Berkshire Summer Festivals Lenox, Massachusetts
When warm weather sets in, performing artists from New York, Boston and the rest of the world find their way to the Berkshires, where the life of the mind flourishes among the rolling, wooded hills of western Massachusetts.
The Tanglewood Music Festival is the Berkshires’ pre-eminent event. The summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood attracts top-flight artists from around the globe, who perform works in a wide variety of genres. The lush 500-acre estate encompasses four lovely performance venues with plenty of seating, but Tanglewood’s calling card is a glamorous picnic dinner. Some music lovers spread out blankets and gourmet meals on The Lawn, dining by candlelight, sometimes with china, silver and crystal. Others bring the children and tuna sandwiches.
The season culminates in early September with the annual Tanglewood Jazz Festival. The internationally acclaimed Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival offers dance performances, lectures, demonstrations, films and live music. ‘The Pillow’, a long-time haunt of the legendary Martha Graham, is famed for encouraging the dance world’s rising stars. You can enjoy ballet one night and hip-hop, modern jazz or Spanish flamenco the next. Close to Lenox in the small town of Becket, the 161-acre property, a National Historic Landmark, is home to multiple performance spaces, a dance school and carefully preserved wetlands that can be enjoyed on a self-guided tour of the grounds.
Shakespeare & Company’s focus is—not surprisingly—on the Bard, but its three performance spaces also schedule contemporary works and revivals. The celebrated actor-training programme gives the company an energy that makes it as irresistible to established stars as talented unknowns. Literature is another art closely associated with the Berkshires. The Mount was the home of novelist Edith Wharton from 1902 to 1911. Wharton claimed to be “a better landscape gardener than novelist”—the judges who made her the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction might disagree—and the Mount preserves her legacy.