Posted on 5/22/2024 by Jessie Jacob

Piccolo Spoleto - Free Events

The world-renowned Piccolo Spoleto Festival is here!

Since the '70s this festival has filled the Holy City with the highest caliber of established artists, musicians, actors, and writers. Over the next 17 days, there will be daily events for various types of performing and visual arts. To attend all of these events can add up, making it difficult to pick and choose which shows you want to see. Thankfully there are dozens of FREE events during Spoleto so that you can enjoy the excitement and talent without breaking the bank!

Learn more about Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto Festival.

May 24 @ Noon| Charleston City Hall

Spoleto and the Charleston community unite to open the 48th Spoleto Festival USA at this free event. Celebrating the enchantment of the Festival season, this event includes speeches by civic and Spoleto leaders, as well as surprise performances to welcome artists from around the world to Charleston for the Festival.

Sunset Serenade

May 24 @ 8:00 PM | US Custom House

Join us for Sunset Serenade on the steps of the landmark US Custom House! A free concert to launch the 2024 Piccolo Spoleto Festival featuring the Charleston Symphony under the direction of Artistic Director, Yuriy Bekker and featuring vocalist Kyaunnee Richardson. Grab your beach chair or blanket and head downtown for a lively night of music under the stars. Arrive early and enjoy the festival atmosphere as Charleston gathers to celebrate the arts!

Carillon COncerts at the citadel

The Citadel, 171 Moultrie Street.

Michael Varnadore, carillonneur will play the 59 Bell Carillon – one of the largest instruments in North America, on the campus of The Citadel.  All concerts will begin at 10:30 AM.  Outdoor seating – rain or shine.  Chairs on a first come basis or bring a blanket and sit under the great oak trees.

  • Saturday, May 25 – Patriotic Music
  • Tuesday, May 28 – Familiar Favorites
  • Thursday, May 30 – Music by the Beatles
  • Saturday, June 1 – Music for Children
  • Tuesday, June 4 – Hymns & Spirituals
    The Seed & Feed Marching Abominable

    May 25 @ 11:00 AM | Marion Square

    The Seed & Feed Marching Abominable, Atlanta's wildest community band, has been thrilling audiences since 1974, performing at home and on the road in festivals, on stages, and in support of community events and fundraisers of all kinds.

    Throughout its history, the Band has electrified audiences with its trademark style of explosive sound and colorful street theater. Originally formed as part of a theatre company, the band is well known for its fancifully costumed performers as well as its high-energy music.

    Pajama March (the seed & feed marching abominable

    May 25  @ 10:30 PM | US Custom House (East Bay side)

    The Seed & Feed Marching Abominable, Atlanta's wildest community band, has been thrilling audiences since 1974, performing at home and on the road in festivals, on stages, and in support of community events and fundraisers of all kinds.

    Throughout its history, the Band has electrified audiences with its trademark style of explosive sound and colorful street theater. Originally formed as part of a theatre company, the band is well known for its fancifully costumed performers as well as its high-energy music.

    Greensboro Symphony Youth Orchestra

    May 25 @ 7:30 PM | West Ashley High School, 4060 West Wildcat Boulevard

    The GSYO features 60 of the most highly advanced high school musicians from across North Carolina, including strings, winds, brass, and percussion. 

    Gullah Geechee Connecting Wid Da Diaspora

    May 25 @ 12:00 PM | Cannon Street Arts Center, 134 Cannon Street

    Come join the Gullah Geechee Connecting Wid Da Diaspora event!  Bring together folks from near and far to celebrate the rich culture and heritage. Get ready for a day filled with music, poetry, dance, food, storytelling, and more! This family-friendly fun-filled event will be hosted by Savannah J from Star 99.7 w/good vibes & beautiful energy.

    Lowcountry Voices presents "By The Rivers of Babylon: Honoring the African American Spiritual"

    May 25 @ 5:00 PM | Mt. Zion AME Church, 5 Glebe Street

    Lowcountry Voices presents "By The Rivers of Babylon: Honoring the African American Spiritual" with special guest artist, Clarissa Newby-Phillips.

    Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestra

    May 26 @ 5:00 PM | Charleston Music Hall, 37 John Street

    The Charleston Symphony Youth Orchestras showcases nearly one hundred young musicians ages 9-18, from over twenty schools throughout the Lowcountry. CSYO and CSYS engage and inspire young musicians in a collaborative environment, where students strive for excellence with the highest quality performing arts education and offer unique opportunities for growth through mentorship from Charleston Symphony musicians.

    Patriotic Concert (The Seed & Feed Marching Abominable)

    May 26 @ 11 AM | US Customs House

    The Seed & Feed Marching Abominable are back for a second explosive performance. During this parade they will play patriotic tunes to honor our country and those who fought for our freedom.

    Harmonia Children's Choir

    May 26 @ 4:00 PM | Saint Clare of Assisi Catholic Church, 990 Etiwan Park Street

    Harmonia Children's Choir, under the direction of Scott and Suzanne Atwood is an ensemble comprised of students from Christ Our King-Stella Maris School. They will present a program of timeless sacred classics by classical composers as well as African American Spirituals and Folk-tune-inspired hymns and songs

    Music, She wrote
    May 26 @ 5:00 PM | St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 67 Anson Street

    Chamber Music at St. Stephen's presents "Music, She Wrote: An Exploration of Music by Women Composers." This special event will showcase the incredible contributions of women in the musical field which will include the works of Clara Schumann, Cécile Chaminade, Jeanine Tesori, St. Hildegard von Bingen, Undine Smith Moore, Joan Szymko, and more. 

    SOunds Like teen spirit

    May 26 @ 7:00 PM | Hampton Park, 30 Mary Murray Boulevard

    Teacher and musician John Cusatis has been performing popular music around Charleston for three decades. For this show he has recruited approximately forty classically trained School of the Arts students and a dozen Academic Magnet Students to perform a tribute to the 1990s, which will include a chronological narrative of the decade interwoven between the performances to provide a cultural context for the songs. The set list with be representative of the whole decade and songs will be performed by a variety of bands, ranging from two to ten members. 

    Please bring blankets or chairs.

    May 27  @ 2:00 PM - The Riviera | June 7 @ 2:00 PM - Charleston County Public Library, Main

    Spoleto Festival USA's Jazz Curator Larry Blumenfeld speaks with artists from the 2024 Wells Fargo Jazz Series at the Emmett Robinson Theatre. Jazz Talks is a free series though tickets to each talk are required.

    Memorial Day Concert

    May 27 @ 3 pm | Hampton Park

    This annual patriotic tradition features the combined Charleston Concert Band and Columbia Community Band in a concert ranging from rousing marches to Broadway show tunes and concluding with a stirring musical tribute to each of the armed forces of our great country. Come salute our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines who gave their lives to protect our freedom.  Bring a chair or blanket to this FREE event.

    The New South Festival Singers

    May 27 @ 3:00pm | Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting Street

    The New South Festival Singers, created as Gwinnett Festival Singers and known from 1998-2015 as William Baker Festival Singers Atlanta, have performed to capacity audiences at Piccolo Spoleto annually since 1989. Now led by Music Director Lynn Swanson, the 40-voice Atlanta-based chorale will sing classics by Brahms, Sibelius and Faure, along with works by contemporary African American composer, including Linda Twine and Rosephayne Powell, in addition to their signature spirituals and gospel songs. The Festival Singers have been featured on national radio programs including "The First Art," "The Sounds of Majesty" and National Public Radio's "Performance Today." Their two dozen nationally released recordings have brought national acclaim, including their newest album, "Legacies of Light," recorded live at Piccolo Spoleto in 2023.

    Housing Authority of the City of Charleston presents Bill Wilson Band.

    May 30 @ 4:30 PM | Enston Homes, 900 King Street

    Housing Authority of the City of Charleston presents Bill Wilson Band in "All That Jazz And More in 2024".

