scorecardresearch Skip to main content
Spring Arts Preview

36 of the best arts events coming to New England this spring

Globe arts writers share some of their can’t-miss picks in dance, fine arts, theater, and more.

Dancer Kirven Douthit-Boyd, who performs with Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE.Quinn B Wharton


By Karen Campbell

1. MINDscape

Several of Boston Ballet’s spring programs — including Swan Lake and DREAMstate — are bound to be highlights. However, MINDscape has the special distinction of featuring world premieres by two of ballet’s top international choreographers. Complementing a reprise of his Blake Works I, William Forsythe pushes more boundaries with artfully athletic movement invention in Blake Works II. And resident choreographer Jorma Elo melds ballet with contemporary dance in a new, large ensemble work set to the music of Bach.

Details: May 5-15, Citizens Bank Opera House, 539 Washington Street, Boston, 617-695-6955,

2. Mark Morris Dance Group

Any opportunity to see this dynamic 42-year-old company is a treat, and for this engagement, the internationally renowned troupe brings a program of older works and classic favorites, including the exuberant Three Preludes, which is set to the music of Gershwin and dates back 20 years. The planned repertoire also includes Rock of Ages, set to music by Schubert; the Lou Harrison-fueled Pacific; and Words, set to Mendelssohn’s glowing Songs Without Words.

Details: May 17, The Flynn, 153 Main Street, Burlington, Vermont, 802-863-5966,


3. Memphis Jookin’: The Show

This 90-minute production was conceived, choreographed, and will be performed by jookin’ superstar Lil Buck, who put the Memphis dance style on the map when his YouTube clip improvising with cellist Yo-Yo Ma went viral. The show is Buck’s ode to jookin’s birthplace, featuring eight additional dancers and a DJ to chronicle how his moves developed from a Memphis street dance to an international phenomenon.

Details: March 15, Chubb Theatre, 44 S. Main Street, Concord, New Hampshire, 603-225-1111,

4. Jean Appolon Expressions

The Cambridge-based company, known for infusing contemporary dance with Haitian folkloric dance, presents the world premiere of Traka (which means “troubles” in Haitian Creole). Presented by Global Arts Live, Traka explores the power of dance, culture, and community to create healing pathways for trauma and injustice.


Details: May 13-14, Institute of Contemporary Art, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, 617-876-4275,

Jean Appolon ExpressionsOlivia Moon Photography

5. A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham

Kyle Abraham, a MacArthur Foundation “genius,” and his company have built an impressive body of works that are galvanized by Black history and culture. They bring a mixed program for this ICA presentation, including Our Indigo: If We Were a Love Song, unfolding to a series of soulfully intimate songs by legendary singer/songwriter/activist Nina Simone.

Details: April 15-17, Institute of Contemporary Art, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, 617-478-3100,

Performers with Malpaso Dance. © Todd Rosenberg Photography

6. Global Arts Live Spring Dance Fest

Originally planned as January’s Winter Dance Fest, this jam-packed series of performances brings together three diverse, internationally-acclaimed dance companies for one-night-only performances of premieres and repertory works. Groundbreaking tap troupe Dorrance Dance brings its musically adventurous SOUNDspace. The program by Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, A Dance Company features two much-anticipated Boston premieres. And Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company performs works by Aszure Barton, Ohad Naharin, and Mats Ek.

Details: June 2, 4, and 5, Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre, 219 Tremont Street, Boston, 617-876-4275,


By Kate Tuttle

7. Favorite Poem Reading

Everyone has (or should have) a favorite poem, whether it’s something written by William Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, Maya Angelou, or Amanda Gorman. Now’s the time to dust it off and practice reading it aloud — which is, after all, what poetry demands and deserves — and join with others at the Favorite Poem Reading, celebrating National Poetry Month. Admission is free, but registration — and keeping to your five-minute limit — is required.


