• Heritage Christian Jan 2024

Posts Tagged ‘Sumter SC’

Sumter Iris Festival: FREE Family Fun in Sumter, SC

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Have you attended the Sumter Iris Festival? Celebrating the gorgeous Iris flower and the onset of summer, the Sumter Iris Festival brings many opportunities for totally FREE family fun. That’s one reason among many that the Sumter Iris Festival is on our summer bucket list. Is it on yours? It should be! Way more than a flower show, here’s what we love about the Sumter Iris Festival and its home, Swan Lake in Sumter, South Carolina.

Iris Festival in Sumter, SC at Swan Lake

Only about an hour from Columbia, the Sumter Iris Festival is one of my favorite South Carolina festivals. I remember going as a kid and the irises becoming my favorite flower. The park includes peaceful dirt walkways around the lake, shaded by massive trees and Spanish Moss. You’ll find, nature, swans, boat rides, irises, bathrooms, and plenty to do during the Sumter Iris Festival.

Kids enjoy Sumter Iris Festival at Swan Lake

About the Sumter Iris Festival

The Sumter Iris Festival is several days long at the end of May, and it’s a great event for kids since admission and most of the kid stuff is FREE.

When is the Sumter Iris Festival?

This year, it kicks off Memorial Day weekend, on Thursday night May 23rd, 2024 with the opening ceremony. The Taste event begins, with music, food vendors, boat rides, and more. Friday though, is when the family time really gears up. In fact, all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday things are happening.

You’ll find a full schedule of events on the Sumter Iris Festival Website.

Free fun for kids at the Sumter Iris Festival

Lots of FREE Things to Do at the Sumter Iris Festival

Not only does the park feature beautiful nature, gorgeous blooms in the Swan Lake Iris Gardens, vendors and performances, and an excellent playground, but it also offers kids’ rides, a parade, special performance by Charleston Polynesian Dancers, free goodies, antique and classic car show, and a petting zoo.

Even better, the rides, little petting zoo, admission, and more are completely free. Kids might spot performing dance teams and theater troops, classic cars, Cocky and other mascots, and more.

Here were some of our favorite parts of last year’s Sumter Iris Festival:

  • Free kids rides
  • Free crafts/story time/goodie bags
  • Petting zoo
  • The playground with the firetruck
  • Nature
  • banana split

While all admission to the festival and most kids’ activities are free, you’ll want to bring cash/cards for parking, food, and drinks. Likewise, face painting was offered among a lot of free crafts and activities for kids but was actually very pricey, so keep an eye out for that.

Iris Flowers at Sumter, SC

Expect it to be hot as it’s the end of May (23rd-26th, 2024), and expect crowds as this festival is increasingly popular as it’s been featured in Southern Living and others.

Also, expect fun!

Swan Lake Iris Gardens in Sumter, SC: A Beautiful Day Trip

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Are you thinking about a visit to Sumter’s unique Swan Lake Park? If you’re looking for a beautiful day trip from Columbia, look no further than Swan Lake Iris Gardens. We have all the details so you can plan your relaxing day at Swan Lake in Sumter, SC.

Swan Lake in Sumter, SC

Swan Lake in Sumer, SC: Location

At 822 West Liberty Street (US 763) in Sumter, South Carolina, 29150, you’ll find ample parking and a visitor’s center and park office open Monday- Friday 8:30- 5 pm, though park officers remain around on weekends, after hours, and of course during events.

Swan Lake Park Hours

The gardens are open from 7:30 am until dusk, except in extreme weather.

Is there a cost for Swan Lake Iris Gardens?

The park is completely Free.

Swan Lake in Sumter, SC

Things to Do at Swan Lake Gardens

The park is gorgeous throughout the year and provides a very calming atmosphere for kids to adventure. It is ideal for sensory-friendly families. The sensory trail enables the sight impaired to enjoy the scents and sensations of the garden, as it is filled with smells, textures, and sounds. The 1,000-foot boardwalk is wheelchair accessible and most of the sandy, shady path around the lake is level and easily doable in walkers and strollers, except after rough weather.

The walk around the lake is a less and mile loop, so it is very easy for newbies and toddlers to manage. You’ll spot several statues around the park.

In addition to other wildlife, this park features all eight swan species. You will see some species of swan, guaranteed, and learn about lots of swan facts as they are posted along the paths. Fun fact: this park is the only public park in the United States with all 8 species of swan.

You’ll also see hundreds of massive trees, other animals and plant species, and the “most intensive planting of Japanese Iris in the United States”, which are great to view in warmer seasons.

Swans at Swan Lake in Sumter, SC

Lunch at Swan Lake

Food is available for sale in the Market for lunch at the end of the week, or there are picnic areas you may use yourself.

Market Hours are:

  • Thursday and Friday – 11 am-2 pm
  • Saturday 12 pm to 5 pm
  • Sunday 1-5 p.m.
Old firetruck at Swan Lake in Sumter, SC

More Things to Do

Also, there is an excellent playground with swings, slides, climbing features, benches, and an old-timey firetruck, the favorite features. This park is gated, shaded by pines, and directly next to restrooms.

Please note, photography is permitted.

However, fishing and boating are not. Likewise, no pets are allowed.

Iris Flowers at Sumter, SC

Swan Lake Events

Perhaps, the Iris Gardens are most famous for the Iris Festival, a free festival that has won many awards and been featured in Southern Living and other magazines.

Iris Festival in Sumter, SC at Swan Lake

Here’s our Kidding Around review of the Sumter Iris Festival at Swan Lake.

In addition, other events throughout the year at Swan Lake include an Easter Egg Hunt, Earth Day event, and a holiday Festival of Lights. Find more Swan Lake Events here.

The park also allows weddings! Also, family reunions and birthday parties can be held at the Swan Lake Iris Gardens.

Swan Lake Iris Gardens
822 West Liberty Street (US 763)
Sumter, South Carolina

Day Trips near Columbia, SC

Find more great day trip destinations!

Our Day Trip Guide has over 50 amazing day trips from Columbia, SC.