Fun in the Sun
Summertime is a great time to get away, but in Western Mass., it’s also a great time to stick around and enjoy the many events on the calendar. Whether you’re craving live music or arts and crafts, historical experiences or small-town pride, the region boasts plenty of ways to celebrate the summer months. Here are a few dozen ideas to get you started.
Granby Charter Days
Dufresne Park, Route 202, Granby, MA
• June 14-16: This annual town fair celebrates the adoption of Granby’s charter in 1768. This year’s event promises an array of local vendors and artisand, arts and crafts, contests, tractor pulls and an antique tractor show, an oxen draw, helicopter rides, a petting zoo, live music headlined by Trailer Trash, midway rides, a pancake breakfast, fireworks, and more.
Worthy Craft Brew Fest
201 Worthington St., Springfield, MA
• June 15: Smith’s Billiards and Theodores’ Booze, Blues & BBQ, both in the city’s entertainment district, will host two dozen breweries, live music, and food served up by Theodores’, Thai Chili Food Truck, and Nora Cupcake Co. The event will also feature a home-brew contest; Amherst Brewing will make the winner’s beer and serve it at next year’s Brew Fest.
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
358 George Carter Road, Becket
Admission: Prices vary
• June 19 to Aug. 25: Now in its 86th season, Jacob’s Pillow has become one of the country’s premier showcases for dance, featuring more than 50 dance companies from the U.S. and around the world. Participants can take in scores of free performances, talks, and events; train at one of the nation’s most prestigious dance-training centers; and take part in programs designed to educate and engage audiences of all ages.
Out! for Reel LGBT Films
274 Main St., Northampton, MA
• June 22: Out! For Reel LGBTQ Films celebrates National Pride Month with a mini film fest at the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton. This year’s theme is “This American Lesbian Life: Uplifting (and Fun) Stories in Short Films.” Out! For Reel invites everyone in the community to enjoy these entertaining, inspiring, and award-winning films.
New England Food Truck Festival
1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield, MA
• June 22-23: The New England Food Truck Festival, on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition, is the largest event of its kind in New England, featuring close to 50 of New England’s premier food trucks, live music, and family fun. An array of entertainment is slated throughout the weekend, from local bands to face painting, to enjoy along with a taco, grilled cheese, or hundreds of other tasty options.
The Capitol Steps
55 Lee Road, Lenox, MA
• June 28 to Aug. 30: Since they formed in 1981, political satirists the Capitol Steps have recorded more than 30 albums and can be heard four times a year on NPR during their “Politics Take a Holiday” specials. They will release their new CD, The Lyin’ Kings, in time for their annual summer residency at Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort. Cranwell performances are nightly excluding Tuesdays throughout the summer.
Old Sturbridge Village Independence Weekend Celebration
1 Old Sturbridge Village Road, Sturbridge
Admission: $14-$28; free for children under 4
• July 3-4: At this celebration of America, visitors can take part in a citizens’ parade, play 19th-century-style ‘base ball,’ march with the militia, make a tri-cornered hat, and sign a giant copy of the Declaration of Independence. Children and families will enjoy some friendly competition with games, and a reproduction cannon will be fired. On July 4, a citizen naturalization ceremony will take place on the Village Common.
Main Street, Monson
• July 4: In 1979, a group of parishioners from the town’s Methodist church wanted to start an Independence Day celebration focused on family and community. The first Summerfest featured food, games, and fun activities. With the addition of a parade, booths, bands, rides, and activities, the event — now celebrating its 40th anniversary — has evolved into an attraction drawing more than 10,000 people every year.
Berkshires Arts Festival
380 State Road, Great Barrington
Admission: $7-$14; free for children under 10
• July 5-7: Ski Butternut may be best-known for … well, skiing, of course. But the property also plays host to the Berkshires Arts Festival, a regional tradition now in its 18th year. Thousands of art lovers and collectors are expected to stop by to check out and purchase the creations of more than 175 artists and designers, and take in a performance by ‘chamber-folk’ trio Harpeth Rising on July 6.
Brimfield Outdoor Antiques Show
Route 20, Brimfield
• July 9-14, Sept. 3-8: After expanding steadily through the decades, the Brimfield Antique Show now encompasses six miles of Route 20 and has become a nationally known destination for people to value antiques, collectibles, and flea-market finds. Some 6,000 dealers and close to 1 million total visitors show up at the three annual, week-long events; the first was in May.
