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  • Symphony Hall (Boston, MA; tel. 617/266-1492): Home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and other local and visiting groups and performers, this is a perfect (acoustically and otherwise) destination for classical music.
  • Hatch Shell (Boston, MA; tel. 617/626-1250): This amphitheater on the Charles River Esplanade plays host to free music, dance performances, and films almost all summer. Around the Fourth of July, the Boston Pops provide the entertainment. Bring a blanket to sit on.
  • The Nutcracker (Boston, MA; tel. 800/447-7400 for tickets): New England's premier family-oriented holiday event is Boston Ballet's extravaganza. When the Christmas tree grows through the floor, even fidgety preadolescents forget that they think they're too cool to be here.
  • The Comedy Connection at Faneuil Hall (Boston, MA; tel. 617/248-9700): Even in the Athens of America, it's not all high culture. The biggest national names and the funniest local comics take the stage at this hot spot.
  • The Berkshire Theatre Festival (Stockbridge, MA; tel. 413/298-5576): An 1887 "casino" and converted barn mount both new and classic plays from June to late August in one of the prettiest towns in the Berkshires. Name artists on the order of Joanne Woodward and Kevin Kline are often listed as actors and directors in the annual playbill.
  • The Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival (Becket, MA; tel. 413/243-0745): Celebrated dancer/choreographer Martha Graham made this her summertime performance space for decades. Guest troupes are among the world's best, often including Mark Morris Dance Group, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, and Twyla Tharp. The growing campus includes a store, pub, dining room, and tent restaurant.
  • Tanglewood Music Festival (Lenox, MA; tel. 617/266-1492): By far the most dominating presence on New England's summer cultural front, the music festival that takes place on this magnificent Berkshires estate is the summer playground for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Room is also made for such guest soloists as Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma, as well as popular artists including James Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, and Wynton Marsalis.
  • Williamstown Theatre Festival (Williamstown, MA; tel. 413/597-3400): Classic, new, and avant-garde plays are all presented during the June-through-August season at this venerable festival. There are two stages, one for works by established playwrights, the smaller second venue for less mainstream or experimental plays.
  • Summer in Newport (RI): From Memorial Day to Labor Day, only a scheduling misfortune will deny visitors the experience of an outdoor musical event. In calendar order, the highlights (well short of all-inclusive) are the Newport Music Festival, in July; the Dunkin' Donuts Newport Folk Festival and JVC Jazz Festival, in August; and the Waterfront Irish Festival, in September.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.