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South Carolina

Spoleto Festival USA

Program No. 21257RJ
The Spoleto Festival is a performing arts festival set in Charleston, a city chosen for its similarities to Spoleto, Italy. Come see for yourself as you enjoy art, cuisine and culture.

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6 days
5 nights
10 meals
5B 2L 3D
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At a Glance

Experience the magnificent Spoleto Festival and its complementary event, Piccolo Spoleto. These international multi-arts celebrations are America’s premier international performing-arts festivals, filling lovely Charleston’s historic theaters, churches and outdoor spaces with performances by world-renowned artists and emerging performers in opera, theater, dance, chamber, symphonic, choral, bluegrass and jazz. Hear from Spoleto staff as you attend six performances with reserved tickets and seating and as many other Spoleto events as you can fit in around them. Make use of a significant amount of free time to pursue your own interests with opportunities to dine out on your own.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Charleston is a walking city. Walking back and forth up to seven blocks to concert venues. Walking over two miles over the course of the day; some uneven terrain and stairs. Pedi-cabs, taxis or uber are available (at own expense) if assistance is needed traveling to performance venues.

What You'll Learn

  • Be thrilled by symphonies and operas, exhilarated by jazz and bluegrass, electrified by dance and delighted by theater.
  • Ride a horse-drawn carriage through more than 300 years of history, including antebellum mansions, churches and gardens.
  • Enjoy reserved seating for all performances as well as a significant amount of free time for exploring the festival.

General Notes

Performances for each date of Spoleto vary. Carefully examine the daily schedule for the week you are considering before ordering tickets for your free time. Weekly performances vary and are not the same for each date. Program includes independent time to explore the city and several meals on your own. Group Leaders will provide directions for self-directed excursions. Suggestions for free-time activities provided in preparatory materials.
Featured Expert
All trip experts
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Ruth Miller
Ruth Miller, a graduate of Duke University, has lived all over America and journeyed throughout the world. As a Charleston historian and excursion leader, she enjoys tying local history into the American story and worldwide events. Ruth is the author and co-author of numerous books, including “Charleston Charlie — A Family Activity Book for Kids of All Ages,” “Touring the Tombstones,” and “The Angel Oak Story.” She is a member of the South Carolina Historical Society and the National Trust.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Ruth Miller
Ruth Miller View biography
Ruth Miller, a graduate of Duke University, has lived all over America and journeyed throughout the world. As a Charleston historian and excursion leader, she enjoys tying local history into the American story and worldwide events. Ruth is the author and co-author of numerous books, including “Charleston Charlie — A Family Activity Book for Kids of All Ages,” “Touring the Tombstones,” and “The Angel Oak Story.” She is a member of the South Carolina Historical Society and the National Trust.
Profile Image of Darryl Stoneworth
Darryl Stoneworth View biography
Darryl Stoneworth, along with wife Angela, has been selling home-crafted sweetgrass baskets in the Charleston City Market since May 2009. If you happen by his stand, you'll know Darryl by his omnipresent smile. The couple is also constructing their first roadside basket stand along Highway 17N in Mount Pleasant, N.C. The town has renamed and dedicated this stretch of the highway in tribute to the hamlet's sweetgrass basket makers.
Profile Image of Harlan Greene
Harlan Greene View biography
Harlan Greene is a native of Charleston, an award-winning novelist and author of many nonfiction books on Charleston. His works include “Charleston: City of Memory” and “Mr. Skylark: John Bennett and the Charleston Renaissance,” as well as others. Formerly the assistant director of the South Carolina Historical Society, Harlan is now senior manuscript and reference archivist for the College of Charleston. He also served on the Mayor’s Arts and History Commission.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of our published materials, programs are typically advertised more than a year prior to their start date. As a result, some program activities, schedules, accommodations, personnel, and other logistics occasionally change due to local conditions or circumstances. Should a major change occur, we will make every effort to alert you. For less significant changes, we will update you during orientation. Thank you for your understanding.
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6 days
5 nights
10 meals
5 B 2 L 3 D
DAY
1
Check-In, Orientation, Dinner
Charleston, South Carolina
D
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Walking from hotel to Spoleto venues is can be as close as 2 blocks or as far as 6-8 blocks. The city offers free shuttle service at selected pickup points but is not always reliable on time. Bike taxis are also available for hire. It takes 5-10 minutes for a bike to go the 6 blocks. We recommend a bike taxi if you are unable to walk the distance. We will provide telephone numbers for you.

