In 1972, two volunteers for the Young Women’s Christian Organization (YWCO) in Summerville, South Carolina, planned and created a local azalea festival to benefit their nonprofit charity. They reasoned that celebrating the arrival of Summerville’s beautiful indigenous blooms in early April would attract visitors more than ready to welcome springtime.
Their instincts were correct. Four decades later, the Summerville YMCA Flowertown Festival (April 1-3 in 2016) is one of the largest arts and crafts festivals in the Southeast and appears on the Southeast Tourism Society’s list of top 20 events. The flowers, food and festivities make this event well worth the short drive from your vacation base in Charleston.
Summerville, 30 minutes northwest of Charleston, is a charming historic city, with great shopping, dining and landscaping. The oak lined streets play home to friendly southerners and quaint shops. The nearby Ashley River keeps the grasses green and the gardens full of life. The annual Flowertown Festival attracts some 250,000 visitors throughout its three days. And it remains a fundraiser for the YMCA, which allows the organization to continue community outreach projects.
The festival is held in Azalea Park, and features some 200 talented artisans from across the country. Booths house pottery, paintings, glass sculptures, woodworks, ironworks, jewelry, textiles and other crafts. As you stroll the streets you can pick up something to munch on from the plethora of vendors. Kids entertainment, such as rides, games, treats and special arts and crafts projects will take place through the three days, so be sure to look into them if you’re on a family vacation. But of course the real stars of the weekend are the gorgeous azaleas, dogwood and wisteria. Summerville truly is one of the most beautiful cities in the Southeast, and n
The warm sunshine. The beautiful booth displays. The smell of good food. Bring along sunscreen, wear comfortable shoes and get ready to enjoy a festival that is irresistible year after year, no matter how many times you’ve been before. Among reliably entertaining vacation idea, the Summerville YMCA Flowertown festival is—just like the azaleas on display—a spectacular perennial.