Wednesday’s Best of Charleston 2021 party at Firefly Distillery marks the first gathering to celebrate Charleston City Paper’s annual readers’ poll winners in 29 months. That’s more than two years without Charleston’s best party, and two years worth of winners who have yet to toast their success. There is a lot to celebrate.

Last year, the City Paper salvaged its annual Best of Charleston and City Paper Music Awards parties with a pre-recorded “2020 Sucks” show, featuring fan-favorite musicians and local celebrities. Like many of the COVID-friendly streams last year, it was fun, but just not the same.

This year, our party returns — with a few precautions, of course. The invitation-only event will honor this year’s Best of Charleston winners with an all-inclusive paradise-themed celebration with music from Charleston’s reggae supergroup, The Dubplates.

“We’re excited to finally be able to recognize this year’s Best of Charleston winners at Firefly after a tough 18 months,” said City Paper publisher Andy Brack. “The people, businesses and groups represented Wednesday are testaments to the determination and the resilience of Charleston. Each has made a unique contribution to our community, and that’s what we’re gathering to celebrate.”

Photos by Jonathon Stout

To safely gather the large group, guests will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours of the event.

“Like everyone else, we’re ready to put this pandemic behind us. If we can encourage a few more people to get the shot, if only so they can attend large events like Best of Charleston, that’s a step in the right direction,” Brack said.

Best of Charleston is the city’s largest and longest-running contest to recognize the city’s top restaurants, businesses, personalities and events. More than 1 million votes were cast in the 2020 contest. Winners are nominated and voted on by the public in more than 400 categories. Even in a “normal” year, winning a Best of Charleston award is a big deal. Congratulations to the Best of Charleston 2021.

Now, let’s party … finally.

Need a reminder? Check out the list of Reader’s 2021 Winners.