Columbia, S.C., Home of Longest Total Solar Eclipse on the East Coast, to Host Long Weekend of Eclipse Events and Activities, Aug. 18-21, 2017

Greater Columbia, S.C., region gearing up for role as “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast”

March 13, 2017 (Columbia, S.C.) – During the total solar eclipse of Monday, August 21, 2017, visitors and residents in the greater Columbia, S.C., area not only will enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching a total eclipse; they will see the longest 100% total eclipse for a metro area on the entire East Coast of the United States, at 2 minutes and 36 seconds of darkness. Those who choose to watch the eclipse in the “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast” will be treated to a long weekend of eclipse-related festivals and activities being hosted across the region, each of which is listed once submitted by event hosts at the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., website:

Columbia, S.C., Cited as a Top U.S. Viewing City by Experts and National Media

One of the most vibrant mid-sized cities in the Southeast, Columbia, S.C., has been identified as one of the top places in the nation to experience the total solar eclipse by eclipse experts and national media outlets such as USA Today, Forbes and the Washington Post. In fact, international travelers were already booking eclipse-related travel to Columbia, S.C., as early as Summer 2016.

But I’ve Seen an Eclipse Before – What’s the Big Deal?

Many people have seen partial solar eclipse events, but very few in the U.S. have seen an actual, 100% total solar eclipse, during which the sky darkens suddenly, the temperature drops, stars appear, the sky produces spectacular visual effects and the sun’s corona blazes into view. “Nature’s grandest spectacle” has been known to cause a profound physical and emotional response in the viewer, eliciting goosebumps and feelings of euphoria.

NASA: Up to 1 Million Visitors to S.C. to View Total Solar Eclipse

NASA has estimated that the state of South Carolina could see an influx of up to 1 million visitors to witness this eclipse, projected to be the most-watched total solar eclipse in history due to our modern transportation and telecommunications systems. Columbia, S.C., is the third largest U.S. city on the center line of the “path of totality,” which runs diagonally across the country from Oregon to South Carolina. Astronomy experts have noted that visitors can double the population of a city in the path of totality during a total eclipse event.

“Close” is Not Close Enough

Most of the U.S. – including many communities only an hour from Columbia, S.C. – will only experience a partial eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017. This will be the first total solar eclipse to make a coast-to-coast path across the U.S. since 1918, while the last total solar eclipse over the continental U.S. was in February 1979, when it was visible only from five Northwestern states. (There was a total eclipse over Hawaii in 1991, and the last total solar eclipse over South Carolina was visible only from the coastal region in 1970.) The next time a total solar eclipse will be visible from the greater Columbia, S.C., area will be the year 2078.

“Because of its unique location on the center line of totality during the first total eclipse in the continental U.S. in 38 years, the greater Columbia, S.C., area is incredibly lucky, geographically speaking,” says Merritt McNeely, co-founder of the Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. initiative and director of marketing for the South Carolina State Museum, one of the region’s eclipse event hosts. “Because of this, we saw the need to come together as a region to offer a weekend full of activities for people of all ages to celebrate this amazing phenomenon.”

Darkness in the Middle of the Day

A partial eclipse will begin over Columbia, S.C., starting at 1:13 p.m. EDT. The sky will remain bright, and this partial eclipse period will only be visible with aids such as certified eclipse viewing safety glasses (or via indirect means such as pinhole projectors). When the total eclipse occurs at 2:41 p.m. EDT, darkness will fall rapidly, along with temperatures, which can drop 5-15 degrees. During totality, viewers in the path of totality should remove their eclipse glasses. The extremely rare “corona” around the sun, visible only during a 100% total solar eclipse, will appear in the sky. Nocturnal animals will emerge to begin nighttime routines, and a 360-degree sunset will have deepened around the entire horizon over the capital city.

Once totality has ended, viewers should resume wearing their eclipse glasses to watch the partial eclipse pass. After the longest totality for a metro area on the East Coast – longer than other metro areas in South Carolina – the sky will lighten and a partial eclipse will resume (as birds begin to chirp, thinking it is daybreak) until the moon crosses completely beyond the sun’s outline at 4:06 p.m. EDT. The national maximum length of totality is 2 minutes and 41 seconds in smaller municipalities in the Central U.S., making the Columbia, S.C. region’s range – from 2 minutes and 30 seconds to 2 minutes and 36 seconds depending on your exact placement within the metro area – appealing to those on the East Coast or traveling from Europe.

