The Lebanon area offers a spectrum of art and entertainment options, from live theater and musical performances to films and museum exhibits. The cultural center of the community is the 800-seat Lebanon Opera House, the largest proscenium theater in the Upper Valley. The Opera House offers theater, music, dance, educational programming, and family entertainment throughout the year, featuring such performers as Garrison Keillor, Natalie MacMaster, Suzanne Vega, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, along with performing companies such as the NorthEast Shakespeare Ensemble, Opera North, and the City Center Ballet.
The Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts on the Dartmouth College campus is another prominent entertainment venue, hosting theater productions, film series, and musical performances by Dartmouth student ensembles and visiting orchestras.
The Briggs Opera House in nearby White River Junction, Vermont, is the home base of the Northern Stage professional theater company, which stages seven shows each season, as well as a family theater series. At the 400-seat Town Hall Theatre in Woodstock, Vermont, the Pentangle Arts Council presents an exciting variety of movies, live music, and theatrical performances all year ’round.
For more informal entertainment, various musical groups (including the Lebanon Community Band) perform free concerts in Colburn Park every Monday night throughout the summer. Thursdays during the summer feature a full day of activities in the park, with a children’s concert series at noon, farmers market and crafts from 4 to 7 p.m., and evening concerts highlighting nationally known folk and acoustic artists.
Lebanon’s Entertainment Cinemas movie theater complex features six screens, while Hanover’s Nugget Theater has four. At the Hopkins Center, the Dartmouth Film Society presents a selection of American and foreign films, from well-known titles to offbeat art films. In the summertime, the Fairlee Drive-In Theater in Vermont is a popular destination for open-air viewing of first-run movies.
Across the river in Norwich, Vermont, the Montshire Museum of Science is a great place for children and fun-loving adults who enjoy learning. Carefully designed exhibits with scientific themes provide visitors with hands-on interaction that teaches as well as entertains. The Montshire also offers programs for school groups, summer nature camps, and a network of hiking trails.
The Alliance for the Visual Arts (AVA), located just off Colburn Park in downtown Lebanon, has been promoting local artistic talent for three decades, presenting a wide variety of exhibitions and artists’ talks. The recent renovation of its 41,000-square-foot facility has received recognition as a “green” sustainable building project. The Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College displays paintings, sculpture and artifacts from its permanent collections and traveling exhibits from around the world.
Ten minutes south, in Cornish, art and history enthusiasts can enjoy St. Gaudens National Historic Site, the beautiful home, studios, and gardens of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of America’s greatest sculptors. Nearby Plainfield is the site of the Maxfield Parrish House Museum, where many of the artist’s original paintings are on display at his former homestead, along with works created by other members of the legendary Cornish Art Colony.
A drive across America’s longest covered bridge to Windsor, Vermont brings visitors to the Cornish Colony Museum, displaying additional work by these influential creative artists, and the American Precision Museum, the largest collection of historic machine tools in the nation.
The Shaker Museum in Enfield, the former site of a thriving Shaker community, is dedicated to the preservation of Shaker cultural heritage. Situated on Mascoma Lake in the Great Stone Dwelling, the largest Shaker dwelling ever constructed, the museum offers a fascinating collection of Shaker artifacts, including furniture, tools, clothing, photographs, and agricultural implements.
Located in Woodstock, Vermont, the Billings Farm & Museum, a working dairy farm employing 19th-century agricultural practices, offers a glimpse into Vermont’s rural past. Forty minutes south in Warner, New Hampshire, the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum Education and Cultural Center is dedicated to increasing the public’s awareness of American Indian traditions, philosophies and art.