What to Do Labor Day Weekend in Charleston

Labor Day is just around the corner – that last weekend hurrah to bid farewell to summer and usher in the beginnings of fall with football, cooler temperatures and all things pumpkin flavored. But, hey, let’s not end summer too quickly. Use the long Labor Day weekend to squeeze in as much fun as possible. In fact, we’ve put together a list for you. Whether you live locally or you’re visiting Charleston for the long weekend, there’s plenty to keep you busy.

fireworks No Labor Day weekend is complete without a trip to the beach. It’s almost a requirement to dip your toes in the water before you get too busy with school activities and fall festivities. Folly Beach is actually hosting a Labor Day weekend fireworks show. Inclement weather caused the Folly Association of Business to cancel the July 4 fireworks so they’ve been rescheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5. Head to 2nd Street East for the 9 p.m. display (rain date is Sunday, Sept. 6).

Take in a show. “Groovey Kinda’ Love” is playing at 34 West Theater Co., 200 Meeting St., through Sept. 26. A small town flips when a mod rockster helps a shy outcast find her groove. This musical-comedy features 1960s tunes from Motown to the Beach Boys. Or catch “The Producers, A New Mel Brooks Musical” at the Dock Street Theatre, 135 Church St., through Sept. 20. This show is a funny follow-up to “Young Frankenstein” as Max and Leo return with their hair-brained scheme to make a fortune by deliberately mounting a Broadway flop.

Enjoy local music. The Rockin’ on the River free summer concert series comes to a close with a performance by Plane Jane on Thursday, Sept. 3. Start the long weekend a little early and enjoy food trucks, a beer and wine garden and music in North Charleston’s Riverfront Park, 1001 Everglades Ave. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. The Greater Charleston City MarketLowcountry Jazz Festival runs Sept. 3-6 at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, featuring some of the best jazz artists locally and nationally.

Fly high. Wild Blue Ropes, a ropes challenge course, is offering $25 climbs on Labor Day. This maze of ropes rises 35 feet off the ground with an intricately designed series of rope walkways and climbing structures that create 72 different obstacles. Fun for children and adults.

Get your art on. From 5-8 p.m. on Sept. 4, stroll gallery row on Broad Street as part of First Fridays on Broad. Also, stop off at The City Market for a special evening event. The market is open 6:30-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights through December. Shop the many artists and vendors and then enjoy dinner or drinks at one of the many restaurants along Market Street and the surrounding areas.

Circa 1886 patio diningHave dinner on the patio. Circa 1886 on the grounds of the beautiful Wentworth Mansion is open for dinner on Labor Day. Why not dine on the patio and raise a glass to the end of summer. Make reservations online or call 843-853-7828.

Also Charleston’s Days of Grace will be Sept. 5-6, a rally and conference focused on bringing an end to racist violence. The event is born of two recent events in Charleston – the shooting of Walter Scott by a North Charleston policeman and the shooting of nine people at Emanual AME Church in downtown Charleston. Learn more at www.daysofgracecharleston.org.

Charleston Theater: Don’t Miss These Shows

Many of Charleston’s theaters take a break in the late spring and early summer, but now’s the time for new seasons and plenty of incredible shows. The Charleston area is home to numerous theaters offering entertainment for all tastes – Shakespeare, comedy, drama, classics and new productions. Here’s a round-up of some excellent options for August. (Bonus: It’s hot! Enjoy indoor entertainment!).

