Did you know that in addition to being charming and historic, Aiken is an especially “joyeful” city? It takes its special joyousness from Joye in Aiken, a performing arts festival that takes place over eight to ten days in March, with other events in June and December. The prestigious festival is named for Joye Cottage, an opulent 60-room Winter Colony mansion owned by Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Steve Naifeh and the late Gregory White Smith, who (with current President Sandra Field) founded the non-profit organization.
In the last 15 years, Joye in Aiken has brought over 600 top-tier artists (primarily students, faculty and alumni from The Juilliard School in New York) to perform for the public and conduct outreach events for area students. Performances run the gamut from jazz and classical to contemporary dance, Broadway and Americana. In addition to the festival week in March, the schedule includes a “Joye to the World!” Holiday Concert and two concerts associated with the Joye in Aiken Summer Jazz Camp.
Among the highlights of the 2024 Festival (March 1-9) will be “Sing and Swing,” a Jazz at Lincoln Center touring show featuring the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee and Dean Martin; the Joye of Jazz at The Willcox, Joye in Aiken’s daylong signature event, held in the Southeast’s most elegant jazz venue; “Erismena and the World of the Baroque,” showcasing Juilliard’s Vocal Arts and Historical Performance departments; and the Festival Finale, featuring the world’s greatest living organist, Paul Jacobs.
Come experience Aiken’s uniquely “joyeful” cultural scene by attending a Joye in Aiken event this season! Few towns of Aiken’s size can boast the remarkable, truly world-class artist roster to which we have access. The venues are charming, the artists are fun and approachable, and tickets are much more affordable than in larger cities. It’s just one more reason (as if you needed one) to visit beautiful Aiken!