Spoleto kicks off its 38th season

CHARLESTON, S.C (WCIV) -- Spoleto festival USA is known as America's premier performing arts festival and it takes place in Charleston.

The 38th season kicked off at noon Friday in front of Charleston City Hall. It was a chance for people to support the arts and get a little taste of what is to come.

The Charleston Symphony Orchestra Brass Ensemble started off the ceremony with a fanfare then the national anthem was sung by one of the festival's performers, but it was Mayor Joe Riley that officially kicked off the event.

"I always feel that this ceremony is very special because other festivals don't open like this. No others that I know of has an opening ceremony in the middle of the city where the Mayor speaks and what this does is make Spoleto Festival USA into a Charleston wide event and that is what is so special about doing the festival in Charleston. I can't imagine that there is a better city in America to do a festival like this," said Nigel Redden, general director of Spoleto Festival.

After the confetti, there was dancing, which is just one of the art forms at the festival.

There was a good crowd present despite the heat.

"It's just a wonderful time to be out here and it just makes you very proud of the city. It makes you proud that you can show tourists and people visiting, the charm and the hospitality of Charleston," said Margaret Ford Rogers, who attended the ceremony.

The festival attracts more than locals though.

"My wife Karen, she wanted to make sure that we were able to come down and see our daughter Gillian who is performing in El Nino, the opera, this evening," said Paul and Karen Hurst, who came to Spoleto from Boston.

"I was blown away by the beauty of the town and the festival is so professional and they treat us so well. It's amazing to be a part of an experience like that," said Gillian Hurst, who is performing during Spoleto.

And those involved with Spoleto strive to make the festival better every year.

"Each year we try to bring in a different group of artists who are going to have something to say to an audience and what I hope is that people who have an interest in culture, an interest in one art form or another will try something that they haven't tried before or do something that perhaps gets out of their comfort zone," said Redden.

There are roughly 150 performances during the festival which lasts until June 8.

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