The old story goes, as told by longtime Myrtle Beach residents, someone could lie down in the middle of Ocean Boulevard after Labor Day and not have to move out of the way until Memorial Day weekend the next year. Aside from the fact that no one would dare try the nine-month test, there was a bit of truth to the overstatement. Myrtle Beach used to turn into a ghost town in the offseason.
But those days are gone as Myrtle Beach, America’s most popular summer vacation destination, has expanded its social calendar in both direction to the point that the winter time is now part of prime time. Guests can heat up with the action Dance and music festivals, arts and crafts exhibitions, sporting events and lots of other activities have transformed the Grand Strand into a year-round hot spot even when the weather gets a bit chilly. Here are three upcoming events that are sure to heat up the fun-o-meter:
* Brookgreen Gardens: The flowers might not be in full bloom but the activities are always blossoming at the oldest and largest botanical sculpture garden on East Coast. Located in Murrells Inlet on a former rice and indigo plantation, Brookgreen Gardens hosts several special programs in the winter months, including the popular Oaks Plantation History and Nature Excursion. In addition to strolling through the scenic gardens, zoo and other attractions that come with regular park admission, for a few extra dollars visitors can tour the former antebellum plantation home, cemetery and slave quarters of the Alston family estate, as well as the lovely landscape of the Lowcountry. The tour of the grounds, which have been the subject of numerous archeological digs and studies of the pre- and post-Colonial America era, is held daily from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. and runs through March 4. For more information, visit www.brookgreen.org.
* The 40th Annual South Carolina Square and Round Dance Convention rolls into Myrtle Beach at the Springmaid Beach Hotel & Convention Center. Featuring some of the country’s top performers of this traditional American dance, thousands of square dancers answer the call of this fun event. Hear professional callers shout out the steps and see talented dancers respond to their calls in a synchronized style that dates back to Colonial America. Hoedowns are held Friday and Saturday nights, Jan. 23-24, for those who want to dance and for spectators who want to see the pageantry in action, from the colorful costumes to the creative dance steps. Also check out the special sessions and workshops held during the day time, including a parade of participating clubs, clinics and competitions for both callers and dancers. For more information, visit www.scsquaredance.com.
* The 32nd Annual Shag Dancing Championship Preliminaries come to North Myrtle Beach on Jan. 30-31. Featuring the top shag dancers in the country competing for titles in various age and style divisions, this showcase helps keep alive the legacy of South Carolina’s state dance, which was founded on local beaches and clubs in the middle of the 20th century. Held at the famed Spanish Galleon on Ocean Drive, this event is sure to keep you on your toes. Spectators can get into the action at any of the nearby dance clubs, which fill up with fellow shaggers for the festival. Don’t know how to shag? Don’t worry. Clubs like Fat Harold’s and OD Pavilion are filled with experienced shaggers who can show you the steps and have you shagging before you know it. For more information or to purchase advanced tickets to the event, visit www.shagnationals.com.