Consistently awarded as one of the Best Annual Festivals on the Grand Strand, The World Famous Blue Crab Festival on the Historic Little River Waterfront is about so much more than the eponymous crustaceans!
Just ten minutes from Downtown North Myrtle Beach, you’ll find the town of Little River, South Carolina. Although it is one of the largest towns of the Grand Strand, it still has amazing small town ambiance to it.
Each year on the weekend after Mother’s Day, It becomes a little more lively, when the Blue Crab Festival comes to town. A trip to this festival is the perfect day trip from your North Myrtle Beach vacation home!
Here is our guide to everything you need to know about this beloved coastal event.
About the World Famous Blue Crab Festival
Put on by the Little River Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center, this is one festival you do not want to miss during your vacation to the Grand Strand! Believe it or not, the World Famous Blue Crab Festival is one of the longest-running and largest festivals in the Southeast.
The festival originated in 1981 when a small group of townspeople aimed to support local businesses by bringing visitors to the historic waterfront. Under the billowing oak trees, local restaurants, artisans, and musicians set up to demonstrate the community spirit that binds them together.
Thirty years later, the festival has evolved into a larger fete, complete with live music, more than 250 craft vendors, and a bespoke 5K race, creating, alongside the Little River Shrimp Festival, 4.25 million in revenue for the town each year. In 2022, the festival attracted over 50,000 seafood fanatics!
The Festival lasts the whole weekend each year in May with a full lineup of live entertainment and events like beauty pageants, car shows, and races.
- Venue: Historic Little River Waterfront
- Address: 4468 Mineola Ave, Little River, SC
Little River is located just 15 minutes north of North Myrtle Beach. Highway 17 will take you directly there, with the waterfront just a few minutes off Mineola Avenue.
The Best Eats at The Blue Crab Festival
The festival is well-known for its delicious array of fresh, local seafood from local restaurants. In fact, restaurants within the festival space are often serving fresh options outdoors in addition to their normal seating inside.
Some of the best eateries in Little River participate in the festival food, including Capt. Juel’s Hurricane Restaurant, Crab Catcher’s (the soft shell crab sandwich is a must!), and Key West Crazy.
However, if you enjoy the ambiance but seafood is not your thing, there will also be dozens of other food trucks and restaurants at the festival that will be selling a diverse array of cuisine.
You can’t have one of the largest festivals in the lowcountry without having on site live music ready to excite the crowd! The artists that have played at the annual Blue Crab Festival in the past have ranged from live beach music to 80s funk, classical music, and even pop punk rock!
Headliners for 2023 have yet to be announced, but the official website typically updates several weeks out with headlining entertainment. Regardless of the line up, you can expect two days of amazing sounds to jam out to!
Local Businesses and Crafters
Since its inception, the festival has always been about supporting local businesses! With hundreds of crafters, vendors, and pop-up artisans, you’re bound to find a unique hand-made piece to bring home.
The vendor’s highly coveted vendor spots are booked out by early March, so you can be assured you are getting the best the local region offers.
What Should I Bring to the Festival
Plan to relax and stay awhile at the Blue Crab Festival, and make sure you bring a chair! The live music setlist is the perfect place to hang out on the Grand Strand and enjoy some sun and entertainment.
Coolers and outside food or beverages are not allowed, so be sure to bring cash or a card with you to purchase food and drink from the local food vendors.
In addition, plan to do some walking! The festival is spread along the waterfront, so bring sunscreen, a hat, and tennis shoes to explore it all comfortably!
Kid Friendly Fun
All kids ages 12 and under are free, with several activities just for them!
The festival Kid’s Zone is an amazing place to spend the day, with games, face painting, festival foods, and prizes galore! So even if you don’t have big seafood eaters in your littles, they can still enjoy getting in on the fun.
Get Ready for the Blue Crab Festival 2023
Public parking is available at three lots and includes a shuttle ride to and from the festival gates. Shuttle busses circulate from these lots from 9:00 am to 4:45 pm each day.
Of the three, Pizzeli’s is reserved for handicapped festival goers and offers a golf cart shuttle to the gate. Parking is around $5 per car per day and $15 per person for the water taxi.
- Hope Willard: 701 Highway 17, Little River, SC
- Pizzeli’s: 1698 Highway 17, Little River, SC
- Southwest Brunswick Branch Library: 9400 Ocean Hwy W, Calabash, NC
- Harbour Style Salon and Spa: 695 Highway 17, Little River, SC
- Water Taxi at Harborgate Marina: 2100 Sea Mountain Hwy, North Myrtle Beach, SC
Entry to the festival is $7 per person, and children 12 and under are free! Tickets can be purchased in advance ahead of time or at the gate on event day, the price is the same, but it may save you time.
The festival includes live music and other corresponding events, with some of the proceeds going back to support reinvestment in the community. The lineup for vendors and music is generally announced on the official website several weeks in advance.
Other Things to Do in Little River
Vereen Memorial Gardens
These lush gardens have been around for more than 30 years. Many different hiking and walking trails are available on the premises, and families love explore the various natural habitats.
From the lowcountry marshes to small islands and various views of the Intracoastal Waterway, Vereen Memorial Gardens is a beautiful place to spend the afternoon exploring.
A Casino Cruise
The Big “M” Casino is a hot spot to visit in town, as it brings back feelings of Old Vegas. And what’s better than a casino? An Old Vegas-like casino cruise on the water!
Hop aboard a five-hour casino cruise and try your hand at cards, slots, and roulette games! You can even enjoy a meal overlooking the water. Cruises are 21 and up, though, so leave the kids at home for this excursion!
A Dolphin Tour
You can’t come to the North Myrtle Beach area without going on a dolphin-watching tour! About 20 miles down the shore towards Myrtle Beach, you’ll find Myrtle Beach Dolphin Cruises. Jet down the Intracoastal Waterway as you cruise out to the ocean, passing several islands and the jetty on your way.
The goal? To catch a glimpse of the powerful and majestic dolphins that grace the waterways here in South Carolina! On a three hour cruise, you’ll see dolphins, the stunning coastline of the Grand Strand, and possibly even some other sea creatures!
La Belle Amie Vineyard
Wine culture is alive and well in the Grand Strand! La Belle Amie Vineyard is a family-owned and run vineyard that has been in business near Little River since 1999. It is home to the Twisted Sister’s Wine, a local favorite for years.
Visitors to the sprawling vineyard do need to pay admission to the property, and, of course, there are also tastings available.
Beginning in March, festivals and concerts are held outdoors at the vineyard. So grab your ticket and wine glass and be prepared to enjoy an afternoon full of incredible entertainment!
Time Your Vacation for the Blue Crab Festival
What began as a group of friends trying to support their local lowcountry town has turned into a legacy that lives on in the hearts of an estimated more than 50,000 visitors each year!
The Blue Crab Festival is a fantastic weekend event that will make your stay at a North Myrtle Beach vacation rental unforgettable. So grab the kids, some lawn chairs, and plenty of blue crabs, and come join us to make South Carolina memories to last a lifetime!