    Samba beats, Soulful bassa: Porto Seguro & Alva Anderson

     June 1 @ 3:00 PM |Gage Hall, 4 Archdale Street

    Embark on a musical journey to the vibrant streets of Brazil with Charleston-based, Porto Seguro. With Alva Anderson's soulful voice as the centerpiece, backed up with impressive instrumentals and solid grooves, the band delivers a heartfelt tribute to Brazilian bossa nova, samba, choro, and MPB tunes. The rest of the band comprises Susan Conant on flute, John Holenko on mandolin, Tom Noren on guitar, John Kennedy on bass, and Bryce Waldron-Noren on drums. Their program of Brazilian favorites and lesser-known but equally terrific tunes will make your toes tap and your heart sing.

    The stars of tomorrow

    June 2 @ 3:00 PM | Second Presbyterian Church, 342 Meeting Street

    Want to know in whose hands is the future of music performance? The students of Charleston Academy of Music will show you in this concert that it is in theirs. See for yourself how their young performers' hands and fingers are shaping their way to great artistry and technical mastery. Witness a full display of dedication and passion as these musicians perform classical masterworks along with contemporary selections in solo and ensemble setting. This enjoyable and inspiring performance will surely uplift your hope for the future generation.

    Marion square Jam

    June 8 & 9 @ Noon | Marion Square

    Awendaw Green and the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs present the Marion Square Jam. Please bring chairs and/or blankets and enjoy the afternoon!

    June 8

    • Noon - The Damrites
    • 1PM - Jockey Lot
    • 2PM - The Letter Show
    • 3PM - Paul Stone Project
    • 4PM - Dog Named Squid
    • 5PM - Hibachi Heroes

    June 9 

    • Noon - The Brokedown
    • 1PM - Sail Down South
    • 2PM - Meredith Foster
    • 3PM - Joe Wheaton Trio
    • 4PM - Reverse Cowgirl
    • 5PM - Sill Crow

    Piccolo Spoleto Finale

    June 8 @ 5 PM | Hampton Park, 30 Mary Murray Blvd

    Bring your friends and family out to the beautiful Hampton Park to dance and sing along to a line-up of local musicians as the incredible Piccolo Spoleto Festival comes to a close. There will be some of the best food trucks at this event as well!

    Columbia Choral society

    June 9 @ 3:30 PM | Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting Street

    Requiem means "rest". Typically, requiems focus on the departed with the hope that they find rest. Dan Forrest creates a five-part masterwork that mostly follows the traditional structure and text of a requiem, but focuses the prayers on the living – those who are living with the reality of a lost loved one. In so doing, Forrest creates an uplifting prayer of light, peace and rest for the survivors of loss. The 50-member Columbia Choral Society is most pleased to bring this exquisite composition to Piccolo Spoleto and share this beautiful music and its message of rest.

    Music at noon series

    All performances take place at Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting Street.

    May 27 | Peter Kfoury & Kurt Lamkin

    May 28 | The Mike Fritz Trio

    May 29 | Jonathan Kammer

    May 30 | Lime and the Coconuts

    May 31 | Alva Anderson

    June 3 | Lindsey Pasko

    June 4 | Top Notes

    June 5 | Demetrius Doctor

    June 6 | Ann Caldwell

    June 7 | Leah Suarez

    Dates, times, and venues vary

    Enjoy this free organ music series. Please visit for more information on individual performances. 

    May 24 – June 8 | Marion Square - King and Calhoun Streets

    Sunday–Friday 10:00am to 5:00pm

    Saturday 9:00am to 5:00pm

    Marion Square is transformed into a beautiful open-air market as some of the finest and most creative local artists exhibit and sell their work. Stroll through the park and browse the artists' tents as you view original oils, pastels, watercolors, acrylics, encaustics, photography, and more. With 57 artists on hand to personally answer questions and show their artwork, the Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibition offers a memorable experience and a great way to enjoy the creativity of our local visual arts community whether you're in the market for a new acquisition, or simply window shopping.

    Sand Sculpting Competition

    June 1 @ 9 AM | Front Beach, Isle of Palms

    Come out and participate in the sand sculpting competition at the Isle of Palms, Front Beach.  Watch artists compete for prized in different categories as they take raw sand and water, transforming the beach into beautiful works of art.  Whether you're a competitor or a spectator, this family-friendly celebration is fun for everyone.

