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18 Feb 2020
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Spring must be around the corner, because the Spoleto Auction is live online, and camellias are in their last month. This past weekend’s SEWE was a smashing success.  Official numbers aren’t in yet, but by personal observation there were record crowds.  Or at the very least, folks having record amounts of fun. SEWE really is a great festival.  Celebrity Jack Hanna mentioned that he does these wildlife appearances all over the world  -  and that SEWE is probably the best organized one he’s ever been a part of.  He also said the new Gaillard Center Auditorium is the finest facility of its kind anywhere.  High praise for Charleston! SEWE generally marks the beginning of festival season in Charleston.  From now through the fall, one fun festival after another will fill the calendar. Of course, one of the biggies is Spoleto, along with its little sister Piccolo Spoleto.  Spoleto will take place this year from May 22nd through June 7th.  They’ve announced the full season and tickets are on sale, as I covered here.  

Online Spoleto Auction Now Open

  This week also marks the start of the annual Spoleto Auction. Organizers are offering a slew of terrific items, with proceeds going toward the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra. The Spoleto Auction includes items in these categories: art, clothing, collectibles, food and gourmet items, health and fitness, home, jewelry, spa and beauty, tickets: entertainment or sports, travel, wine and “unique experiences.” Some highlights:  a VIP New York Experience with Stephen Colbert & The Carlyle, a Golf Outing at the Masters Tournament, a Cocktail Party for 40 at Cannon Green, a Chef’s Tasting Menu Dinner for 8 at Charleston Grill, a Meet & Greet with the Steep Canyon Rangers, and getaways to Asheville. Bidding is live now, and you can check out the items here.  The Spoleto Auction (online) closes at 10:00 p.m. Sunday, March 1st.  

Or go in person to the Live Auction

  Then, this Friday, February 21st at 6:30 p.m. is the live, “in person” Spoleto Auction.  It will be held at the newly renovated Charleston Visitor Center at 375 Meeting Street. There will be live bidding for several very special items, including a Private Dinner for 12 by Mike Lata, a Viking River Cruise, Ski Trip to Taos, luxury stay in Turks & Caicos, Opening Day Package at Keeneland in Lexington, a gorgeous painting by John Duckworth, and some Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve. Tickets are almost gone for the live Spoleto Auction.  You can purchase them here if any still remain.  

It’s not too late for a Camellia Walk

  As I covered in this blog, Magnolia Plantation is known for its famous camellia gardens.   But they’re not the only ones. Their neighbors up the road, Middleton Place, also have some gorgeous ones. Middleton’s gardens date back to 1741, when they were first laid out in the symmetric style of the Palace of Versailles’ master landscaper.  In 1786, famed French botanist Andre Michaux gifted the Middleton family with four camellia shrubs  -  considered quite rare and exotic at the time for the region.  One of those plants still blooms to this day  -  Reines de Fleurs, or Queen of the Flowers, overlooking the Ashely River near the Butterfly Lakes. From now through mid-March, Middleton is hosting special guided Camellia Walks on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.  It’s included with regular admission.  They do require that you make a reservation, though. Middleton Place is located at 4300 Ashley River Road in Charleston. So check out the great items in the Spoleto Auction (both online and live), and walk through some of the nation’s most glorious camellias.  And when you are looking for the perfect beach house Charleston, be sure to call EP. All best, Lowcountry Lisa your Isle of Palms vacation blogger

Image credit: Spoleto Festival USA, Sol Legare Creek by John Duckworth