COLUMBIA, S.C. — The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is returning to Columbia for the first time in 49 years, and to celebrate, there’s going to be party that everyone’s invited to.

The Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center is hosting the Segra Fan Fest Experience. The Convention Center, of course, is just a short distance away from the Colonial Life Arena, where the basketball tournament is taking place.

The event will have games, music, beer, and of course, plenty of basketball! And of course, perhaps best of all—admission is free! (Food and drink is available for purchase) 

And WLTX be there too, so make sure you stop by and see up. We'll also be partnering with the event to get you a commemorative cup!

Fans of all teams are welcome.  Segra Fan Fest will be held the both the day before play begins and on the first day of tournament action.

Here are the dates:

Thursday, March 21: 12-8 p.m.

Friday, March 22: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Here are the complete details on the event:

A fully-fledged biergarten

Prepare yourselves, craft beer enthusiasts: we're transforming our Exhibit Hall into a veritable mecca for lovers of southern brews.

With bright green AstroTurf flooring, farm-style picnic tables illuminated by café lights, a rustic wood wall backdrop, and lush hedge planter boxes to brighten up the space, you're guaranteed to experience a true-to-life, German-style biergarten unlike any other.

Plus—with plenty of beer selections, from stouts to IPAs and beyond—we're certain that the regional breweries from Charleston and Atlanta supplying this year's beverages can quench your thirst.

Beer not your thing? Don't worry. We're offering select wine and liquor tastings on both days of this event as well, in addition to a

full-service cash bar that will be operational for the duration of the event. Check out the full tasting schedule below:

Wine tastings: 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Beer tastings: 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Liquor tastings: 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Want to check out some local watering holes in Columbia's Vista area? Here's a list of our favorites for you to reference while you're here:

Columbia Craft Brewing Company (https://www.columbiacraft.com/)

Thirsty Fellow (https://www.thirstyfellow.com/Home)

Tin Roof (https://www.tinroofcolumbia.com/)

Games, musical performances, and—of course— basketball

Bounce houses, live screenings of the tournament games, plus, opportunities for you to play a bit of basketball yourself—there are all sorts of things happening during the Segra Fan Fest Experience. Check them out for yourself below.

GIANT LED SCREENS, PERFECT FOR CATCHING THE GAMES

Have no fear, die-hard sports fans. We'll have two large LED boards suspended from the ceiling in our Exhibit Hall, viewable from the biergarten. That way you'll get to focus on the games in comfort with a beer in hand, should you so choose.

A DESIGNATED KIDS' ZONE TO KEEP YOUR LITTLE ONES OCCUPIED

Balloon art, open access to a bounce house, arcade-style basketball games, and more—there's plenty to keep your little ones

engaged during the Segra Fan Fest Experience. Here's a quick glance at what else they'll get to enjoy at the Convention Center in addition to the Kids' Zone:

Face painting: Show off your basketball pride with your team's logo or mascot

Free body marbling station: Decorate your arms with your team's colors

Magic mirror photo booth: Make memorably goofy family portraits at this special digital photo station

GAMES AND ENTERTAINMENT GALORE

Want your own shot at basketball glory? Take your chance in our Exhibit Hall, where we'll have a small sport-court and basketball

hoop set up for regular layup, free throw, and three-pointer contests.

We'll have plenty of lower-energy alternatives set up around our biergarten, including oversized versions of some old favorites like:

Jenga

Connect 4

Beer Pong: complete with trashcans and balls for shooting!

There will also be live entertainment from a number of local youth dance groups, and music from one of the University of South

Carolina's a capella singing ensembles, as well as one of Columbia's most popular local music duos, Prettier Than Matt.

TEAM MERCH AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE + GIVEAWAYS & PRODUCTS FROM LOCAL

FAVORITES IN OUR VENDOR VILLAGE

Finally, if you were a little tardy getting your team gear together, don't worry.

Our friends from the Addams Bookstore, one of the University of South Carolina's go-to spots for sports regalia, will be offering team-specific items—from hats to jerseys and beyond—for purchase at the Convention Center.

Check out some Soda City Market vendors to get your authentic Columbia product, or try your hand at exciting giveaways like a cruise vacation from AAA Carolinas!

Plenty of scrumptious food available for purchase

The Convention Center's in-house catering team, Spectra, will be selling traditional sports game fare, from hotdogs to hamburgers, popcorn and more—all for your enjoyment.

Don't fret, vegetarians and vegans—there'll be meatless alternatives to these crowd favorites for you to enjoy, too.

As the Segra Fan Fest Experience approaches, we'll have more information regarding our dining options, so stay tuned to learn more!

Interested to grab some more great eats while you're downtown? Here's a quick list of some of Columbia's restaurants to consider:

The Aristocrat (https://thearistocrat803.com/)

Hall's Chophouse (http://hallschophousecolumbia.com/)

Motor Supply Co. (http://www.motorsupplycobistro.com/)

Are you ready to get your game on with the Convention Center? Join us for this exciting free event on March 21st and 22nd.

Like we said, no need to RSVP or buy tickets—admission is completely free. We've got something for the whole family to enjoy, so don't hesitate to bring a crowd with you!