    May 29 @ 3:00 PM - Dart Library  | June 1 @ 11:00 AM - Main Library

    Create a 3D nature-based work of art using found objects connected with wire, yarn, fabric and other natural elements. Local artist, Karen Jayne, will lead participants in this workshop to learn a new kind of art-making. No art experience is needed. Participants are encouraged to bring their own found objects (suggested list available), but some materials will be supplied. Registration is strongly recommended as space is limited.

    For Main: For kids ages 8 and up (kids under 8 should have an adult participating), families and teens. Register by calling 843-805-6893 

    For Dart: For teens in grades 6-12). Register by emailing or calling 843-722-7550 

    Avery Research Center, 125 Bull St, Charleston SC 29401

    "Look Just Like Yo Mama" by Christopher kolpeace Johnson, MFA

    On View through August 3

    OPENING RECEPTION: May 31st from 5:00-8:00pm

    Avery Research Center: kolpeace/"Look Just Like Yo Mama" is a solo exhibition creating of honor and saccharine sympathy to a longed for family album that focuses on collected memories and symbolism shared by the artist to create a sweet comfort. Through a vibrant collection of paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media works, kolpeace invites viewers on a journey of appreciation for Black culture writ large, using his own experiences as a lens to explore universal themes of memory, resilience, and the enduring power of human connection.

    The title, "Look Just Like Yo Mama," evokes a sense of sweetness and comfort, a nostalgic nod to childhood treats and cherished memories.

    Southern-born, Baltimore-based artist Christopher "Kolpeace" Johnson (b. 1994) creates vibrant portraits celebrating Black culture and ancestral figures.

    Mixing graffiti techniques with contemporary art, Johnson's work explodes off the canvas in studios, galleries, and public spaces.  His recent performances include the Baltimore Museum of Art (2023), the Harvey B. Gantt Center (2021), and the International African American Museum (2023).

    Inspired by his South Carolina upbringing and Black cultural touchstones like trill, trap, and soul music, Johnson uses art as a tool for liberation and community engagement. "Kolpeace" stands for Kids Only Love Peace, reflecting Johnson's mission to create positive change through art.

    A graduate of MICA's community arts program (MFA 2021), Johnson has exhibited across the nation and now embarks on a residency at the Gibbes Museum of Art (2024). He continues to captivate audiences and forge connections through his powerful artistic voice.

    May 24 – June 9 | City Gallery, 34 Prioleau Street

    The City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs presents the 2024 Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition, on view May 24 – June 9. This annual juried art exhibition highlights the recent work of artists across South Carolina featuring painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, and photography. Artworks receiving prizes are presented alongside a limited selection of pieces identified by the juror as meriting display. This year's juror is Duke Hagerty.

    Conversations With

    Dates, times, and venues vary

    Emmy Award-winning CBS News correspondent Martha Teichner hosts riveting, intimate conversations with the artists and companies of Spoleto Festival USA, illuminating the creative process and delving into the stories that form the 2024 productions.

    Conversations With is a free series though tickets to each conversation are required.

    May 25, 3:30 PM - Creative Team of Ruinous Gods @ Sottile Theatre

    May 26, 1:00 PM - Denis O'Hare & Lisa Peterson of The Song of Rome @ Festival Hall

    June 1, 3:00 PM - Members of the production Dark Noon @ Festival Hall

    June 4, 3:00 PM - Director of Chamber Music Paul Wiancko @ Dock Street Theatre

    staged readings

    Calhoun Street Annex (adjacent to the Chapel Theatre), 172 Calhoun Street

    Staged readings of the Todd McNerney 15th Annual National Playwriting contest finalists. Previous winning plays have come from notable playwrights including Caridad Svich (lifetime Obie award winner), Sheila Cowley, Arthur M. Jolly, James Still, William Missouri Downs, and Donnetta Lavinia Grays.

    Readings Schedule:

    • May 28th at 4:00pm
    • May 29th at 4:00pm (runner-up)
    • May 30th at 4:00pm
    • May 31st at 4pm (winner)

    Shakespeare on the Steps – "In Love and Death"

    June 9 @ 2:00 PM | Charleston Library Society, 164 King Street

    CLS is honored to partner with CofC's Department of Theatre and Dance to present its 17th season of Stelle di Domani, their annual Piccolo Spoleto offering.

