You are here

4 Mar 2024
Related Items: 

One of Charleston’s oldest, and most beloved, festivals has officially been renamed. 

As spring arrives in the Lowcountry, azaleas and wisteria start to popCharleston becomes awash in hues of bright green, pink and purpleThat signals it’s time to peek “behind the iron gates” of the Holy City, to tour the some of the peninsula’s most gorgeous private homes and lush gardens.  

You can do just that at the world famous Festival of Houses & Gardens, run by the fine folks at the Historic Charleston FoundationThe festival has been going on for more than three quarters of a century… 77 years, to be exact.   

Well, even grand traditions can sometimes use a little sprucing upIn that spirit, the Festival of Houses & Gardens has officially been given a new moniker.   

It is now known as 

The Charleston Festival!

And it’s coming up soonThe Charleston Festival runs from March 14th through April 14th, 2024. 

So why the new name? 

This actually isn’t the first time the Festival has tweaked its titleOriginally it was called the Festival of HousesThen, in the 1980’s, they added the “& Gardens” part to it, to reflect one of its big drawsCharleston is known around the planet for its gorgeous gardens, overflowing window boxes, and expert landscaping, after all. 

And indeed, the tours of the houses and gardens has been the main component of the festivalTours take place downtown, mostly South of BroadThere are all sorts of terrific options to choose from, located on different charming streets like Meeting Street, Tradd, Wentworth, Legare, Broad, East Bay, South Battery - all the best addresses in townYou can concentrate on the historic homes, or opt for some of the “Glorious Gardens” tours.  Each year they try to switch it up a bit so there’s always something new to see, for returning guests.  This year, tours will be in three categories – Street Tours, Splendor Tours (with expert guides and an “elevated experience”), and Glorious Gardens. 

That being said, the festival is not JUST house and garden tours.  Increasingly it’s been expanding to include various buildings and locations downtown  -  and many different kinds of events.  So they wanted a new name to reflect that growth and expansion.  

What are the new venues? 

Beyond houses and gardens, the Charleston Festival is taking over some of the city’s most beloved historic theaters, churches and more. 

The Riviera Theater on lower King Street, across from Charleston Place, will host a series of musical concertsPerformers will include Adia Victoria, coming of her album Southern Gothic, as well as the wildly popular Charleton Singleton and the Beehive Jazz Orchestra.  Singleton is a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning group, Ranky Tanky. 

Over on Church Street, the Dock Street Theater  -  the oldest theater in America  -  will host the beloved a capella group The Plantation Singers, bringing you authentic sounds of the sea islandsThey’ll also perform during the Festival at Circular Congregational Church on Meeting Street. 

And the American Theater on upper King Street will host the inaugural Expert Lecture Series, with a whole slate of exciting speakersThey include historian Dr. Bernie Powers, interior designer and artist Aldous Bertram, landscape architect Glen Gardner, Flower Magazine Founder & Editor Margot Shaw, tastemaker and owner of Soiree Tara Guerard, Torrance Mitchell Designs’ Olivia Brock, and florist Heather Barrie of Gathering Events.  

What are some of the other events at the Charleston Festival? 

  • “Food for Thought” Luncheon Lecture Series  -  located at the Foundation’s headquarters in the Capt. James Missroon House overlooking the High Battery, with lunch by Caviar & Bananas; 

  • Bubbles & Blooms  -  Champagne & cocktails with live music and light bites, in the formal gardens of the Nathaniel Russell House, the grand mansion built in 1808; 

  • Sunset Harbor History Boat Tours  -  Cruise around Charleston Harbor near landmarks like Fort Sumter, as historians share stories from Charleston’s Colonial and Revolutionary past ; 

  • Design in Mind Lecture Series with top experts and moderated by Amy Astley, Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Digest, taking place at the historic Second Presbyterian Church on lower Meeting Street; 

  • Special exhibition, “Windows into Another World” by acclaimed artist Jill Hooper at the Aiken-Rhett House Museum; 

  • Charleston By Design, a four-day celebration of design & preservation, March 14-17, including a very special Opening Night Party at the Aiken-Rhett House on March 14th; 

  • Workshops and demos like Sweetgrass Basket Weaving, Calligraphy, Container Gardening, Cocktail Mixology with Cocktail Bandits, and Photography Walkabouts. 

The Charleston Festival has definitely grown into much more than just home and garden tours.   

Check out the website for the whole schedule, and for ticket informationBecause the Charleston Festival lasts a whole month, there are many different dates, locations and events to choose fromBut you’d better move fast, because this is always very popular… for good reason. 


All best, 
Lowcountry Lisa  

your Isle of Palms vacation blogger