Generally straddling late February and the first days of March, the four-day Charleston Food & Wine Festival (www.charlestonfoodandwine.com, various venues and admission) is a glorious celebration of one of the Holy City’s premier draws: its amazing culinary community. While the emphasis is on Lowcountry gurus like Donald Barickman of Magnolia’s and Robert Carter of the Peninsula Grill, guest chefs from as far away as New York, New Orleans, and Los Angeles routinely come to show off their skills. Oenophiles, especially of domestic wines, will be in heaven as well. Tickets aren’t cheap—an all-event pass is over $500 per person—but then again, this is one of America’s great food cities, so you might find it worth every penny.
Coming immediately before the Festival of Houses and Gardens is the Charleston International Antiques Show (40 E. Bay St., 843/722-3405, www.historiccharleston.org, varied admission), held at Historic Charleston’s headquarters at the Missroon House on the High Battery. It features over 30 of the nation’s best-regarded dealers and offers lectures and tours.
Running mid-March through April, the perennial favorite Festival of Houses and Gardens (843/722-3405, www.historiccharleston.org, varied admission) is sponsored by the Historic Charleston Foundation and held at the very peak of the spring blooming season for maximum effect. In all, the Festival goes into a dozen historic neighborhoods to see about 150 homes. Each day sees a different three-hour tour of a different area, at about $45 per person. This is a fantastic opportunity to peek inside some amazing old privately owned properties that are inaccessible to visitors at all other times. A highlight is a big oyster roast and picnic at Drayton Hall.
Not to be confused with the above festival, the Garden Club of Charleston House and Garden Tours (843/530-5164, www.thegardenclubofcharleston.com, $35) are held over a weekend in late March. Highlights include the Heyward-Washington House and the private garden of the late great Charleston horticulturalist Emily Whaley.
One of Charleston’s newest and most fun events, the five-night Charleston Fashion Week (www.charlestonmag.com/fashionweek/main, varied admission) is sponsored by Charleston Magazine and benefits a local women’s charity. Mimicking New York’s Fashion Week events under tenting in Bryant Park, Charleston’s version features runway action under big tents in Marion Square—and, yes, past guests have included former contestants on Project Runway.
© Jim Morekis from Moon Charleston & Savannah, 4th Edition