Charleston's very brief wintertime lull is about to come to an end. The social calendar for locals and tourists is about to get very busy. With the start of the Southeastern Wildlife Expo in mid-February, Charleston's festival season kicks into high gear with a series of events celebrating everything from food and wine to arts and fashion.
These events aren't just festive activities for locals and out-of-town guests. They pump millions of dollars into the local economy, bringing business to hotels, restaurants, attractions and shops while providing jobs for local caterers, event planners, photographers and marketing firms. The impact is far reaching and an important piece of Charleston's success as a tourist destination.
Just to give you a sense of how some festivals contribute to Charleston’s economy:
In 2014, the Charleston Wine + Food Festival had a $9.8 million economic impact. The year before it was more than $10 million.
SEWE generates an estimated $50 million each year.
Charleston Fashion Week boosted the local economy by almost $3 million in 2014.
In 2011, a study of the Cooper River Bridge Run revealed an impact of $18.3 million.
As these festivals add more activities, exhibits and performances, they will continue to grow in popularity, bringing more and more people to the Holy City. Their economic impact will only multiple.
That growth also translates into the need for more space. Whether for performances, exhibits, dinners or expos, space is at a premium. Many of these events make use of Charleston's excellent public parks, but they do need options for indoor events and in situations where weather is less than ideal.
This is where the new Gaillard Center will be a tremendous asset to current and future Charleston festivals and events. Whether it's hosting the Cooper River Bridge Run packet pickup and expo or a dinner during the Wine + Food Festival, the center will have ample space to accommodate any event.
SEWE can showcase wildlife artwork or conservation exhibits at the Gaillard, and local nonprofits can book the space for charity galas and fundraisers.
Charleston is a happening place with new events and functions popping up almost every weekend. Local event venues are booking months and even years in advance so the addition of a new world-class venue, Charleston will be able to maintain its reputation for top-notch events and a heaping dose of Holy City hospitality.