TANGLEWOOD SUMMER 2023: check out full List of Summer 2023 PERFORMANCES.
Attending a Tanglewood concert is our family’s beloved summer tradition! Tanglewood, (in its 85th season in the summer of 2023), is summer home of Boston Symphony Orchestra and a center for advanced musical studies that welcomes nation’s leading young artists every summer to train and perform. It is the country’s premier music festival with dance, jazz, drama, and opera joining the mix in this year’s line-up .
I have put together this list of things to help you experience Tanglewood with family – so you could start your own Tanglewood summer family tradition!
(You can also follow our YouTube VLOG from our trip a couple of summers ago)
1. DIVERSE MUSICAL PROGRAMMING (and seating options)
Official 2023 BOSTON SYMPHONY SUMMER starts on Friday July 7th, (with Wynton Marsalis’s Herald, Holler, and Hallelujah, followed by Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, with soloist Daniil Trifonov, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4, led by Andris Nelsons) but Tanglewood programs open for the concert-goers on June 22). See full list of performances HERE. Every Tanglewood summer traditional grand classical pieces (by the Boston Symphony) are complimented by the beloved Boston POPS and other popular artists’ performances in a variety of musical styles.
A couple of summers ago, we got to experience Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue inside the Koussevitzky Music Shed.
As much as we enjoyed this magical experience, for families with young children, LAWN seating is the best (and most affordable) choice . There are programs during almost every day of the season (through September 3 this year), with Sunday afternoon concerts (2:30pm) traditionally being the most family-friendly. (Saturday morning rehearsals or any programs with lawn seating will work too!)
And, children’s (under 18) tickets are always FREE for the lawn (adult’s lawn tickets are $24 this summer for BSO concerts. (Note that children 5 and under are not permitted inside the Koussevitzky Music Shed Seiji Ozawa Hall during performances; there is NO age restriction for the lawn).
2. KIDS PROGRAMMING
To help families make musical connections, Tanglewood’s family programming this summer includes:
-an annual Family Concert (on Saturday July 22 in the summer of 2023). (RIMSKY-KORSAKOV “Flight of the Bumblebee” from The Tale of Tsar Sultan, BARTÓK Romanian Folk Dances and BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1, fourth movement are in the program).
-TANGLEWOOD PARADE– an annual all-day celebration on Tuesday, August 8, (2pm gates open, 8pm concert) with performances throughout the day by Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center culminating in a gala concert led by Keith Lockhart, Andris Nelsons, and John Williams, with a grand finale performance of the 1812 Overture followed by a fireworks display over the Stockbridge Bowl.
-On Saturday, August 26, 8pm, Shed: Keith Lockhart leads Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Concert, with John Williams’ score performed by the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra while the film is presented on high-definition screens Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone™ in Concert is part of the Harry Potter Film Concert Series presented by CineConcerts.
-On August 13 (10:30am) Circle Round program will be recorded live Inside Tanglewood’s Linde Center for Music and Learning as Rebecca Sheir and composer Eric Shimelonis will be joined by a quartet of Boston Symphony Orchestra musicians plus an all-star cast of actors.
-Also, be sure to check out the schedule for Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Orchestra performances at Tanglewood-23.
I am hoping family pre-concert “Watch and Play” sessions will be back next summer. We made sure to include these fun and educational programs part of our Tanglewood visits when our kids were younger. They typically included several members of the Boston Symphony (performing that night) engage the kids (ages 3-10, but all welcome!) with questions (“How does this music makes you feel?”), rhyming exercises, and virtuoso musical jokes (“Have you tried playing one violin with 2 bows?).
3. CONCERT TIME: KIDS CAN STILL PLAY!
During the concert time on Sunday afternoons, our kids would dance when younger, but now are mostly quietly reading or drawing (no, we are not the “no electronics” family by no means, but we can still enforce the temporary “no gadget” rule with the elementary school kids in our group).
It is perfectly acceptable for the concert-going families on the lawn to get up and leave at times, or eat and drink, as long as you do not excessively bother other patrons. (I can tell you that the girls’ dancing during performances did not seem to bother anyone). Choose your lawn place “strategically” depending on your family’s needs. We had our blanket close to Shed, under a tree (for best shade). If it rains, you can quickly find refuge in the rear of the Shed; but some families prefer to position themselves further back in the rear of lawn, closer to play area (and the bathrooms).
If your kids need even more freedom to play than the Lawn area near the actual Concert Shed can offer (say, they would rather play ball) you can take them to the grassy area in the rear of the lawn, near the Visitors Center and in the Apple Tree lot of Ozawa Hall.
4. PARENTS CAN ENJOY SOME WINE WITH THEIR PICNIC
I love putting time and effort into preparing my special “Tanglewood” picnic basket worthy of the occasion (and it seems that a number of other people do so). But- you can just bring a bag of chips and still fit in. It is a wonderfully accepting place.
5. EXPANSIVE GROUNDS
The quality of Tanglewood musical performances is superb, but beautiful grounds are an essential part of the atmosphere.
You can see the Berkshire Mountains and the nearby Stockbridge bowl from some areas on the Lawn. The Visitor’s Center (rear of the lawn) offers Exhibits and information on Tanglewood history and walking tours of the grounds (call 413-637-5393 for more information) . There are also several casual dining options, and ice-cream concession stands. “Glass house” gift shop offers musical souvenirs and Tanglewood merchandise.
6. IT’S AFFORDABLE!
Tanglewood offers FREE lawn tickets for children and youth age 18 and younger (up to four free children’s tickets are available per adult; this offer does not extend to the “Popular Artist” series) at the Tanglewood Box Office on the day of the concert. You need to get your free tickets at the Box offices located at the entrance gates on the day of the concert.
We usually come 2.5 hours prior to performance to set up and enjoy the grounds and the pre-concert programming; they do not seem to run out of lawn tickets even if you come closer to performance time (with the exception of the 4th of July when all tickets may be sold out in advance). For advance ticket purchases, call 617-266-1200 or purchase on line HERE.
7. YOU CAN MAKE IT A DAY TRIP
From our suburb South of Boston, we have done both day trips and overnight visits to Tanglewood; it’s just over 2 hours one way for us (more in traffic, of course, but if you leave early, you should be fine).
Check out SUMMER SUNDAYS bus tours from Boston. I have not tried them but they are officially partnered with Tanglewood and offer both transportation and tickets – see more information here for this year’s August 13 Day Trip (one date only).
8. NEW PLANS/ADDED SUNDAY PROGRAMMING
Stay tuned for additional weekend programming (think yoga on the lawn, walking tours and learning programs) to make its return to post-Covid Tanglewood.
MORE TIPS FOR YOUR TANGLEWOOD VISIT:
1. It is always better to purchase your tickets (even lawn ones) in advance, but in summer of 2023 you should not have a problem walking in (do come early).
2. Plan to come early for best lawn seating options and to enjoy pre-concert programming. Grounds Open at 5:30pm for the evening concerts; and on 9am for morning Rehearsals; On Sundays: at Noon for 2:30pm concert (check the timing for special events).
3. Cooking and open flames are prohibited.
4. In the event of severe weather, patrons will be directed to shelters (no refunds offered).
5. Umbrellas are now permitted (and small open-sided canopies) to shade from the sun (no stakes over 6″ in length, or canopies of more than 6′ square or umbrellas exceeding 4′ in diameter. )
6. No pets (except for service animals) are allowed on Tanglewood property.
For more things to do in the beautiful Berkshires with kids, check out this Post.
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