Details: April 9, Cranston’s Central Library, 140 Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston, Rhode Island, 401-943-9080,

8. Writers on a New England Stage

A gem of a cultural institution in the Granite State, Writers on a New England Stage has hosted notable authors including Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Judy Blume, and Malcolm Gladwell. Events are held at the historic Music Hall in downtown Portsmouth and combine an author’s reading with an intimate, on-stage conversation. This spring’s featured guest is Amor Towles, whose book The Lincoln Highway has topped the Globe’s local bestseller list for weeks.

Details: May 10, The Historic Theater at The Music Hall, 28 Chestnut Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 603-436-2400,

9. Bookstock

This free weekend literary festival, held on and around the Green, Woodstock, Vermont’s central park, is back after a two-year “hibernation.” The festival lineup hasn’t yet been set, but previous authors have included Ocean Vuong, Carolyn Forche, and David Macaulay, appearing in addition to book sales, poetry slams, and other interactive programming. The aim, organizers say, is to blend local talent with nationally known writers.

Details: June 24-26, Woodstock, Vermont,

10. Bristol BookFest

This year’s weekend program includes a free keynote talk Friday evening, as well as a paid Saturday program of speakers, discussion, and a reception, held in locations around Bristol, Rhode Island. The subject will be Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, often considered the first science fiction novel, and an immensely rich text in both scholarly and popular culture. The keynote will be delivered by Jay Baruch, a writer and medical doctor, who will address both the literary and medical aspects of the book.


Details: April 1-2, Bristol, Rhode Island, 401-237-0779,

11. Wilton Library Spring Book Sale

Peruse 70,000 items, including books for children and adults, in every category from fiction to photography, sports to science fiction, cookbooks to travel, and more. Both new and used books (including some rare collectible editions) will be sold; there are also DVDs, CDs, and books on CD. Support a local library while building up your own — there are special prices on the third and fourth day of the sale, ending in Tuesday’s $5-a-bag bargain.

Details: April 30-May 3, Wilton Library, 137 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton, Connecticut, 203-762-3950,


12. Nantucket Book Festival

Held this year in person after virtual offerings in 2020 and 2021, this is one of the state’s most exciting festivals, bursting with big name authors giving readings in surprisingly intimate settings. This summer’s heavy hitters include Nathaniel Philbrick, Alice Hoffman, and Tiya Miles; the full schedule and ticket information will be posted in April. The vast majority of author events are free; a ticketed event on Saturday the 18th will be a concert by the Rock Bottom Remainders, whose members include Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, Scott Turow, and others.

Details: Events will be held in locations around Nantucket. June 16-19,


By Don Aucoin

13. Ironbound

Polish-born playwright Martyna Majok, a 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner for Cost of Living, has said a goal of Ironbound is to counter “horrible caricatures of what immigrants and poor people are.” Like the playwright’s mother, the protagonist of Ironbound, named Darja, is a Polish immigrant who works two jobs in New Jersey: one as a house cleaner, another in a factory. Majok’s darkly comedic play follows Darja’s battles over more than two decades to stay afloat economically and surmount the challenges created by the wayward men in her life. Directed by Rachel Walshe.


Details: March 17-April 10. The Gamm Theatre, 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, Rhode Island, 401-723-4266,

14. Dream Hou$e

In this Eliana Pipes comedy-drama about the temptations and hidden costs of gentrification, two Latina sisters appear as contestants on an HGTV-style show titled Flip It and List It, intending to cash in on soaring prices by selling their family home. But once the TV crew starts on the makeover, matters take a turn toward the surreal and suddenly the sisters are grappling with questions about upward mobility, cultural heritage, and what constitutes “progress.” Pipes wrote Dream Hou$e while finishing her master’s of fine arts at Boston University. Directed by Laurie Woolery.

Details: March 15-April 3, Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven, 203-693-1486,

15. The Inheritance

Last year, Matthew Lopez became the first Latino playwright to win the Tony Award for best play with this epic, two-part drama. Young, gay New Yorkers of the 21st century wrestle with the question of what they owe to the generation before them — the one that suffered through the scourge of AIDS and governmental indifference — and to the generation ahead of them, who need to learn and understand their collective history. One character asks: “If we can’t have a conversation with our past, what will be our future?” Directed by Paul Daigneault.

