Heritage and Culture

It is difficult to define exactly what makes up Charleston's culture.  A city's culture is shaped by its history, and Charleston certainly is not lacking in either history or culture.  Charleston's culture includes many art forms, leisure activities and traditions.

  1. Charleston has become home to a number of festivals: Spoleto Festival USA, Lowcountry Blues Bash, Southeastern Wildlife Expo, MOJA, and the Festival of Houses and Gardens among many others.  Chalreston's love affair with the arts goes back to the city's earlierst days.  The first opera performed in America was in Charleston in 1735.  The country's first theatre was built in Charleston in 1736.  The first professional female artist, Henrietta Dering Johnston, arrived in 1707.  The first public library was founded in 1700.  The first musical society, St. Cecelia was founded in 1762.  First museum in 1773.  Charleston continues to have a thriving arts community with  professional ballet company, symphony orchestra, and numerous theatre groups. 
  2. Charleston’s food/restaurants are considered by many to be the best in the region.  Some of the local dishes include "She Crab" soup and "Shrimp and Grits," and locals often enjoy a backyard oyster roast when it's cold and a pig pickin’ complete with frogmore stew when its warm.
  3. The Gullah culture, originating with the African American slaves brought to this area, is still seen today, though its tradition of making "Sweet Grass Baskets" is unfortunately a dying art form. Many groups, such as The Plantation Singers, continue preserving the Gullah culture and traditions through song.
  4. Many residents of the Lowcountry enjoy outdoor activities such as shrimping, sailing, hunting, kayaking, surfing, fishing, and so on.
  5. Charleston’s nightlife has been famous even since the "Golden Age of Piracy" and is still going strong.  Almost any night of the week it is possible to find a number of night spots with live music, and with a large portion of the population in the 25-35 range there always seems to be fun in the city when the sun goes down.

Charleston is a place were culture and heritage are passed from generation to generation and traditions have lasted for hundreds of years.