9 Local Outdoor Events to Explore This Summer

Hill-Stead Museum in bloom | via the Hill-Stead Museum

Say goodbye to allergy season and HELLO to summer!

Although the calendar says spring lasts until late June, Memorial Day Weekend gives us that first taste of summer we’ve been waiting for! Whether you’re enjoying barbecues, taking a trip to somewhere new or celebrating at home, we figured we’d curate a list of some of our favorite outdoor events to kick your season off! Keep reading to find your perfect outdoor arts and culture event!

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Or maybe prefer events indoors? As always you can stay up to date with cultural events around Greater Hartford with our cultural calendar!

18th Annual Black-eyed and Blues Festival | June 17, 2:00 PM

The Black-eyed & Blues Festival was created in 2001 as a partnership between the Greater Hartford Arts Council, The Hartford Advocate and Black-eyed Sally’s. Their original goal was to produce a free blues and roots & rock music festival under the stars of Hartford that would provide access for city residents, quality entertainment and economic development by drawing suburban dwellers back into the city. Continuing that mission since 2001 the Black-eyed & Blues Fest has brought world class musicians and local aspiring artists together in downtown’s crown jewel, Bushnell Park. These concerts provide access to the arts for audiences of all ages in greater Hartford, and invigorate the cultural community. In fact, the event has become the longest running free Blues Festival in the state of Connecticut. The 18th Annual Black-eyed & Blues Fest 2017 features Blues, Roots & Rock music by some of the hottest acts around and food & craft Beer from Black-eyed Sally’s. The festival will be held on Saturday June 17th 2017from 2- 11:30 PM. As always, admission will be absolutely free! Learn more!

Rose Weekend at Elizabeth Park | June 17-18

Featuring thousands of rose bushes and arches in bloom and free educational and family friendly activities, you won’t want to miss the annual Rose Weekend at Elizabeth Park. Events on Saturday, June 17th include poetry readings and “Healthy West Hartford Fair” exhibitions. Activities on Sunday, June 18th include Rose Garden tours, community, cultural, and arts organizations under the tent and a scavenger hunt the whole family will enjoy! Learn more!

Sunken Garden Poetry | June 21, July 9, July 19, August 6, August 16

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival! Hill-Stead Museum’s renowned Sunken Garden Poetry Festival is a unique outdoor arts event located on the grounds of this National Historic Landmark in the heart of Farmington. The community cherishes this series of readings and music concerts in the informal outdoor setting of the Hill-Stead estate. Visitors can come early to tour the museum’s world-class Impressionist art collection, walk the trails, or attend the prelude conversations with headlining poets. Picnics are welcome and food and wine can be purchased from festival vendors.  Guests bring their own chairs and blankets and relax among the flower beds in the historic Sunken Garden, surrounded by eight foot stone walls and the sounds of nature.Learn more!

Monday Night Jazz | July 10, July 17, July 24, July 31, August 7, August 14

Since 1967 the Monday Night Jazz Series has brought world famous musicians and local aspiring artists together in downtown Hartford for free concerts during July and August. These concerts provide access to the arts for audiences of all ages in central Hartford, help sustain jazz as a living art form, and invigorate the cultural community by promoting quality, diversity and economic growth. Produced by the Hartford Jazz Society, Monday Night Jazz, the nation’s longest-running free jazz concert series, returns to downtown Hartford’s Bushnell Park for its 50th consecutive season. Opening act starts at 6 pm. Headliner starts at 7:30 pm. Learn more!

Art on the Streets | June 1, June 6, June 8, June 13, June 15

We’ve partnered with Aetna to bring Art on the Streets back to downtown Hartford this spring! Ten local artists will present interactive artistic experiences for the public to enjoy that also draws attention to how the arts make us happier and healthier. Share your Art on the Streets photos with us on Instagram using #GHACxAetna and we’ll repost! Stop by any of the Art on the Streets locations (Tuesdays at Statehouse Square and Thursday’s on Pratt Street) between 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM to give a donation or donate on our Facebook page! Your gift to the Arts Council helps keep the arts alive in our communities. Learn more!

West End Farmer’s Market | Tuesdays, June – September, 4:00 PM

The West End Farmers’ Market believes that everyone deserves access to fresh, healthy, delicious food. Through partnerships with local farmers, businesses, and non-profit agencies, the market strives to bring a vibrant mix of locally-grown farm products to the West End and Asylum Hill neighborhoods of Hartford, Connecticut. By connecting these neighborhoods to their local farmers and artisans, we hope to create a stronger and healthier community. The market runs every Tuesday, June through September from 4:00 PM – 7:00 PM and in October from 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM. Learn more!

Sounds of Summer Concerts | Thursdays, July 6 – August 10, 6:00 PM

The Sounds of Summer concert series brings six free, family-friendly concerts to Great River Park this summer! Performances begin at 6 pm. The lineup for 2017 is:

July 6: Under Mountain Crossing
Bluegrass sounds & rock n roll
July 13: On Call Band
Classic covers of today’s best hits
July 20: Al Fenton Big Band
Big band sounds of jazz & the blues
July 27: Full Crew
You’ll love the oldies and classics of rock
Aug. 3: Badlands
Tribute to the hits of Bruce Springsteen
Aug. 10: Soul Sound Revue
The hottest Motown this side of Detroit

The Sounds of Summer Concert Series is presented by East Hartford Mayor Marcia A. Leclerc and Pratt & Whitney. Concerts will be held rain or shine; the rain location is the East Hartford Community Cultural Center, located at 50 Chapman Place, East Hartford. Learn more!

Imagine Main Street- Strollin’ on Main | June 1, 5:30 PM

The streets of downtown Manchester will be filled with music, artists, activities, vendors and many surprises – all part of the arts and cultural festival called Imagine Main Street. From 5:30 to 8 p.m. – five long blocks on both sides of the historic downtown district, will be the center of activity for people of all ages.  A horse-drawn wagon will take patrons on rides, Anne Cubberly’s puppets will amuse and amaze, the music of 41 Prospect, Roger Pelletier, Alex Forest, Time Was, Abby Auden and Beller’s Music will keep people dancing, and the Dirk Heinemann School of Ballroom Dance will perform as well.Jeff Slobodian will help patrons create a mural in front of the former Peter’s Furniture store on the west side of the street for those who want to be more interactive.  Exhibitors will include Heart Arts, Tahir Soaps, Normand Charlette Photography, Mijumi Art, JW Crafts, Karoline Kopek, Be Brave Art Studio, Kate Montella, Dick Moynihan, Quark Tees, Barbara Titus’ yoga demonstration, and food vendors will include Jeff’s Popcorn, AJ’s Hot Dogs and David’s Tea. A wide variety of restaurants are always open and welcoming during the Festival, which is free and open to everyone to enjoy.  Funds for Imagine Main Street come from a grant by the Town of Manchester, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and Fuss & O’Neill. Learn more!

Music Among the Memorials | July 28, 6:00 PM

Enjoy an evening of music at Cedar Hill Cemetery with the New Haven-based bluegrass band Five in the Chamber. Voted Fan Favorite at the 2016 Podunk Bluegrass Festival, the band’s tight arrangements and unique harmony vocals bring a fresh interpretation to the bluegrass songbook. Bring blankets, chairs and picnic dinners for an evening to remember. (Rain date: Saturday, July 29, 6:00 pm) Learn more!

Join our 2017 United Arts Campaign to help keep events like these alive in our community!

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