STOCKBRIDGE—As the Berkshire cultural season comes roaring back, a summer of creative programming is already underway at Naumkeag.
“We were very lucky to be able to welcome people all of last year,” says Brian Cruey, Director for The Trustees’ Southern Berkshires region, including Naumkeag. “We felt a real responsibility as an outdoor garden space where the community could safely gather. We’re happy to keep providing a place for people to enjoy a day or evening out.”
This summer’s programming will feature a mix of regular and special events, many of which have been developed with diversity, equity, and inclusion in mind.
Ongoing events include guided garden tours and live music on the home’s newly restored piano on weekends. Outdoor Yoga with a View will be offered on Saturday mornings in July, along with a companion Mindfulness Meditation on Friday afternoons in both July and August.
Date Nights, Naumkeag’s sunset-and-romance experience, will return on Friday and Saturday evenings from late June through September. “This is a holdover from covid that people really loved,” says Cruey. The low-key event is capped at 50 participants and features live music, along with a glass of beer, wine, or prosecco. (Refreshments will be available for purchase, and picnics are encouraged.) Guests can also upgrade their ticket to include a fresh bouquet from the garden.
Building on successful fall and winter events like Winterlights, Naumkeag has also planned a slate of original special events. Perhaps the most anticipated is the Drag Hatters Tea Party, on July 11, August 29, and September 12 in the Chinese Garden. Featuring local drag performer Boxxa Vine, the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland–themed event will be offered in a family-friendly early afternoon edition. From 3:00 to 4:00 p.m., the performers will take visitors on an adults-only trip down the rabbit hole.
On August 15, the Rocket Festival on August 15 will coincide with the launch of the new Rocketry Club. Participants will learn about building model spacecraft, and launch their engineering marvels into the sky over Naumkeag’s wide-open field.
In addition, the venue will host Naumkeag at Night monthly, from July through September. These live concerts feature popular local musicians such as Wanda Houston, playing against the extraordinary backdrop of the gardens and the views beyond.
On July 15 and September 16, New Marlborough artist Nanci Worthington will teach botanical illustration. Visitors can also learn the art of floral arranging on August 11 and 27, and September 10. For those who prefer to freestyle their arrangements, Naumkeag will open its flower farm to Pick Your Own Bouquet on Fridays from August 6 through September 17.
While pandemic restrictions are loosening across the state, Cruey notes that some covid protocols will still be in place. These include a one-way path through the garden, self-guided home tours to encourage smaller groups (with guide available on each floor to answer questions), and safesocial distancing at special events.
If it seems like there’s a new energy to the public garden’s programming, it’s intentional. Cruey says, “We’re encouraging visitors to experience Naumkeag in a new way. We want them to interact with the story of the Choates and get a glimpse of what it was like to live during the late 1800s to mid-1900s. But we also want to provide the feeling that the house is being lived in now.”
Naumkeag is located at 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge. View the events schedule and buy tickets at thetrustees.org/naumkeag.
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