Each year in late Spring, locals and tourists alike make their way to the historic streets of Charleston as the city transforms into a cultural mecca showcasing the arts encompassing theater, dance, opera, jazz, chamber music and more for Spoleto Festival USA, Charleston's annual premier performing arts festival.
Spoleto Festival kicks off the first day of the 17 day run with its traditional opening ceremony in front of City Hall. A section of Broad Street is blocked off and people fill the street. It is an opportunity to hear about the festival from the perspective of community leaders, see snippets of performances to come, or hear from some of the performers and playwrights themselves. The festival is comprised of many talented, renowned performers from a variety of backgrounds from across the world.
Performances are held at a number of historic Charleston venues and scenic outdoor spaces, and are offered for 17 days and nights throughout the city. One of the most notable venues that showcases Spoleto performances is the Historic Dock Street Theatre, known as "America's first theatre", located at 135 Church Street on the corner of Church Street and Queen Street (formerly Dock Street) in the area of the city known as the French Quarter. With its iconic wrought iron balcony and sandstone columns, the architectural beauty is just one of many of the theatre's attributes that makes it a favorite venue to see a show or hear a musical performance. The Dock Street Theatre has a rich history; the building, built in 1809 as a hotel, and converted into a theatre in 1935, occupies the space of the original Dock Street Threatre, the first theatre in America that was built exclusively for use of theatrical performances.
Charleston's annual Spoleto Festival is an exciting time of year for those interested in dramatic, musical and visual arts. Many Spoleto attendees return to the festival year after year and plan their itineraries months in advance. Now in its 43rd year, Charleston's Spoleto Festival USA continues to draw international praise and recognition, enrich Charleston's thriving cultural scene, and bring people together through the arts.