Things to do in Charleston in May

Spoleto Festival

May is one of the most popular months in Charleston. It is warm, sunny and it’s time for one of the biggest festivals in Charleston. For 17 days and nights each spring, Spoleto Festival USA fills Charleston’s historic theaters, churches, and outdoor spaces with performances by renowned artists and emerging performers.

Greek Festival

Charleston Greek Festival Large

The Charleston Greek Festival is a celebration of fun and Greek culture! Attendees can enjoy Greek food, wine, live music, and dancing. The oldest festival in the Charleston area, dating back to 1970, The Charleston Greek Festival is the third largest festival in the Lowcountry with 35,000+ attendees over one weekend each year.

Spoleto Festival USA

Spoleto Festival USA Thumb4

Spoleto Festival USA, one of America's major performing arts festivals, is full of 17-days worth of events showcasing both established and emerging artists in more than 150 performances of opera, dance, theater, classical music, and jazz.

It was founded in 1977 by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who sought to establish a counterpart to the Festival dei Due Mondi (The Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto, Italy. When Italian organizers planned an American festival, they searched for a city that would offer the charm of Spoleto, Italy, and its wealth of theaters, churches, and other performance spaces, and so Charleston it was.

Piccolo Spoleto

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The Piccolo Spoleto Festival annually presents a varied program that includes visual arts exhibitions, performances of classical music, jazz, dance, theater, and choral music, cultural events and community celebrations, poetry readings, children’s activities, craft shows, and film screenings.

Piccolo Spoleto prioritizes accessibility for both artists and performers, presenting professional work of the highest standard, while ensuring nearly half of Piccolo’s events are admission-free, with the balance offered at affordable ticket prices.

North Charleston Arts Fest

North Charleston Arts Fest1

The North Charleston Arts Fest is proudly produced by the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department. The annual five-day celebration of arts and culture highlights regional and local artists and performers in the areas of Dance, Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Literature. For more than 38 years, the festival has made quality arts programming affordable and accessible to the widest spectrum of the public, attracting residents and visitors to experience an array of free and modestly priced performances, workshops, exhibitions, and activities in a variety of venues, including libraries, community centers, schools, businesses, and parks. 

Magnolia Plantation

Magnolia Plantation5

Magnolia Plantation and Gardens was founded in 1676 by the Drayton Family. Magnolia is the oldest tourist site in the Lowcountry and the oldest public gardens in America. The Plantation has survived for centuries and witnessed the history of our nation from the American Revolution through the Civil War and beyond. The Drayton family home dates back to 1873 and is the third home on the site. The two former homes were destroyed by fire during a raid on Union troops. The plantation has remained in the same family for three centuries. Ten rooms of the house are open to the public, and the house is furnished with early American antiques, porcelain, quilts and other Drayton family heirlooms. Basic garden admission gives you access to the historic gardens, petting zoo, conservatory, theater, Peacock Cafe, garden center, and gift shop. Additional paid guided tours include plantation house tour, nature train, nature boat, slavery to freedom tour, and the self-guided Audubon Swamp Garden tour. Allow about 4-5 hours if you plan on seeing everything.

Charleston Boat Tour

Other Charleston Tours Boat

Charleston is a beautiful city, and one of the best ways to experience it is from a boat. Charleston boat tours offer a complete view of the city’s waterfront, along with many historic landmarks and points of interest. Visitors can choose from narrated cruises, dinner cruises and water taxi rides.

Cypress Gardens

Cypress Gardens SC5

Cypress Gardens, a 175-acre swamp garden, is located about 30 minutes from downtown Charleston in Moncks Corner. The gardens were originally a freshwater reserve for the nearby rice plantation, Dean Hall. Visitors can enjoy the Butterfly House and observe the different stages of a butterfly's life cycle, or visit the Swamparium, where large tanks feature fish, amphibians and reptiles native to the South Carolina Lowcountry. Visitors can also rent a swamp boat to paddle along a marked trail, possibly spotting alligators, birds and turtles, or take a stroll along the 3.5 miles of walking trails that loop through the swamp and gardens. These amazing gardens were used in several movies, including scenes from The Notebook, Cold Mountain and The Patriot.

Stargazing at Hampton Plantation

Stargazing at Hampton Plantation

Join the Lowcountry Stargazers at Hampton Plantation as they help you explore the night sky. Prepare to be dazzled by the endless beauty of Hampton Plantation's night sky. From planets to the Milky Way, these stargazers will help you see the cosmos in a whole new light! Bring a lawn chair, bring your own telescope, and enjoy the program!

Final Spring Citadel Parade

Citadel Parade Blog

The Citadel Parade held on Fridays during the school year is an impressive, must-see event. The dress parades consist of about 2,000 members of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets marching onto Summerall Field, while the Regimental Band and Pipes perform and cannons are fired. The precision and dedication these cadets display is inspiring. The tradition of parading troops can be traced back to the time of Alexander the Great. The drill procedures and movements on the parade field are identical to the tactical maneuvers employed on the battlefield in the past. Since parking on campus can be a problem, you should plan to arrive 30 minutes before the start of the parade. Cadets will welcome you to campus and direct you to visitor parking.

Caw Caw Interpretive Center

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The Caw Caw Interpretive Center, located about 20 miles from downtown Charleston, is a great place for walking, birding, and enjoying nature. The Interpretive Center is located on land once part of several rice plantations and home to enslaved Africans. Visitors will learn about the history of rice production and the significance African American slaves provided in rice production.

The park features over 6 miles of well maintained raised trails, bridges, and boardwalks that wind through numerous distinct coastal plain habitats. Animals that may be encountered include alligators, otters, turtles, snakes, lizards, frogs, crabs, deer, ospreys and eagles. The park also has a learning center, which includes exhibits about the park, a picnic area, butterfly garden, and museum store.

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