There’s rarely a weekend that passes that there’s not a special event – whether it’s a festival, concert or holiday celebration – in the Golden Isles. We love any excuse for a party, and that’s why you’ll find over-the-top Independence Day and Christmas celebrations along with outdoor music, a PGA tournament, festivals celebrating our culture, food, history and natural environment. As mentioned, any excuse …
We’ve taken a look at the calendar for the upcoming months and have listed the special events (as scheduled) through the end of 2022. Please understand this isn’t a definitive list because events are added continually. To keep current, pick up the latest copy of Coastal Illustrated + Coastal Home, or visit our website at coastalillustrated.com, and check out the most recent Events calendar.
Little Light Music
This concert series presented by the Coastal Georgia Historical Society, is now more than a quarter-century-old tradition. Both young and old anticipate this concert series, held on the oceanfront lawn at the base of the St. Simons Lighthouse. People pack picnic suppers, lawn chairs and blankets and show up early to enjoy the music. Concerts begin at 7 pm on select Sunday evenings. Admission is $15 for adults, with children younger than 12 and members of the Keepers of the Light admitted free. This year’s concerts include The Michael Stacey Band, June 12; Mainstream Band, July 10 and the traditional seasonal finale, the Sounds of Motown (right) on Sept. 4. For more information, contact coastalgeorgiahistory.org.
Sounds by the Sea
Formerly known as Jazz in the Park, Golden Isles Arts and Humanities Association re-branded its concert series several years ago as Sounds by the Sea. In a typical year, there are four concerts, but this year, only two will be held. The first will feature local favorite saxophonist and singer Michael Hulett (right) from 7-9 pm May 29 at Neptune Park, on St. Simons Island. This is Hulett’s last performance before leaving for his summer tour of northern states. Hulett’s vocals and saxophone entertain audiences with the sounds of soul, rock and romance. His repertoire includes classic and modern jazz, the best in fusion and jazz-funk, and highlights of R&B, soul, rock and pop.
The second and final concert will be held at 7 pm Aug. 28, also at Neptune Park, and will feature “Still Standing: A Tribute to Elton John,” with the crowd enjoying all of Sir Elton’s biggest hits. Ben Frey, (right) the Elton John tribute artist who performs “Still Standing” carries on the legacy and music of Sir Elton John. Frey looks, sounds like and performs the Elton John music catalog to perfection, according to reviews. Frey is backed up with a professional three-piece band at his performances. Tickets are $15 each, and free for children 12 and younger. Chairs, blankets and picnic meals are welcome. Details: goldenislesarts.org.
“Wompzilla” returns to Massengale Beach on May 22. Registration opens at 10 am, followed by skim school with Randy Owens at 11 am, the event at noon and an awards ceremony at Frosty’s Griddle & Shake at 5 pm with Pine Box Dwellers as entertainment . The grand prize will be a WaveZone skimboard, and trophies will be awarded for first, second and third places in each age group in the freestyle and longest ride categories. Age groups include squirting, ages 5-9; groms, ages 10-13; shredders, ages 14-17 and fossils for participants 18 and older. People younger than 18 must have permission from a parent or guardian. And if you don’t do well, never fear. The Golden Broom will be given to the participant with the worst wipeout. Proceeds benefit The Firebox Initiative, which provides emergency funds, scholarships and other assistance to members of the hospitality industry. Details: wompoffssi.com, or the Womp Off – St. Simons Island Facebook page.
Taste of Gullah
This event, which benefits the St. Simons African American Heritage Coalition, will begin at 5 pm June 17 at the Historic Harrington School Cultural Center, 291 S. Harrington Drive, on St. Simons Island, is a celebration of Gullah cuisine.
During the two-hour event, chef and scholar Kevin Mitchell will sign copies of his book, “Taste the State: South Carolina’s Signature Foods, Recipes and Their Stories.” Among Mitchell’s various other professional responsibilities and affiliations, he serves on the national board of Slow Food USA, the Southern Foodways Alliance, the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation and the Charleston Wine + Food Festival.
The event will also include food trucks and vendors – Country Boy Cooking, Southern Soul BBQ and Luvenia’s Catering – serving traditional Gullah favorites, including fried fish, collard greens, chicken livers, pulled pork and other classic dishes. Chip Wilson and the Golden Isles Elite Singers are scheduled to perform. Tours of the Historic Harrington School will also be available.
Proceeds from A Taste of Gullah will help support the nonprofit organization’s operations and go towards the purchase of a new van to conduct tours of African American historic sites around the Golden Isles.
Tickets are a $30 donation per person, and attire is casual. See eventbrite.com for tickets.
Fourth of July
Brunswick, St. Simons Island and Jekyll Island all have unique Independence Day traditions. In Brunswick, the Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration includes free games, free watermelon and fireworks beginning at 6 pm at Mary Ross Waterfront Park, followed by fireworks at 9 pm Free admission and free parking. Check discoverbrunswick.com for details as they develop, or call 912-265-4032.
On St. Simons Island, Independence Day is celebrated with the annual Sunshine Festival, which has been celebrated for more than 60 years in the Pier Village. The family-friendly festival features live music, arts and crafts, a 5K and 1-mile fun run. The festival will be held from 10 am to 5 pm July 1-4, and closes out at 9 pm July 4 with fireworks over the water at Neptune Park. Free admission and free parking. Details: goldenisles.com.
