Charlton Singleton | Photo by Mauric

Charleston’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival returns in 2021 with a slate of all-free, all-outdoor performances and safe, pandemic-friendly exhibitions that will scratch that itch you’ve been feeling to get out and experience the Holy City’s creative community.

This year’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival includes a number of surprise pop-ups around Charleston, a series of unique outdoor poetry recitations downtown and performances you likely won’t see even as precautions are phased out and the festival returns in 2022. And of course, Piccolo Spoleto features the outdoor arts exhibition that you know and love in Marion Square, with two weekends of crafts markets nearby.

  • These events are being continuously updated at charlestonarts.org, so check frequently and support all of our local artists.

Some programs, such as Spotlight Concert Series and Rising Stars, will be presented virtually. The City of Charleston will also be cross-promoting, through its online “Arts in Charleston” calendar, a number of events and performances by independent arts groups and ensembles during the festival, including free and ticketed events.

All Piccolo Spoleto Festival events are free and open to the public. 

Check out part two of our Piccolo Spoleto guide here.

Every day

Piccolo Spoleto Outdoor Art Exhibition
Marion Square
329 Meeting St. Downtown.
Mon.-Thurs, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 
Fri.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Note: Sun., June 13 is an optional day for exhibitors.

Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition
Charleston City Gallery
34 Prioleau St. Downtown.
12-5 p.m.

Public Art: Enough Pie
Vivian Moultrie Playground
1201 King St. Downtown.

Public Art: Tiger Strikes Asteroid
West Ashley Greenway

Wednesday, June 2

Sundown Poetry: Valerie Nieman
Lenhardt Garden at The Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St. Downtown.
6:30 p.m.

Valerie Nieman’s third poetry collection, Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse, includes work that was featured in The Missouri Review. Her fourth novel, To the Bones, was published in 2019. A graduate of Queens University of Charlotte, she has held National Endowment for the Arts and other fellowships, and teaches at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.

“An Enchanting Evening in the Garden”
William Enston Homes
900 King St. Downtown.
5 p.m.

Presented by the Housing Authority of the City of Charleston, “An Enchanting Evening in the Garden” will feature performances by the Plantation Singers, saxophonist Gavin Smith, a storyteller, as well as Sasha and the Dream Team Band.

Thursday, June 3

Sundown Poetry: H.R. Spencer
Lenhardt Garden at The Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St. Downtown.
6:30 p.m.

H. R. “Randy” Spencer will read from The Color After Green, published in 2019 by Finishing Line Press. Recently featured on SCETV’s By the River, this collection of contemporary nature poems are both personal and reach for larger concerns around climate and ecological changes, sometimes set in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Friday, June 4

Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Show
Wragg Square
342 Meeting St. Downtown.
10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Family Fun on the Greenway
West Ashley Greenway at Farmfields Avenue
6 p.m.

Come join the festivities on the West Ashley Greenway with art, activities, and music by The Charlestones.

Sundown Poetry: Kurtis Lamkin
Lenhardt Garden at The Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St. Downtown.
6:30 p.m.

Kurtis Lamkin is a widely anthologized poet and kora player whose recordings include Queen of Carolina and Korapoems. His animated poem, The Foxes Manifesto, aired on PBS for two years, and he was featured in the Bill Moyers documentary, Fooling With Words. He was poet-in-residence at The New School and Bourne poetry chair at Georgia Tech.

Charlton Singleton and Contemporary Flow
Brittlebank Park
185 Lockwood Dr. Downtown
7 p.m.

Featuring the best of contemporary jazz, R&B and originals from Charlton Singleton himself. Also performing: Demetrius Doctor on keyboards, Steven Washington on keyboards and vocals, LaVonta Green on bass and vocals and James “JT” Rollerson on drums.

Saturday, June 5

Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Show
Wragg Square
342 Meeting St. Downtown.
10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Sunday, June 6

Piccolo Spoleto Crafts Show
Wragg Square
342 Meeting St. Downtown.
11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Monday, June 7

Sundown Poetry: Lola Haskins
Lenhardt Garden at The Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St. Downtown.
6:30 p.m.

Lola Haskins (lolahaskins.com) has published 17 books, 14 of which are poetry. Her past honors include the Iowa Poetry Prize, two Florida Book Awards, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and the Emily Dickinson prize from Poetry Society of America. She serves as honorary chancellor of the Florida State Poets Association. 

Tuesday, June 8

Sundown Poetry: David B. Axelrod
Lenhardt Garden at The Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St. Downtown.
6:30 p.m.

Dr. David B. Axelrod served as poet laureate of Volusia County, Florida, from 2015-2023 and has been published in hundreds of magazines and anthologies, along with 22 books of poetry, including his newest, All Vows: New & Selected Poems. Axelrod has delivered hundreds of performances worldwide solo and with notable poets. He is a three-time Fulbright poet, and was the first Fulbright poet-in-residence in the People’s Republic of China.

Wednesday, June 9

Sundown Poetry: Kwoya Fagin Maples
Lenhardt Garden at The Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St. Downtown.
6 p.m.

Kwoya Fagin Maples is a writer from Charleston. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from the University of Alabama and is a Cave Canem fellow and current Alabama State Council on the Arts Literary fellow. She is the author of Mend, a 2019 finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry and for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ Donald Hall Prize for Poetry.

Thursday, June 10

Sundown Poetry: Grace C. Ocasio
Lenhardt Garden at The Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St. Downtown.
6:30 p.m.

A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Grace C. Ocasio’s latest collection, Family Reunion (Broadstone Books), was released in March. She was a finalist for the 2016 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award in Poetry and was a recipient of a 2014 North Carolina Arts Council Regional Artist Project grant.

Friday, June 11

Operatic Delights
Colonial Lake/Moultrie Playground
46-54 Ashley Ave. Downtown
6 p.m. 

An inspired evening celebrating the grandeur of opera with a light-hearted spirit and boundless passion. Animalia Brass will open the family-friendly program with a memorable musical “crash course” for kids that is certain to help demystify classical music for younger listeners.

Sundown Poetry: Lawrence Rhu
Lenhardt Garden at The Gibbes Museum of Art
135 Meeting St. Downtown
6:30 p.m.

Lawrence Rhu is Todd professor emeritus of the Italian renaissance at the University of South Carolina. He has published essays and books about the American and European renaissance. He received the 2018 Poetry Award from the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society and was runner-up for the Society’s 2019 Marble Faun Award.

Bluegrass Stroll
Hampton Park
30 Mary Murray Blvd. Downtown.
6 p.m.

Ramble among several performance settings presenting our finest homegrown pickers and fiddlers, produced in partnership with Awendaw Green. 

Saturday, June 12

World Music
Colonial Lake
46-54 Ashley Ave. Downtown.
4 p.m.

An afternoon of cultural exploration by way of Peter Kfoury’s World Music Café and other local talents.

Charleston Reprise
Hampton Park
30 Mary Murray Blvd. Downtown.
6 p.m.

Piccolo Spoleto will invite the artists … You bring the fun! Close out the Festival with a high energy series of performances to celebrate everything we love about the place we call home.