From modern dance in the great outdoors to tall ships in the harbor, our list of the top 10 Massachusetts summer events has something for everyone.
By Yankee Magazine
Apr 06 2020
Crowds gather on the lawn at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.Photo Credit : Stu Rosner
EDITORS’ NOTE: The nation is still dealing with COVID-19 at the time of this post, meaning it’s not known whether the 2020 dates for these events are confirmed. We’re hoping for the best, but please check with organizers before making your summer travel plans!
From modern dance in the great outdoors to tall ships in the harbor, our list of the top 10 Massachusetts summer events has something for everyone. Read on to see our picks, then tell us about your own favorite Massachusetts summer events in the comments!
Concertgoers and nature fans alike delight in the offerings of this musical landmark, also known as the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, located in the lovely Berkshire hills. Each season features performances by the BSO and other big names in classical music, along with shows by rock, folk, and pop stars (including James Taylor on July 4).
SEE MORE:A Weekend at Tanglewood
The fishing city of Gloucester celebrates its heritage in a big way with this five-day festival in honor of the patron saint of fishermen, Saint Peter. Organized by the local Italian-American community, the citywide party has parades, carnival, concerts, seine boat races, a greasy pole contest, and a blessing of the fleet.
America’s longest-running international dance festival returns to Jacob’s Pillow, the historic dance center, school, and performance space in western Massachusetts. Look for performances by modern dance masters and companies, plus rare visits from foreign companies.
SEE MORE:The Berkshires in Summer | My New England
A tradition since 1955, this celebration of the stage puts the spotlight on both classic plays and bold new works, complemented by a lineup of readings, workshops, and educational programs.
One of the most beloved Massachusetts summer events, the crowning event of the five-day Boston Harborfest — which is, incidentally, the country’s largest Fourth of July festival — this free Boston Pops concert draws more than 300,000 to the Esplanade along the Charles River (tip: if you can stand to skip the fireworks, go on July 3 to enjoy the concert with a little more elbow room). And when the concert wraps up, a stunning half-hour display of pyrotechnics gets under way.
Greenfield Community College plays host to a sprawling celebration of world-class music that Rolling Stone, USA Today, and the New York Times have all described as a must-see festival. Plus, there will be great local food, beer, and wine; a handmade-craft fair; family games and activities; and hot air balloon launches and a night-time balloon glow.
SEE MORE:Greenfield, Massachusetts | Could You Live Here?
Marking its 60th anniversary in 2019, Brimfield is the name to know in New England antiques and flea market circles. The show — which is actually a collection of more than 20 separately owned and operated shows — is held once in spring and twice in summer, and draws thousands of treasure hunters to a mile-long stretch of Route 20 every time. There are more than 5,000 dealers selling everything from architectural salvage to vintage tools to jewelry, furniture, and every kind of collectible under the sun.
SEE MORE:Opening Day at the Brimfield Antiques Show
More than 100 cinematic works will be screened during this eight-day showcase of independent film, which also invites movie buffs to its workshops, panel discussions, staged readings, special events, parties, and awards ceremony.
Billed as the largest Portuguese feast of its kind in the world and the single largest ethnic festival in all of New England, this annual New Bedford tradition is still going strong after more than a century. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend the event, which offers a carnival midway, Portuguese food and performances, a 5K road race, a 40-foot barbecue pit, and a parade.
SEE MORE:New Bedford, Massachusetts | Finding Spring in the Whaling City
The first Marshfield Fair was held in 1867. That same year, Nebraska became the 37th state, the United States purchased the Alaska territory, and Harvard established the first dental school in the country. A lot has changed since 1867, but the fair remains largely the same, offering up a full slate of agricultural and horticultural demonstrations, crafts, rides, games, livestock contests, and a demolition derby at the Marshfield Fairgrounds.
SEE MORE:Biggest Agricultural Fairs in New England
What are your favorite Massachusetts summer events? Let us know!
This post was first published in 2017 and has been updated.