By Hilary Kraus
Spring is here. So we didn’t spend a long, sub-zero winter shoveling show (Isn’t that what so many left behind?) or grumbling over heating bills. But that shouldn’t stop us from celebrating the season when flowers bloom, days get longer and the resort area we call home is just weeks away from hitting its summer stride.
We’re stepping out of the county for this one and offering up day trips to flower and other festivals to get you into the spirit of spring.
Another Bloomin’ Festival
April 4, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
96 miles from HHI/Bluffton bridge
This gathering is more about festival than it is about bloomin’. Entering its 22nd year, the free community event in downtown Metter, attracts thousands of locals and out-of-town residents who come to enjoy barbecue, homemade desserts and crafts.
April 10, noon-9 p.m.; April 11, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.;
April 12, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Ga.
281 miles from HHI/Bluffton bridge
OK, it’s not a day trip, but we’d be negligent if we didn’t recommend the biggest spring festival of all. Dating back to 1936 (no festivals during WWII), the Dogwood Festival is a three-day celebration that features a massive artists’ market, live music, the popular Backyard Barbecue & Brews tent (tickets needed) and more. With the Masters going on at the same time in Augusta, Ga., thousands will have Georgia on their mind.
April 11, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; April 12, 1-6 p.m.
41 miles from HHI/Bluffton bridge
The yearly event at Ottawa Farms is a great way to kick off the strawberry season. Strawberry fields will be open for u-pick, but they go quickly, usually by Saturday afternoon. Pre-picked flats will be for sale during the festival, which is in its 15th year. Last year’s attendance was about 10,000 over two days. Admission is $5 per person and free for children 4 children and under.
Perry Dogwood Festival
April 11, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; April 12, noon-5 p.m.
200 miles from HHI/Buffton bridge
The signature attraction at the 27th annual festival is Saturday night’s hot air balloon tethered rides at the Georgia National Fairgrounds. Other attractions include a fun run, arts and crafts, food, entertainment, kids activities and the highly anticipated dog diving competition.
Festival of Roses
April 30, 7:30; May 1, 9-10 p.m.; May 2, 7-9 p.m; May 3, 9-6 p.m.
102 miles from HHI/Bluffton bridge
There’s something for everyone at the 44th annual Orangeburg festival, from admiring the abundance of beautiful roses at Edisto Memorial Gardens to family entertainment at various venues. The festival kicks off on April 30 with its premier event of the Showcase variety show, featuring singers and musicians. New this year on Saturday, May 1, will be Showcase Jr., featuring the community’s youth talent.Ticket information at 803-536-4074.
Sumter Iris Festival
May 22-24, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
143 miles from HHI/Bluffton bridge
Advertised as “South Carolina’s oldest festival,” the Memorial Day weekend event is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a laser show at the Sumter County Civic Center on Saturday, May 23. Festival attendance over the three days usually averages about 50,000 when the Japanese irises are normally at their peak bloom.
April 11-12; 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Murrells Inlet, S.C.
174 miles from HHI/Bluffton bridge
The perfect one-stop shopping for plants is at this festival south of Myrtle Beach on Ocean Highway. There are thousands of different high-quality plants to choose, including hard-to-find plants grown in Brookgreen’s greenhouses and other selected nurseries. Staff horticulturists and volunteers will be there to offer advice. Regular garden admission applies.
Rhythm and Blooms
Thursdays in May (7, 14, 21, 28), 6-9 p.m.
Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, Columbia
162 miles from HHI/Bluffton bridge
The setting couldn’t be finer than the Riverbanks Botanical Garden, for four nights of music every Thursday in May. These gardens have been recognized by Horticulture Magazine as one of 10 gardens that inspire. HGTV has referred to Riverbanks as one of 20 great public gardens in the U.S. Purchase tickets night-of at the gate or online at www.riverbanks.org. Call 803-602-0840 to confirm price.
Lowcountry Strawberry Festival
April 16, 6 p.m.-10 p.m.; April 17, 3 p.m-11 p.m.; April 18, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; April 19, noon-7 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
112 miles from HHI/Bluffton bridge
Those looking for a homespun community festival with plenty of activities and perfect for people watching, should check the Lowcountry Strawberry Festival at the Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens. There are great attractions and rides for kids of all ages. The strawberry u-pick fields are open while available during daytime hours April 17-19. Admission is $ 7 (ages 12 and up); $5 (ages 3-11); and free for children 2 and under. Festival rides do not apply.
Garden Club House & Garden Tour
April 10-11, 1-4 p.m.
97 miles from HHI/Bluffton bridge
The 80th annual tour features properties in the Ansonborough district on April 10, and properties in the South of Broad Street district on April 11. Refreshments will be served at the Heyward Washington Garden on April 11. Tickets are $50 per tour.
Festival of Houses and Gardens
March 19-April 19
Charleston Historic District
97 miles from HHI/Bluffton bridge
There’s still plenty of time to take in daily home and garden tours that showcase Charleston’s distinctive architecture, history, gardens and culture. This 68th annual tour provides visitors the chance to go inside beautiful, historic homes, some dating back to the 18th century. Tickets are $50 per tour. For more information call 843-722-3405.