Upstate Spring Festivals Worth the Trip

The Upstate is known for both scenery and greenery, which is why so many Upstate residents head outdoors to their favorite festivals when they sense spring is in the air. Spring festivals in our area have it all: From a literary trivia contest to Jewish dancing lessons and from the stirring sound of bagpipes to the best toe-tappin’ bluegrass, the Upstate’s spring celebrations are guaranteed to put a spring in your step. So are you feeling festive? Here are five great Upstate festivals coming up on the calendar that you don’t want to miss. 


You don’t have to wait until St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate all things Irish. On March 8, a little over a week before St. Patrick’s Day, the 20th annual Return to the Green Irish Cultural Festival will feature Celtic music, bagpipes, dance, Irish food, drinks, and a variety of children’s activities. Music and dance acts will perform throughout the afternoon. The headlining musical act will be Keltic Kudzu, a self-described “straight up Celtic/Southern fusion band.” Food vendors and Irish-themed products and merchandise will also be on hand. Admission is free. March 8, Fluor Field, Greenville.


The Clemson Literary Festival is an annual celebration of books, writers, and all things literary. Now in its eighth year, this year’s festival features 17 authors, including Pulitzer Prize winner Adam Johnson. Word nerds everywhere will enjoy the readings, panel discussions, and author signings. Festival goers will also be able to participate in a book fair, a literary trivia contest, and an open mic event. March 25–27, Clemson University. 


ShalomFest ’15 is the Upstate’s only Jewish festival. Now in its seventh year, this family-friendly event offers a variety of educational and cultural opportunities to learn about and celebrate Jewish culture. Enjoy Jewish music and dances, tour the educational exhibits, attend a mock Jewish wedding and Passover Seder, and find out more about Greenville’s Jewish community, which has a rich history dating back to the early 1850s. Admission is free, but once you have smelled the aroma of all the wonderful Jewish cuisine, you will definitely want to purchase tickets for food. April 12, Temple of Israel, Greenville.


Since 1978, the Historic Pendleton Spring Jubilee has brought visitors and locals alike to downtown Pendleton to celebrate the coming of spring. Now, 38 years later, the Historic Pendleton Jubilee is one of the premier festivals in the Upstate and a source of pride for the Pendleton community. Visitors can view and purchase the unique creations from over 100 fine artists while they’re enjoying great food and great music. One of the highlights of the festival is the bluegrass, folk, Celtic, gospel, and blues bands that fill the air with their family-friendly music. Admission is free. April 4 – 5, Pendleton.


For many residents of Northern Greenville and Pickens Counties, the end of spring is highlighted by the Strawberry Festival, which ushers in the summer with great food, music, crafts, and children's activities. Locals and visitors from across the Upstate will make the short trek to Slater, South Carolina, which is just six miles north of Travelers Rest, to enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery, the friendly people, the great food, and the lively bluegrass music. Kids will enjoy the magic shows, jugglers, jump house, and appearances by their favorite storybook characters. All proceeds from the festival benefit Foothills Family Resources, an Upstate nonprofit that provides much-needed services to the less fortunate in Cleveland, Marietta, Slater, and Travelers Rest. Admission is free. May 2, Slater. 


Visit our festivals page for more Upstate annual events and festivals.


Photos courtesy of the Irish Cultural Festival (top right) and Pendleton Spring Jubilee (bottom left). Article by Josephine McMullen.