If you’re here staying in a beach house Charleston this weekend, you’ve timed it well.  Not only are you here for what has become the preeminent art festival in the country, Spoleto, as well as its little sister Piccolo Spoleto, but it’s also time to celebrate a Lowcountry tradition: sweetgrass

One of the most iconic symbols of the Lowcountry is the sweetgrass basket  –  a centuries-long artisan tradition that endures to this day.

sweetgrass baskets near your beach house Charleston

sweetgrass baskets near your beach house Charleston

The artistry involved in their creation has captured the imagination of locals and visitors alike.

If you’re coming to stay in one of our rental homes South Carolina, either Isle of Palms vacation rentals or Folly Beach house rentals Charleston SC, a sweetgrass basket is perhaps the ultimate souvenir to bring back from your stay.  Folks who came to a Charleston beach house decades ago still cherish these baskets and pass them down as heirlooms.

It’s classic Lowcountry with roots deep in the history of the area and the Gullah-Geechee heritage of the Sea Islands.  Gullah-Geechee is the rich culture of the descendants of enslaved Africans in the Lowcountry, especially the Sea Islands of the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida.  It’s characterized by a distinctive language (an English-based creole with much African influence), rice-based cuisine, music and traditions such as the weaving of baskets from native sweetgrass.

Generally speaking, Gullah refers to the culture in the Carolinas, while Geechee is in Georgia and Florida.

If you’re in a beach house Charleston, certain places are best to find a basket.  If you’re in one of our Isle of Palms luxury rentals, just head over the IOP Connector to Highway 17, then turn right and head north toward Awendaw.  You’ll pass several roadside stands all along Highway 17.

Most people who stay in a beach house Charleston SC will head downtown to the Historic Charleston City Market.   There you’ll find some of the very best basket makers and their wares.

Also, at Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park, there’s a sweetgrass pavilion where you can learn more about the baskets and purchase one.   It’s convenient to all our SC vacation rentals, whether you’re in a luxury house on Isle of Palms or one the many Folly Beach rentals Charleston.

A special festival near your beach house Charleston…

And coming up this weekend is a very special sweetgrass event.  It’s the 11th annual Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival, taking place this Saturday, June 4th (noon till 7:00 p.m.) at Memorial  Waterfront Park, under the Mount Pleasant side of the Ravenel Bridge.

The Southeastern Tourism Society has named it a top-20 event.  There you will find “the most extensive showcase of sweetgrass baskets in the Lowcountry area” by over 20 different basket weavers.  There will be lots of music, gospel songs and praise dance, skits, storytelling, performances by the Adande African Drummers and Dancers, arts and crafts, documentary films, Gullah food available for purchase… all things Gullah.

It kicks off with a special event on Friday evening (from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.) called The “Real” Taste of Gullah (tickets $75)… but the festival itself and parking are free, and it’s family-friendly.

Here’s the festival website with all the details:  http://www.sweetgrassfestival.org/

Here’s a link with photos from past festivals:  http://www.sweetgrassfestival.org/photos.html

As always, when you are looking for a beach house Charleston, remember to call EP for the very best in luxury beach house rentals SC.

All best,
Lowcountry Lisa
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger