Summer Cultural Festivals

Whether you enjoy theater, dance, opera, music or you’re just looking for a good laugh, summer is a great time to explore the world of culture while basking in the fresh air.  

Here are some ideas to get you started:  

The Ravinia Festival, 25 miles north of Chicago, presents more than 100 concerts from May 20 to Sept. 18. Nestled in a 36-acre park in a gently wooded area, it’s an enchanting place to listen to music. Ravinia is the summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and presents a lineup of performers from a wide range of musical genres. Highlights this year include concerts by Diana Ross, Sting, Emmylou Harris and Common, as well as a celebration of Mexican music and culture.  

Each spring, Charleston, South Carolina, hosts the Spoleto Festival USA. This year it takes place from May 27 to June 12, filling theaters, churches and outdoor spaces with more than 120 performances of opera, theater, dance and music, as well as artist talks. Highlights include the premiere of the opera “Omar,” co-written by Grammy winner Rhiannon Giddens. It’s inspired by the life of a West African scholar who was enslaved and brought to Charleston in 1807. Also in the lineup is a new production of the classic “La Boheme.” 

The Berkshires of western Massachusetts is a haven for lovers of theater, dance and music. Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, features a diverse schedule of concerts from June 17 to Sept. 4. Highlights include a screening of “The Empire Strikes Back” accompanied by a live orchestra, as well as concerts by Ringo Starr, Bonnie Raitt and Earth, Wind & Fire. Nearby, Barrington Stage Company presents eight plays and musicals from June 16 to Sept. 4, including Tony winner “A Little Night Music.” And Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival holds its 90th anniversary season from June 22 to Aug. 28, with troupes as far away as New Zealand performing.  

Just For Laughs, the world’s largest international comedy festival, takes place from July 13-31 in Montreal. Headliners include John Mulaney, Patton Oswalt, Chelsea Handler and Kevin Hart. Just for Laughs is also a place to discover up-and-coming comics. While major performances are held indoors, the festival includes free outdoor activities, too. And, of course, you’ll find food trucks serving up Montreal favorites like poutine — french fries and cheese curds topped with gravy.  

Every year, Scotland becomes a center of creativity for artists from around the world when it hosts the Edinburgh International Festival, as well as the more offbeat Festival Fringe. Both are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. The International Festival runs from Aug. 5-28 and the Festival Fringe takes place from Aug. 5-29. At the International Festival, you’ll find theater, music, opera and dance. The Fringe offers a more eclectic lineup incorporating everything from circus to spoken word. Both make great use of the historic city. 

Contact Us to plan your summer cultural getaway.

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