Top Events

Spoleto USA, May/June

MOJA Arts Festival, September/October

Lowcountry Oyster Festival, January

Southeastern Wildlife Expedition, February

Festival of Houses & Gardens, March/April

January

This is the off-season, which means it's possible to score affordable hotel packages that tack on carriage rides and plantation tours. In January 2018, the city saw its first serious snowfall since 1989.

Lowcountry Oyster Festival

Rain or shine, 80,000lb of bivalves will be consumed at the Lowcountry Oyster Festival at Boone Hall Plantation every January. There's also shucking and eating contests, live music, beer, local food and more beer.

Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week is a statewide affair in January, when hundreds of restaurants all over South Carolina feature special menu items, promotions and discounts. It's a great way to try places that would otherwise bankrupt you.

Bill Murray Look-a-Like Polar Plunge

Exactly what it sounds like. On New Year's Day, some incredibly bold individuals dress like Bill Murray and jump into the freezing cold water at Folly Beach. There's also a contest for the best dressed.

February

Winter is on its way out, and the subtropical climate should mean that temperatures occasionally climb above 70°F (21°C). You can still find good deals on hotels.

Southeastern Wildlife Expedition

SEWE is a massive wildlife art event (the country's largest, in fact), with three day of exhibits, demonstrations and social events around the city, mostly concentrated in Marion Sq. There's a keen eye toward conservation.

March

Spring is upon Charleston, and it's the best time of year to visit. Sadly, everyone's onto this, and the city gets very crowded. Trees begin flowering and the azaleas bloom.

Food & Wine Festival

In the first week of March, the annual Food & Wine Festival includes a series of dinners, wine tastings, food workshops, culinary excursions and eating seminars around Charleston.

Lexus Fashion Week

Lexus Fashion Week (http://charlestonfashionweek.com) showcases fabulous boutiques, trendsetters, designers and models from across the country. The multimedia event is held beneath tents in Marion Sq over five nights in March.

Festival of Houses & Gardens

The Festival of Houses & Gardens is a lovely display of architecture, history, gardens and culture, with house and garden tours of up to 10 properties a day.

April

Peak season's in full swing, with the scent of gardenia and honeysuckle mixing with the tang of horses from carriage tours clip-clopping down the cobblestone paths. Book restaurants and hotels well in advance.

Cooper River Bridge Run

The Cooper River Bridge Run is a world-class and well-attended race from Mt Pleasant to downtown Charleston over the Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge. About 40,000 people run.

May

Temperatures reach above 80°F (27°C) by the middle of the day, and the beaches start to look highly appealing. Hotel rates are high, restaurants are crowded. A midweek visit, rather than a weekend, will save you frustration and cash.

Spoleto USA

The performing-arts extravaganza Spoleto USA takes place over 17 days in May/June in Charleston, with operas, dramas and concerts happening all over the city. It's South Carolina's largest event.

Picolo Spoleto

The Piccolo Spoleto festival (www.facebook.com/PiccoloSpoletoFestival) complements the Spoleto USA festival, with its own original mix of visual arts exhibits, jazz, classical and choral music, dance, theater, poetry, children’s activities, ethnic cultural presentations, crafts and film.

June

The scorching heat and brutal humidity scare off plenty of tourists, but somehow the beaches are still more crowded at this time of year. It also rains more in June. Take sunscreen, a hat, water and an umbrella.

September

This is a wonderful month for a visit to Charleston, hence it's the start of another peak season. Temperatures are still warm and the humidity has subsided. Book hotels and restaurants well in advance.

Lowcountry Jazz Festival

International jazz superstars descend on North Charleston for the Lowcountry Jazz Festival (www.lowcountryjazzfest.com). Proceeds from the festival help fund programs that decrease health disparities and increase health literacy among under-served African Americans.

Charleston Restaurant Week

Since the winter rendition was such a hit, Charleston started conducting its own summertime version of Restaurant Week (www.charlestonrestaurantassociation.com/restaurant-week). This one gets way more crowded, though.

Charleston International Film Festival

Although it's unclear if this festival will take place from 2018, the Charleston International Film Festival (www.charlestoniff.org) offers sneak previews and premiers of new features, documentaries, shorts and animation from filmmakers near and far.

MOJA Arts Festival

Over the last weekend in September and a week in October, the MOJA Arts Festival includes spirited poetry readings and gospel concerts that mark Charleston's celebration of African American and Caribbean culture.

October

Avoid crowds and save money in late fall, when Charleston draws few tourists and hotel prices drop. Days are still warm, too. Art walks start back up this month, as does ice-hockey season.

Colour of Music Festival

The Colour of Music Festival (www.colourofmusic.org) celebrates the contributions of black classical musicians over five days each October. Performers in 2018 came from France, Britain, Colombia, the Caribbean and beyond.

November

The climate is mild in November, but there are usually a few fall-like days and a handful of rainy ones.

Plantation Days at Middleton Place

Each Saturday in November, from 10am to 4pm, craftworkers at Middleton Place (www.middletonplace.org) demonstrate the skills once practiced by slaves as they prepared for harvest time.

December

In early winter the weather is milder and the crowds thinner, making Charleston a great bet for off-season visits. But prices will shoot up over the Christmas holiday and around New Year's Eve.