So, you've bought your tickets for High Water Festival. Now what?
With less than a week left until North Charleston's Riverfront Park is packed with thousands of concertgoers, I've got your ultimate guide to the Lowcountry's third annual music festival. Here's what you need to know, from where to park to the daily schedule to food vendors. I've also got some knowledge on must-see local bands and the inside scoop on what the atmosphere is like, since I've attended both previous years.
Here's all you need to know.
Editor's Note: Tickets listed as currently available might no longer be available at the publish date of this article.
Oh, you don't have tickets? There are still a limited number available at highwaterfest.com/tickets/#weekend-passes. They're going for $159.50, plus fees. Individual day passes are not available for the two-day festival, which spans Saturday and Sunday in North Charleston's Riverfront Park, 1061 Everglades Ave.
Tickets will be delivered by mail or email (depending on which option you selected) two to four weeks prior to the festival. If you haven't received your tickets 72 hours prior to the festival, contact High Water's ticket provider Front Gate Tickets by calling 888-512-7469.
VIP tickets are still for sale for $424.50, plus fees. They include:
- A priority festival entrance lane
- Access to main stage VIP viewing areas with exclusive bars and a second main lawn viewing area
- Free reserved parking near the festival grounds with golf cart shuttles
- Access to a riverside lounge and a second lounge area with a private bar with sit-down food service and complimentary coffee, oysters and hors d'oeuvres served daily
- Air-conditioned restroom trailers
- An exclusive bar with craft beer and specialty cocktails for purchase
- Access to VIP food options
- A commemorative High Water gift package
There are also some festival experience passes still available. You can still purchase tickets for Friday night's opening Low Tide Social party, which will feature a more intimate setting with Shovels & Rope and the Shrimp Records Family Band. There will be a Lowcountry boil from The Smoking Pot, fresh oysters courtesy of Seaborn Oyster Company, an array of desserts and specialty cocktails crafted by celebrated Charleston bartenders. Tickets are $55, and doors and supper begin at 6 p.m.
There are also still tickets for the Pass the Peas brunch, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. It includes curated Southern brunch at the on-site Quarters H building from award-winning local chefs Jacques Larson of Obstinate Daughter and Wild Olive and Shuai Wang formerly of Short Grain on Saturday and Jill Mathias of Chez Nous and Evan Gaudreau of Renzo on Sunday. Libations will be crafted by Craig Nelson of Proof, and wines will be poured by Femi Oyedriran of Graft Wine Shop and Cappie Peete of AC Restaurants. This experience will cost an extra $150 per day, with individual day options available.
There are also oyster education classes featured as an add-on option. While the Saturday options are sold out, there are still $50 tickets available for Sunday one-hour classes at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. You'll learn more about oyster culture and get to shuck a dozen of the salty shells from Seaborn Oyster Co.
You can get tickets for all of these added experiences at highwaterfest.com/experiences.
Parking and navigating
In my experience, it's better to arrive earlier than later to a festival. If you want to stake your blanket claim close to one of the stages and get a good parking spot, this is your best bet. Plus, you'll get to enjoy the festival grounds before they become crowded.
It all begins with parking. Bring $10 in cash and arrive at one of two entry points: McMillan Avenue or Noisette Boulevard. Parking is a five- to 10-minute walk from the main festival entrance.
That entrance location has also changed from last year, if you're a return attendee. It is closer to the water, with an additional VIP area at front.
Some interior highlights include The Refuge, which features many delicious vendors, and The Porch, which sells drinks on-tap. There are several other beer sales areas throughout the fest grounds.
Check the attached map for a full picture of what you can expect.
What to (and what not to) bring
Music festivals are notoriously strict about what you can bring, and High Water is no different. There are very specific rules, and yes, your spray sunscreen will be tossed in the trash if you bring it (sorry!).
Here's what's acceptable:
- Sun block (no spray cans, just lotion)
- Blankets, sheets and towels
- Point-and-shoot cameras
- Small purses, totes and drawstrings under 14" x 11" x 5" with no more than one pocket or opening
- 1 empty water bottle (free, filtered water is provided via Hydration Stations) or 1 sealed water bottle
- Selfie sticks shorter than 40" and made of light material
What is not acceptable:
- Large backpacks, purses or bags over 14" x 11" x 5" with more than one pocket or opening
- Food, drink, alcohol
- Illegal substances
- Coolers, picnic baskets
- Lawn chairs
- Glass containers
- Lasers, glow sticks, stickers, silly string, confetti, glitter (think: anything that would be a pain in the butt to clean up)
- Inappropriate headdresses
- Spray paint or any aerosol cans (sunscreen, bug spray, etc.)
