Downtown restaurants turn up the volume during 'Water Festival time'

‘It’s Water Festival time.’  That’s a phrase you’ll hear resonating throughout the area for the next ten or eleven days.  Every year the Beaufort Water Festival draws nearly 50,000 people to downtown Beaufort’s Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park to celebrate Beaufort’s love and adoration for all-things-water related.  It can be a boom for Beaufort’s local businesses of every kind; from our quaint retail shops to our larger retailers, hotels and B&Bs with no or nearly-no vacancies, and even our local marinas see an upswing in docking and other related traffic.  Shops bring in extra supplies to meet the demand because it’s Water Festival time.  Some businesses hire additional employees, reshuffle their staff, and even change business hours, because it’s Water Festival time.  With the increase of both vehicle and pedistrian traffic, there’s an increase in local police presence as the Beaufort City Police Department assigns as many as 10 off-duty officers to the event.  You guessed it, because it’s Water festival time.

Keeping in tune with the celebration are the restaurants in Downtown.  You see, they really look to ‘ramp-it-up’ after dark for Water Festival and rightfully so.  Who’s going to feed all those people during Water Festival time?  Who’s going to quench all of the thirst?  Who’s going to help folks continue the celebrating after Water Festival ends for the night?

Panini’s on the Waterfront, Luther’s Rare & Well Done, Q on Bay, and Plums…of course, are the answers to the aforementioned question.

And, they seem to pull it off pretty well too. 

Noted as being the four places in downtown to enjoy some local nightlife, dance, listen to live music, meet friends, and down a few pints, during Water Festival time you can look for bars to be setting up outside, entertainment to be expanded to include nearly every night of the week, late-night dinner menus added or expanded, and more.

So, why leave downtown after the night’s festivities?

Panini’s on the Waterfront is perhaps downtown’s most popular night spot.  With the downtown Waterfront’s only outside bar, Panini’s usually has live music and a DJ on the weekends on it’s expansive River Deck which is usually only open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.  Not for Water Festival time.  Look for Panini’s to bring-it heavy with live music added on Saturday afternoons, and a DJ nearly every single night during Water Festival.  Add food specials and late-night Panini’s pizzas, and you’ve got a great spot to continue celebrating.  You’ll see Sofa Kings, and Freak of Nuts on the band schedule during the Festival.

Luther’s Rare & Well Done offers live music at it’s establishment usually three nights a week.  But it’s Water festival time, so look for live music at Luther’s spread throughout the ten day celebration.  Add an outside bar at the rear deck of the restaurant, an expanded late-night food menu, and special Water Festival-themed plates (a Hawaiian Burger special on Tropical Tuesday), and you’ll be celebrating the Water Festival, Luthers-style, into the night.  You’ll see Columbia, SC’s Irritating Julie, and Souls Harbor on Luther’s schedule.

Q on Bay, being the newbie of the bunch, is quickly becoming a cool spot to be after dark in Beaufort.  Offering live music sometimes 4 nights a week on their regular schedule, look for added days/nights with even more, and an outside bar.  Expect Trainwreck, and Eric Daubert on Q’s list of live music.

The Water Festival veteran amongst the four is Plums Restaurant.  Plums will be expanding it’s live music from the usual Friday & Saturday nights to include other nights during the Festival.  Add a dash of DJ Ash Milner, along with some great Plum’s food and drink specials and you’ll find out that the experience of some twenty years of Water Festivals can make for a great atmosphere.  You’ll find Charleston, SC’s Blue Dogs, and Trey’s Aliens on the live music schedule at Plums.

We all love Water Festival time.  We all love our town and love to celebrate it in every possible way. Simply put… It’s what we do.
Please enjoy yourself, and be responsible.  If you need a cab, any of the downtown spots you’re at will be very happy to call one for you.

Look for the full weekend area nightlife schedule every Thursday in Beaufort After Dark, on