The fall season may not necessarily look the same as other locations known for colorful fall foliage, but once the leaves begin to change across the country, Hilton Head Island’s festival season starts ramping up. Starting as early as September (and even August this year, with the town’s 360/40 Celebration) festivals and events start filling up the calendar, only adding to the fun for visitors on vacation. If one thing is true about the island, is that we love celebrating food: seafood, Italian food, BBQ, shrimp, oysters…we can go on and on about the delicious plates that will be served up by local and award-winning chefs over the next coming months. Almost every event will feature amazing musicians and live entertainment, as well as offer collections of local vendors and specialty pop-up shops. The island’s Pumpkin Patch will even be popping up in October. Read on to learn more about some of the major events happening on Hilton Head this fall.
Hilton Head Island Shrimp Festival
September 23, 2023
Mark your calendars for the 4th annual Hilton Head Island Shrimp Festival being held in Harbour Town within the Sea Pines property. In one afternoon, you’ll be able to sample shrimp dishes from over 14 local chefs, enjoy craft beers from more than 18 breweries, shop from specialty vendors, and listen to live music by local rock band, Groove Town Assault. This event is family-friendly, having a designated Kid Zone full of fun children’s activities, a bounce house, face painting, and more. Children 8 and under will have free admission. Tickets range from $50-$75. A gate pass must be purchased to enter Sea Pines.
CLICK HERE for a list of participating chefs and breweries, or if you’d like to buy tickets.
Off-Island: Beaufort Shrimp Festival
October 6-7, 2023
Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, Beaufort, SC
Take the beautiful drive from Hilton Head to Beaufort, South Carolina, and attend the 29th annual Beaufort Shrimp Festival. Great for all ages and free to attend, stroll up and down Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park to find the Arts and Crafts Market, delicious food and drinks, as well as live entertainment. The Run Forrest Run 5K will be held on October 7th to celebrate the filming location of the classic movie, Forrest Gump. If you happen to see Mr. Gump yourself, make sure to ask for a picture with him! Also on the 7th, the 15th annual Charity Shrimp Race will be held. Purchase your rubber shrimp for the chance to win the $30,000 grand prize!
CLICK HERE for more information about this event.
Lowcountry Fish & Grits Music Festival
October 7th, 2023
1:00-7:00pm, Doors Open at 12:00pm
Lowcountry Celebration Park
This is a can’t-miss experience that highlights the rich Gullah Geechee culture with delicious food, live music, and entertainment. The Lowcountry Fish & Grits Music Festival is great for all ages and will feature a mix of folk, funk, jazz, spoken word, R&B, and more. The on-site market will include many vendors selling culturally relevant clothing, art, and various other merchandise. Food vendors will offer an array of delicious hot, cold, sweet, and savory items that will leave you wanting to go back for more! General admission ranges from $5-$15 depending on age, and children 5 and under will have free admission. This event is rain or shine, and only clear bags will be permitted.
CLICK HERE to buy tickets and to find more information about this event.
Rock & Ribs
October 19-22, 2023
General Coligny Beach/Plaza Area
Benefiting Second Helpings and the Carl Ruiz Foundation, this 4-day-long festival features both free and ticketed events. Free events include the Pre-Q shopping and dining event that will feature live music across Coligny Plaza, the BBQ Food Truck Rodeo and Competition, Leftover Ribs After-Party, and of course, the Pitmaster Ocean Olympics being held at the Tiki Hut. Ticketed events include cooking classes, BBQ tastings, live comedy and music performances, as well as the Bloodys, Blues & Brunch at the Beach House. Make sure to purchase your tickets before they sell out!
CLICK HERE to buy tickets and see the schedule of events for this festival.
October 20, 2023
Shelter Cove Community Park
All are welcome to this complimentary event hosted by the Island Recreation Association. This annual event features a field of pumpkins to choose from, as well as the highly anticipated Kid’s Halloween Costume Contest that begins at 5:45pm.