“Bad Jews” through Aug. 8 – The night after their grandfather’s funeral, three cousins engage in a verbal (and sometimes physical) battle. In one corner is Daphna Feygenbaum, a “Real Jew” who is volatile, self-assure and unbending. In the other is her equally stubborn cousin Liam, a secular and entitled young man. Stuck in the middle is Liam’s brother, Jonah, who tries to stay out of the way. When Liam stakes claim to a treasured family heirloom, a vicious and hilarious brawl over family, faith and legacy ensues. Performed at PURE Theatre, 477 King St. in Charleston. Box office: 843-723-4444

“The Taming of the Shrew” July 30-Aug. 16 – Director John Bryan has set this controversial classic in the American Southeast, on the brink of World War II. The unyielding, Katherina is feverishly pursued by Petruchio, nobleman of Verona. The question is…can she been tamed? Performed at the Threshold Repertory Theatre, 84 1/2 Society St. in Charleston. Box office: 843-277-2172

“West Side Story” Aug. 1-16 – Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” is transported to modern-day New York City, as two young idealistic lovers find themselves caught between warring street gangs. Their struggle to survive in a world of hate, violence and prejudice is one of the most innovative, heart-wrenching and relevant musical dramas of our time.  The Flowertown Players, 133 S. Main St. in Summerville. Box office: 843-875-9251

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels / The Footlight Players

“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” Aug. 7-23 – a musical based on the 1988 film of the same name. “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” centers around two competing con men, living on the French Riviera. Their competition comes to a peak when they agree that the first con man to extract $50,000 from the female heiress, Christine Colgate, wins and the other must leave town forever. The Footlight Players, 20 Queen St. in Charleston. Box office: 843-722-4487

“The Producers” Aug. 28 to Sept. 20 – A winner of 12 Tony Awards, this show is a hilarious follow-up to “Young Frankenstein” as Max and Leo return with their hair-brained scheme to make a fortune by deliberately mounting a Broadway flop. Performed by Charleston Stage at the Dock Street Theatre, 135 Church St. in Charleston. Box office: 843-577-7183

“Last Will & Testament” Aug. 28-29 – Join the Crabpot Players Theatre Co. for a summer fundraiser in the form of a dinner theater mystery. Jonas Carmody, president and founder of Carmody Oil, is dead of natural causes at the age of 78, leaving an estate valued in excess of $30 million. The heirs apparent are in for a big surprise when they gather together with his friends and business associates for a memorial dinner in his honor. Unbeknownst to his eccentric family, a surprise reading of the will is on the menu, and murder is certain to be a la mode. Audience members are encouraged to come in Texas attire and will team up with the detective to crack clues and help solve the crime. Crabpot Players Theatre, 1137 Johnnie Dodds Blvd. in Mt. Pleasant. Box office: 888-303-0763

Church Street Daughters

Church Street Daughters of the Late Unpleasantness Garden, Gun & Gin Club Mystery

For ongoing fun, check out the Black Fedora Comedy Mystery Theatre at 164 Church St. in Charleston. Highlights include “Sherlock Holmes and the Charleston History Mystery,” a hauntingly historical, hysterical whodunit for fans of the Master Sleuth. Or check out “Church Street Daughters of the Late Unpleasantness Garden, Gun & Gin Club Mystery,” a mystery that has the crème of Charleston’s ladies dirtying their white gloves with murder. Box office: 843-937-6453

3 Things to Do When It’s Chilly in Charleston

It’s been a wild winter everywhere and while we’re fortunate to escape those northern blizzards, it’s still been downright chilly in Charleston. If you happen to be planning a visit during a cold week, here are three things you can do.

Joseph Manigault House

Joseph Manigault House

Tour the Joseph Manigault House at 350 Meeting St. Built in 1803, the house remains one of Charleston’s most beautiful antebellum structures. Visit the house to experience the urban lifestyle of a wealthy, rice-planting family and the enslaved African Americans who lived there. A National Historic Landmark, this home was designed for Joseph Manigault by his brother Gabriel, who is also credited with designing Charleston’s current City Hall.

The Manigault family were French Huguenots who fled religious persecution in Europe in the late 1600s. In the United States, the family was successful rice planters and merchants during the 18th century. Joseph Manigault inherited several rice plantations and more than 200 slaves from his grandfather in 1788.

The Charleston Museum purchased the Joseph Manigault House in 1933, overseeing its preservation and management ever since. The house is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10.

