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Charleston’s Spoleto Festival USA Performance Highlights

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2019 Spoleto poster features vibrant artwork (Untitled, 2016) by Los Angeles-based painter Laura Owens
2019 Spoleto poster features vibrant artwork (Untitled, 2016) by Los Angeles-based painter Laura Owens

For 17 days, it’s all about the arts here in Charleston. The annual Spoleto Festival USA brings to Charleston some of the best in theater, music, dance, opera and more from May 24 to June 9. The festival was founded in 1977 as the American counterpart to the annual Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.

Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti, Christopher Keene and others were looking for an American city with an abundance of theaters, churches and other performance spaces, making Charleston the perfect city for a sister festival in the United States.

Bringing together world-renowned performers, Spoleto Festival USA is internationally recognized as America’s premier performing arts festival.

The Caracalla Dance Theatre, a Beirut-based troupe, will bring the age-old Middle Eastern folk tales, “One Thousand and One Nights,” to life (also known as “Arabian Nights”). This should be a sight to see with the lavish silk costumes, rich music, Arabic melodies, and a mix of folk dance and ballet!

Compagnie Herve Koubi is comprised of 13 male dancers from Africa and Europe who blend street forms like breakdancing, martial arts, and modern dance to create a powerful performance of beauty and strength.

Love to see live music under the stars and oaks? I’m With Her, the trio that The New York Times calls “sweetly ethereal…or as hearty as mountain gospel”, is playing at the beautiful Cistern Yard at The College of Charleston.

The acrobats of Circa will most likely have you on the edge of your seat as they show their physicality through a mix of dance, theater, and circus–all set to a violinist playing Bach.

Chamber Music at the intimate Dock Street Theater performs twice daily and presents unique arrangements and collaborations of a mix of old and new music. The musicians have such camaraderie, and it’s a delight to watch their amazing talent.

Grab your picnic baskets and celebrate the Spoleto Festival Finale on June 9 at the new venue, Riverfront Park. Gates open at 5 p.m. with live music beginning at 6 p.m. Headliner Curtis Harding performs at 8:30 p.m. The evening concludes with a spectacular fireworks display.

For a complete schedule of Spoleto Festival USA events, check out or for more information, call 843-579-3100.

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Charleston FAQ's

Choosing a hotel and where to stay in Charleston all depends on your budget and goals. Do you want to stay Downtown, at the beach or in the outer areas such as North Charleston where you have to drive to get everywhere? For more help on deciding:

Charleston has 3 main public beaches which are: Folly, Isle of Palms and Sullivans. Each beach has it’s own atmosphere. The most common beach that people visit is Folly Beach and then Isle of Palms followed by Sullivans Island. For more info on Charleston’s beaches visit:

Charleston, SC is full of historical things to do. Everything from museums, to public sites and free landmark sites such as Rainbow Row and the Battery can be seen. For more info on Charleston’s top historical sites visit:

There are many things that will keep the kids and family entertained and educated in Charleston. There are historic sites such as Fort Sumter, a Children’s Museum, Aquarium and the USS Yorktown…a WWII era aircraft carrier you can tour. For more info visit:

There’s so many  things you could do in Charleston it can be overwhelming. We recommend that first time visitors, checkout the ultimate first-time visitor guide here:

Spring in Charleston, SC is an amazing time of year to visit. The flowers are blooming and the weather is mild and sunny. For more info, check-out our spring guide to Charleston here:

Summer in Charleston is a great time to visit. There’s plenty of things to keep you busy and visiting the beach will probably….or should be on your short-list. Also water-based activities and tours are popular. Checkout this summer guide to Charleston for more info: 

Our 10 Favorite Summer Activities in Charleston

Fall is one of the best times to visit. The weather cools down a bit and the skies are typically blue and clear. In addition there are many great events, festivals and the large crowds of summer have gone back to school or work. For more info on visiting in the fall, checkout this article:

There are so many great things to do that it’s difficult to narrow the list down. This article does a great job with figuring out the must do things to do in Charleston

7 Can’t Miss Reasons to Visit Charleston, SC Now

The consensus is a minimum of 3-days is needed to settle in and experience Charleston. For instance, many people take 2 days exploring downtown and another day visiting sites outside of downtown such as the plantations, Angel Oak Tree or beaches. Checkout this page for a list of tours and attractions: 

Charleston’s Top Tours & Attractions | Things to do

Downtown Charleston was made for walking and for sure one of the best way to soak up and experience the history first-hand. This article goes over getting around Charleston with and without a car as well: 

Getting Around Charleston, SC

We’re of course partial to Charleston, but here’s the truth. There are many similarities however there are some differences in our opinion: 

  • Both cities are historic and beautiful. 
  • Both cities are extremely walkable. Savannah, with it’s park-like squares maybe more walkable than Charleston. 
  • Charleston has a more established and food scene with many more options. 
  • Charleston has better hotels and shopping.
  • Both cities have equally good tours.
  • Charleston has better beach options. Savannah has Tybee which is great, however it’s 1 beach vibe versus Charleston which has 3 beaches with different vibes. Checkout this Charleston beach guide article:
  • In Savannah you can walk with alcoholic beverages on the street. This is not allowed in Charleston. This can be good or bad depending on your stance. 
  • Savannah is more affordable.
  • TourPass offers all-inclusive passes in both cities:

There are always great and world-class events happening in Charleston. For a calendar of events and things to do in Charleston, checkout our online calendar of events:

Of course there are free money-saving coupons that you can use. Visit the coupons page for a bunch of ways to save:

Charleston has some fantastic can’t miss tours such as Fort Sumter, carriage, ghost, harbor, historic and culinary tours. For a full list with more info visit:

Checkout the Charleston Relocation Guide page which will guide you during your move:

Additional Places to Explore

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