Spoleto Festival USA

Really, is there another honest-to-god, unironic candidate for this category? Spoleto Festival USA has consistently walked away with the plaques for these since year one, and for good reason. With the exception of any old-world pagan rites in the area, there’s hardly a Charleston festival that doesn’t owe its existence at least indirectly to Spoleto and the tourist-fueled arts and hospitality renaissance it jump-started when it was founded here three decades ago. Sure, that Southeastern Wildlife thing may pump more raw cash into local retailers’ registers — but which festival gets name-dropped in Condé Nast Traveler each year when Charleston lands (inevitably) in their readers’ top 10 places to visit?

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