"America's Top City" to visit: That's how Conde Nast Traveler's readers rate Charleston, its palmetto-lined streets and historic homes, fine dining, distinctive shops, great beaches and boating, famed tennis, golf, and spas.
No other city more lovingly preserves its past than Charleston, evident in its houses, churches, and cobblestone streets. Magnificent historic homes are seen at every turn in the large Historic District, from the Battery to the French Quarter.
From the front doors of Renaissance Weekend's designated hotels, guests can enjoy leisurely strolls or stunning jogging routes through some of America's most beautifully preserved antebellum architecture. Historic plantations and gardens are a short drive away. Nearly every downtown block boasts renowned restaurants, from Southern comfort food to New American fine dining.
Golfers can play more than 20 courses in the area, including the legendary Kiawah, Wild Dunes, and Arnold Palmer Rivertowne courses. A 15-minute drive puts beach-lovers on pristine white sand beaches perfect for kayaking, fishing, sailing, or simply watching dolphins play.
The Holy City, steeped in history and culture, is often referred to as "America's most beautiful small city":
- #2 City in Travel & Leisure's "World's Best"
- #2 in Travel & Leisure's "Top American Destinations"
- Family Fun's "Top Three Cities for Family Vacations"
- Travel Holiday's "Top Five Romantic Destinations"
- Tennis' "Best U.S. Tennis Town"
- #4 in Food & Wine's "Top Food & Wine Destinations"
- #5 in Parade's "Best American Cities"
- #6 in Outside's "Best Towns Ever"
- #8 in Forbes' "Smartest Cities in the World"
- Southern Living's "Favorite Southern City"
Renaissance Weekend is comprised of hundreds of programs and shared meals in which participants with in-depth knowledge reflect off-the-record on a wide variety of current issues. (See Content) Lively discussion by all participants is encouraged, and the tone is decidedly relaxed.
Two meals "on-your-own" — Monday dinner and Tuesday lunch — allow participants to sample local restaurants and dine with fellow participants and new friends, if they choose.
Participants' program assignments are based on information provided on the Participant Profiles page of their online registration, which should be completed as early as possible. Please email the Renaissance Weekend team if changes have been made to your Participant Profile after your registration is confirmed and before we distribute the Tentative Program.
In mid-December, the Tentative Program and other materials will be sent to each registered party's lead participant, who is asked to share it with other members of his/her party.
Registration opens on December 28 at 2:00 P.M. at Charleston Place, where participants pick up their materials and the Final Program. Participants must check in separately with their respective hotels. Some Committees, including Music, Fun & Sizzle and Proctors & Moderators, meet between 4:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. The first program begins at 6:00 P.M. that evening at Charleston Place.
Early arrivals are invited to help with Registration and to notify the Renaissance Weekend staff of their availability.
The program will feature some 500 lectures, Academies, seminars and discussions principally in Charleston Place and the adjacent Riviera Theatre.
The program ends by noon on January 1.
Conversation over meals is an important part of the Weekend, and all guests are expected to participate in the Common Meals. Only children under three are not charged for Common Meals. The "on-your-own" meals, Monday dinner and Tuesday lunch, are designed so participants may enjoy Charleston's renowned cuisine. Meals & Meeting Services Fees may not be reduced for late arrivals, early departures or absences from meals.
Sports & Recreational Activities
Some time will be set aside for afternoon recreation and for enjoying some of historic Charleston’s highlights, such as Middleton Place, Fort Sumter, the South Carolina Aquarium, or a walk along the Battery.
New Year's Eve will be celebrated with a gala international feast, a champagne-and-dessert party, and dancing well into the morning.
The Health Club and Spa at Charleston Place is available to Charleston Place guests.
To explore Charleston and the South Carolina Lowcountry, participants may arrive early or extend their stay, and Renaissance Weekend room rates may be available upon request to the hotel.
Participants arriving after 7:00 P.M. on December 28 or departing before 9:00 A.M. on January 1 are requested to advise Renaissance Weekend staff. The hotel concierge can assist with any transportation needs.
Charleston International Airport (CHS) — located 15 miles from Charleston Place and Renaissance Weekend's other designated hotels. Amtrak provides regular passenger service to the Charleston area.
App-based car services and Taxis are regularly available at the airport, but during holiday seasons and given the large amount of attendees arriving on December 27 and 28, specific shuttle and taxi reservations are encouraged.
Airport shuttle service between the Charleston airport and downtown hotels should be booked well in advance. There is no designated or preferred airport shuttle service for Renaissance Weekend participants. Among those offering transportation from the airport to downtown hotels are Charleston Green Taxi, Yellow Cab of Charleston, Marquee Limo, and Charleston Executive.
Rental cars are not necessary as all Renaissance activities will be within walking distance of the designated hotels. If you choose to rent a car or will be driving to Charleston, self-service and valet parking are available at Charleston Place. Daily parking rates range from $17 (self-service) to $34 (valet).
