Summer Events for Soaking Up Culture Last Updated: November 2023
This summer, get cultured. Connecticut’s filled with cool arts and culture events – and many are putting their own twist on things. See outdoor plays and live music, interesting exhibits, and more. Here are some happenings to kick off the artsy vibes this summer.
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August 12 - 13
The oldest of its kind in the Northeast region, this iconic art festival features more than 200 artists from around the country, with more than two miles of arts and crafts including oils, watercolors, photographs, pastels, sculpture, woodwork, comics, acrylics, and more.
See plays written by local playwrights! Drama Works produces contemporary plays that are entertaining, thought provoking, inspiring and relevant. Support Connecticut's art scene when you check out this not-for-profit theater.
Presented by The MusicNow Foundation, enjoy acoustic concerts by an organization that aims to engage, enrich, and educate young and old through workshop programming, performance opportunities and musical mentorships.
Saturdays and Sunday from September 2 - October 15
This extraordinary event promises to transport visitors into the enchanting world of the 16th century. Celebrating its 25th season, The Connecticut Renaissance Faire is an immersive experience combining history, arts, and entertainment, taking place at the Lebanon Country Fairgrounds.
Pair hiking with acoustic live music concerts when you attend the Trail Sessions. Get introduced to new trails and new bands all in one!
July 13 - 16
New England’s largest free public jazz festival will feature an incredible lineup of jazz musicians, plus 70+ artists and craftspeople selling hand-crafted jewelry, clothing, gifts, and beauty products along with Health & Human Services vendors, and an array of 23 food vendors, reflecting the diversity of the Greater Hartford region.
July 13 - 30
There is nothing like Shakespeare under the stars, and there is no competition in Hartford County. You have to travel to New Haven or Fairfield country to see another Shakespeare festival in Connecticut. And for a twist, Capital Classics is staging "Macbeth" with two females in the lead roles of King Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Bring your family, friends, lawn chairs, blankets, and picnic dinners.
Come enjoy the day exploring local artists’ work with family & friends. This daylong event will include the grand opening of local artists works on display at the Keeney Memorial Center from 10am -4pm and include multiple outdoor activities including: an Artists Vendor Fair on the grounds of the Webb Deane Stevens Museum, youth outdoor art classes under the shade of trees on the grounds of the Keeney Memorial Center, sidewalk chalk contest and plein air artists demonstrating their talents at designated locations along Main Street.
Enjoy a musical world journey with music from Ireland, France, Spain, Brazil, Venezuela, Japan & Eastern Europe. Musical Friends creates charming, uplifting arrangements of music for flute, mandolin & guitar. The group combines the talents of three top area musicians:
Leo Snow: flute, alto flute, Irish wooden flute (director)
Mark Levesque: mandolin & guitar
Judy Handler: guitar and arranging
Sway to the musical stylings of Morris Trent while you enjoy a fresh meal at Claire's Corner Copia, offering vegetarian and vegan comfort food dishes.
Fridays in August
Enjoy four great concerts, featuring a season-opening All-Schubert program and three programs of music by some of your favorite composers, including Beethoven, Bartók, Brahms, Dvorák, Schumann, and more.
Led by the Town Historian, Susan Barlow, attend this history walk in Center Memorial Park explores the Civil War monument and several other memorials in the park.
Enjoy a peaceful walk on our moss covered trails. Encounter numerous old and new art installations along the way. Use a trail map and explore freely. Or just follow the white arrows for a curated experience.
August 14 - 16
The Kate presents the two surviving members of Peter, Paul & Mary for the first time in our theater for three shows this August. Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey carry on the tradition of the renowned folk music group Peter, Paul and Mary—a union that lasted 50 years.
Ukraine’s Kommuna Lux validates these words from an old poem, performing their own style called "Odessa Gangsta Folk:" thrilling klezmer music and common gangster folk songs from their hometown, all with a dose of rocket fuel. Kommuna Lux plays joyful songs and melodies from Odessa and all Eastern Europe in spiced up arrangements.
Break out the picnic blankets and head to the Tolland Green for various Tolland Lawn Concerts, featuring acts like Mack Truck Mary, Kelsey Kaplan & Kevin Maki, Jeff Burnham & the Insiders, and Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters.