Catch a concert or show. Charleston is home to dozens of theaters and performance centers. Check out the Charleston Music Hall for concerts, film screenings and locally produced shows. Or visit Theatre Charleston, a coalition of local theaters, where you can find a long list of upcoming plays.

Bundle up and take a stroll. Wrap up in a warm coat and a scarf and walk King Street where you can dash into shops and local boutiques to thaw and do a little shopping. Stop off at a local coffee shop for a warm cup of coffee or a latte: Collective Coffee Co. (41A George St.), Kudu Coffee (4 Vanderhorst St.) and Bakehouse (160 East Bay St.).

What are your favorite things to do in Charleston when the temperatures dip?

Art Season Comes Alive Throughout Charleston

Here in Charleston fall ushers in a new season of the arts with everything from plays and concerts to gallery showings and dance performances. It’s the perfect time of year to soak up the area’s thriving arts and culture scene.

OPEN Arts Expo

Photo/Charleston Alliance for the Arts

A great way to sample everything arts is at the OPEN Arts Expo Sept. 21 on the College of Charleston campus. Presented by the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts, this event celebrates local arts and culture with more than 50 local arts organizations presenting a variety of artistic opportunities, including music, dance, theater, visual and literary arts as well live music, performance and art activities. The event is noon to 4 p.m. in the Cistern Yard located at St. Philip Street on the College of Charleston campus. Info: 843-577-5288 or artscharleston.org.

Here are a few other must-do arts activities while you’re in town.

Art Walks: Stroll the galleries along Charleston’s picturesque Broad Street from 5-8 p.m. the first Friday of each month. Or head to the French Quarter to walk the cobblestone streets and discover more than 500 artists representing a variety of media. Walks are 5-8 p.m. on Oct. 3 and Dec. 5. The French Quarter is bordered by South Market, Tradd and Meeting streets.

Art Walks

Robert Lange Studios

Colour of Music Festival: More than 20 performances showcase the breadth and influence of blacks on the classical music world past and present. The festival runs Oct. 22-26 and features top black musicians, vocalists and orchestra leaders from across the globe performing piano, organ, voice recitals and chamber works at venues around Charleston. The festival chorus includes the host ensemble the CSO Spiritual Ensemble and the Colour of Music Chorale along with Bennett College, Benedict College and Winton-Salem State University choirs.

AWAKE: A multi-sensory exhibition by artist John Duckworth is opening Nov. 7 at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park. The gallery will be transformed into an immersive space within a guided exhibition layout, displaying Duckworth’s photography, sketches, paintings, video and audio installation in his most comprehensive show yet. The exhibition will be open to the public through Dec. 21.

John Duckworth

John Duckworth

Exhibition highlights include the Buddha Chapel – a core of the exhibition – showcasing 15 large paintings within a sanctuary-like setting in the center of the gallery; a series of sketches on paper and canvas that were preparatory works for the Buddha paintings; and a selection of landscape abstract photographs.

League of Charleston Theatres: An alliance of Charleston area theater organizations, this is a great place to find out about upcoming plays and performances. Visit theatrecharleston.com for a full fall season calendar. Don’t miss the South of Broadway Theatre Company’s performance of “Fences,” the story of a responsible, yet otherwise flawed, black garbage collector in pre-Civil Rights America who rises to the level of an epic hero. The show runs Oct. 16 to Nov. 1. Tickets: southofbroadway.com or 843-745-0317

The Crabpot Players perform “The Glass Menagerie,” one of Tennessee William’s most famous works, Nov. 6-22 at their Mount Pleasant theater. Tickets: crabpotplayers.com or 888-303-0763

A Swinging Christmas: Join 34 West Theater Co., 200 Meeting St., for this holiday performance Nov. 25 to Jan. 4. Will Johnny be home for Christmas? Jazzy tunes and one crazed crooner heat up a cold wintery night at the snowbound Mountaintop Lodge. Tickets: 34west.org or 843-901-9343

The Sound of Charleston – Holiday Edition: Explore the sounds of Charleston’s gospel roots in this concert series at the Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting St. Performances are 7 p.m. Dec. 5, 12, 19, 26, 30. Tickets: soundofcharleston.com

Be sure to check out our full Calendar of Events for even more art events, performances and shows coming this fall.  


