What to do in Sumter, SC this summer
Attend a Festival:
Sumter hosts festivals throughout the year. Here's a sample of what's coming up; see our online calendar for a complete list of events and confirm dates.
- Festival on the Avenue (typically the second weekend in April): It is a West African Bimbé harvest festival held every spring in the spirit of sharing, featuring music, dance, art, parades, traditional soul food, and living history that highlights the creativity and vitality of the South Sumter community.
- Bethune Legacy Event (May’s third weekend) - It is a festival honoring Mrs. Mary McLeod Bethune, an American history icon. Mrs. Bethune, born and brought up in Sumter, SC, was an adviser to four US presidents, a national advocate of human rights, and founded the Bethune-Cookman College.
- Festival of the Iris (Memorial Day Weekend) - This three-day event is one of South Carolina's oldest and longest-running events. Concerts, arts and crafts, pageants, plants and flowers, antique and classic automobile displays, a variety of contests, concerts, and various children's activities are among the events. They are named one of the best twenty events in the Southeast regularly.
- Oktoberfest on Main - For a great evening of German food, music, and heritage, downtown Sumter turns into a miniature Germany.
- Sumter Porches (1st Thursday in October) - Ever wonder what it was like to enjoy tea on the veranda? This is your chance to shine. Visit as homeowners open their doors and share their tales with visitors as you walk through the historical roads of Hampton Park.
- Fantasy of Lights (December 1-31) - The Swan Lake at the Iris Gardens looks gorgeous with a display of glittering holiday imagery generated by more than one million lights for the entire month of December.
Go to a State Park:
- Poinsett State Park: Poinsett State Park is in the hilly regions of Santee, where the South Carolina Sandhills of the Midlands region intersect with the coastal plains. This diverse habitat, known as the "mountains of the midlands," produces a high level of biodiversity and some of the most distinctive natural sightings in the park system, particularly along the Palmetto route, which goes through the Manchester State Forest. Hiking and bike routes make their way through the High Hills of Santee, some of which link to the Palmetto Trail, which carries hikers through the State Forest in Manchester.
The 10-acre lake near Poinsett provides a tranquil environment and is ideal for jon boat rentals and fishing. Camping, a fishing pond, a coquina bathhouse erected in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, pre-revolutionary grist mill remains, and rustic cottages are all available at the park.
It is open year-round, from 9 a.m. to dusk. The entry fee is $3 for adults, $1.50 for SC seniors, $1 for children ages 6 to 15, and free for children under five.
- Woods Bay State Park: Reach here to get up and close with one of the last big Carolina Bays on the Coastal Plain in the mid-Atlantic. The 1,590-acre park, located in the coastal plain’s region, has marsh, sandhills, oak-hickory woodland, and shrub bog ecosystems. It is open every day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The event is free to attend.