- Pets (service dogs are the exception)
- Scooters or personal motorized vehicles
- Detachable camera lenses or recording devices of any kind, including GoPros
- Solicitations, hand-outs
For the answers to all your FAQs, visit highwaterfest.com/more-info/#FAQ.
High Water playlist
All right, let's get to the fun part: the music!
Sure, you probably know High Water headliners Leon Bridges and The Head and the Heart. But if you'd like to get acquainted with all of the artists performing at this year's High Water Festival, look no further than our curated Spotify playlist. Put this baby on shuffle and tune into the soul, blues, folk and rock sounds that you'll get to hear live this weekend.
The music kicks off at 12:30 p.m. each day and lasts until 10:30 p.m. That's a full day of live tunes on two stages (the Edisto and the Stono), which will alternate. There will never be a lapse in the action, and since the two stages are fairly close, you'll easily be able to walk back and forth between them in minutes, guaranteeing you'll see all of your favorite bands.
From my experience, some of the best bands tend to play first. I've been pleasantly surprised in the past, particularly with Weaves, who kicked off last year's fest from 1-1:45 p.m. in the afternoon. They were my favorite band of the day.
This year's opening acts are Lilly Hiatt from 12:30-1:15 p.m. Saturday and The Secret Sisters from 12:30-1:15 p.m. Sunday.
If you're looking for the more notable names you bought tickets to see, then here's the full lineup:
12:30-1:15 p.m. Lily Hiatt
1:15-2 p.m. Michael Nau
2-2:45 p.m. Ranky Tanky
2:45-3:30 p.m. Shrimp Records Family Band
3:30-4:30 p.m. The War and Treaty
4:30-5:15 p.m. Blitzen Trapper
5:15-6:15 p.m. Mitski
6:15-7:15 p.m. Phosphorescent
7:15-8:15 p.m. Lord Huron
8:15-9:15 p.m. Jenny Lewis
9:15-10:30 p.m. Leon Bridges
12:30-1:15 p.m. The Secret Sisters
1:15-2 p.m. Thelma & the Sleaze
2-2:45 p.m. Butch Walker
2:45-3:30 p.m. Lera Lynn
3:30-4:30 p.m. Preservation Hall Jazz Band
4:30-5:15 p.m. Hayes Carll
5:15-6:15 p.m. Dr. Dog
6:15-7 p.m. Durand Jones & the Indications
7-8:15 p.m. Shovels & Rope
8:15-9:15 p.m. J. Roddy Walston & the Business
9:15-10:30 p.m. The Head and the Heart
Shovels & Rope is the husband-and-wife folk duo that curates the High Water Festival each year, and they also take the stage each year. You'll want to pay attention to their set, which takes place 7-8:15 p.m. Sunday. But if you don't catch them then, you'll likely see them (Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent) join their Lowcountry friends in the Shrimp Records Family Band during an earlier set from 2:45-3:30 p.m. Saturday. Shrimp Records Family Band is a festival staple, just like Shovels & Rope, playing both previous festivals.
New to the local lineup this year, though, is Ranky Tanky, the Gullah-gospel group out of Charleston that was just featured on "Today" and rose to the top of the jazz charts after their self-titled album was released in 2017.
Food + drink vendors
There are more food vendors than both previous years, which will hopefully mean less waiting in line and more enjoying the music. Guests can expect everything from pimento cheese gyros to brisket tacos to acai bowls. Vendors accept both cash and card.
The food vendors that will be on-site are:
- Ben & Jerry’s
- BKED shop
- Bootlegger Coffee Co.
- Braised in the South
- Corndog Inc.
- Dalai Sofia
- Geechee Rican
- Hebros Kitchen
- Herd Provisions
- Island Noodles
- King of Pops
- Lewis Barbecue
- Life Raft Treats
- Pizza Nova
- Platia Food Truck
- Street Chicken, Westside
- Roti Rolls
- Tres Palmas Acai
Alcoholic beverages will then be provided by:
- Biltmore Wines
- Bold Rock
- Charleston Bloody Mary Mix
- Four Roses
- Lagunitas Brewing Co.
- Modelo Especial
- Naked Turtle White Rum
- Pabst Blue Ribbon
- Sugarlands Distilling Co.
- Tito's Handmade Vodka
- White Claw Hard Seltzer
Have a fun time, everyone! I'll see you there.