Grab a folding chair and head downtown early for a good spot to watch the explosions signaling the start of Beaufort Water Festival Friday night.
Fireworks, live music and water sports are on the schedule for opening weekend in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park.
Gates open for Friday night’s opening ceremony at 6 p.m.
The Water Festival starts with a performance by the Parris Island Marine Band and fireworks at dusk.
Here are a few things to know as you prepare for the weekend in Beaufort:
Getting to Waterfront Park
Park where you can or use a ride-sharing app. If you’re not interested in joining the crowd at Waterfront Park on Friday night, find a spot along the bluff on Bay Street for a good view of the fireworks or park in Technical College of the Lowcountry lots off of Ribaut Road and stake out a grassy spot on the Beaufort River.
The new day dock in Waterfront Park is a free place for boats to tie up with easy access to downtown. Spots might go quickly during its Water Festival debut.
A free shuttle to Waterfront Park is available from the Beaufort County government complex at Ribaut Road and Boundary Street.
A popular festival alternative is back
The Beaufort River will be rocking during an event that, though not affiliated with the Water Festival, has successfully channeled the summertime party vibe in recent years.
The third-annual Beaufort Sandbar Concert will include several acts performing from a floating stage in the Beaufort River on Saturday afternoon. Country singer and University of South Carolina graduate Pat Cooper will again headline the concert.
The event is planned from noon until 5 p.m. — enough time to get back to the Water Festival in time for its signature event in Waterfront Park.
The Water Festival has a new headquarters.
Previously based in a trailer in the downtown marina parking lot, the Water Festival has rented space at 930 Bay St. this year. The office will be the spot for ticket will-call, lost and found, volunteer and civic groups check-in and for general questions and information.
Tickets won’t be sold from the office and must be bought online or at the gate the day of the event.
2018 Beaufort Water Festival opening weekend
*Events in Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park unless otherwise noted.
Noon-7 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.
7 p.m.: Opening ceremony. Fireworks and performance by Parris Island Marine Band. Admission is free. Gates open at 6 p.m.. Free shuttle service from Beaufort County Government Center.
8 a.m.- noon: Raft Race
9 a.m.-7 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.
9 a.m.: Bocce tournament, badminton tournament.
10 a.m.-noon: Children’s toad fishing tournament and sponsor’s expo. Tournament free and open to children 12 and under. Bring own fishing equipment. Bait is provided.
Noon- 4 p.m.: Free shrimp boat tours.
1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.: Ski show
8 p.m.: Concert in the park, featuring Granger Smith, John King and Walker County. Tickets are $30 and gates open at 7 p.m. No strollers, coolers or outside food and drink. Children 5 and under are free, and a free shuttle is available from Beaufort County Government Center.
9 a.m.-5 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.
9 a.m.- 1 p.m. River rally.
11 a.m.- 3 p.m.: Children’s day. Games, activities, shows, bounce houses and prizes. Free admission.
Noon-4 p.m.: Shrimp boat tours.
6 p.m.-9 p.m.: Teen dance. Ages 13-17, ID required. Tickets are $10.
10 a.m.-7 p.m.: Arts and crafts market.
8 p.m.: Motown Monday. Admission is $15, gates open at 7 p.m. Free shuttle service from Beaufort County Government Center. Children 5 and under are free.