A Vibrant Culture
With a surprisingly cosmopolitan feel, a long history of support for the arts, and the world-class talent supplied by Joye in Aiken, Aiken is taking its place among the Southeast’s important cultural destinations. Already, the Joye in Aiken Festival draws a large portion of its attendees from elsewhere in South Carolina and from many other states, and (by virtue of their stays with welcoming host families here) many of the world’s best young artists now regard Aiken as a second home. This vibrant mix gives Aiken a rich cultural environment, a unique place in the landscape of the arts, and a special warmth and energy not found elsewhere.
A Beautiful City
Sprawling grasslands and mild winters, tall pines and mature hardwoods fill the southwestern portion of South Carolina where Aiken is located. This charming southern city is a unique blend of progressive initiative and relaxed southern charm. In Aiken, there is an exciting business environment in a quaint little town; an advanced healthcare system staffed with friendly, hometown people; and attractive, modern housing situated among grand and historic estates to complement a thriving historical downtown shopping district.
A Rich Historical Setting
Few cities have enjoyed as colorful and vibrant a history as Aiken. It was chartered in 1835 and named after William Aiken, president of the company that built a railroad connector from Charleston, South Carolina, to Augusta, Georgia. Soon after the completion of the railroad, Aiken became a popular health resort for Low Country residents from the coast of South Carolina who were attempting to escape both the heat and malaria that plagued the coastal region. Beginning in the 1870’s, the era that truly made Aiken rich in history began as wealthy Northerners, intrigued by the equestrian activities of the area, began settling in Aiken for the winter months and Aiken became known as the Winter Colony. The new residents brought with them horses, money, polo, golf and a desire to make Aiken magnificent. Many of the buildings and facilities constructed during the era of the Winter Colony residents are still in use today.