2018 South Carolina Humanities Festival – Aiken

The 24th Annual SC Humanities Festival will take place in Aiken, SC on April 12 – 14, 2018. Sponsored by SC Humanities, USC Aiken, and the City of Aiken, the 2018 festival will highlight the rich cultural history of Aiken and celebrate the arts and humanities.

Chartered in 1835 as a stop on the Charleston-to-Hamburg Railroad, Aiken has gone through a number of amazing transformations, from early health resort to international sporting mecca to a major player in our country’s efforts to win the Cold War.  The festival will kick off with a gala opening night event celebrating the town’s relationship to its Italian partner city Orvieto and showcasing, in particular, the life and work of master artist Livio Valentini, whose three residencies in Aiken changed the course of his creative output.  Other festival highlights will include a self-guided tour of historic churches in Aiken and Graniteville, readings by award-winning authors Pam Durban and Andrew Geyer, and a grants writing workshop hosted by SC Humanities staff.

The festival will also provide a rare opportunity to sample some of the city’s newest cultural attractions: the Aiken Train Museum, the SRS Heritage Museum, and the Center for African American History, Art, and Culture.  Sponsored by SC Humanities, USC Aiken, and the City of Aiken, most events are free and open to the public.  Some, however, require reservations; for more information, visit www.facebook.com/2018SCHF/.

The full festival schedule can be downloaded below, and a sampling of some of the events is also listed. The majority of the events are free and open to the public.

2018 SC Humanities Festival in Aiken FULL SCHEDULE

Some highlights:

Thursday, April 12, 7:30 p.m.
Grand Opening Event & Reception
A Salute to Aiken and Her Italian Partner City, Orvieto
Location: Etherredge Center Main Stage, USC Aiken, 471 University Parkway, Aiken
The evening starts with a free hour-long multimedia presentation, Livio Orazio Valentini: An Artist’s Spiritual Odyssey by Robert Alexander and John Elliott. The presentation will be followed by a reception and book signing with the authors. Valentini prints will be on sale.
A special Valentini Exhibition is on view in the Etherredge Center lobby from March 26 – April 20. Curated by Jeremy Culler, Ph.D.

Friday, April 13, 3:00 p.m.
Presentation and Book Signing: “In Their Own Words: Aiken Area Veterans Remember World War II”
with Douglas Higbee, James Garvey, and Hubert Van Tuyll
Location: Aiken Train Museum, 406 Park Ave SE, Aiken, SC 29801
This event is free and includes a book signing and reception

Friday, April 13, 7:00 p.m.
All Aboard for Poetry
Location: Aiken Center for the Arts, 122 Laurens Street SW
The evening begins with a Student Award Ceremony hosted by USC Aiken professor and author Vicki Collins. At 7:30 p.m., poets Amanda Warren, Roy Seeger, Erin Mullikin, and Mike Lythgoe will read selections from their work. A book signing and free reception follow at 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 14, 10:00 a.m.
Trolley Tour of Historic Aiken
Trolley tours begin at the Aiken Train Museum, 406 Park Ave SE, Aiken, SC 29801
Cost: $15 per person
Reservations for trolley, walking, and Redcliffe tours: Call 803-644-1907 or 803-293-7846; email mrosbach@cityofaikensc.gov.

Saturday, April 14, 3:00 p.m.
Edgewood: Stage of Southern History
Location: USC Aiken, Penland Building 106 Auditorium, 471 University Parkway, Aiken
Free documentary screening with commentary by Deidre Martin

Saturday, April 14, 7:30 p.m.
Aiken in Fiction
Location: Municipal Building, 214 Park Avenue SW
Free Readings: Aiken-based stories by authors Pam Durban and Andrew Geyer
This event includes a reception and book signing


SC Humanities sponsors the Humanities Festival annually in a community in South Carolina. Started in 1993 in honor of SC Humanities’ 20th Anniversary, the Humanities Festival has been held in eighteen different South Carolina cities. Each festival celebrates the local history and culture of the host community, engaging the citizens in lectures, discussions, films, and exhibits and facilitating partnerships between cultural organizations and community groups.