It's springtime in Charleston. That means virtually perfect weather, blooming azaleas, downtown streets filled with out of town visitors, and the desire to blow off the indoors as much as possible. Here are my Top Five favorite things during this magical time we call spring in Charleston.
1. Magnolia Plantation Easter Egg Hunt
If you've ever been out to Magnolia Plantation, you know it's gorgeous year-round. Each season brings different blooms and blessings. When the azaleas bloom in March, you are engulfed in swaths of white, pink and purple virtually everywhere you turn. It would seem easy to get sad when the blooms start to fade, but the departure of the azaleas makes room for the arrival of the magnolias, just as the departure of the camelias made way for the azaleas in the first place. And don't get me started on the magnificence that is nesting snowy egrets and blue herons or alligators sunning themselves in May.
What makes this event so great is that it's not just an egg hunt that families show up to for an hour and leave. Many families spend the day outside. The egg hunt helps get them there, but nature encourages them to stay. They walk through gardens, pet deer, search for alligators in ponds, and have picnics in open fields. One of the other great things is that Magnolia doesn't up charge for the event. The egg hunt is included with regular garden general admission. This year's event is Saturday April 15th. A schedule by age group can be found here.
2. The Charleston Farmers Market
This is a long-standing favorite of locals in many seasons, but the Farmer's Market officially kicks off in the spring, so I'm celebrating it's return! The downtown market in Marion Square opened on April 8th and runs from 8:00am - 2:00pm each Saturday through November 25th, 2017. The West Ashley market followed closely behind, opening in Ackerman Park on April 19th. It runs each Wednesday through October 4th, 2017.
Each week the market welcomes local farmers and growers, food vendors, and a variety of artists and craftsman. If you've never woken up and driven downtown on a Saturday morning for a run, a shopping trip with friends, or a walk around the historic district followed by a trip to the Farmers Market for breakfast or lunch, you are missing out! If you've never done it, set a date this spring and get yourself there. You'll be glad you did.
3. Palmetto Brewing Company's Loading Dock Series
Charleston is growing. Anyone who's been around for any measure of time can see that plainly. Many times, growth can foster frustration (crowded streets and restaurants, more traffic, and the like). In this case however, a little growth spurred on a good thing. A while back, a new apartment building was built across the street from Palmetto Brewing Company downtown on Huger Street. Because of the new build, Palmetto could no longer get delivery trucks safely and easily navigated into their side loading dock. But instead of letting frustration rule the day, Palmetto moved where their deliveries came in, transformed the old loading dock area into an awesome courtyard next to their tap room, and started a music series.
Aptly named the Loading Dock Series, Palmetto welcomes talented musicians from the Lowcontry and beyond to their courtyard stage. On Friday and Saturday nights, locals and visitors alike gather to drink a beer, listen to some tunes, and maybe play a game of cornhole. This is enjoyable most any time of the year, but is especially splendid when the music and atmosphere are accompanied by mellow springtime weather. As a bonus, the series is currently free of charge, and you and your dog are welcome in the courtyard.
4. The Festival of Houses and Gardens
The Historic Charleston Foundation does a tremendous job in the realm of education, research, and preservation in Charleston. One of their popular year-round offerings is tours of their house museums, the Nathaniel Russell House and the Aiken-Rhett House. In the spring however, they kick things up a notch with the Festival of Houses and Gardens.
Now in its 70th year, the festival gives guests the opportunity to go inside some of downtown Charleston's most beautiful homes and gardens. The Festival runs until April 22nd this year, and proceeds benefit the foundation's historic preservation initiatives and educational programs. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling 843-722-3405.
5. Spoleto Festival USA
For 17 days and nights, this international arts festivals ushers in the end of spring. If you aren't familiar with the Spoleto Festival, it is an incredible festival celebrating the arts from around the world. Visual arts, music, theatre, and dance are highlighted in performances from May 26th - June 11th 2017.
For some reason, there are a large number of local residents who've never attended a Spoleto performance. It's tantamount to New Yorkers who never visit the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State building in their own back yard. I'm not sure what it is. Perhaps folks think the festival is only for those in high society, or art aficionados, or that tickets will be too pricey. If that's your view of the festival, I'd urge you to take a closer look. Find one musician, one dance performance, one show you can take a chance on, and buy a ticket. Shoot. Go crazy. Buy opera tickets if you like! When else are you going to attend an opera in Charleston? The 2017 Spoleto Festical USA schedule and a link to tickets can be found here, and there is a show (with a ticket price) that will suit just about anyone.
Audra Gibson is a Christian, photographer, surfer, and a lover of music and teriyaki steak bites. She doesn't like to be cold, and she's a bit of a cheese snob, but that's not her fault (she was raised in a gourmet cheese shop). Traveling Ink was her little brain child and she's very happy that you're here. She'd be oh so happy to recommend her favorite restaurant in town, take pictures of your family, or organize a night (or weekend) of fun for you.Website: www.audragibson.com