Since the first Spoleto Festival in 1978, excitement builds in the city each spring as world class artists fill Charleston with inspiring, uplifting performances. For 17 days and nights, Spoleto Festival USA draws people from around the world to experience the light and beauty of the arts, with renowned artists and emerging performers in disciplines ranging from opera, theatre, music theatre, dance and chamber, symphonic, choral and jazz music, as well as the visual arts. Attendance each year runs between 70,000 and 80,000.

On May 24 and 25, in the College of Charleston, Cistern Yard, Esperanza Spalding, also is known as “the 21st Century’s jazz genius,” will perform at 9pm both nights. Since her breakout fame in 2011 (named the Grammy’s Best New Artist), the bassist and vocalist has continued to invigorate our cultural landscape. Her restless innovation reaches many corners of modern music, from jazz to pop and even opera, and she has worked with such towering artists as Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Prince, and John Legend. Spalding has graced stages at the Oscars, the White House, and Carnegie Hall; now, she brings her singular amazing spirit to Charleston.

With a sublime display of interlocking bodies, awe-inspiring movement, and pure physical beauty, Circa returns to the Festival after the Australian troupe’s 2011 sold-out debut. Under the direction of Yaron Lifschitz, these acrobats are at the forefront of contemporary circus, pioneering how extreme physicality can create powerful performances and blurring the lines between movement, dance, theater, and circus. In What Will Have Been, three intrepid artists perform mesmerizing feats against a soundscape of Bach–played live by a violinist–fused with spine-tingling electronica. It’s a work best viewed from the edge of your seat. Performances will be held at the Emmett Robinson Theatre at College of Charleston on June 4-9.

An annual favorite, the Westminster
Choir will perform two concerts on
June 1 and 7 at St. Matthews Lutheran
Church. Attendees will hear the pristine voices of the Festival’s acclaimed choir-in-residence soar in purity and bliss. Conducted by Joe Miller, the Festival’s director for choral activities, this esteemed ensemble offers selections from its rich and widely varied repertoire.

Always highly anticipated, the Wells Fargo Festival Finale will be held at Riverfront Park and feature Curtis Harding and his timeless originality,
ushering in a new era of Festival Finale magic. Bring the family to enjoy a picnic with the artist taking the stage at 8:30pm. The gates open at 5:30pm, with live music beginning at 6pm.