Celebrating Gullah Culture on Hilton Head Island

February is an important month for Gullah culture here on Hilton Head Island. It’s a month highlighted by the Annual Gullah Celebration — an opportunity to share the joy, warmth, and culture of the Gullah with the world. Since 1996, the Native Island Business and Community Affairs Association has been putting on this wonderful festival, and we’re excited to celebrate with you once again this year.

In the 17th century, descendants of West Africa were brought to America — and those who found themselves in the Lowcountry became known as the Gullahs. The Gullahs are best known for preserving their heritage for generations in America. Many of their traditional meals, folk beliefs, and celebrations are strongly influenced by African Culture.

Gullah traditions are alive and well all year round, but this festival serves as a great way to immerse yourself in Gullah culture, their history, and to learn more about how they’ve helped shape Hilton Head Island. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend and participate in the festivities all month long. Attendees can expect to take in Gullah history lessons, traditional music, delicious cuisine, and more!

To get you excited for the festival, here are a few highlights we can’t wait to check out throughout February!

Arts Ob We People: Exhibit and Sale
Feb 1, 2022, 10 am – Feb 28, 4 pm
Art League Gallery, 14 Shelter Cove Lane

The Arts Ob We People: Exhibit and Sale runs all month long! The special display at the Art League of Hilton Head Gallery features original work interpreting the people, food, dancing, and daily living of the Gullah people — all crafted by local artists. Some artists will be on-site throughout the exhibit to discuss their pieces and meet with community members. The unique and breathtaking pieces are sure to capture your imagination as you take an artistic journey through the heart of Gullah culture. Drop by in February to take in some beautiful art and maybe purchase a piece for your home.
 

Freedom Day Celebration
February 5, 2022, 10 am – 1 pm
Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, 229 Beach City Road

National Freedom Day is February 1. It signifies the anniversary of President Lincoln signing the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that ended slavery.

On Saturday, February 5, the Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park will host a Freedom Walk in partnership with the 26th Annual Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration. During this walk, participants will have the opportunity to learn about the Gullah culture and hear stories passed down throughout generations.

Featured speakers include Rev. Dr. Robin Dease of St. Andrews by the Sea and Dr. John Newman of Volunteers in Medicine. There’s also a special surprise guest scheduled to join in! The Freedom Walk is a perfect opportunity to get outside, learn more about the community, and feel a strong sense of connection to the past.
 

26th Annual Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration Opening Party
Feb 8, 2022, 6 pm - 8 pm
Art League Gallery, 14 Shelter Cove Lane

While some events get started a little earlier, the Gullah Celebration officially kicks off with the Opening Party on February 8. This fantastic social event invites community members to gather and catch up during the first week of the month-long celebration. Food and drinks will be served, and guests will also have the opportunity to take in the Arts Ob We People Exhibit. This evening is an excellent start to the 26th annual event and is a favorite in the Lowcountry.
 

A Taste Of Gullah
Feb 12, 11 am – 3 pm
Art Center of Coastal Carolina, 14 Shelter Cove Lane

A Taste of Gullah is a one-of-kind afternoon event filled with traditional Gullah meals and entertainment. Authentic dishes such as okra gumbo, conch stew, fried shrimp dusted in traditional Gullah seasonings, and classic barbecue favorites like chargrilled chicken and ribs are on the menu here. While you eat, you can also take in some traditional Gullah entertainment put on by local musicians, dancers, and storytellers. Save your appetite and taste some new or familiar famous Gullah dishes on February 12.
 

Gullah Market: Arts, Crafts, Music, and Food
Feb 19 & Feb 20, 2022, 10 am - 5 pm
Coastal Discovery Museum, 70 Honey Horn Road

Immerse yourself in the Gullah culture during the Gullah Market! The weekend-long event will give attendees an all-access Gullah experience. From authentic cuisine and crafts to cultural demonstrations, the options are extensive. The event will also feature live entertainment, including music, storytelling, and the celebration of African-American Authors.

Featured performers include the Gullah Geechee Ring Shouters, the Wona Womalan West African Drum & Dance Ensemble, Gullah Ooman Louise Cohen, and Gullah rappers.
 

Celebration of African American Authors
Feb 26, 11:00 AM – Feb 27, 3:00 PM
Custom Audio Video, 14 Pennington Drive

The Celebration of African American Authors is a great event that shines a light on the essential narratives that African-American authors share in their books. For many, the highlight of this event will be the featured presentation by New York Times Best Selling author Bakari Sellers. He’ll be showcasing and signing copies of his latest book, “Who Are Your People.” His book is an inspiring story that pays tribute to how family and community help make us who we are. Children are shaped by their ancestors, and this book celebrates the village it takes to raise a child.

Come Celebrate Gullah Culture This February on Hilton Head Island

We hope you take advantage of the many events during the 26th Annual Gullah Celebration on Hilton Head Island. To purchase tickets and RSVP to any of the events, click here.

Interested more in learning about the Gullah Culture? Here are some local tours, classes, and dining options:

 

Gullah Celebration

Find Your Island Time

Hilton Head is America’s favorite island, offering 12 miles of pristine beaches and everything you need for the ultimate retreat. Enjoy easy days relaxing in the sun, sand and surf on some of the best beaches in the country.
Inspiration Starts Here