Festivals Galore!

Festivals Galore!

Festivals Galore!

By Susan A. Sistare, produced in cooperation with the HubCity Writers Project.

If Spartanburg is your hometown, and you graduated from high school in an era when a Bluetooth was something you had to see your dentist for, you might be old enough to recall Spartanburg’s greatest annual festival: the Spring Fling!

And … that was pretty much it.

And while the annual Spring Fling (funnel cakes and rides!) was something we all got excited about then as kids, and even now as adults (beer tents!) it was really the only annual festival I recall while growing up here. Or maybe I just wasn’t allowed out of the house much.

But oh, have we grown! The list of annual happenings here keeps growing, and now it’s the season for turning on your heat, raking your leaves, and … Dickens of a Christmas!

denny's building christmas tree window lightsNow let me speak first to my fellow humbugs here. If you are not particularly thrilled with the holiday season, either because premature Christmas music makes your skin crawl or you hate to see ornaments already on sale around Halloween, then you are like me. I do not enjoy the commercial aspects of Christmas one bit.

But if you have never been to Dickens of a Christmas in downtown Spartanburg, you are really missing out on a treat. I daresay it will make even the most hardened grinches (such as myself) toss back some roasted chestnuts while joining the carolers in Good King Wenceslas.

It is the only celebration of its kind anywhere in the Carolinas. This Victorian celebration includes ice skating on Morgan Square (open November 21 through January 11 for $10 per person, which includes skate rental), live window displays (including a live nativity scene), Victorian photos, horse-drawn carriage rides, and a giant open market where one can see carolers dressed in period clothing. Straight out of “Oliver Twist”! (Not that that’s a Christmas novel, but you get the idea.)

people at a vendor's table during an evening festifalIn 2014, Dickens of a Christmas is scheduled for Tuesday, December 2 from 6-9pm. And perhaps the best part, even for humbugs, is the beautiful tree lighting ceremony at 7:30 p.m. at Denny’s Plaza. I heard even Santa Claus himself makes an appearance because this is so cool!

But wait a minute … Dickens isn’t all Spartanburg has in the way of celebrations.

There are plenty of recurring events, Jazz on the Square (Fridays in April, May, August and September) and Music on Main (Thursdays during April through July), which center on live bands and camaraderie around Spartanburg’s downtown area.

And of course the Spring Fling is growing strong each year on the first weekend in May, still featuring rides, a 300-ft zip line, trampoline shows, chalk artists, the Disc Connected K9 Frisbee dog show, and the Spartanburg Regional Classic bike race, nicknamed “NASCAR on 2 Wheels.” (If you’ve never stood on a street corner and watched these cyclists race by you at the Spring Fling, you’re missing out.)

people participating in the parade of nations as part of the international festivalBut let’s not forget the other annual events that make Spartanburg unique:

  • Hub City Hog Fest, a relatively new festival that occurs near the R.J. Rockers Brewery the last weekend in May. It draws in barbecue cook teams from all across the area to an event whose proceeds benefit Mobile Meals of Spartanburg.
  • Red, White, & Boom, the Independence Day celebration (each July 4 in Barnet Park) which features a phenomenal fireworks show, lots of barbeque and plenty of live music.
  • The Greek Festival, usually the fourth weekend in September at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which features Greek dancing, shopping, and all the spanakopita you can possibly eat.
  • Spartanburg’s International Festival (generally the first Saturday in October in Barnet Park), which features plenty of food, shows, and shopping from over thirty countries! Last year more than 12,000 people attended to explore world cultures through music, food, dance, folk art and more.

woman with a plate of greek foodsAre you noticing a theme here? Wear your eatin’ pants.

But back to Dickens of a Christmas. It is the perfect way to start off the Christmas season in a way that everyone can enjoy. As for this grinch here, I’m actually looking forward to watching the George C. Scott version of “A Christmas Carol” to get myself psyched up and then heading downtown on December 2! Admission is free, but don’t forget to bring cash for holiday treats and to wear a warm coat.

Oh, and wear your eatin’ pants.

Dickens of a Christmas photos provided by Danielle Draper.

Susan A. Sistare, Produced in cooperation with the HubCity Writers Project.
susan sistare of the hub city writers projectSusan A. Sistare is a local author, skydiver, and teacher. She lives in Spartanburg with four cats and too many roommates.



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