Escape New York City for a Relaxing Theatre Getaway
The theatre marquees in New York City are lit up again this summer, but there is plenty of entertainment outside the glare (and heat) of the city that will offer a culture fix and the opportunity to explore the great outdoors. From roving performances on farm fields to Shakespeare plays with the backdrop of the Hudson River, check out these theatre destinations within driving distance of Manhattan. Pack your bags!
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival – Garrison, NY
The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF) is located in the hamlet of Garrison, N.Y., just 60-miles north of Manhattan and a quick trip on the Metro-North train. The festival takes place at the historic Boscobel House and Gardens, and performances are set under an all-weather tent with views of the Hudson Highlands.
HVSF Summer Lineup
The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s 2021 season kicks off with James Ijames’ The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington from June 24-July 30. The new play, directed by Taylor Reynolds, follows widow Martha Washington on her deathbed, being tended to by the slaves who will be freed upon her death in accordance to George Washington’s will. The play will be available to stream online July 10-August 15. Next up will be Shakespeare’s tragicomedy “The Tempest” from August 5-September 4, directed by HVSF company member Ryan Quinn, which will stream August 21–September 19.
What to Do in Garrison, NY
On your way to the theatre, stop in the adjacent town of Cold Spring and pick up picnic provisions at Cold Spring Cheese Shop or Hudson Hil’s Café to enjoy on the Boscobel House and Gardens grounds. Main Street in Cold Spring is lined with antique shops, outfitters, and home goods stores. Be sure to pop into Pink Olive for stationary and gifts, and Split Rock Books for a summer read. If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure, bring your hiking boots to explore the many trails, including Breakneck Ridge Loop and the Ruins of the Cornish Estate. Cool down with a post-hike brew at Cold Spring Depot, a train station-turned bistro serving American fare. Finish your day with a cone along the riverfront at Moo Moo’s Creamery.
Spring Hill Arts Gathering – New Preston, Connecticut
The Spring Hill Arts Gathering (SHAG) in New Preston, Connecticut., is a summer festival set on a sprawling farm and vineyard. The site is 92 miles from New York City and boasts a grain silo, pink granite amphitheatre, and even a wine cave. The festival, called SHAG, will take place over two weekends this summer, July 29-August 1, and August 6-8.
SHAG Summer Lineup
The summer lineup will feature Broadway stars, including Tony-nominated Ariana Debose, who is set to perform on July 30 at the festival’s “Country Goes to Town” program. Next up will be a Pride-themed concert called “Pride in the Hills” on July 31, with headliner Alex Newell of “Once On This Island.”
In addition to performances, the summer season will include a conversation on August 1 about social justice and jazz music with jazz drummer and composer Terri Lyne Carrington. On August 2, the Connecticut-based modern dance group Pilobolus will perform alongside the Connecticut Ballet and the Brother(hood) Dance! duo. The show will feature music by the hybrid band/dance company SOLE, and DJ Doctor Arvolyn Hill. Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall will kick off the SHAG Music Fest on August 7. The SHAG lineup will culminate with the free Washington Town Party, a daylong celebration of the town’s heroes, complete with fiddlers and food stands.
Things to Do in New Preston, Connecticut
New Preston, Connecticut is a small village in the town of Washington, Connecticut filled with makers and artisans. Just a mile down the road from the Spring Hill Arts Gathering you’ll find vintage stores, antique shops, and eateries all along Main Street. Be sure to check out DK Shulman and Gifts for stationary and unique gifts, and stop by The Smithy Market, an 18th-century blacksmith shop that’s now a cultural hub for the town with local produce, handcrafted items, and an art exhibit. Grab lunch next door at The Smithy Cafe, a retro-style diner with seasonal soups, salads, baked goods, and more.
In Bridegwater, Connecticut, less than two hours from Times Square, the modern dance troupe Pilbolus will present an immersive experience called “Bloom: A Journey” from July 21-25. The show is dubbed a “roving art safari”: audiences drive through Sunny Meadow Farm, a working produce farm since the 1700s, and experience the performance from their respective cars. The 365-degree show will feature distanced dancers and musicians, and you can purchase snack boxes curated by a local chef for the ride. Also on the docket will be family-friendly tai chi, yoga, meditation, and wellness classes outdoors on the farm each morning of the festival.
Things to Do in Bridgewater, Connecticut
The town of Bridgewater is located along the Housatonic River and is filled with nature trails and lakes. Pack a picnic and head to Bridgewater Town Park, where you’ll find plenty of picnic spots and a boat launch on Lake Lillinonah. Make a post-show dinner reservation at local favorite Bridgewater Village Store, a bistro housed in a 1899 clapboard building that has been the home of a mail order business, factory, convenience store, and more. For an outdoor adventure, head to the nearby Lover’s Leap State Park in New Milford, Conn., a 160-acre park with scenic views and historic bridges. Rowanwood Farm in Newtown, Conn., is a 9-mile drive from “Bloom: A Journey” where you can explore nature trails and hike with a herd of mini Bolivian, Peruvian, Argentinian, and Chilean llamas.