1021 West St., Amherst
Admission: Festival pass, $236; tickets may be purchased for individual events
• July 11-14: Boasting an array of concerts, lectures, and workshops, Yidstock 2019: the Festival of New Yiddish Music brings the best in klezmer and new Yiddish music to the stage at the Yiddish Book Center on the campus of Hampshire College. The eighth annual event always offers an intriguing glimpse into Jewish roots, music, and culture.
Green River Festival
One College Dr., Greenfield
Admission: Weekend, $139.99; Friday, $44.99; Saturday, $69.99; Sunday, $64.99
• July 12-14: For one weekend every July, Greenfield Community College hosts a high-energy celebration of music; local food, beer, and wine; handmade crafts; and games and activities for families and children — all topped off with hot-air-balloon launches and Friday- and Saturday-evening ‘balloon glows.’ The music is continuous on three stages, with more than 35 bands slated to perform.
Northeast Balloon Festival
41 Fair St., Northampton, MA
Admission: $7.50-$15; free for children under 13
• July 12-14: This annual event, held at the Three County Fairgrounds, features balloon rides, walk-in balloons, nighttime balloon glows, and pilot meet-and-greets, as well as a vendor expo, craft beer, live music, and more. More than 30 of New England’s top food trucks will offer an array of tastes, while amusement rides and a petting zoo have been added for the first time.
Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival
300 North Main St., Florence
Admission: $5-$18, free for children under 6
• July 20: Celebrating its 26th anniversary this year, the largest Scottish festival in Massachusetts, held at Look Park, features Highland dancers, pipe bands, a pipe and drum competition, animals, spinners, weavers, harpists, Celtic music, athletic contests, activities for children, and the authentically dressed Historic Highlanders recreating everyday life in that society from the 14th through 18th centuries.
Ludlow Fish & Game Club
200 Sportsmans Road, Ludlow, MA
• July 27: Celebrate Ludlow began in 2000 as an extension of a parade and picnic in 1999 to celebrate the town’s 225th anniversary, and has continued annually ever since. The event, held at Ludlow Fish & Game Club and put on with the help of numerous local nonprofit organizations, typically features live bands, food, games, activities for children, and fireworks to cap off the evening.
Hampden County 4-H Fair
1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield
• July 28: More than 200 youth from Hampden County, and 4-H members from Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, and Worcester counties, will showcase projects they have made, grown, or raised during the past year. Events include a horse show and other animal exhibitions, a fun run, a talent show, a scavenger hunt, raffle drawings, arts and crafts, and more.
High Hopes Music and Arts Festival
One MGM Way, Springfield, MA
• Aug. 3: Paddle Out Productions is partnering with MGM Springfield to bring a day of music, food, and arts to the Plaza at MGM Springfield. Renowned Queen tribute band Almost Queen will headline the bill and will be joined by Roots of Creation’s Grateful Dub, a reggae-infused tribute to the Grateful Dead; the Eagles Experience; and local acts Atlas Grey and Joon.
Kids Safety Expo
1000 Hall of Fame Ave., Springfield, MA
• Aug. 3: Children and parents can combine fun activities with critical safety education during the 11th annual Kids Safety Expo at the Basketball Hall of Fame. Attendees will have meet-and-greets with area law-enforcement officers, popular characters, and local mascots, and the first 500 children who attend will receive complimentary bicycle helmets.
Springfield Jazz & Roots Festival
Court Square, Springfield
• Aug. 10: The sixth annual event will offer a festive atmosphere featuring dozens of locally and internationally acclaimed musical artists. More than 10,000 people are expected to attend. This internationally heralded festival has become a powerful expression of civic pride, uniting the region’s diverse cultural communities through music, arts, education, and revelry.
Downtown Get Down
Exchange Street, Chicopee
• Aug. 23-24: Downtown Chicopee will once again be transformed into a massive block party. Now in its fifth year, the event — which typically draws some 15,000 people to the streets around City Hall — will feature live music from nine bands, as well as attractions for children, local food vendors, live art demonstrations, and a 5K race on Aug. 24.
• Aug. 23-25: Celebrate Holyoke is a three-day festival that made its return in 2015 after a 10-year hiatus. This year’s festival, expected to draw more than 10,000 people downtown, will include plenty of live musical performances, food and beverages from local restaurants, activities for children and families, and goods from local artists, crafters, and creators of all kinds.