On Jekyll Island, the Fourth of July will be celebrated with a fireworks show at 9 pm on July 4. According to the Jekyll Island Authority, the best places to view the fireworks are Great Dunes Beach Park and Oceanview Beach Park. The regular parking fee of $8 is increased to the special event rate of $12 per vehicle, with annual pass holders exempt from the increased fee. Details: jekyllisland.com.
Firebox BBQ on the Bluff
One of the tastiest festivals held each year, this event attracts the crème-de-la-crème of pitmasters, chefs, farmers and breweries. The event, which began after Southern Soul Barbeque recovered from a tragic fire, assists members of the hospitality industry who have failed on hard times due to a variety of reasons.
Plans for the festival, which will be held Sept. 29 – Oct. 1, haven’t been finalized, but past events have included a chef’s dinner at Southern Soul featuring a well-known chef, along with top-rated regional brewers and distillers.
The final day, in the past, has featured an outdoor party at Gascoigne Bluff Park with guests enjoying an evening of great food, beverages and live music under the oaks. Past participants have included Fox Bros. Bar-BQ, Home Team BBQ, Peg Leg Porker BBQ, Pig Beach BBQ, 17th Street BBQ, Holy City Hogs, Southern Soul BBQ, Sam Jones BBQ, Buxton Hall BBQ, DAS BBQ, Tuffy Stone and Cool Smoke, Mama Jean’s BBQ, Sugarfire Smokehouse, Certified Burgers & Beverage, Chubby Fish, Shaggy/NOLA Crawfish King, Crabdaddy’s, Pelican Oyster Co., Sea Island Forge, Virgil Kaine Lowcountry Whiskey Co., Wild Heaven Beer, Piedmont Brewing Co. and Silver Bluff Brewing.
Tickets sell out fast. Be sure to keep checking ssbbqfirebox.com for prices, times and other details.
Presented by the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, CoastFest 2022 will return from 10 am to 4 pm Oct. 1, at Mary Ross Waterfront Park, in Brunswick. This free event is celebrating its 28th anniversary, and features exhibitors, live entertainment, marine-life touch tanks, historic demonstrations, games and more.
Environmental exhibitors will be on hand to provide attendees with opportunities to learn about natural resources, wildlife, climate science, litter prevention, and other topics. One of the most popular events at CoastFest each year is its art contest, which will be held at the Marshes of Glynn Library, 208 Gloucester St., in Brunswick. Performers, such as Jim Sawgrass, a member of the Muskogee-Creek tribe highlight the natural and cultural resources and will perform throughout the day. For details, visit coastalgadnr.org.
Jekyll Island Shrimp + Grits
It’s the 15th anniversary of the Shrimp + Grits Festival, following a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. This celebration of two of Georgia’s fave foods – shrimp and grits – will be held Nov. 4-6 in the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District. The festival will feature a cook-off, craft brew fest, a VIP lounge, cooking demonstrations, book signings, arts and craft vendors, live entertainment and a fun zone for the kids. For the first time in Shrimp & Grits history, run the Go for the Grits 5K on the festival’s final day. Admission is free, although there are fees for food and beverages. The regular parking fee of $8 is increased to the special event rate of $12 per vehicle, with annual pass holders exempt from the increased fee. Festival hours will be 4-9 pm Nov. 4, 10 am to 9 pm Nov. 5 and 10 am to 4 pm Nov. 6. Details: jekyllisland.com.
A PGA tournament is a competition and festival all rolled up into one week-long event enjoyed by people from near and far. Coming in mid-fall, The RSM Classic, scheduled for Nov. 14-20, is usually graced with the bright skies and beautiful weather typical of a Golden Isles autumn. Held at the Sea Island Golf Club, on St. Simons Island, the course has views that view the iconic Sidney Lanier Bridge, Jekyll Island, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins frolicking in the surf and lazy alligators, sunning on the banks of the lagoons.
The RSM Classic became a part of the PGA Tour in 2010, and is hosted by Davis Love III, 20-time PGA TOUR winner, 2017 World Golf Hall of Fame Inductee and 2012 and 2016 US Ryder Cup Captain.
Proceeds from the The RSM Classic benefit charities that assist families and children.
Although the full schedule has not been locked down, there are a number of events throughout the week, which kicks off with a Pro-Am Event at the Seaside Course. Events the public can attend include the annual Wiffle Ball Classic at Frederica Academy that features PGA tour players and their wives; “Meet the Pros,” hosted by the Rotary Club of St. Simons Island at the Mizner Ballroom in the Cloister, Sea Island; another Pro-Am event; charity putting competition; and of course, the current tournament.
For details, please check online at rsmclassic.com. The website is being updated regularly.
Holly Jolly Jekyll
This year, the Christmas season begins Nov. 25 in the Jekyll Island National Historic Landmark District, and its surroundings, when Holly Jolly Jekyll begins. The festival winds down shortly after New Year’s Day, but throughout the winter holidays, Jekyll Island is a living Hallmark Christmas movie, with sparking lights, a giant Christmas tree at the Jekyll Island Club Resort, and countless other activities.
Christmas light displays stretch connect the historic district with the oceanfront, including Great Dunes Beach Park and the Beach Village. Trolley tours are offered, or visitors can meander through the displays on their own. Two of the cottages in the original Jekyll Island Club are usually open for tours during the holiday event, dressed in their holiday period best, of course.
Other activities will include the Holly Jolly Jekyll Parade, a Christmas tree lighting, elf sightings, and Santa.
To receive updates on Holly Jolly Jekyll, visit jekyllisland.com.