17 days and 17 nights. Today – June 7. More than 120 performances. Not to mention the entirety of Piccolo Spoleto. And Piccolo Fringe. Opera, theater, dance, musical theater, chamber/symphonic/choral/jazz music, local talent, international talent, parties, celebrations…Charleston’s premiere arts festival can be overwhelming! Whether you’re ticket-shy due to costs or you’re ready to splurge like a true Spoletian but exhausted simply trying to whittle down the programming schedule, CHARLIE’s here to help.

Welcome to a little installment we like to call “The Ultimate Guide to your Spoleto Spend ’09.”

**note: All ticket prices listed below are at the lowest price point. This is the key. Cheap seats. More shows. Trust us.

How to best spend $100 during Spoleto

Piccolo Spoleto’s Sunset Serenade (tonight at 8pm). Charleston Symphony jamming big band hits on the steps of the Custom House. Free!
Don John. Sexy, steamy, big buzz. $25
Addicted to Bad Ideas. Any musical theater group who has thousands of die-hard “Infernite” fans following them around the country must be pretty amazing. $32
Festival Finale. It’s the best. $15
Spoleto Special “Picnic in a Bag” from Ted’s for Finale, because you need some cheese, meat, grapes and wine for the complete experience. $25
Piccolo Spoleto Finale. Local music at Hampton Park. Free!
Grand Total: $97

How to best spend $500 during Spoleto

In addition to the above…
SCENE Membership (for the 20 and 30-somethings), giving you entry into all the parties. $100
New party dress or suit at Hampden Clothing, Billy Reid or another snazzy local shop. $150 (you’ll have to dig, but you can find something at this price at both of these fantastic stores)
Noche Flamenca. It’ll have your heart pounding. $30
Punch Brothers. These five young and incredibly talented musicians are sure to be a Festival favorite. $25
Jake Shimabukuro. Ukulele on steroids will have your mouth dropped open. $25
Dogugaeshi. Puppet master at work again. $30
Dinner at Muse for its Prix-Fixe Spoleto menu, because you’ll feel just like you’re in Spoleto, Italy. $35 (including tip)
Grand total: $492

How to best spend $1,000 during Spoleto

In addition to the above…
Opening Weekend Gala. Fancy, shmancy fun. $400 (includes the opening performance of Alvin Ailey)
Story of a Rabbit. Complex, thought-provoking and surprisingly light-hearted. $32
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. It’s going to be a-m-a-z-i-n-g. $10
Post-show dinner at Charleston Grill for Late Night Spoleto Dinner and Jazz, because it’s a show in itself: combining eats (three-courser) with music stylings from local jazz star Quentin Baxter. $59 (including tip)
Grand Total: $993… and priceless.

Happy Spoleto!