Details on Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.

Visitors and residents in the greater Columbia, S.C., region will enjoy a long weekend of eclipse-related activities hosted by area attractions, arts and culture organizations, restaurants, hotels, retailers, community groups and more.

Confirmed events include a midday Columbia Fireflies baseball game, “Total Eclipse of the Park,” during the eclipse at the brand new, award-winning Spirit Communications Park at BullStreet; a weekend of ticketed astronomy activities and exhibits at the new South Carolina State Museum observatory, planetarium and 4-D theater with a major, ticketed viewing event on Monday featuring astronaut Charles Duke; a Sunday “Star Wars Musiclipse” matinee of space-themed works by the S.C. Philharmonic at the Koger Center; the Solar 17 eclipse viewing event at the beautiful Lake Murray Dam; a large-scale public art/laser light installation at the Congaree River, “Southern Lights”; paddling on the lower Saluda River at Saluda Shoals Park’s Total Eclipse on the River event; eclipse-related tours and programming at Congaree National Park; a Lowcountry Boil & Paella Party at City Roots urban farm; a viewing party w/upscale lunch and open bar at Motor Supply Co. Bistro; guided historical walking tours at the 12,000 Year History Park on Congaree Creek as well as the “Soda City Eclipse Viewing Festival” and Eclipse-Eve Drive-In Movie Night in neighboring Cayce, S.C., and more. As events are added, they will be viewable at
“The cultural offerings during Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., will be vast and plenty, leaving lasting memories for those who attend,” notes McNeely. “Our hope is that we impact those who are with us and also leave a legacy of art, music, dance, culinary experiences, educational opportunities and more during this once-in-a-lifetime event.”

A Coalition of Regional Tourism and Cultural Organizations

The Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., initiative is spearheaded by a coalition of regional entities whose mission is to create an incredible, weekend-long experience for those witnessing the eclipse in the region. This group includes Experience Columbia, S.C.; the City of Columbia; Capital City Lake Murray Country; the South Carolina State Museum (S.C.’s Solar Eclipse Headquarters for education and training); the Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball team; and One Columbia for Arts & History.

The City of Columbia, S.C. is providing major sponsorship, and additional support is provided by the City of Cayce, S.C.

Eclipse Glasses and Viewing Safety

Anyone planning to witness the total solar eclipse needs certified protective glasses with a special safety film to view the partial eclipse leading up to and following the total eclipse. However, viewers in the Columbia, S.C., area will want to remove their glasses at 2:41 p.m. for the 2 minutes and 36 seconds of total eclipse in order to witness totality. However, glasses should be worn before and after totality.  Notably, the partial eclipse before and after totality is not visible without glasses, since the sun is still so bright even up to the final moments of the moon covering the sun.

  • Free Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. eclipse glasses will be distributed to eclipse event guests by many of the event hosts who have listed their events at, thanks to a sponsorship by the City of Columbia, S.C.
  • A limited number of free Columbia, S.C. eclipse glasses will be distributed in locations to be announced.

There are opportunities for sponsorships at 

About Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C.

One of the Southeast’s most vibrant mid-sized cities, Columbia, S.C., is home to the longest total solar eclipse for a metro area on the East Coast and will host Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C., a long weekend of eclipse-related festivals and events, from Aug. 18 to 21, 2017. At 2:41 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2017, viewers in the greater Columbia, S.C., area will experience up to 2 minutes and 36 seconds of darkness in the middle of the afternoon. NASA estimates that South Carolina could see an influx of up to 1 million visitors to witness the U.S.’ first transcontinental total solar eclipse in 99 years. The Columbia, S.C., region’s long weekend of eclipse events includes a variety of large and small festivals; kid-friendly/family activities; food & drink parties; outdoor river and lake adventures; education, science & history events; art, film & dance happenings and more. Dubbed the “Total Eclipse Capital of the East Coast,” Columbia, S.C., has been named a top U.S. viewing city by USA Today, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and others. Follow @TotalEclipseCAE and plan your Total Eclipse Weekend Columbia, S.C. at

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Media Contacts:

Tracie Broom, co-founding partner, Flock and Rally, 415.235.5718,

Andrea Mensink, director of communications, Experience Columbia SC, 507.993.7178,