Mass Production: Weekend in the Berkshires

The gentle landscape of the Berkshires was once home to Edith Wharton, Norman Rockwell and Herman Melville, but these titans of paint and page aren’t the only artists to find inspiration in this rustic setting. Historic venues featuring live music, dance and theater keep these Massachusetts hills alive all summer long—all within a 15-mile radius.

Related Content: Rhode Island Beyond Newport

Hang your hat. Select Registry features several options for lodging close to the action, including the utterly elegant Federal House Inn in Lee. Innkeepers Marcia and Ken Andersen have meticulously restored this 1824 structure where guests can enjoy happy hour, homemade sweets and a multi-course breakfast, all within minutes of downtown Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge.

David Bertoldi and Kate Kenney in A Midsummer Night's Dream

David Bertoldi and Kate Kenney in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. image: olivia winslow

Get your bard on. Shakespeare & Company has been training actors in the Elizabethan arts since 1978, and its summer season of works by Shakespeare as well as contemporary playwrights features professional artists from all over the world. Late summer productions of the Bard include A Midsummer Night’s Dream (through Aug. 19) and The Tempest (Aug. 10-Sept. 3); The Wharton Comedies (Aug. 17-Sept. 10) features two satirical pieces adapted by Dennis Krausnick.

Tanglewood shed

Tangle wood shed. image: john ferrillo

Tune in. Through nearly 100 concerts each summer, Tanglewood lures classical music lovers to Lenox almost every night of the week. The Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops perform in the 5,000-seat Shed, but don’t fret if you can’t score a spot inside the covered open-air venue—there’s seating for 10,000 outside on the lawn. Posh picnicking is par for the course, which means bring your blanket and hit Guido’s in Pittsfield for ready-to-eat treats. This year’s Festival of Contemporary Music (Aug. 10-14) takes place in the more intimate Ozawa Hall, and features world premieres by Anthony Cheung, Nathan Davis, Kui Dong Quartet and Nico Muhly.

Chanel Da Silva at Jacob's Pillow

Chanel Da Silva at Jacob’s Pillow. image: christopher duggan

Get up and dance. The tiny town of Becket is home to Jacob’s Pillow, now in its 85th Anniversary Festival Season (through Aug. 27). Powerhouses of the dance world—including Trisha Brown Dance Company, Doug Varone and Dancers and the Washington Ballet—will trod the boards of the Ted Shawn Theatre in August. Festival goers can enjoy both the performances and the grounds of this one-time farm that is now a National Historic Landmark.