Where Food and Culture Meet

06 Sep 2023

Looking ahead at Charleston Wine + Food 2024 festival

By Daria Smith

The South’s largest food festival that helped put Charleston on the map as a culinary destination is back for its 19th year on March 6-10, 2024. For five days a year, it’s the intersection where food and culture meet. Stories are shared that reflect our past, present and future and local talent and chefs across the greater South are commemorated. Tickets for its oft sold-out signature events and private dining experiences go on sale October 19, 2023 online.In 2023, Charleston Wine and Food (CHSWF) generated nearly $32 million in economic impact on the Charleston region and $170.48 million since its inception in 2005. 

The Culinary Village is the heartbeat of CHSWF, held at Riverfront Park in North Charleston on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It’s the festival’s largest all-inclusive sampling experience. “The Culinary Village is a love letter to the Lowcountry and Charleston,” said Alyssa Smith, CHSWF executive director. Attendees can experience tidbits of the Lowcountry in different neighborhoods throughout the village. “Shuck Town” features a Lowcountry-style oyster roast and “Farm Fresh” honors local farmers and purveyors. “Street Eats” showcases local international food trucks.

New for 2024, the Culinary Village will have a VIP section—a VIP lounge and dedicated chefs and special beverage sampling booths with an elevated wine and food selection. The Rosè Garden is making a comeback with additional wine booths.

The Pod Cafe, a podcasting studio with a coffee lounge serving brews from Counter Culture, is returning to Culinary Village. In 2023, Blue Bicycle Books popped up with cookbook signings from renowned chefs and authors. Insider tip: CHSWF offers a shuttle program. Take a shuttle from the Visitor's Center downtown straight to the pedestrian bridge at Riverfront Park in North Charleston. It’s cheaper and more reliable than an Uber. A $28 ticket covers a daily round-trip shuttle ride and expedited entry through February 26. On February 27, the price increases to $50. The shuttle service is complimentary with the purchase of a CV Pass or The Weekender. 

Opening Night kicks off CHSWF, held at Cistern Yard on the College of Charleston campus. The opening ceremony showcases local chefs and over 30 of your favorite Charleston establishments with 20 beverage stations and an exceptional band. This year, guests can purchase a VIP ticket to Opening Night with access to a private lounge in Randolph Hall, featuring a terrace overlooking Cistern Yard with a stunning view of the live performance and entire event.

CHSWF is so much more than the anchor Culinary Village. Try an intimate cooking class, smaller event or an excursion.

“The smaller events are something that I always recommend, especially if people tend to gravitate towards just trying the Culinary Village,” suggested Smith. “I always like to open people up and encourage trying something new that you've never tried before…A cooking class or one of our signature events.”

Friends of the Festival champions the Charleston culinary and hospitality community at large. This year, the membership has expanded to include a lower entry tier starting at $2,000–but there’s a limited amount available. Experience early access to 2024 tickets before public on-sale, an insider’s first look at the festival, exclusive events throughout the year, VIP access, a priority waitlist to sold-out events and ticket rebate. 

Every festival, there are only a few excursions—immersive adult foodie field trips.

“We take people to the sacred nooks and crannies of the Lowcountry and give them an immersive storytelling experience centered around food,” Smith said.

Last year, guests had the opportunity to visit an oyster farm. On another excursion, Chef BJ Dennis took a group to Hardeeville, SC for a rice excursion, paying homage to his Gullah Geechee culture. Experience nostalgic cuisine from your favorite local restaurants of the past at “For One Night Only.” In 2023, CHSWF served a dining experience at Chef Josh Keeler’s Two Boroughs Larder, which closed in 2016.  Take one of six hands-on cooking classes at Trident Technical College’s Culinary Institute. Classes include a meal component and beverage experience.

“It's a mix between local favorite chefs and out-of-town chefs teaching a variety of subject matters,” Smith stated. “The cooking classes, you get to actually partake in the fun and cook. It’s a CHSWF spin on a traditional cooking class.” Other programs gracing the CHSWF 2024 lineup include beverage workshops at Mills House Hotel and brunches, lunches, and dinners from local restaurants that have debuted on the Lowcountry food landscape in the past year.

Events with limited seating tend to sell out first, including the dinner series, excursions, hands-on classes, and fan-favorite signature events like Shucked (a celebration of sustainable seafood, oysters, and Lowcountry waterways) and Opening Night. Set your alarms, tickets for the 2024 festival go on sale on October 19. Tickets will be available at charlestonwineandfood.com

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