Are you planning a trip to the Lowcountry this July? Don’t miss out on the 65th Annual Water Festival in Beaufort, SC! Water Fest, as we affectionately call it, is a week-long celebration steeped in local history and tradition. The festival, which originally hosted balls, sailboat races, and pageants, has grown to include an art market, concerts, childrens’ events, parades, and even bed races! Below you will find some fun facts, local tips, and memory-making opportunities to help plan your trip to this year’s Beaufort Water Festival.
Did you know…?
In the early days of the festival, the first weekend featured two days of sailboat races and the Regatta Ball. The following weekend began with the Beauty Pageant on Friday where the Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands was crowned. The parade and ski show, put on by the Beaufort Water Ski Club, and an air show highlighted the second weekend, in addition to the Water Festival Ball. A tightly guarded superstition connected to the festival is the exclusive use of the term “inclement weather.” One must never use the word r-a-i-n when referencing Water Festival.
Another time-honored tradition is the choosing of a festival Commodore. This year our commodore is Erin “Tank” Morris. He has navigated the behind-the-scenes operations for over a year now, and he kicked off the celebration with this message: Our special waterways and land-to-sea way of life in the natural beauty of the Sea Islands is remarkable – and the beginning of Water Festival coincides the annual tradition of shrimp season, an important staple of Beaufort culture. The Water Festival brings the community together each summer, and there is truly something for everyone! This year’s festival will run from July 16 to July 25. Inclement weather or shine!
- Plan ahead. Be sure to check the official Water Fest website before taking a trip downtown. We are so happy to see that the festivities will be up and running again, but some details may change. www.bftwaterfestival.com is your best bet for the most up to date information.
- See an event you are interested in? Grab your tickets ahead of time. It is not required to purchase tickets in advance to gain admission, however, it is highly recommended to purchase tickets in advance to guarantee admission to the Concert in the Park and other popular events.
- Reserve your space for a guaranteed front row seat. Bring lawn chairs and set them up in advance if you desire. The park closes for an hour prior to the gates opening. It is best to set up your chairs before the park closes, or get there when the gates open to set up early.
- Participate! Waterfront park plays host to a number of events that have open registration up until the morning or afternoon of the competition. You can compete in cornhole, badminton, bocce, or even children’s toad fishing. There really is something for everyone!
Water Fest at The Cuthbert House
Whether you are looking to avoid the crowds or you just need a break from the action, you can still enjoy a front row seat to some of the best events. The front porch at the Cuthbert House Inn is a perfect perch to watch the 5k/10k races, the raft races, the bed races, and the parade! Sometimes you can even hear the live music drifting through the breeze in the evening, though the waterfront park is such a short walk away, we still recommend getting tickets to live concerts.
Some of our favorite Beaufort memories have been made at Water Fest. Several years ago, our inn keeper Ed found himself sailing away on an unplanned shrimp boat tour, an experience he now recommends to all festival-goers. Ed and Connie also highly recommend Nightrain – The Guns & Roses Tribute Experience, great news… They will be appearing again this year on July 23
Come make some memories of your own! The Cuthbert House Inn is the perfect place to stay during your time in Beaufort. This waterfront Antebellum mansion is just minutes from downtown Beaufort’s Waterfront Park. Innkeepers Ed & Connie would love to point you in the direction of all of their favorite activities and share more local tips with you. Call the Cuthbert House Inn at (843) 521-1315 to make a reservation.