June 24 - August 27
Think a candlestick is just the wax you burn at a romantic dinner? Think again. The Kent Historical Society is proud to present the new summer exhibit, “Sticks and Stands”: an intriguing collection of candlesticks and candlestands from the days before electricity. And expect a few surprises along the way.
July 11 - 29
Attention true crime and murder mystery fans! “Dial M for Murder” is an edge-of-your-seat tale about a devious husband, his wealthy wife, and her lover. The new adaptation of the classic suspense thriller of blackmail and revenge offers even more surprises and diabolic twists than the renowned Hitchcock film. See how it unfolds in a live performance at the Westport Country Playhouse.
And on July 16, stage and screen writer Jeffrey Hatcher, creator of the new adaptation of “Dial M for Murder,” will attend and discuss how he re-thought for the stage the classic tale of blackmail and revenge.
See a live version of the popular musical “Tick... Tick... Boom” which recently became a Netflix hit. This autobiographical musical by Jonathan Larson, the Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning composer of "Rent", is the story of a composer and the sacrifices that he made to achieve his big break in theater. The show is presented by members of City Youth Theater — encouraging kids to love the arts!
July 1 – October 14
See the Cornwall Historical Society's new exhibition: Touring the Countryside: Postcards from Cornwall, Kent, and Warren. Explore 19th century picture postcards pinning memories to notable spots; imagery publicized places worth visiting, and messages highlighted good times, travel information and connections between city origins and country sojourns — and fueling what we know today as a thriving tourism industry.
Want to talk art? The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is hosting a panel conversation on Prima Materia: The Periodic Table in Contemporary Art with exhibiting artists Rachel Berwick, Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, and Winston Roeth, moderated by the exhibition’s curator Richard Klein. The conversation will focus on the three artists’ lifelong engagement with specific materials and how their chosen materials aren’t neutral vehicles, but rather filled with content in and of themselves.
August 10 – 13
Each summer outstanding local, regional, and national bluegrass acts converge on the Podunk Stages and deliver an awesome festival experience.
Experience local art at one of Cornwall’s oldest traditions. You'll find Cornwall artists exhibiting and selling paintings, photography, drawings, ceramics, textiles, prints, and sculptures.
Sundays in July & August
Enjoy top-tier regional talent performing music across a wide range of genre’s, from the blues to the Beatles! The concerts take place on the Great Lawn. Chairs, blankets, and a picnic dinner are permitted and encouraged. In the event of rain, the concert will be held in the Silver Educational Center.
At Two Roads' monthly Hop Yard Market and ConnArtist Showcase event, check out ConnArtist: a yearly competition we host for contestants to submit their artwork to have it featured on a limited release can of beer. This year their winner Arianna Conti and her artwork will be revealed on one of the fermenter tanks in the brewery and a brewery only can release. The top 5 finalists will be featured at this event in addition to 10-15 local craft vendors. In the evening see weekly Hop Yard Concert featuring Massive Diva.
Bluegrass fans can listen to the great sounds of String Busters at The Meetinghouse.
A newly commissioned performance by choreographers nora chipaumire and Germaine Acogny, aims to promote intergenerational conversation, sorority, and solidarity in Senegal and Zimbabwe. Drawing inspiration from the Lébou community's history and women's central role in traditional Ndeup healing ceremonies, the performance features a sonic ensemble from Toubab Dialaw, a coastal village of fishermen in Senegal. The women recall chants connecting them to water spirits who bring healing blessings to the community.
Two performers on two pianos deliver an all-request, rock and roll sing-along as they battle each other to deliver the best song of the night! From Billy Joel to Aretha Franklin, from Sinatra to Metallica, from Garth Brooks to Madonna, they’ve got it covered.
Dueling Pianos is a fundraiser to support REACH Program for National Suicide Prevention Month.
October 6 - 8
See Grammy Award-winning national artists and up and coming acts at Black Bear Americana Music Fest, a 3-day festival celebrating rock, blues, folk, bluegrass, and the many other types of music that has contributed America's rich and dynamic culture.