The Valley's Most Fun Fairs and Festivals
When it comes to enjoying summer, nothing beats a great festival. Whether you’re crazy for country music or crafts, Shakespeare or cabaret, our carefully curated selection will keep you busy straight through to fall.
One of the three stages at Mountain Jam
MOUNTAIN JAM / TASTE OF COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVALS
June 2-5, June 10-12 - Hunter Mountain
What they are: It’s one big party on the mountain and plenty of bands for your buck at these back-to-back camping music fests with a down-home beat. For 12 years, rock aficionados have marked their calendars for the first week of June, when Mountain Jam’s multiple stages feature some 40 breakthrough bands that appeal to a range of musical tastes. Held just days later, Mountain Jam’s kissin’ cousin, Taste of Country, was founded in 2013 and has quickly become a must-attend event. The past roster of artists includes legends like Willie Nelson, multi-Grammy winner Lady Antebellum, and Billboard chart-topper Trace Adkins. Grab your cowboy boots!
What's new: At Mountain Jam, headliners Beck, Gov’t Mule, and Chris Robinson will lure droves. Also featured: Wilco, the Avett Brothers, and Umphrey’s McGee. Taste of Country features superstar crossover artist Kenny Chesney, Jake Owen, Kid Rock, and up-and-comers like Old Dominion and the Swon Brothers.
Don't miss: Mountain Jam’s Sunday morning yoga for the masses. At Taste of Country,crowds line up for venison patties, vegan and gluten-free stews, and ethnic tortas. Hop on the mountain’s Skyride chairlift at either event for a bird’s-eye view of the crowd. 855-821-9209; http://mountainjam.org
BETHEL WOODS CENTER FOR THE ARTS
Bethel - June 10-July 31
What it is: Located on the sacred ground of the August 1969 Woodstock festival, this 800-acre venue includes a 15,000-seat amphitheater for those big, sit-on-the-lawn-and-feel-the-vibe events. You can almost hear the echoes of Hendrix’s national anthem.
What's new: The season kicks off with Mysteryland USA, an electronic music festival (June 10-13). Up next is Canadian cult band Barenaked Ladies (June 17), followed by Daryl Hall & John Oates (June 18), Journey and the Doobie Brothers (June 24), Steely Dan with Steve Winwood (July 9), and the Beach Boys and the Temptations (July 15). A show featuring chart-topper Jason Aldean with Thomas Rhett and A Thousand Horses is also creating a buzz (July 14). And the Kidz Bop Kids make an appearance on July 24.
Don't miss: In recognition of Bethel Woods’s 10-year anniversary, Tonight on the Pavilion Stage, an exhibit of photographs taken during each of the performances held at the site, is on view in the center’s new Crossroads Gallery through December. 866-781-2922; www.bethelwoodscenter.org
QUEEN CITY PRIDE FESTIVAL
Poughkeepsie & Hyde Park - June 10-12
What it is: In celebration of National Gay Pride Month, this eighth annual whirlwind weekend is named for Poughkeepsie, the “Queen City” of the Hudson. Sponsored by Big Gay Hudson Valley, it kicks off Friday evening with black-light bowling at Potown’s Spin City.
What's new: The festival extends to the Marriott Pavilion at the CIA in Hyde Park, where Broadway, TV, and movie actor/comedian Jackie Hoffman performs her act (which isn’t meant for kiddie ears). With a Second City background, she is famous for her one-woman shows of Jewish-themed songs and monologues.
Don't miss: The Pride Summer Picnic at Locust Grove begins at 5 pm on Sunday. Attracting some 400 picnickers and open to kids and dogs, the event is strictly bring-your-own (including booze) and encourages attendees to be creative: Hang chandeliers in the trees and decorate your picnic spot with lawn ornaments. www.biggayhudsonvalley.com/queencitypride
HVSF attendees can enjoy a picnic and a view at Boscobel before the show.
HUDSON VALLEY SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
June 7-September 5 - Garrison
What it is: The Bard’s famous words, “all the world’s a stage,” ring true every summer on the picturesque grounds of the Boscobel estate. Performing at one of the most iconic spots on the Hudson River — West Point is on the opposite shore — the HVSF troupe brings Shakespeare’s plays to life in a way not possible in an enclosed theater. Come picnic on the lawn then head into the large theater tent for the performance. Pay close attention to the cast, as you never know where their careers will take them: John Cariani, for instance, cut his teeth at HVSF then went on to star in the Shakespearean send-up Something Rotten on Broadway. You might also know him from Law & Order.
