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Spoleto Festival USA: Bar + Resto Guide, Pre-Show thru Last Call

Updated: Jun 26, 2020

May - Early June in Charleston is my favorite time of year. It's the time when Spoleto Festival USA is in full swing, and on the earlier part of May you'll start to see some of the magic trickling in, in the form of foreign companies and choirs in town for rehearsals and fittings, tents, seats, and lighting trusses getting set up out on the Cistern.

From Memorial Day Weekend thru just before Father’s Day, world-class performing arts companies and creatives from all around the world convening in on our one, fair city. You don’t have to fly to Germany to attend the premiere of an avant-garde opera, or to the UK to see a contemporary production of Shakespeare. A world of diversity, thought, music, storytelling, and imagination come together and come to us here in town.

Imagine: around 10-10:30pm each night, crowds leaving the theaters, crowds that are comprised of people and performers from all around the world, artists and attendees alike. There’s a slight humidity in the air, drinks and dining al fresco, dancefloors and bars with beautiful ballet dancers, strong acrobats with Australian accents or speaking Franglais. Buskers, different languages, people dressed up and that summer heat and glisten on their skin.

Singles and Summer Lovers take note: It’s sultry and steamy! The promise of summer flings, chance meetings with world-class talent, and the potential for summer romance and adventure…

During the Daytime: 1. Caviar and Bananas

2. Co

3. Fire Kitchen

4. 82 Queen for Drinks

Pre-show: Here are some great places for dinner or to people-watch 1. The Rarebit

2. Le Farfalle

3. Muse

4. Fulton Five

5. Drinks at the Dewberry


1. Any rooftop bars to pop in and out of on King Street (rooftop being one to three stories up, this is the Lowcountry and the Holy City after all).

2. Prohibition

3. Carmella's

4. The Bar at Husk

5. Blind Tiger Pub

Post-2am / Last Call, maximize your summer night with: 1. Night-Walks thru any of the surrounding historic neighborhoods - Anson Street by the Gaillard is a favorite, and the Cistern on the CofC campus

2. Fries and Pizza at Gilroy's (just below the karaoke bar at Bangkok)

3. A sandwich (or unwich) at Jimmy John's

4. Uber or have a Designated Driver take you to Cookout

If there’s any time of year when lovers of the performing arts especially need to take part in the nightlife downtown it would be over the course of Spoleto Festival. To get the best out of mingling with tourists and like-minded people around town, check out our post here: connecting and finding a new community.

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