Before ships were invented, people crossed bodies of water either by fording wagons or getting thrown during whale rodeos. Commemorate advances in buoyancy with today’s Groupon: for $15, you get two four-day adult-admission passes to Charleston Harbor Fest (a $20 advanced value, a $30 value at the door). Tickets for ages 6–17 can be bought for $5 each directly from Charleston Harbor Fest. Children five and under are admitted free. The Harbor Fest runs from 1 p.m.–6 p.m. on Thursday, May 12 and Friday, May 13; 10 a.m.–6 p.m. on Saturday, May 14; and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. on Sunday, May 15.
Charleston Harbor Fest delights locals and tourists alike with a surfeit of maritime merriment and educational opportunities. Ogle the fleet of tall ships, many of which can be boarded for up-close inspection and lively debates about whether it's more fun to shout "hard a-starboard" or "abandon ship." Cabin boys and girls will prefer on-shore attractions such as the energetic Kid’s Zone, where they can build a model boat, learn to tie nautical knots, and practice their land-swimming. Additional hands-on activities await in the Education Village, which promotes watershed awareness and sustainability by painting rain barrels and dying bandanas with local natural dyes. Re-convene the clan in time for the Parade of Sail at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
This year’s Charleston Harbor Fest coincides with the restart of the Velux 5 Oceans race, an around-the-world solo-sailing expedition. Cheer on Charleston-native Brad van Liew as he embarks on a quest to become the first American to circumnavigate the globe three times, which according to legend will unscrew it and release all the candy at its center.