Along with pumpkins, there will be bounce houses and other games. Train rides, concessions, and chances at climbing the rock wall will be sold individually. Explore the shops and have lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants within the Shelter Cove Towne Centre.
Italian Heritage Festival
October 21st, 2023
The Coastal Discovery Museum at Honey Horn
A celebration of Italian culture, the 13th annual Italian Heritage Festival will be held on the beautiful grounds of Honey Horn. The festival lineup will feature traditional Italian foods ranging from cheeses, breads, pasta, gelato, biscotti and more, so arrive hungry! There are scheduled activities for all ages, and of course, we couldn’t leave out the yearly Pizza Eating Contest! Tickets are $6 per person, and children under 10-years-old will have free admission. Parking on-site is free of charge. This event is rain or shine!
CLICK HERE to purchase tickets or to learn more about the event.
Rhythm & Brews: Presented by Food & Wine Festival
October 28th, 2023
Lowcountry Celebration Park
Get ready for an afternoon full of live music, local food vendors, and plenty of beer and wine tasting to choose from. General Admission offers each guest unlimited tastings from more than 40 breweries, distilleries, and wineries. Opt for the VIP ticket for an extra hour of entertainment and tastings, hors d’oeuvres, and a shaded VIP pavilion. All attendees must be 21 or over, so book a babysitter and leave your pets at home. Tickets range from $75-$150.
CLICK HERE to purchase tickets or learn more about the event.
Concors d’Elegance & Motoring Festival
November 3-5, 2023
Since 2002, the Concors d’Elegance has been celebrated in the Lowcountry. The event’s charitable fund supports the youth who want to pursue a future in the automotive, aviation, and mobility industries while giving back to local youth programs and organizations in the community. A spectacular event showcasing the art and history of the industries, the festival kicks off on November 2nd with the Grand Motoring Film Festival at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. This year, the Flights and Fancy Aeroport Gala will be held that Friday evening at the Hilton Head Island Airport. On Saturday attendees will be able to tour the Car Club Showcase, where over 20 clubs will be on-site at the Port Royal Golf Club. The Car Club Showcase ticket will give you access to the Aero Expo and Motoring Festival Thirst After Party as well. To close the festival, Sunday’s final Concours d’Elegance will be held at the Port Royal Golf Club. VIP ticket packages are available for insider experiences you won’t forget.
CLICK HERE to purchase tickets and learn more about the schedule of events.
Hilton Head Oyster Festival
November 10-11, 2023
Shelter Cove Community Park & Lowcountry Celebration Park
The Hilton Head Oyster Festival brings two days a year locals and visitors alike always look forward to. The All You Can Eat Event will be held on November 10th, from 5:00-8:00pm at the Shelter Cove Community Park. Here, you’ll be offered all-you-can-eat Lowcountry boil, seafood chowder, pulled pork, and of course, steamed local oysters. Local band, Crosstown Traffic will be taking the stage, making it a lively evening you won’t want to miss. Tickets are limited and increase in price after October 2nd. This is a rain-or-shine event. The actual festival day is on that Saturday, November 11th, at Lowcountry Celebration Park from 11:00am-5:00pm. A full day of delicious food, great music, artisan pop-up shops, and kid’s activities, a lineup of local bands will be on the main stage for most of the afternoon. At 2pm, the festival swaps its live music for live entertainment–the Oyster Shucking Contest!
CLICK HERE to purchase tickets for either event.
8th Annual Sandalwood Run for Hunger
November 4th, 2023
Start Time: 8:30am
Mitchelville Freedom Park
All are invited to run or walk either the 5K or 10K course which consists of roads, trails, and beach. This annual event is organized by and benefits the Sandalwood Community Food Pantry, with the help of the community and local business sponsors. Make sure to register before October 1st to guarantee getting a t-shirt! Medals will be presented to the top male and female finishers, as well as the top three finishers in each age category. And back by popular demand, the awards will go to the top three dogs as well!
For more information about this event, click here.