Each Spring, our fine Southern city transforms into a destination for the performing arts with the 17-day Spoleto Festival. Whether you are interested in seeing a contemporary ballet, or a lively folk concert at a 250-year-old plantation, this highly recognized and internationally acclaimed festival has something for everyone. Charleston’s creative culture truly comes alive as this festival transforms 13 venues and presents 152 shows. We are thrilled to be right in the center of all the action!
We caught up with Blake Sams, Spoleto’s Special Events Director, to see what shows he’s most excited about and to help guide you through your festival experience. He suggests kicking off the festival on May 23rd with the Opening Night Fête at the College of Charleston President’s House. This evening is the perfect place to toast the opening of the Festival with a sumptuous cocktail supper, live music, a full bar, and the exciting company of Festival artists and patrons. This evening is full with a crazy energy that is best enjoyed after the exciting opening performance by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The Washington Post had a few words on the show — “Take a deep breath, because Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is going to take your breath away.”
Sams’ favorite venues are the Dock Street Theater and the College of Charleston Cistern Yard. These venues are as breathtaking as the shows that are set to perform. An evening at the Cistern is on our list as a can’t-miss venue over the Spoleto season. No matter the show, an evening at the Cistern makes for a magical and memorable evening.
While it was a very tough choice, Sams said the performances he is most looking forward to are A Simple Space and Rene Marie. We’ve heard excellent things about the Rene Marie show. In fact, it’s been said that her new album is one of the most sensual female jazz vocals albums to come along in a long while. Rene Marie pays tribute to Eartha Kitt on her most recent album — and we certainly look forward to hearing these sounds echoing through the TD Arena.
We were pleased to hear Sams say that one of his favorite things to do during the festival is stroll to Circa 1886 from his house downtown. He will tip-toe into one performance, then pop in for a cocktail and an early dinner before heading to the next show. He loves Circa 1886 because it perfectly emulates the feel of Spoleto, tucked into a quiet garden with one artful dish after another.
Typically, reservations can be hard to come by and your favorite show could be right at dinner time. This year, Festival patrons can delight in another Spoleto season treat. Circa 1886 has extended hours over the festival, including dinner on Sunday, May 25. Throughout the festival you can grab dinner as early as 5pm before you head to a performance by singer and guitarist Lucinda Williams, or as late as 10pm, after you see Gwilyn Simcock, the British pianist.
Reserve a seat at Circa 1886 by calling the restaurant – 843-853-7828.