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Entertainment in the South's Winter Colony

Juilliard in Aiken brings a South Carolina town back to its roots this month.
by Erin Z. Bass

Long known as “The Winter Colony” for members of elite New York City society during the last century, Aiken, South Carolina, has played host to names like Astor, Vanderbilt and Whitney. Politicians, royalty and captains of industry from the North would head South to enjoy celebrated musicians and pursue equestrian sports throughout the winter. And for more than 100 years, The Willcox Hotel has hosted them.

The Willcox remains the place to stay for those visiting Aiken today, whether they’re looking for sporting, spa or a dose of culture. The hotel is also the perfect headquarters for experiencing the Juilliard in Aiken Festival, coming to town March 9-15.

The only program of its kind in the country and only found in South Carolina, Julliard in Aiken puts on public performances, chamber concerts and offers master classes as well as outreach to area schools for one week each year. This year’s guests can see Pisticci String Trio & Yang Dugan Duo, Triptych Percussion Ensemble, Festival of Song with Daniel Fung, Anderson & Roe Piano Duo and a Fifth Year Anniversary Celebration Concert. Performances are held at a variety of venues, from the URS Center for the Performing Arts to churches, the Green Boundary Club and even The Willcox itself, which will host an after-hours free jazz show March 14.

In working with Joye Cottage, once a getaway for the Whitneys and Vanderbilts in Aiken and the largest house in the state, Juilliard in Aiken also offers space for residency of faculty, students and alumni.

“The one-of-a-kind partnership between the Joye Cottage in Aiken and Juilliard allows not only residents, but also guests from across the South, the opportunity to experience top caliber arts in their own back yard,” says Willcox Owner Shannon Ellis. “At The Willcox, we think of ourselves as the living room of the community, a place where locals and guests can come together for a drink and conversation, making it an ideal home base for those wishing to experience Juilliard in Aiken.”

In a nod to its equestrian heritage, the hotel’s Horse Concierge is happy to coordinate boarding services for your mount, and its human guest accommodations include luxurious amenities like marble bathrooms, plush bedding, a daily complimentary shoe-shine and fireplace for most.

Click here to see special Juilliard packages at The Willcox March 11-13. And to mix in a bit of sporting with your culture, check out the hotel’s polo, equine, golf and shooting packages. View Juilliard in Aiken’s performance schedule here

Editor/publisher of Deep South Magazine, Erin Z. Bass is a native of Crowley, Louisiana. She has more than 10 years of writing experience and holds a BA in Journalism from Louisiana State University. Find out more about her here



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