What's new: A trio of Shakespeare’s works are performed in repertory from June 7-Aug. 28. This year’s lineup features the comedies Measure for Measure and As You Like It, as well as the bewitching tragedy Macbeth.
Don't miss: In celebration of Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary this year, the conservatory company presents an original family-friendly comedy, So Please You, a play peppered with Shakespearean history, lines, and language, not to mention plenty of clowning(August 15, 16, 23, 29). 845-265-9575; www.hvshakespeare.org
Sleepy Man can be spotted performing live at the Belleayre Music Festival this year
BELLEAYRE MUSIC FESTIVAL
July 2-Sept. 3 - Highmount
What it is: After taking a one-year break, this fest is back with a vengeance. Held for 23 summers on the grounds of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center in the Highmount section of the Catskills, previous festivals have featured such notable acts as Ray Charles, Patti LuPone, Frankie Valli, and Charlie Daniels.
What's new: Here’s a festival that can’t be pinned down to a particular genre. On July 2, the Yardbirds perform with original band member Jim McCarty; saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, once a member of backup bands for James Brown and Van Morrison, wails away with his signature “funk jazz” on August 13; Cristina Fontanelli’s soprano soars on August 27.
Poughkeepsie - June 24-July 31
What it is: Vassar College and New York Stage and Film have been collaborating since 1985 on bringing artists to Poughkeepsie to incubate new works that very often find their way to Broadway. This summer, some 250 professional artists and 50 apprentices polish more than 25 plays and musical theater pieces. Don’t miss your chance to see the next big thing: In recent years, Powerhouse-nurtured works include The Humans, Stephen Karam’s drama; the musical Bright Star, written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell; and even Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sold-out smash. In 2016, well-known stage and screen artists are on hand once again: John Slattery, the Emmy-nominated star of Mad Men, directs a reading of Lorien Haynes’ play Good Grief. And How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor’s first-ever play, Sacred Valley, is part of the Reading Series.
What's new: The 32nd Powerhouse season features two plays written and directed by women: Transfers (June 30-July 10), written by Lucy Thurber and directed by Jackson Gay; and The Wolves (July 21-July 31), penned by Sarah DeLappe and directed by Lila Neugebauer.
Don't miss: A 12-hour marathon performance of the history of popular music from 1776 to the present. And see an adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, written and directed by Mark Lindberg and performed by members of the Powerhouse Theater Training Program, for free. 845-437-5907; www.powerhouse.vassar.edu
RHINEBECK ARTS FESTIVAL
Rhinebeck - June 25-26
What it is: Two hundred American crafts artists show off their wares to 7,000 enthusiastic attendees at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. Shoppers can choose from wood, glass, and fabric items as well as jewelry, artworks, and gourmet foods, all while listening to the Lindsey Webster Band, which was recently ranked number one on Billboard’s Smooth Jazz charts.
What's new: Along with this event’s shift from the fall to the summer season, it has changed up its offerings. Now you can ooh and ahh at industrial lamps by Lynne Manning and John Peralta; brightly colored, geometric acrylic sculptures by Will Grant; and hand-carved wooden ergonomic chairs by Geoffrey Warner.
Don't miss: Creating a hand-painted silk scarf with artist Patricia Disantis. Keep your eyes peeled for Anna Hafner as she walks the grounds as a living sculpture in her enchanting hand-built costumes. 845-331-7900; www.artrider.com
Tivoli - July 1-August 14
The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College
What it is: For the 27th year, Bard treats the public to a smorgasbord of culture with seven weeks of opera, music, theater, dance, film, and cabaret all on one gorgeous campus. This year, the events spin off of the life and times of composer Giacomo Puccini, whose Madama Butterfly and La Boheme rank in the top handful of the world’s most performed operas. This fest presents the master’s works in a new light, including a performance of Turandot — his last and unfinished opera — with a new ending. You’ll hear plenty of the Italian composer’s arias as well as works by his contemporaries, such as Pietro Mascagni’s Iris. A new and innovative ballet set to the music of Ottorino Respighi (another Puccini contemporary) and Gioachino Rossini has enough color and fantasy to appeal even to the little ones.
What's new: Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed by World War I-era Italian futurist Fortunato Depero has its world premiere. The dark yet exhilarating work has been translated, designed, and directed by Hudson Valley puppet artist Dan Hurlin.
Don't miss: The return of the magical Spiegeltent, hosted by Justin Vivian Bond. The Tony-nominated performer presides over the cabaret for a third season, playing the role of glamorous ringmaster and emcee for a company of world-class performers, musicians, and DJs on Friday and Saturday evenings. The Catskill Jazz Factory takes the reins on Thursdays. 845-758-7900; www.fishercenter.bard.edu/summerscape
DUTCHESS COUNTY REGIONAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BALLOON FESTIVAL
Poughquag & Red Hook - July 8-10
What it is: The Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce hosts the 26th edition of this popular event. During the course of the weekend, 100 balloons take flight.
What's new: This year, the festival is hosted by Barton Orchards in Poughquag; a few balloons also take off from Migliorelli Farm in Tivoli. Barton’s offers a ton of family activities including a petting zoo, hay mazes and rides, food trucks and other vendors, a tap room, live music, and fireworks of Friday night.
Don't miss: Tether Rides are available throughout the event, and a limited number of balloon rides can be purchased in advance only. 845-454-1700; www.balloonfesthv.com
OUR LADY OF THE RESURRECTION MONASTERY VINEGAR FESTIVAL
Lagrangeville - July 16-17
What it is: Restaurateurs and foodies pucker up for this two-day fest featuring organic and artisanal red, white, and rosé wine vinegars from the fragrant cellars of this rural monastery. Crafted from medieval recipes that incorporate herbs, fruits, and spices, these batch-made specialties can only be purchased at the monastery and in a limited number of gourmet shops. Apricot vinegar, raspberry wine vinegar, cider vinegar, cider honey vinegar, and a rare sherry vinegar are all on offer.
What's new: The monastery’s newest concoctions, beer vinegar and cherry wine vinegar, have been flying off the shelves of its retail shop and will most likely sell out.
Don't miss: Tapenade, pesto, chutney, tomato sauce, salsa, apple butter, applesauce, relishes, and dried herbs from the monastery’s kitchen. www.ourladyoftheresurrectionmonastery.webs.com
August 6-October 2 - Tuxedo Park
What it is: This eight-week event — a rollicking re-creation of Elizabethan times complete with bawdy reenactments of Robin Hood’s escapades, a human chessboard, and human-powered carousel rides — appeals to all ages. Interspersed with winding paths and scenic ponds, the country village setting has its own maypole. Charming shops house vendors of sweet-nothing lingerie, flowery crowns, leather finery, and other fantasy wares.
What's new: Theme weekends include special events such as a Children’s Costume Parade (Aug. 13-14) and the “Best Knees in a Kilt” contest (Aug. 27-28).
Don't miss: Jousting knights on horseback conclude each day’s fair. Foodies fixate on the Henry VIII-size turkey legs. 845-351-5171; www.renfair.com/ny
DUTCHESS COUNTY FAIR
Rhinebeck - August 23-28
For generations of mid-Valley residents, August means the Dutchess County Fair. There’s a reason why it’s been around for 170 years or so: 162 acres of farm animals, agricultural exhibits, horticultural displays and — naturally — thrilling midway rides and games. This is the place to break your diet with bratwurst, funnel cakes, and those famous 4-H milkshakes.
What's new: The dazzling Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean high-wire show will thrill the crowd. In the children’s area, Agri-Puppets entertain with an educational message. And Wristband Wednesday debuts this year: $25 lets you ride the rides all day.
Don't miss: Theatrical indie rock band Third Eye Blind plays on August 23. Other special guests will be announced shortly. 845-876-4000; www.dutchessfair.com
ORANGE COUNTY FAIR
Middletown - July 20-31
PUTNAM COUNTY FAIR
Carmel - July 29-31
ULSTER COUNTY FAIR
New Paltz - July 29-August 3
COLUMBIA COUNTY FAIR
Chatham - Aug. 31-September 5