Afternoon: HOTEL CHECK-IN: Available from 4:00 pm. PROGRAM REGISTRATION: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar desk in the lobby to register with the program staff at our desk in the lobby. You’ll receive your arrival packet containing the most up-to-date schedule and program information that we’ll review during our orientation session before dinner. If you arrive late, please pick up your packet at the hotel front desk. ORIENTATION: Orientation is 4:30 pm. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Periods in the daily schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful, rewarding, and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: The remainder of the evening is yours to begin getting to know one another, walk around the neighborhood, or relax in the hotel as you prepare for tomorrow. You are embarking on a special Road Scholar program that includes expert lectures and attending selected events from the schedules of Spoleto Festival USA and Piccolo Spoleto as well as a significant amount of free time to pursue your own interests with opportunities to dine out on your own. The preparatory materials you receive following enrollment will provide more details about the ticketed events included in your program. We highly recommend checking the Spoleto USA website that explains how the festival is organized and how you can purchase tickets when the time comes for the events you would like to attend on your own. http://spoletousa.org/home/

DAY
2
Spoleto Talk, Beethoven's Third
Charleston, South Carolina
B,L
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Walk from hotel to Gaillard for Beethoven's Third is .4 mile.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: PRESENTATION: Exclusively for our group, a member of the Spoleto Board of Directors (or other festival insider depending on availability) will provide an overview of the festival and discuss its history. We will split up for lunch with half going to one restaurant and the other half to another restaurant. On another day, we will flip flop on restaurants so that each group gets to eat at each restaurant.

Lunch: At a local restaurant. Split groups at two restaurants.

Afternoon: Enjoy your free time. You are near the city market place where a nice stroll will take you through to see local artists and their wares. In addition to Spoleto offerings during your stay, another option is Piccolo Spoleto, which is in the park right beside your hotel. Program offerings include visual arts exhibits, classical music, jazz, dance, theatre, poetry readings, children’s activities, choral music, ethnic cultural presentations, crafts and film. Tickets for Piccolo may be viewed online by just typing in Piccolo Charleston.

Dinner: On your own.

Evening: Performance: Beethoven's Third, 7:30 pm, 1 hr, 30 min, Gaillard Center Beethoven’s stirring Symphony No. 3, “Heroic,” marked a decisive turn from the Classical to Romantic period, truly groundbreaking in both form and approach. This ambitious program also features Shostakovich’s sparkling Piano Concerto No. 1, performed by internationally celebrated pianist (and Festival favorite) Inon Barnatan, and Reena Esmail’s Testament (from Vishwas), which showcases the dexterous weaving of Indian and Western classical music we can expect from this year’s chamber music composer-in-residence.

DAY
3
Presentation, Chamber Music, Carriage Ride, Apricity
Charleston, South Carolina
B,D
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Walk to carriage ride is approximately 20 minutes or 1/2 mile. Walk from hotel to Festival Hall is .5 mile.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning we will be joined by a member of the Spoleto Board of Directors. After the presentation, we will leave walking to the Dock Street Theater for the Chamber Music after the morning presentation. 11:00 am, Chamber Music, 1 hr, 15 min, Under the inspired curation of new director Paul Wiancko, globally renowned musicians present 11 ingenious and intimate programs that span canonical classics and vital new works.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: 2:00 - 3:00 pm Carriage Ride Experience 25-30 blocks of Charleston’s historic downtown district. See houses, gardens, mansions, churches, and parks from a carriage. Learn about buildings, history, architecture, flora and the people that make up the “Holy City”. The rest of the afternoon is free. FYI: In addition to Spoleto offerings during your stay, another option is Piccolo Spoleto. Program offerings include visual arts exhibits, classical music, jazz, dance, theatre, poetry readings, children’s activities, choral music, ethnic cultural presentations, crafts and film. Tickets for Piccolo may be viewed online by just typing in Piccolo Charleston.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Performance: Casus Creations: Apricity, 7:00 pm, 1 hour, Festival Hall Australia-based contemporary circus company Casus Creations probes the transformative power of human connection in their mesmerizing stage show Apricity. Inspired by the image of winter sun breaking through the cold, this captivating multidisciplinary production combines aerial apparatuses, cutting-edge acrobatics, evocative music, and humorous snatches to create a compelling reflection of our collective resilience. Both visually affecting and emotionally uplifting, Apricity serves as an exhilarating reminder of the light, warmth, and possibility that can be found even amidst our darkest days.