Located at the very heart of downtown Charleston, in the historic district and within walking distance of all the major attractions, Belmond Charleston Place is the perfect base for a city adventure. The hotel effortlessly blends gentility and old-world charm with both a leading-edge spa and innovative cuisine, and has been the principal meeting site of the New Year's Renaissance Weekend program for the past 18 years. Deluxe rooms starting at $380/night.
Additional room blocks have been secured at four other nearby hotels:
- Mill's House Hotel located 2 blocks south of Charleston Place, rooms starting at $259/night.
- Meeting Street Inn located across the street from Charleston Place, rooms starting at $219/night.
- Indigo Inn located across the street from Charleston Place, rooms starting at $219/night.
- Hotel Bennett located 0.6 miles from Charleston Place. Standard rooms starting at $520/night and suites starting at $720/night.
Details and hotel booking links available upon online registration.
Camp Renaissance, Teens & College Students
Camp Renaissance— an active program tailored for children ages 3-12 — typically includes presentations by fascinating adult participants, hands-on experiments, indoor games, musical performances, story-telling, and arts-&-crafts projects. These activities are supervised by the Camp Renaissance Counselors, with involvement from adult Renaissance participants whose experiences are of interest to young people. Camp Renaissance runs concurrently with the adult program and will be located in the Riviera Ballroom, across the street from Belmond Charleston Place. It is not designed to provide full-time child care.
Young people are welcome at all functions. Most teens and college students participate in the Weekend's scheduled program. In addition, they often have designated gathering places, assigned programs, and their own activities and discussions. Teens and college students are usually placed on panels related to their interests, as indicated on their Participant Profiles.
College students integrate themselves into the scheduled program. Many form strong bonds and even lifetime friendships during evening social events and programs planned specifically for them.
Parents are expected to oversee their sons' and daughters’ comings and goings throughout the Weekend. Renaissance Institute and Renaissance Weekend, and its staff, assume no liability regarding children or teens, including on New Year's Eve.
There is no organized program or child care provided for children under the age of three. Younger children are welcome at Camp Renaissance programs when accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult. Participants should make arrangements for babysitters at least three weeks prior to arrival at the Weekend by phoning the Charleston Place concierge (843-722-4900) for assistance. To maximize their enjoyment of the program, families with very young children are encouraged to bring a baby-sitter or au pair. Although there is no Registration Fee for babysitters/au pairs, they must register for meals at the children's rate, attend solely for child care, and, if practical, may assist periodically with Camp Renaissance. Baby-sitters/au pairs are free to attend programs and panel discussions designed specifically for Camp Renaissance participants.
Charleston temperatures in December typically range from the 70's during the day to the 40's or, very occasionally, the 30's at night. Check weather reports shortly in advance of the Weekend.
Dress is informal, resort casual, during the Weekend. Jeans are acceptable for day-time programs. Men typically wear coats and ties for dinners. New Year's Eve is black-tie-optional, including Camp Renaissance, teens, and college students.
All Registration and Meals & Meeting Services Fees will be refunded — less a $250/party processing fee — for cancellations received by Renaissance Weekend in writing via e-mail, fax, or mail, sixty days in advance of the first night of the Weekend. No refund is available for cancellations communicated less than fourteen days in advance. Cancellations received in the intervening period are eligible for 50% refunds. For a one-time transfer of fees, however, payments can be applied towards any of the three immediately following Renaissance Weekends, subject to a $100/party transfer fee, if space remains and such notice is received. No refund is available after a payment has been transferred and applied to a new Weekend.
Meals & Meeting Services Fees may not be reduced for late arrivals, early departures or absences from meals.
Lodging cancellations are handled directly by your hotel subject to its specific policies. Be sure also to advise Renaissance Weekend of cancellation.
Among America’s finest hotels and the most convenient to enjoy Renaissance, Belmond’s luxurious Charleston Place, the Weekend’s principal meeting-place, embodies Southern charm & timeless elegance. Lodging & special rates are reserved for participants and at nearby alternatives.
Join old-&-new friends to wander throughout the Historic District. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride to the site of the Civil War’s first shot. Amble about hidden alleys & cobble-stoned by-ways to savor the distinctive sights, sounds, flavors & 330 years of tradition in “America’s favorite city to visit.”
What’s Renaissance & Charleston’s backdrop: Poinsettias everywhere; scents of sea marsh & sweetgrass baskets; piazza flower-boxes; church bells & rustling palmetto fronds; after-Christmas retail sales & a miniature train display beyond your childhood dreams. The lure of oven-fresh biscuits, shrimp-&-grits, collards & shucked oysters. A cocoon of gentility.
Come early, stay later to relish the sweater weather. Tour antebellum mansions, their hidden gardens & nearby plantations. Browse memorable antique stores. Stroll or bike Kiawah Island & Sullivan’s Island’s acclaimed beaches. See why the award-winning chefs’ Southern delicacies have made this a major “foodie-town."
Children ages 3-12 years can immerse themselves in hands-on experiments, indoor and outdoor games, nature walks, musical performances, story-telling, arts-&-crafts projects, and presentations by fascinating adult participants who are major authorities in their fields.