02/16/2023 to 02/19/2023
SEWE - the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition - celebrates the sporting life and is the best nature and wildlife art festival in the country.
Taking place each February, SEWE traditionally marks the kickoff to festival season here in the Lowcountry. It’s also the biggest of all area festivals in terms of the number of people it draws as well as the overall economic impact.
SEWE hosts some of the top wildlife artists in the world. The realism, drama and beauty of nature are captured and displayed in media like oil painting, watercolor, bronze (some life-sized), woodcarving, ceramics, limited edition prints, giclees, fine jewelry and more. The level of craftsmanship and artistry is astounding. Collectors come here each year to build their collections. Even if you’re not in the mood to drop a few thousand (or tens of thousands) on a piece, it’s a perfect opportunity to check out some of the world’s best before they enter private collections.
SEWE also is the hub of all things wildlife, with countless exhibitors, displays, live animal demos, presentations, vendors, you name it. It really is a fantastic, family-friendly event.
2023 will mark its 41st year.
You can purchase a three-day pass or single-day admission, which let you in to the five main venues. All live demos are included with general admission.
The five venues (all located in downtown Charleston) are...
- The Gaillard Center - site of primary show vendors and exhibitors (the SEWE Marketplace), as well as the main performance and presentation stage for animal shows. Previous years have seen a panther, cheetah, alligator, crocodile, fox, bobcat, sloth, wild turkey, pelican, echidna, snakes and much more at the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary Live Animal Shows, as well as appearances by TV personalities and animal educators like Jack Hanna and Jeff Corwin.
- Charleston Place - the hub for a lot of the finest wildlife painters and sculptors, where you can stroll through, meet and see them at work. It’s also the site of the opening Black Tie Gala as well as special events like the Quick Draw/Speed Sculpt competition.
- Marion Square - Huge tents with plenty more artists, exhibitors, chef demos as well as vendors of all kinds. Be sure to check out the Conservation Tent, as well as the Certified in SC tent with tastings of locally grown and made products. In the large open air areas, watch the Flight Demonstrations by The Center for Birds of Prey, as well as the Reptile Show with The Orianne Society.
- The Marriott on Lockwood - Check out one of the best collections of duck decoys you’ll find anywhere.
- Brittlebank Park - Home of the supremely fun DockDogs competition, where fearless canines see who can jump the farthest before they hit the water. These pups catch some serious air. It’s the only two-tank competition east of the Mississippi and a sanctioned event. You can also see great live demos like “How to Train Retrievers," the ever-popular and adorable Sheep and Duck Herding Border Collies, and the STARR dogs (Search Tactics And Rescue Recovery) who help find lost hikers, children, Alzheimer patients, people in the water, etc. Brittlebank is also the locale of the Sporting Village with more than 50 exhibitors and vendors; Marine Village, focused on fishing, watersports and other water-based activities; and a large Kid Zone, with exotic petting zoo, games, pony rides, inflatables and all sorts of SEWE fun.