Mid-summer in the Hudson Valley is a special and spectacular time of year, when celebrations and events abound. There are winding country roads with unparalleled views, and communities across the region are hosting an array of festivals and fairs.
Well-known in the equestrian world as the place to see superior show jumping, magnificent horses and rising talents, HITS-on-the-Hudson – for “Horses in the Sun” – is a 15-mile drive to Saugerties, and is held weekends throughout the summer in a village filled with great shops and eateries (www.hitsshows.com)
You can help William Shakespeare celebrate his 450th birthday at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in Garrison (through August 31.) Performances are held evenings in a theater tent on the lawn of Boscobel, a grand historic estate with splendid river views less than an hour from Kingston. (www.hvshakespeare.org)
Take a 25-mile drive up County Route 28 to Phoenicia for The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice (July 30-August 3), a five-day celebration that includes workshops, concerts, lectures and more, all in celebration of the human voice. Held in various venues including churches, historic homes and even outdoors, this year’s festival pays special homage to the music of Spain. (www.phoeniciavoicefest.org)
And spin a few miles up to the artsy Village of Woodstock should include one of the season’s Maverick Concerts, which, now in its 99th year, boasts being America’s oldest continues summer chamber music festival. (www.maverickconcerts.org) Held summer weekends in a 100-year-old music chapel, performances include jazz, string quartets and family concerts.
Poised on the water just minutes over the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge in Red Hook, Bard College boasts one of the most beautiful campuses in the U.S. and is host to Summerscape (June 27-August 17), seven weeks of world-class music, film, theater and dance. (www.bard.edu/pac/summerscape.) The venue is the noted Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry, and tours of the building are offered weekdays.
Hundreds of Native American artists, dancers, singers and performers come together for the Stony Point Bear Mountain Pow Wow (August 2-3) at the Harriman State Park, a sprawling and pristine natural treasure about an hour’s drive from Kingston (www.Redhawkcouncil.org/powwows.) The festival continues into the evening both Saturday and Sunday, with a grand entry of dancers at 4 p.m.
The West Point Band performs on the banks for the storied Hudson River and has been since Founding Father James Monroe was president. Pack a picnic for a free Sunday night concert under the stars at Trophy Point, where the view and the music are both sure to move you. (www.westpointband.com) There’s a show 7:30 p.m. almost every summer Sunday, and on August 3 the West Point Band’s Jazz Knights perform songs from America’s big bands. Arrive early to stroll the grounds and stake out your spot.
And the Ulster County Fair (July 29-August 3) in New Paltz is the very definition of an American country fair. Farm animals compete for blue ribbons, there are carnival games and fried dough, fireworks and 4-Hers, and it’s hard to find a better view than from atop the giant Ferris wheel (www.ulstercountyfair.com). If you go, do not miss the pig races.