Year in and year out, we here at the City Paper find ourselves falling into the same trap of wondering when Piccolo Spoleto is going to announce the details about this year’s festival. Honestly, we should have learned by now that Piccolo doesn’t unveil their offerings until what seems like just a month out from their big sister, Spoleto Festival USA, who makes its announcement in January.

The truth of the matter is that the machine behind Spoleto Festival USA is a finely tuned mechanical wonder with big-dollar money behind it, while Piccolo is still very much a city-sponsored fest that’s run by city employees on the kind of budget that cities typically devote to the arts, which, in Charleston at least, is a bit more than, let’s say, Greer, but not the same amount of moolah behind Spoleto USA.

But still, when Spoleto USA releases their annual glossy program just after New Year’s Day, it’s impossible not to think about Piccolo. And so, I reached out to Scott Watson, Charleston’s director of cultural affairs and Piccolo head man, to see if he could tempt us with a few teases. 

Sadly, Watson remained tight-lipped.

However, he did mention that this year’s Piccolo will likely feature even more events west of the Ashley. Last year, the fest hosted a reggae concert at Magnolia Park and Community Garden and a three-night mini-fest in Avondale. “We are trying to explore more possibilities,” Watson notes. “There are venues we haven’t occupied before.”

And in the case that one of those venues is a public park — again, this is just hypothetical — the Piccolo team would still need to go out to the spot and determine what, if anything, was logistically possible. 

Still, the mission for Piccolo remains the same. “We are trying to provide arts to everybody,” Watson says. And indeed they do. Around half of the Piccolo events are free, and the remainder are reasonably priced compared to Spoleto USA.

For Watson, the big draws of the fest will remain the same — gotta love the Piccolo Finale in Hampton Park and the Outdoor Art Expo in Marion Square — but who knows what surprises are in store. “I don’t know if there’s some great secret in our file drawers and applications,” he says.

Watson also believes there’s one other important distinction to be made about the two fests. Unlike Spoleto which is selling tickets already, “Two-thirds of our tickets sell during the festival,” Watson says, noting that would-be ticket buyers generally don’t make the decision to catch a show until the day-of.

The Piccolo Spoleto schedule will be released in late April, shortly after Spoleto USA unveils their poster, and tickets will go on sale Mon. May 2.

Cover photo by Flickr user wallyg