Charleston Has Thriving Arts Community

Charleston music sceneThanks to the annual Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston has long been on the radar for tourists interested in taking in world-class performances. But in the last decade, Charleston has experienced a surge in its arts community, making it a yearround arts destination.

“There’s no excuse why if someone visits Charleston they can’t do something artsy while they’re here,” said Maggie Hendricks, executive director of the Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts, a network of 61 nonprofit visual, literary and performing arts organizations in the greater Charleston area. The alliance is a resource for its member organizations while also promoting arts in Charleston. In the fall it hosts the OPEN Arts Expo showcasing a number of local artists and kicking off the fall arts season.

Hendricks, who grew up in Charleston, said there have always been arts opportunities but now there are so many it’s hard to keep up. The alliance recently conducted an internal study to gauge the artistic vitality of the region and discovered about half of all the organizations that exist now started in the last decade. “It has just grown tremendously,” she said.

And much of that growth has been in the way of smaller theaters and galleries, giving visitors plenty of great “off the beaten path options.”

Emily Wilhoit, executive director of League of Charleston Theatres, said about half of her organization’s 14 theater members started in the last few years. The growth has been diverse and each theater tends to have a specialty area whether it’s comedy, drama or musicals as well as children’s theater and murder mysteries. “We pretty much have everything,” Wilhoit said.

Lese Corrigan, owner of Corrigan Gallery, has been running galleries in Charleston for more than 25 years. She’s approached almost weekly by someone wanting to open a gallery in Charleston or by artists who want to show their work here.

She credits the Charleston Fine Art Dealers’ Association with bringing more attention to Charleston’s artistic community. Founded 15 years ago, gallery owners founded the organization as a way to promote Charleston as a fine art destination. It hosts large events in the summer and fall while also raising money for school art programs.

paint brushesExplore Charleston’s art scene — this is just a sampling of some of the great places to visit while in town:

Charleston Artist Guild
160 East Bay St., Charleston
About 600 different artists rotate through this gallery. They also take turns working in the gallery so it’s a great opportunity to interact with artists and talk about their work.

City Gallery at Waterfront Park
34 Prioleau St., Unit A, Charleston
A collection of contemporary art from local, regional, national and international artists; free admission.

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston
(free admission)
161 Calhoun St., Charleston
Hosts between five and seven exhibitions per year, highlighting adventurous contemporary art by emerging and mid-career artists of national stature.

Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St., Charleston
Changing exhibits, special events and tours.

The Black Fedora
161 Church St., Charleston
Comedy mystery theater and family friendly shows.

Charleston Symphony Orchestra

Charleston Stage
135 Church St. | 843-577-7183
Charleston Stage produces more than 120 performances each season and plays to more than 40,000 patrons annually. Performances are in the historic Dock Street Theatre.

Flowertown Players
133 South Main St., Summerville
Community theater performed in the heart of downtown Summerville.

Footlight Players
20 Queen St., Charleston
Community theater performed in an old cotton warehouse.

Midtown Productions
915 Folly Road, Suite F, Charleston
Live theater plus classes for adults and children. Opening in February, the new Midtown Cabaret Theatre, Charleston’s first “green theatre,” on Azalea Drive in North Charleston.

PURE Theatre
477 King St., Charleston
Contemporary theater featuring professional actors.

South of Broadway Theatre Co.
1080 E. Montague Ave.,
North Charleston | 843-745-0317
Broadway-quality theater in North Charleston’s Park Circle area.

The Village Repertory Co.
34 Woolfe St, Charleston | 843-856-1579
Nonprofit professional theatre company, producing drama, comedy and musicals with a special emphasis on the finest plays of the 20th century.
Resources for shows, exhibitions and more:
Charleston Regional Alliance for the Arts
City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs
League of Charleston Theatres
S.C. Arts Commission