30 Oct 2023
If you’re a Charleston fan, you’ve probably heard of SEWE - the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition. SEWE is a three-day festival/extravaganza that happens each February, taking over venues across the historic downtown peninsula.
SEWE also happens to be the largest event that happens around these parts, drawing more people than any other throughout the calendar year. It brings people from around the globe to Charleston, due to the high quality of its art, exhibitors and extremely fun activities - for everyone from little kids to serious world-class art collectors. It really is the crème de la crème of all things wildlife.
Well, there’s some exciting news on the SEWE front. Now, you don’t have to wait till February to experience SEWE. It’s now available 365 days a year here in Charleston. More about that in a minute.
First, a little background…
Some SEWE Stats…
The 2024 edition of SEWE will be the 42nd year of the beloved festival. The dates are set for Friday, February 16th through Sunday, February 18th, 2024.
As I mentioned, SEWE events take place in places all over downtown. There are five main venues:
Charleston Place - This elegant downtown hotel between Lower King and Meeting Streets hosts the best of the best wildlife artists – painters, sculptors and more. Not only can you see their creations, but you can also meet the artists and watch them work. Charleston Place is also the locale of the kickoff Black Tie Gala, along with special activities like the exciting Quick Draw/Speed Sculpt competitions.
The Gaillard Center - The Gaillard hosts the official SEWE Marketplace, with top-notch artisans selling everything from jewelry to leatherwear, flags to furs, hand-forged knives to expert woodcarving. It’s also the main performance stage for the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary Live Animal Shows and appearances by the likes of Jeff Corwin and the now retired, but ever-beloved, Jack Hanna.
Marion Square - This open-air square is transformed with tents galore, for exhibitors and vendors, chefs and more artisans, and Certified in SC, featuring delicious local products. It’s also the site of the popular Center for Birds of Prey flight demonstrations, where you can watch raptors fly high above the Holy City and then return to earth.
Brittlebank Park - My personal favorite, here you can find the flying DockDogs, a sanctioned two-tank competition; live demos by the Sheep & Duck Herding Border Collies; the Sporting Village and the Marine Village with dozens of exhibitors/vendors; and a large Kid Zone, with exotic petting zoo, pony rides, inflatables and more.
Charleston Marriott - Across the street from Brittlebank, it highlights the artistry of duck decoy carving, and last year hosted the popular new Sporting Showroom.
Ticket sales are now open
October marks the opening of ticket sales for SEWE. The box office is officially open!
Although tickets are sold at the event itself (if there are any left), you are strongly encouraged to buy online in advance. Tickets, which come in the form of stylish hangtags that you wear, will arrive via the U.S. Postal Service.
You can purchase General Admission tickets for a single day ($40 for Friday, Saturday or Sunday), or a three-day pass ($85). There are also many VIP ticket options ranging in price from $300 to $6,000.
Brand new this year: SEWE Gallery, open year-round!
SEWE realized that interest in wildlife art is not just confined to a single month of the calendar.
So they wisely decided to create a permanent spot that’s open all year long - The Gallery by SEWE, in the Shops at Charleston Place.
It’s a cool combination of art gallery and studio space, where you can see (and purchase) art, as well as watch artists at work. They’ll have artists-in-residence, events and special exhibits throughout the year. It’s a perfect fit for Charleston, which boasts a bustling art gallery scene in that part of the city.
And Charleston Place is the perfect spot for it, seeing as it’s the heart of SEWE.
Organizers see the new Gallery as “a year-round extension of SEWE’s mission to preserve wildlife art and support conservation by helping us transform our love for them into advocacy and action.”
The Gallery is open daily from 10:00 am – 6:00 p.m. The Shops at Charleston Place are located at 205 Meeting Street downtown. For more information, you can reach the Gallery at (843) 278-4806, or check out the website to see current art available for purchase.
Kick off SEWE season with a Lowcountry Oyster Roast
This fall, SEWE is hosting the most classic of Lowcountry gatherings, an oyster roast. As they say, it’s time to “Shell-ebrate!”
Here are some of the details:
Friday, November 17th starting at 6:00 p.m.;
Venue: The lovely Cistern Yard on the campus of the College of Charleston, which will be festooned with their special holiday light displays;
Plenty of fresh steamed local oysters, plus whole hog barbecue, chili, hot dogs and all the fixin’s;
A premium open bar;
Live toe-tapping bluegrass music by The Bluestone Ramblers;
Sponsored by SEWE and the CofC Alumni Association;
A 21 and over event;
Tickets are $125 per person and are likely to sell out.
Read more about it and get tickets here.
So lock in those tickets now for SEWE 2024, and maybe the oyster roast to boot. And check out the new Gallery by SEWE, open today and every day.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger