Charleston, S.C., Rings in the New Year with Lowcountry Flair

For Immediate Release, December 2010
http://www.explorecharleston.com

On the heels of a handful of prestigious national awards recognizing it as a leading U.S. destination, the Charleston area is planning a 2011 calendar of events for the record. Charleston was recently ranked by GQ as one of “the coolest small cities in America” and took the top slot for the friendliest and most attractive people in the U.S according to Travel + Leisure’s 2010 “America’s Favorite Cities” poll. From an internationally acclaimed arts festival to a sell-out culinary festival and a myriad of local events, close to four million visitors experience the Charleston area’s unique history, architecture and wildlife every year.

Headlining the 2011 festival list is the annual BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival in March, where attendees can indulge in the area’s best Lowcountry cuisine while sipping on wine from the world’s finest sommeliers. A selection of top national chefs, culinary writers and wine experts share their passion for food and drink during this four-day celebration. Two new festival offerings include “6 Chefs, 1 Lowcountry Ingredient Challenge” with six former Top Chef contestants battling it out Iron Chef-style and an eco-conscious Locavore Luncheon made solely with ingredients sourced from within 100 miles of Charleston.

Also in March, Charleston Fashion Week will feature more than 30 runway shows that showcase the Southeast’s emerging designers as well as Charleston-area retailers. Celebrating its fifth year, the event, which includes a Spring Bridal Show and an Emerging Designer Competition, has quickly become one of the country’s top fashion weeks. The internationally renowned Spoleto Festival USA will close out the spring season, returning for its 35th year as one of the nation’s top performing arts festival. This year will feature more than 120 performances by acclaimed performers, artists, and musicians whose art reflects cultures from across the world.

Visitors bound for the Charleston area in 2011 can take advantage of the special savings and value packages offered by many area hotels and resorts during the events. These packages, as well as a complete list of upcoming events and information beyond the following sampling, can be found at ExploreCharleston.com.

Charleston Restaurant Week
January 14 - 23, 2011
Now in its second year, Charleston Restaurant Week offers diners the opportunity to enjoy the Charleston area’s epicurean delights without breaking the bank. This nine-day gastronomic celebration features three-course meals for $30 at fine-dining restaurants and $20 at casual restaurants. For more information, please call (843) 577-4030 or visit restaurantweekcharleston.com.

Lowcountry Oyster Festival
January 30, 2011
Considered one of the top 20 tourist attractions by the Southeast Tourist Society, this one-of-a-kind festival brings families a day they’ll never forget! Guests should come hungry, as over 65,000 pounds of oysters will be trucked onto the grounds of historic Boone Hall Plantation. The event features live entertainment, traditional oyster shucking and eating contests, and a host of exciting activities. For more information, please call (843) 805-3084 or visit charlestonrestaurantassociation.com.

Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE)
February 18 - 20, 2011
Recognized as the nation’s largest wildlife art and nature event, SEWE showcases 120 artists and welcomes over 35,000 attendees each year. The exposition offers a myriad of informative and recreational activities, including flight demos from the Center for Birds of Prey, conservation exhibits, appearances by celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna, DockDogs competitions and a “Living with Wolves” presentation. For more information, please call (843) 723-1743 or visit sewe.com.

BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival
March 3 - 6, 2011
Named one of the top five wine and food festivals in the U.S. by Forbes Traveler, this annual event showcases Lowcountry culinary talent alongside the world’s top chefs, authors, and sommeliers. New events this year include a “Palmetto Brewery Tour”; “6 Chefs, 1 Lowcountry Ingredient Challenge,” which includes six former “Top Chef” fan favorites; and an eco-conscious “Locavore Luncheon” made only with ingredients from within 100 miles of Charleston. For more information, please call (843) 727-9998 or visit charlestonwineandfood.com.

Historic Charleston Foundation’s 64th Annual Spring Festival of Houses & Gardens
March 17 - April 16, 2011
Held as the area’s lush vegetation turns a vibrant green and flowers start to bloom, Historic Charleston’s Annual Festival of Houses & Gardens offers guests the rare opportunity to tour 150 privately-owned homes, exquisite examples of historic antebellum architecture. For more information, please call (843) 722-3405 or visit historiccharleston.org.

Charleston Fashion Week
March 22 - 26, 2011
Taking place in Charleston’s central Marion Square, the fifth annual Fashion Week features a glimpse into the Southeast’s burgeoning fashion scene. The event is presented by Charleston magazine and will deliver a number of surprises in 2011, including celebrity guest appearances and an official “catwalk” by Mayor Joe P. Riley, Jr. For more information, please visit charlestonfashionweek.com.

Cooper River Bridge Run
April 2, 2011
Held in Charleston every spring for more than 30 years, the 10-K takes runners across the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, North America’s longest cable stay bridge. Participants will enjoy striking views of the Charleston area landscape as they cross the 2.5-mile long bridge. The race starts at Mt. Pleasant and finishes in downtown Charleston. This event includes a 10-K run / walk and Kid’s Run, which is open to toddlers through age 13. For more information or to register, please visit bridgerun.com or call (843) 856-1949.

Family Circle Cup
April 2 – 10, 2011
An annual event held on Daniel Island, the Family Circle Cup, which is the longest running national women’s tennis tournament in the country, is a Charleston tradition. Part of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, the nine-day event features more than 90 women competing for a prize purse of $700,000. For more information, please call (843) 856-7900 or visit familycirclecup.com.

North Charleston Arts Festival
April 29 – May 7, 2011
This spectacular celebration of the arts draws close to 30,000 visitors each year. The nine-day event spotlights various local, national, and international artists with an array of free and ticketed exhibits, street festivals, performances, craft booths, and fun for the whole family! For more information, please call (843) 745-1087 or visit northcharleston.org.

Spoleto Festival USA
May 27, 2011 – June 12, 2011
Internationally recognized as the country’s leading performance arts festival, Spoleto Festival USA features more than 120 productions by both established and up-and-coming artists and performers. The Festival includes opera, jazz, theatre, orchestral, contemporary music, literary, and visual arts. For more information, please call (843) 579-3100 or visit spoletousa.org.

Piccolo Spoleto Festival
May 27, 2011 – June 12, 2011
A perfect complement to its sister Spoleto Festival USA, the Piccolo Spoleto Festival celebrates the artists, performers and writers of the Southeast. A family-friendly festival with multiple exhibitions and performances just for children, the Festival offers free admission to half of its events in an effort to be accessible to all. For more information, please call (843) 724-7305 or visit piccolospoleto.com.

28th Annual MOJA Arts Festival
September 29 – October 9, 2011
An opportunity for guests to learn about and experience the Charleston area’s rich African-American and Caribbean heritage, the 10-day event features classical music, jazz, gospel, theatre, dance, storytelling, poetry, visual arts and more. For more information, please visit mojafestval.com or call (843) 724-7305.

Taste of Charleston
October 7 – 9, 2011
Chefs from more than 50 of Charleston’s finest restaurants share their culinary treats with the public during this three-day celebration of Lowcountry fare. Hosted by the Charleston Restaurant Association, the event also offers food and wine pairings, a selection of specialty and imported beers, and a live band. For more information, please visit charlestonrestaurantassociation.com or call (843) 577-4030.

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