Berkshire Family Fun: Any Weather, Any Age

Home Sweet Home: Loving the Berkshires in Any Weather and At Any Age

Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge offers plenty of family-friendly programming during the warmer months, like its BTF Plays! performances shown here, but this winter the company is luring families out of there houses with its weekend programming "Stories for a Sunday Afternoon." (Photo courtesy of Berkshire Theatre Festival)

Winter in the Berkshires can get pretty long; especially a winter like this one. With snow piles nearing the five foot mark and temperatures so low the school buses have refused to start — Should that really be considered a snow day? — this can only mean one thing for local families … major CABIN FEVER!!! But it’s cold, you say? What is there to do? Plenty, if you know where to look. Of course there are the local ski areas: Bousquet in Pittsfield, Jiminy Peak in Hancock and Ski Butternut in Great Barrington. But if you are anything like my family, which only became “skiers” this year (and we’re loving it by the way), you may be looking for a little winter entertainment in a different form.

THE MUSICAL KIND: Music abounds in the Berkshires for families be it oldies, country or straight up rock ‘n roll. This Saturday, Jan. 29, from 2 to 6 p.m. the Italian American Club at 93 Waubeek Road in Pittsfield will be hosting the Second Annual Berkshire Bluegrass Show organized by Berkshire-based bluegrass group Acoustic Blue. Tickets are $15 at the door and Acoustic Blue member Shawn Batho informed me recently the event would be a fun event for the whole family. Also performing are two New York bands Cedar Ridge and Dyer Switch. Hey get on out there and try it … you just never now.

Beat those winter blues by heading to the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield to see "Bubblemania." (Photo courtesy of The Colonial Theatre)

THE THEATRICAL KIND: The Berkshires are well-known for their summer stock theater, but the lights don’t go out in all the theaters once the tourists have left for the season. Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge has been known to close its doors during the winter after its annual community production of “A Christmas Carol,” but this year families are getting a special Sunday treat throughout the duration of the winter months with “Stories for a Sunday Afternoon.” The series began Jan. 16 and will run every Sunday at 4 p.m. through to March 27. Each week local artist will read short stories suitable for the whole family. Hot beverages and cookies will be served and with only a $10 suggested donation who can beat the price? The schedule is as follows: Mysteries, Jan. 23; Sports Stories, Feb. 6; Love, Feb. 13, Spotlight on David Felton, Feb. 20; Celebrate Black History Month, Feb. 27; Irish Tales, March 13; March 6, 20 and 27 to be announced. For more information visit berkshiretheatre.org or call the box office to reserve at seat at 413-298-5576, ext. 33.

Speaking of theaters don’t forget to check out the winter offerings at The Colonial Theatre (thecolonialtheatre.org) in Pittsfield. Up next for families on Feb. 20 “Bubblemania,” and Mad Science presents “Star Trek Live” on March 1, just to name a couple. Also Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield is expanded its offerings for kids by starting with a Musical Theatre Camp for children ages 8 to 15 during the February School Vacation (Feb.21-25). The camp is billed as “an opportunity for children to experience the magic of musical theatre. Students act, sing, dance, learn about the history of musical theatre and perform. It’s open to anyone who has ever wanted to grab a microphone or spin across the floor.” The camp will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at BSC’s Stage 2 on Linden Street in Pittsfield and costs $200. For more information call BSC Education Director Hester Kamin at 413-499-5446, ext. 118.

Castle Hill Theatre Company: There is always something new at Castle Hill Theatre Company to stave Berkshire resident's cabin fever during the winter months.

The area always can count on The Castle Hill Theatre Company in Great Barrington to bring us some new and fresh entertainment for families throughout the winter months. Many of the CHTC performances I have been to with my children put a modern twist on a classic fairy tale, and despite one’s age the production always produces big laughs. Even better, if families stick around after the production they can get autographs and chat with the cast. Pretty cool. To find a schedule of upcoming performances add castlehilltheatre.org to your Favorites. There’s nothing listed as of yet but with the February vacation just around the corner there’s sure to be something good in store for the community.

THE ARTISTIC KIND: Creating “art” and childhood seem to go hand in and the Berkshires seems to have plenty to offer in that area. For those with toddlers and preschoolers there are a few not-to-be-missed programs for your little emerging Picasso. Beginning Jan. 28 and running through April 8 (no Feb. 25 class) IS183, located at13 Willard Hill Road in Stockbridge, will offer an art playgroup for pre-K-K children with their caregivers from 10-11:30 a.m. each Friday. The classes will offer open-ended art experiences featuring varied and stimulating materials. Children can learn at their own pace with guidance by the instructor and the help of a caregiver. Children must be accompanied by an adult. IS183 will also offer a February Vacation Art Camp for children ages 5 to 14 and a morning half-day camp for children in grades Pre-K to K. For more information on any of these programs visit is183.org.

THE MUSEUM KIND: The Berkshires also are flush with a variety of museums, and though the big names like The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass MoCA in North Adams and The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown can be somewhat intimidating for young families, they are not to be feared. Each offers a number of family-friendly events and programs including the Rockwell Museum’s opening reception for the Berkshire County High School Art Show on Feb. 5 and its February vacation week workshops; Mass MoCA’s Free Day on Jan. 29; and the Clark’s upcoming Family Day on March 6. Visit their websites at nrm.org, massmoca.org and clarkart.edu to learn more.

Stay tuned for more on these museums and other Berkshire County venues in the Berkshires in future columns as we explore all that the Berkshires has to offer for families.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kelly Bevan McIlquham

Kelly is a psychotherapist-turned-writer who resides in Hinsdale, MA with her husband, three children, two black labs, a cat, a turtle, and a few goldfish. She is the Features Editor for The Advocate in the Berkshires where she especially enjoys writing family- and education-related articles and her monthly “Parent to Parent” column. Kelly also dabbles in writing for children and has had her work published by Wee Ones online family magazine. When not writing, her favorite pastime is cheering on her children at various football, soccer, basketball and baseball games. kwm229@msn.com

1 Comment

  1. Mom said,

    February 1, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    Found it – wow – almost as much to do in the Berkshires as Florida. But more fun doing it in the warm sunshine : – )


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