History Made New at The Charleston Festival

Formerly known as the Festival of Houses and Gardens, the newly reimagined Charleston Festival honors the city’s architecture, history, and culture during its 77th celebration.
Pink house with blue shutters and bicycle in front.
Photo by Kim Graham

Known for cobblestone streets lined with pre-war houses and palm trees, Charleston, South Carolina, holds centuries of history in its walls. The city sits at the intersection of cultures with French, Southern, and coastal influences. All of this combined with a collection of talented and passionate designers make Charleston the heart of American historic preservation. For 77 years, the Historic Charleston Foundation has recognized the city’s particular history and beauty with a festival.

Newly reimagined this year as “The Charleston Festival”, the event celebrates the theme of historic preservation. It will ring in the festivities with an expanded concert series showcasing Charlton Singleton and the Beehive Jazz Orchestra. The month-long fete includes lectures focused on the history and design of the Lowcountry and a myriad of hands-on workshops on subjects such as calligraphy and container gardening. As it celebrates the city, the festival wouldn’t be complete without its hallmark House & Garden Tours, taking guests to Charleston’s architecturally significant structures and landscapes from the 1600s through today.

Historic room with chandelier and historic furniture.
Installation by Cortney Bishop in the Double Parlor of the Aiken-Rhett House Museum
Graveyard during the day with visitors.
St. Philips Church and Cemetery
Rows of flowers wrapping around a staircase.
Floral installation by Dani Motley of Salt & Stem

A focal point of the festival is a solo exhibition titled Window into Another World by London-based artist Jill Hooper at the Aiken-Rhett House Museum. Hooper’s series is meant to contemplate “a new perspective in [an] evocative historic space.” There will be interviews, tours, and workshops with the artist for anyone looking to fully immerse themselves in her work.

Plantation singers sing at the circular congregational church.
The Plantation Singers, a locally renowned a cappella singing group, perform at the Circular Congregational Church.

In an effort to further highlight the city’s design history this year, the Historic Charleston Foundation ushers in a new tradition with Charleston by Design, a special four-day event packed with lectures, house tours, and designer vignettes focused on the Lowcountry’s exceptional interior design, landscape, and decorative arts history. FLOWER Founder and Editor-in-Chief Margot Shaw will lead a thoughtful conversation on bringing the patinated voice and style of historic Charleston into today’s entertaining and decorating with Tara Guérard of Soirée, Heather Barrie of Gathering Events, and preservation designer Olivia Brock of Torrance Mitchell. It’s sure to be a packed month full of learning and beauty. Be sure to get your tickets before it’s too late!

The Charleston Festival takes place March 14-April 14, 2024.

Tickets can be purchased at thecharlestonfestivalsc.org or by phone at 843.722.3405.

By Carrie Clay

Photography courtesy of The Charleston Festival