Let's start with the biggest of them all, Spoleto Festival USA, arguably the best arts festival in the entire country. Boasting a mind-blowing 700 events in 17 days, Spoleto draws the top international names in classical and modern dance and music, jazz, opera, theater and visual arts.
The two-week companion festival, Piccolo Spoleto, features artists from the Southeast, and with its attractive price tag – half of the events are admission-free – Piccolo is a perfect fit for college students.
Ready. Set. Shuck! Bring your own knife and glove to the world’s biggest oyster roast at January’s Lowcountry Oyster Festival. Eat more than your fair share of the event’s record-breaking 65,000 pounds of local oysters slow-roasted over open fire pits and served Lowcountry style: in a bucket.
If you prefer your food with knives and forks and prepared by the likes of Bobby Flay, then graze the gourmet tents at the Charleston Food + Wine Festival. For four magical days in March, the city loosens its collective belt and digs into mouth-watering cuisine from local star chefs and visiting celebrities like Flay and his Food Network buddies.
In a diverse city like Charleston, culture comes in every flavor. The Lowcountry Blues Bash, now in its 19th year, attracts classic blues acts from Chicago to New Orleans. The Bash lasts over a week and is spread across intimate venues throughout the city, from public libraries to pizza parlors.
In late September and early October, the MOJA Arts Festival is a showcase of the city's rich culture and diversity, with events celebrating the visual arts, classical music, dance, gospel, jazz, poetry, R&B music, storytelling, theatre, children’s activities, traditional crafts, ethnic food and much, much more.
Every October, the Wannamaker County Park in North Charleston is transformed into the Festival Hispano, a celebration of the city’s strong Latin community. Come for free salsa lessons and way too much excellent food from Mexico, Columbia, Brazil and beyond.
Even in the middle of October, it’s still beach weather in Charleston. Leave your longboard at home and grab your paddle for the annual Surf Kayak Rodeo at Folly Beach, a 20-minute drive from campus. Folly is “butt-surfing” paradise, named one of the best kayak surfing spots on the East Coast by Paddler Magazine.
And if you’re feeling guilty about those three dozen oysters you put away at the Oyster Festival, start training for April's Cooper River Bridge Run, one of the best 10K races in the world. The race route takes you and nearly 40,000 other entrants past the College’s scenic downtown campus and across the Ravenel Bridge, the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere and a marvel of modern engineering. The greater marvel, of course, is finishing.