Sumter's Iris Festival is South Carolina's oldest continuous festival and is consistently ranked among the top festivals in the Southeast.
The 3-day festival includes concerts, arts & crafts, plants & flowers, antique & classic car shows, a number of contests and lots of children's activities. The fun begins the evening before the festival, with the annual "Crowning of The King & Queen" followed by the "Taste at the Gardens", featuring great music and great food from some of the area's leading restaurants and caterers.
Iris Festival (held annually on Memorial Day Weekend) Hours:
- Thursday 6 - 9pm
- Friday & Saturday 10am - 6pm
- Sunday 10am - 5pm
As the festival has gained popularity, it has become a favorite stopping place for bus tours from all over the U.S. and Canada. The annual event receives prominent news and coverage, from such publications as "Southern Living" and "Southern Travel and Lifestyle" magazines and many other major newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations as well as social media and travel web sites.
The host location, the world-famous "Swan Lake Iris Gardens" in Sumter, South Carolina was recently recognized as a Top Performing Attraction and received a Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor®, the world's largest travel site. The Iris Festival has been named numerous times as a Top 20 Event from the Southeastern Tourism Society and was awarded a Top 100 Event in the United States by the American Bus Association.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What are the dates for the Iris Festival?
The Iris Festival is held annually over Memorial Day Weekend (Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday). In 2020 the dates are May 21-24. The opening ceremony will take place at 6 PM on Thursday evening, followed immediately by our annual fundraiser, the Taste of the Gardens, where there is a $5 admission and entertainment until 9 PM. Bring a blanket or lawn chair, but no coolers allowed. Food and beverage are available for purchase. All other vendors and activities are open Friday and Saturday from 10 AM - 6 PM and Sunday from 10 AM - 5 PM.
- Is there a charge for admission or parking?
There is no charge for admission or parking on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, vendors will have their products for sale.
Where are parking areas located?
The main parking area is located across from the Heath Pavilion on Garden Street (off West Liberty Street). Overflow parking is available at the Sumter County Civic Center at 700 West Liberty Street - shuttle buses will run all day Saturday and Sunday from the Civic Center to Swan Lake.
Is there space for RVs?
We are sorry, but RVs cannot be brought into the garden parking areas. They may be parked at the Sumter County Civic Center, but hookups are not available.
May I bring my pet with me to the Festival?
Swan Lake Iris Gardens is a bird sanctuary; therefore, pets are strictly prohibited. Please note that this does not apply to service animals.
Where are the iris beds located?
The Japanese Iris beds are located at the water’s edge on both the north and south sides of the gardens.
Will there be irises for sale?
Yes! The Sumter Master Gardeners will host their annual iris sale. Supplies are limited, so come early for the best selection.
What types of vendors are at the festival?
The vendors range from artists, crafters, gardeners, clothing, candles, toys and more, including a variety of food and beverage options. There are over 200 vendors every year.
Can I sell my products and/or services or pass out general info at the festival without a vendor booth?
No. The entire Swan Lake Iris Garden grounds is reserved for Iris Festival-approved vendors only. Open solicitation is not allowed at any time during the festival.
Remember that the list of rules and FAQs specific to Swan Lake Iris Gardens apply to the festival as well. Please review before your visit. Thank you.