When you think about summer travel, your head is probably filled with images of lazy beach days or reading a trashy novel under an umbrella. But you can use summer vacations to soak up some five star performances and cultural events. These are some wonderful American destination arts festivals that take place in the summer. All are in very beautiful places, so when you’re not at the concerts, plays and exhibits you can still relax with that trashy novel and cool iced tea.

Spoleto Festival: Starting this weekend and lasting through early June, the annual Spoleto Festival in historic Charleston, SC, will feature a rich mix of theater and dance, including the first US performance of Romeo and Juliet by the Globe Theater of London.

Aspen Jazz Festival: The ski towns of the Rocky Mountains are arguably more breathtaking in the summer than the more heavily-traveled winter, and the three-day Jazz Aspen Snowmass in late June brings big names including Maceo Parker, the Count Basie Orchestra and 80s rockers Chicago. For more high culture at high altitudes, visit the Aspen Art Museum while you’re in town.

Williamstown Theater Festival: The summer long theater festival in Williamstown, MA, will feature brand new works as well as Eugene O’Neill’s play A Moon for the Misbegotten, and they’re performed by many stars you usually see on TV or the silver screen, including Cynthia Nixon, Blair Underwood and Audra McDonald.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival: The west coast can do summer culture with the best, and the annual Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon is a hot destination for theater buffs and scholars of the Bard. This summer they’ll produce Much Ado About Nothing, Pericles and the romantic Antony and Cleopatra, and some non-Shakespeare plays as well.






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