Don’t be surprised to spot a former president, famous author or a celebrity such as octogenarian sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer during the next five days in downtown Charleston.

Renaissance Weekend is back in town, bringing 1,200 big thinkers to the invitation-only off-the-record event, most of which will occur at Charleston Place.

The guest list is a secret, but most have attended the “weekend” — which actually lasts 5 days — in prior years. Former presidents have been frequent guests, and with registration under way today, some participants and likely participants were announcing their arrival in town on social media.

“Back from Crystal Cruise now in Charleston for Renaissance Weekend,” Westheimer posted on Twitter. “Had great time on ship.”

Dana Perino, former press secretary for George W. Bush, was also on Twitter, posting a photo of her dog, Jasper, in Marion Square today.

The 32-year-old non-partisan event was founded and is hosted by Charleston residents Philip and Linda Lader. Philip Lader is the former U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s and chairman of WPP plc, the world’s largest advertising and media services company.

“This is to have an open exchange of views on public and private issues between innovative leaders,” Lader said.

The New Year’s gathering has been in Charleston every year starting in 2001, and was previously held in Hilton Head when the Laders lived there. Typically, a handful of attendees are made available for interviews during the course of the event — former CIA agent Valerie Plame and American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene were among those last year — but the content of the discussions held during the event is not shared with the public.

There will be 500 lectures, seminars, discussions, and performances planned, according to the organizers.

Follow David Slade on Twitter @DSladeNews.