Details: April 22-June 11, SpeakEasy Stage Company at the Nancy and Edward Roberts Studio Theatre, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, 617-933-8600,

Paul Hilton and Kyle Soller in the Broadway production of "The Inheritance."MATTHEW MURPHY FOR MURPHYMADe

16. The Cher Show

Cher has led multiple lives, so it only stands to reason that a bio-musical about the mononymous (but never monotonous) legend would require three actresses to play her. The phases of Cher’s career are chronologically divided into personae, named Babe (when she and Sonny Bono form a successfully mismatched pop-music pair), Lady, and Star. The Cher Show features a script by Rick Elice (Jersey Boys), nearly three dozen of Cher’s songs, direction by Gerry McIntyre, and eye-popping gowns from another legend: costume designer Bob Mackie.

Details: May 12-June 25, Ogunquit Playhouse, 10 Main Street, Ogunquit, Maine, 207-646-5511,

17. Common Ground Revisited

Kirsten Greenidge’s adaptation of J. Anthony Lukas’s Pulitzer-winning book shapes up as one of the theater events of the year, with reverberations that will be felt well beyond the stage. Teaming up with director Melia Bensussen, her collaborator on 2012′s The Luck of the Irish, Greenidge examines Boston’s troubled racial history — as well as questions of class, politics, and education — through the experiences of three Boston families during the busing mandated in the mid-1970s to achieve desegregation in the city’s schools.

Details: May 27-June 26, Huntington Theatre Company, Calderwood Pavilion at BCA, 617-266-0800,

18. Andy Warhol in Iran

This world premiere of a comedy by Brent Askari (American Underground) is a fictionalized account of an actual trip Andy Warhol took to Tehran in 1976 to create a photographic portrait — with Polaroid — of Farah Pahlavi, wife of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (who would be overthrown three years later). In the play, Warhol meets a young revolutionary who knocks his plans dramatically off-course. Directed by Skip Greer.

Details: June 2-25, Barrington Stage Company at St. Germain Stage, Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center, Pittsfield, 413-236-8888,

Visual Art

By Murray Whyte

19. Philip Guston Now

The first comprehensive Guston survey in a generation had its opening stalled several times, and will finally land in Boston this May. The delay is only partly pandemic-related. Guston, a charter member of Abstract Expressionism, broke with his confreres in the late 1960s. Most famously, that meant he painted grotesquely cartoonish portrayals of white-hooded KKK figures doing mundane things like driving around and smoking — the banality of evil, refit to the era of civil rights. After the nationwide racial reckoning sparked by the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, the three museums that crafted it — one, our own MFA — pushed pause, they said, until a time when the work might be “more clearly interpreted.” The move brought immediate widespread outrage — the Now of the title was the point, critics of the decision said — but also a thoughtful embrace of the fact that art doesn’t function in a vacuum, apart from the world it inhabits. That was Guston’s point; with any luck, it will be the exhibition’s as well.

Details: May 1-September 11, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 465 Huntington Avenue, 617-267-9300,

Arghavan Khosravi’s "The Immigrant."From Arghavan Khosravi

20. Arghavan Khosravi

The first-ever solo museum exhibition for Arghavan Khosravi features an array of work that pulls influence across time and space, from European Renaissance painting to fashion magazines to Persian miniature painting. Throughout, Khosravi, who was born in Iran, maintains a unifying theme, centering female protagonists in narratives of freedom and empowerment.

Details: April 14-September 5, Currier Museum of art, 150 Ash Street, Manchester, New Hampshire, 603-669-6144,

21. Rodin in the United States: Confronting the Modern

Some 1,300 works by French sculptor Auguste Rodin are held by museums in the United States, testament not only to the artist’s success but his many advocates on this side of the ocean. This exhibition, hosted by the Clark, gathers 50 sculptures and 25 drawings that explore the reputation-building effort that cemented Rodin’s work at the center of the American experience of early modern art.

