1.There are two festivals running concurrently. One is called Spoleto Festival USA and is its own production entity. Spoleto’s where you’ll find Don John, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and other internationally-acclaimed productions. The other, Piccolo Spoleto, is produced by the City of Charleston’s Office of Cultural Affairs. Piccolo augments its big sister with a wide variety of events, performances, plays, productions, and parties; Some of them are even free.

2.The Buzz-O-Meter is the City Paper‘s concise and critical preview of Spoleto 2009, encompassing both Spoleto Festival USA and its sibling Piccolo Spoleto. Use this guide to help you decide what to do over the 17 days of the festival. You’ll find the descriptions in our extensive events listings. It’s a rather unscientific approach to the whole thing, but it should be fun to read and might even turn you on to something you wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

3.You can avoid service charges by buying tickets to all performances in person at the Gaillard Box Office at 77 Calhoun St. Both Spoleto and Piccolo box offices are open daily during the festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Or you can order your tickets online or over the phone. Buy tickets directly from Spoleto Festival USA at (843) 579-3100 or spoletousa.org. Piccolo tickets can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com or at (888) 374-2656.

4.Most everything takes place downtown, and when it doesn’t, we’ll note a general geographic area in the informational blurb.

5.Visit our Spoleto section for constant updates throughout the festival. Our overview critic John Stoehr will be constantly updating the site with pictures and reviews. Critics Lindsay Koob, Nick Smith, T. Ballard Lesemann, Gervase Caycedo, Jason Zwiker, and many more will help keep you up-to-date on all things Spoleto.

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