonstrations, an art walk, children’s programs, and a Grand Finale at the beautiful

North Charleston Riverfront Park. Examples of visual art exhibitions on view during the festival include a group display of contemporary works by artists from Pinar del Rio, Cuba; the 8th annual National Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition; an Art & Fine Craft CoOp Gallery & Sale; the 7th Annual African American Fiber Art Exhibition; a Wearable Art Exhibit and Pop Up Shop; and The PODS Project, featuring interactive installations created within portable storage units. This year’s Grand Finale on May 11 features a Tri-County school showcase, music and dance performances, a slam poetry show, children’s activities, food trucks, and an evening concert by Rivers & Company. The event concludes with a fantastic fireworks display over the Cooper River.

Applications are now being accepted for participation in the Festival’s Art Walk and Opening Processional. Entry instructions for the Festival’s Judged Fine Art Exhibition, Judged Photography Exhibition, and Tri-County Youth Art Exhibition, as well as Volunteer sign-up forms are also available. Applications can be found at

For more 2013 North Charleston Arts Festival information, including event details and venue information, visit or contact the North Charleston Cultural Arts Department office at (843) 740-5854.