Details: June 18-September 18, Clark Art Institute, 225 South Street, Williamstown, 413-458-2303,

22. A Memorial to Ice at the Dead Deer Disco

Loss freights every inch of Marc Swanson’s largest-ever installation — loss of his jubilant youth spent in queer dance clubs, of friends to AIDS, and, in the throes of a rapidly-worsening climate disaster, of the very planet itself. Inspired by the life-size dioramas favored by natural history museums, the work is an amalgam of sculpture, video, light, and taxidermy, conjuring an otherworldly lament for an imagined apocalyptic future rooted far too deeply in the here and now.

Details: March 12-December, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, 1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, 413-662-2111,

23. Andrew Wyeth: Life and Death

Andrew Wyeth’s paintings of Maine — desolate and windswept scenes, their fine precision a foil to the rugged wildness they capture — earned a place in American art history very much in his lifetime; he died in 2009, at 91. He didn’t live to see it, the old joke goes, but he certainly did the next best thing: In the early 1990s, he produced a number of drawings of his own funeral, an event with which he became fixated. At Colby, those works will be presented alongside pieces by contemporaries with parallel existential concerns, such as Duane Michals and Andy Warhol, repositioning Wyeth, long seen as a throwback figurative painter, with his conceptual kin.

Details: June 2-October 16, Colby College Museum of Art, 5600 Mayflower Hill, Waterville, Maine, 207-859-5600,

24. Trading Earth: Ceramics, Commodities, and Commerce

A display of ceramic pieces spanning centuries, Trading Earth is as concerned with the objects themselves as the historical freight they carry. As decorative tchotchkes, figurative pieces like a saltshaker in the form of a servant seem quaint, but really, they’re pocket-sized receptacles of Colonial history, fashioned as dainty containers for the spoils of forced labor over centuries of Colonial domination — sugar, tea, alcohol, and tobacco, to name a few.

Details: April 9-January 28, 2024, RISD Museum, 20 N. Main Street, Providence, 401-454-6500,

Pop Music

By A.Z. Madonna

25. Jazmine Sullivan

R&B nightingale extraordinaire Jazmine Sullivan lit up last year’s quarantine winter with her emotionally complex and lyrically masterful EP “Heaux Tales,” after a several-year hiatus from releasing new material. Now she’s taking the show on the road. Get in your feelings at her House of Blues date and let her voice strip away those late winter blues. Also appearing is singer-songwriter known as Tiana Major9.

Details: March 16, House of Blues, 15 Lansdowne Street, Boston, 888-693-2583,

26. The Town and the City Festival

This downtown festival in Lowell was originally scheduled for the fall, but got pushed to spring for COVID safety reasons; all tickets will be honored. A stacked lineup mixes New England stars such as Tanya Donelly with visitors from afar, including Chicago punk veteran Jon Langford, with a generous spread of artists who might just be your new local favorites.

Details: April 8-9, venues around Lowell,

27. Waking Windows

The immortal noisy rock band Dinosaur Jr. and the shimmering, intimate pop of Japanese Breakfast will anchor Waking Windows, but the undercard’s no slouch either: queer hip-hop prophet Billy Dean Thomas, rising acoustic guitar superstar Yasmin Williams, and Japanese psychedelic band Kikagaku Moyo (on its final tour) are just a few of the acts that will descend on this Vermont town with a population of 8,000.

Details: May 13-15, venues in Winooski, Vermont,

WW2019Luke Awtry

28. All Roads Music Festival

Enjoy a lobster roll with a side of the best music Maine has to offer at All Roads, a celebration of local indie music that takes over venues throughout the picturesque seaside town of Belfast. This year’s lineup is yet to be announced, but in keeping with past festivals, it’ll include more than 30 acts, discussion panels, and the annual Maine Songwriter’s Circle.