DAY
4
City Field Trip, Jazz Talks, Spoleto Festival USA Chorus
Charleston, South Carolina
B,L
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Getting on and off a motor coach, walk to Jazz Talks to the Emmett Theatre at College of Charleston is approximately .5 mile. Walk from hotel to St. Matthew's Lutheran Church is .1 mile.

Breakfast: Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: This morning we will board a motorcoach for a closer look into the Charleston Historic District where we will become more familiar with the interior city of Charleston. Our expert historian will lead us on a mixed walking and riding exploration. We will stop and disembark at the two restaurants for lunch.

Lunch: We'll once again have two groups for lunch. We'll be eating at different lunch spots with our split group.

Afternoon: Jazz Talk: 2:00 pm, 1 hr, 15 min, Emmett Robinson Theatre at College of Charleston

Dinner: Dinner is on your own to allow you time to fit this meal in around Spoleto activities.

Evening: Performance: Spoleto Festival USA Chorus, 5:30 pm, 1 hour, St. Matthew's Lutheran Church The Spoleto Festival USA Chorus celebrates its third season with a highly anticipated performance at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church. Composed of gifted vocal fellows from across the nation, the 2024 ensemble presents a diverse program of sacred and secular works spanning classical and contemporary featuring music by Spoleto Chamber series composer-in-residence Reena Esmail, Russian masterworks, and Ugis Praulins’ epic Laudibus in Sanctis. Director of Choral Activities Joe Miller helms a captivating concert brimming with rich sonorities and subtle nuances

DAY
5
Sweetgrass Baskets, Homes, SOC, El Arte Del Bolero
Charleston, South Carolina
B,D
Francis Marion Hotel

Activity note: Hotel to Charleston Museum is .4 mile. Hotel to Joseph Manigault Home is .3 mile. Walk from hotel to Circular Church is 1 mile. Walk from hotel to Emmett Robinson Theatre at College of Charleston is .5 mile.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will gather in our meeting room at the hotel with a local expert and learn about the history and techniques that gave birth to Charleston’s unique sweetgrass baskets. Brought to the area by slaves who came from the west coast of Africa, basket-making is an ancient African art form in this country, passed on from generation to generation. Skilled craftsmanship and long hours are involved in making these baskets. See a demonstration of basket making. We will then set out on an expert-led walking field trip to the Aiken-Rhett and Joseph Manigault homes. The Aiken-Rhett House Museum, 48 Elizabeth Street, c. 1820, remained in the hands of family descendants for 142 years until it was sold to The Charleston Museum and opened as a museum house in 1975. The back lot of the Aiken-Rhett House is where the slaves worked and lived, and they probably took their meals communally in the kitchen. The Joseph Manigault home is one of Charleston’s most exquisite antebellum structures. Built in 1803, the Manigault home reflects the urban lifestyle of a wealthy, rice-planting family and the enslaved African Americans who lived

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from your program cost to allow you to fit meals in around your Spoleto activities..

Afternoon: Performance: Sound of Charleston, 2:00 pm, 1 hr, 15 min, Circular Church Hear history coming to life through music performed by our finest professional musicians. This performance entertains, educates, and evokes emotion through gospel spiriturals, Civil War songs, Gershwin's "Porgy & Bess" and "Rhapsody in Blue", jazz and light classics of the Cecelia Society. "Amazing Grace", composed by John Newton concudes every show.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: Performance: El Arte Del Bolero, 5:00 pm, Approximately 1 hour, Emmett Robinson Theatre at College of Charleston Cue romance. In 2021, Puerto Rican saxophonist and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón and acclaimed Venezuelan pianist Luis Perdomo reimagined beloved boleros as sensuous jazz ballads in their critically acclaimed album El Arte Del Bolero. Three years later, Zenón and Perdomo share their Grammy Award-nominated, two-album project in five intimate engagements. Irresistibly seductive, El Arte Del Bolero delivers “alluring, forward-thinking performances” (Latin Jazz Network) while honoring a timeless Latin American musical tradition.

DAY
6
Program Concludes, Check Out and Departures
Charleston, South Carolina
B

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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