    Don't miss this special Shakespearian experience on Sunday, June 9th, as the Library Society transforms their front steps into a stage for a plein air, abbreviated performance of "In Love and Death". This noteworthy production represents a continuing collaboration between Charleston Library Society's Special Collections and Igoe Shakespeare Library and the Theatre and Dance Department.

    Bring your own chair and all of your friends to experience live theatre during your Second Sunday stroll. We expect a large and lively standing crowd to turn out for this one-of-a-kind event— and hope you'll join us, too! 

    Children's Programs at the Library

    Charleston County Main Branch, 68 Calhoun Street 

    *Please note that while this event is free, tickets are required for entrance to these events and will be available at the Main Library Children's Desk in person only starting on May 20. Tickets are limited and will be available while supplies last.*

    Shana Banana Presents Heartbeat of the Earth | May 28 @ 9:30 & 11:30 AM

    Shana Banana teams up with Didgeridoo Down Under's Raihan Alam–aka "Rai the Guy"– to present a multi-faceted sensory extravaganza of songs, world percussion and didgeridoo playing, storytelling, puppets, and live animals! Together, Shana, Rai and the audience will travel the world, visiting various ecosystems and the animals and people who make our planet something to celebrate and protect. Complete with imagination, cultural awareness, and appreciation of individual and intercultural (and interspecies) similarities, this show will keep children entertained, moving, dancing, acting and singing.

    Porkchop Productions Presents Goldilocks | May 30 @ 9:30 & 11:30 AM
    Ever wonder what happened to Goldilocks after she left the home of the three bears? We did! Find out in this whimsical tale that teaches important lessons about respecting others as well as yourself!

    College of Charleston's Opera Presents Jack and the Beanstalk | June 4 @ 9:30 & 11:30 AM

    Based on the familiar tale— Jack sells the family cow in exchange for magic beans which grow into a giant beanstalk in the sky. Jack encounters a Giant who is a bad guy. Based on melodies by Arthur Sullivan and displays full costumes, scenery, and operatic ensembles.

    Super Reggae Man | June 6 @ 9:30 & 11:30 AM

    Super Reggae Man promises to delight young audiences with his "One-Man Reggae Band" performance!  While using a looping device and playing one instrument at a time, Children will learn about the building blocks of Roots Reggae Music.  Drum and bass grooves combined with guitar and Keyboard rhythms, vocal harmonies, and soothing horn parts all interlock together to create a unique musical experience.

    June 1 @ 5 pm | Blue Bicycle Books - 420 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401

    Piccolo Fiction will present local and South Carolina authors reading brief short stories in the courtyard of Blue Bicycle Books. This is the longest-running event solely devoted to fiction at the festival. Four S.C. authors will read brief short stories: Mindy Friddle, Emilie Ross, Sara Cappell Thomason, and Susan Beckham Zurenda.

    The reading is in the courtyard beside the bookstore, and, following tradition, each story begins with "I ducked into the alley..." Since 2000, Piccolo Fiction has featured dozens of S.C. writers, with stories broadcast by S.C. Public Radio and published in the Charleston City Paper. This is often a popular event, come early to snag a seat!

    Free and open to the public, for more information please call 843-722.2666.

    Gardening for joy and abundance

    June 6 @ 7:00 PM | Rita Hollings Science Center Auditorium, College of Charleston, 58 Coming Street

    Journey to the enchanting world of native plant gardening in this engaging presentation from a curator of North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chris Liloia. Her exceptional garden arrangements detail how plants play a vital role in supporting pollinators and other garden creatures. Delve into a broader landscape perspective through the artistry behind wattle structures crafted from last year's perennial stems, Andy Goldsworthy-inspired brushpiles, and creative stickery. Experience the intentional framing of critical habitat with artistic flair. Explore how gardening with ecological function becomes a source of creative joy, a canvas of living art and a profound connection to the natural world.  

    Sundown Poetry Series

    Dates and Authors vary | 6:00 PM | Washington Square Park, 80 Broad Street

    Throughout the festival, you can enjoy evening poetry reciting by local and award-winning poets. Please visit their website to read about the various poets and dates of the events. 

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