Details: May 20-21, venues in Belfast, Maine, 207-370-9197,

29. Boston Calling

Representing several generations of dad rock (that is, music often beloved by dads), Foo Fighters, The Strokes, and Metallica headline this year’s Boston Calling. But the festival will not be one-note: sister act Haim, masked cowboy Orville Peck, local hip-hop wordsmiths Oompa and Cliff Notez, and electro-violinist Sudan Archives are among the many varied artists that will take the stage on Memorial Day weekend.

Details: May 27-29, Harvard Athletic Complex, 65 North Harvard Street, Boston,

Metallica will be one of the headliners of Boston Calling.Anton Corbijn

30. Northlands Music & Arts Festival

With two Grateful Dead tributes in large font on the poster, you can probably envision the spirit of this new festival — and you’d be right, with bands from Lotus to Lettuce, and the Yonder Mountain String Band to Pink Talking Fish. In between, snag a bite from a food truck or local restaurant, or just take a seat in the beer garden.

Details: June 24-25, Cheshire Fairgrounds, 247 Monadnock Highway, Swanzey, New Hampshire,

Classical Music

By A.Z. Madonna

31. Emerald Isles

Skylark Vocal Ensemble picked up a 2022 Grammy nomination for its poignant album It’s a Long Way; this spring, it presents a chamber program of music from Ireland and other Celtic lands in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, featuring Skylark singers Fiona Gillespie and Peter Walker taking turns on the Irish whistle, pipes, and harp. Performances in Falmouth, Newburyport, and Weston.

Details: March 18-20,

Skylark Vocal EnsembleWilliam Foster

32. War Requiem

British-Italian conductor Antonio Pappano leads as the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, along with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, performs one of its first major choral pieces since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Benjamin Britten’s passionately pacifist War Requiem. Scheduled soloists are soprano Amanda Majeski, baritone Matthias Goerne, and Britten specialist and tenor Ian Bostridge.

Details: March 31-April 2, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Hall, 301 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, 617-266-1200,

33. X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X

Anthony Davis’s opera based on the life of Malcolm X receives a much-anticipated and appreciated revival as the Boston Modern Orchestra Project embarks on a multiyear five-opera project highlighting Black composers. Bass-baritone Davóne Tines, a Harvard University graduate with a meteorically ascending star in the opera world, sings the lead role.

Details: June 17, Boston Modern Orchestra Project at the Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Road, Boston, 617-635-1403,

34. American Classics

Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra principal conductor and artistic director Bramwell Tovey leads a program of American music from the past 100 years, including George Gershwin’s classic overture to Strike up the Band and his Piano Concerto in F featuring soloist Jon Kimura Parker; Symphony No. 3 by Florence Price, the first nationally acclaimed Black female composer; and Haillíff-Serenata by Gabriela Lena Frank, which was inspired by the composer’s trip to the Andean city of Cajamarca with her Peruvian/Chinese mother.

Details: April 9, Rhode Island Philharmonic at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, 1 Avenue of the Arts, Providence, 401-248-7070,

35. Yellow Barn

International chamber music incubator Yellow Barn is poised for another summer of intimate concerts with fresh blueberries and ice cream at intermission. Specific dates and repertoire for its summer festival have yet to be announced, but March 19 at Williamstown’s Clark Art Institute offers a little taste of what might be in store, as artistic director and pianist Seth Knopp collaborates with soprano Tony Arnold and baritone William Sharp for songs by Kurt Weill, Eric Nathan, and George Crumb. Venues in Putney, Vermont,

Details: 802-387-6637,

36. Tanglewood

The Boston Symphony Orchestra and many other special guests return to the Berkshires for the first full season of summer programming since 2019. Expect opera in concert, Star Wars with live orchestra, a Stephen Sondheim tribute, abundant chamber music, and plenty of time for picnics on the lawn. Just be sure to pack bug spray and an umbrella — as anyone who was present for the Ride of the Valkyries in 2019 can attest, those thunderstorms can come out of nowhere.

Details: June 17-September 4, venues in Lenox, 617-266-1200,

Send comments to