Charleston is known for its unique culture, which blends traditional Southern U.S., English, French, and West African elements. The downtown peninsula has gained a reputation for its art, music, local cuisine, and fashion. Spoleto Festival USA, held annually in late spring, has become one of the world’s major performing arts festivals. Other festivals and events include Historic Charleston Foundation’s Festival of Houses and Gardens and Charleston Antiques Show, the Taste of Charleston, The Lowcountry Oyster Festival, the Cooper River Bridge Run, The Charleston Marathon, Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE), Charleston Food and Wine Festival, Charleston Fashion Week, the MOJA Arts Festival, and the Holiday Festival of Lights (at James Island County Park), and the Charleston International Film Festival. The Charleston Conference is a major library industry event, held in the city center since 1980.
As it has on every aspect of Charleston culture, the Gullah community has had a tremendous influence on music in Charleston, especially when it comes to the early development of jazz music. In turn, the music of Charleston has had an influence on that of the rest of the country.
Charleston has a vibrant theater scene and is home to America’s first theater. In 2010, Charleston was listed as one of the country’s top 10 cities for theater, and one of the top two in the South. Charleston has many historic buildings, art and historical museums, and other attractions.