Charleston Music Festivals

Bryan McElveen

2024 Edition

Charleston’s pulse beats to the rhythm of music, a vibrant tapestry woven from the smoky haze of dive bars to the sun-drenched sway of rooftop concerts. From the bourbon-soaked stomp of Music Farm where local rockers ignite the stage, to the eclectic mix of blues legends and folk revivals at The Commodore, music flows through the city’s veins like sweet tea. Charleston Music Hall morphs from intimate jazz nights to thunderous rock concerts, while The Pour House and Blind Tiger hum with the promise of discovering the next local gem strumming their heart out in the corner.

This vibrant scene is deeply rooted in history, echoing with the legendary 96 Wavefest, a testament to the city’s enduring love affair with live music.

An aerial fisheye lens view of Riverfront Park in Charleston, with the park area and concert stage in the center, surrounded by coastal water views of the surrounding river along the bottom
Wavefest wasn’t just a concert, it was a cultural awakening, a moment when Charleston embraced the power of music to bring people together and ignite new artistic passions. This spirit continues to pulse through Charleston’s diverse festival scene, offering experiences as unique and dynamic as the city itself.

Disclosure: I am a real estate broker, not a concert promoter – check the websites for updates to showtimes and lineups

High Water Festival

April 20–21

Every April at Riverfront Park in North Charleston, the Edisto Stage and the Stono Stage are lit up and rocked out. Musicians from across the globe are curated by Charleston folk rock royalty Shovels & Rope jam out aside the cool breeze of the Cooper River.
A market with local craft vendors as well as food trucks and refreshments support the two day event, with one- and two-day ticket options and a number of upgrade tiers.

This year has a lineup that includes headliners Noah Kahan and Hozier along with Grace Potter, The Flaming Lips, The Wallflowers, and several others.

Website: High Water Festival

The Edisto Stage of the High Water Festival at dusk in North Charleston, SC with the band Shovels & Rope playing live under purple themed stage lighting, with silhouettes of the audience in the foreground

Charleston Wine + Food Festival

March 8–10

Savoring Lowcountry delicacies and award-winning wines pair perfectly with local jazz quartets and bluegrass bands. With bourbon brunches, oyster roasts, wine dinners, and celebrity chefs, the festival truly comes alive with its vibrant live music scene.

It’s a gourmet gumbo where the soundtrack at Culinary Village shifts from genre to genre, day to day. From sultry jazz and soulful blues to foot-stomping bluegrass and high-energy pop.

Raise a toast to good food, good company, and the irresistible rhythm of Charleston.

Website: Charleston Wine + Food Festival

View from the stage of a rock band playing live with an audience and tents in the background, and a view of the Charleston skyline with a large church steeple

Riverfront Revival

October 11–12

Curated by Charleston’s own Darius Rucker, this festival enchanted crowds in its inaugural 2023 event with a vibrant blend of live music, captivating culture, and delectable Lowcountry foodstuffs.
Performances by Turnpike Troubadours and other acclaimed artists set the stage for an unforgettable experience, leaving festivalgoers eager for more.

Whispers on the internet hint at exciting changes for the upcoming edition – the party kicks off on a Friday and spills into Saturday, giving you two extra days to soak in the sun-kissed riverside vibes.
A fresh wave of musical talent alongside familiar favorites is poised to once again serenade Charleston with its irresistible blend of Lowcountry flair.

Website: Riverfront Revival

The stage of the Riverfront Revival at night with a band playing live as the stage lights the silhouettes of the audience in the foreground

Sea & Sand Festival

February 24–25

The beginning of the end of winter in Charleston is heralded at the end of each February, when Folly Beach throws a block party for the whole Lowcountry.
Center Street becomes a festival ground, lined with several artisan showcases dominated by FB locals, and lots of very cool street food.

The festival pulses with a vibrant rhythm that resonates from one end to the other, creating a captivating atmosphere as multiple stages come alive with the performances of various local and regional bands.
The musical lineup is a harmonious blend of reliable classics from the rock genre, complemented by the infectious beats of funk and reggae rhythms, all infused with the distinctive sounds of Carolina beach music.

Website: Sea & Sand Festival

A rock band playing on stage with palmetto trees behind them at the Sea & Sand Festival on Folly Beach

Charleston Bluegrass Festival

March 29–30

Just outside Charleston via the Ashley River Historic Corridor, the Givhans Ferry State Park hosts a bonanza of bluegrass. Picture mandolins, fiddles, and lots of plaid, along with a market for local craft vendors and refreshments. Being a state park, many bluegrass goers opt to bring kayaks and camping accommodations.

Frequent headliners have included Greensky Bluegrass, Del McCoury Band, and Yonder Mountain String Band.
Expect banjo breakdowns and fiddle firestorms. 

Website: Charleston Bluegrass Festival

The stage of the Charleston Bluegrass Festival at night with a band playing live as the stage lights the silhouettes of the audience in the foreground

Mount Pleasant Seafood Festival

April 28

Mount Pleasant’s Blessing of the Fleet is an April tradition that honors generations of fishermen who shaped Mount Pleasant‘s identity. The park transforms into a vibrant tapestry of blessings, where colorful boats adorned with flags receive a ceremonial passage and prayers for bountiful hauls.

Local artisans showcase their crafts, the air sizzles with fresh seafood, along with a shag dance competition and a shrimp eating contest.
The rhythmic heart of the event beats through a diverse musical lineup. Charleston’s Amen brings out their gospel harmonies, followed by the reggae beats of the Ocean Cowboys. Local mainstay East Coast Party Band will be headlining with Lowcountry standards.

Website: 2024 Blessing of the Fleet & Seafood Festival

A shrimp boat moving on the Cooper River at the Blessing of the Fleet boat parade. There are many people on the boat, which is painted white with green trim. Along the side of the boat is its name, Miss Paula.

Reggae Nights Summer Concerts

May 31–August 2

The Reggae Nights Summer Concert Series is a staple of Charleston’s outdoor music scene, held at James Island County Park. The series features four concerts across the summer months, each showcasing a diverse lineup of talented reggae bands. 

The curated lineup blends traditional old-school roots reggae with a contemporary twist. Past performers have included established acts like Crucial Fiya and Signal Fire, alongside emerging talents like Amani Smith and the Give Thanks Band.

Website: Reggae Nights Summer Concerts

A singer on stage at a Reggae Nights outdoor concert.

Spoleto Festival USA

May 24–June 9

The Spoleto Festival USA is an annual performing arts festival that has taken over Charleston every late spring since 1977. The festival presents over 120 performances of opera, theater, dance, chamber music across various venues throughout the historic city. The festival is known for its international scope, and its performances have featured artists from all over the world.

Spoleto also features many outdoor music events, including performances by the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, the Preservation Hall jazz band, and Indigo Girls.
The 2024 festival will feature outdoor performances by Charleston Jazz Orchestra, the Marcus Roberts Trio, and Ranky Tanky.

Website: Spoleto Festival USA

An outdoor concert at the College of Charleston Randolph Hall during the Spoleto Festival. The band is performing on a stage with the tall columns of Randolph Hall behind them and a crowd of onlookers bathed in an red-orange tinted light.

The legacy of Wavefest lives on as the city’s festival scene keeps evolving, offering a vibrant tapestry of genres and experiences as diverse as the people themselves. Charleston’s festivals offer a window into the city’s soul, one pulsating beat at a time.