Red Fire Farm Tomato Festival
7 Carver St., Granby, MA
Admission: $5; free for children under 8
• Aug. 24: When the tomatoes are ripe and delicious in the August fields, Red Fire Farm hosts its annual Tomato Festival. Attendees can taste (and buy) a rainbow of tomato varieties grown on the farm and vote for their favorites. Bands play out back while visitors snack on food from local vendors, go on a wild edibles walk, pick cherry tomatoes, listen in on a cooking workshop, and more.
22 St. George Road, Springfield
• Sept. 6-8: Every year, St. George Cathedral offers thousands of visitors the best in traditional Greek foods, pastries, music, dancing, and old-fashioned Greek hospitality. In addition, the festival offers activities for children, tours of the historic St. George Cathedral and Byzantine Chapel, vendors from across the East Coast, icon workshops, movies in the Glendi Theatre, cooking demonstrations, and more.
Mattoon Street Arts Festival
Mattoon Street, Springfield
• Sept. 7-8: Now in its 47th year, the Mattoon Street Arts Festival is the longest-running arts festival in the Pioneer Valley, featuring about 100 exhibitors, including artists that work in ceramics, fibers, glass, jewelry, painting and printmaking, photography, wood, metal, and mixed media. Food vendors and strolling musicians help to make the event a true late-summer destination.
1040 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams
Admission: $48-$135 for three-day pass; free for children under 6
• Sept. 20-22: The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is known for its musical events, and the Fresh Grass festival is among the highlights, showcasing more than 50 bluegrass artists and bands over three days. This year, the lineup includes Greensky Bluegrass, Calexico and Iron & Wine, Andrew Bird, Mavis Staples, Kronos Quartet, Tinariwen, Steep Canyon Rangers, and many more.
All Summer Long
Valley Blue Sox
MacKenzie Stadium, 500 Beech St., Holyoke
Admission: $5-$7; flex packs $59-$99
• Through. Aug. 1: Western Mass. residents don’t have to trek to Boston to catch quality baseball. The Valley Blue Sox, two-time defending champions of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, play close to home at MacKenzie Stadium in Holyoke. Frequent promotional events like postgame fireworks and giveaways help make every game a fun, affordable event for the whole family.
Bullens Field, Westfield, MA
• Through. Aug. 4: The newest baseball team to land in Western Mass., the Starfires, a member of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, is playing its inaugural season at Bullens Field in a city with plenty of baseball history. The league itself has been expanding and growing its attendance in recent years, and 30 of its players were drafted last June by major-league organizations.
Berkshire Botanical Garden
5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge, MA
Admission: $12-$15; free for children under 12
• Through. Oct. 11: With 15 acres of public gardens, Berkshire Botanical Garden’s mission is to fulfill the community’s need for information, education, and inspiration concerning the art and science of gardening and the preservation of the environment. In addition to the garden’s collections, visitors can enjoy workshops, special events, and guided tours.
Crab Apple Whitewater Rafting
2056 Mohawk Trail, Charlemont
Admission: Varies by activity
• Through. Oct. 14: Wanna get wet? Crab Apple is a third-generation, multi-state family business that operates locally on the Deerfield River in the northern Berkshire Mountains of Western Mass. Its rafting excursions range from mild to wild, full- or half-day runs, in rafts and inflatable kayaks. In short, Crab Apple offers something for everyone, from beginners to more experienced rafters.
The Zoo in Forest Park
293 Sumner Ave., Springfield, MA
Admission: $5-$10; free for children under 1
• Through. Oct. 14: The Zoo in Forest Park, located inside Springfield’s Forest Park, is home to more than 175 native and exotic animals representing a large variety of species found throughout the world and North America. Meanwhile, the zoo maintains a focus on conservation, wildlife education, and rehabilitation, while offering special events like Zoo on the Go, guided tours, and discovery programs.
Six Flags New England
1623 Main St., Agawam, MA
Admission: $46.99; season passes $75.99
• Through. Oct. 27: Continuing an annual tradition of adding a new major attraction each spring, Six Flags New England recently unveiled Cyborg Hyper Drive, a spinning thrill ride in the dark. Other recent additions include Harley Quinn Spinsanity, the Joker 4D Free Fly Coaster, the looping Fireball, and the 420-foot-tall New England Sky Screamer swings. And the Hurricane Harbor water park is free with admission.
84B Old Main St., Deerfield, MA
free for children under 6
• Year-round: This outdoor museum interprets the history and culture of early New England and the Connecticut River Valley. Visitors can tour 12 carefully preserved antique houses dating from 1730 to 1850, and explore world-class collections of regional furniture, silver, textiles, and other decorative arts. Summer activities include educational lectures, cooking demonstrations, and exhibitions of period items and art.