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Best of the Fests

From soaring arias to open-air brews, the Mad River Valley is full of celebrations worth planning your trip around.

Green Mountain Opera Festival

June 1 to June 23, 2013 Widely considered one of New England’s preeminent opera producers, the Green Mountain Opera Festival always gives audiences something to sing about. Culminating in two full-blown, costumed productions featuring professional opera singers of national and international renown—as well as gifted members of Vermont’s own artistic family—the nearly monthlong lineup is a rare treat for true music lovers. Open rehearsals, opera lectures, and master classes dispense behind-the-scenes insight on the masterworks, and the ever-popular Broadway picnic never fails to bring down the house with pitch-perfect show tunes and arias in a grassy meadow. Select festival singers and accompanists also serenade diners at an elegant opera brunch, most recently hosted by Sugarbush Resort’s Timbers Restaurant. Festival repertoire has included everything from Puccini’s tragic Madame Butterfly to Donizetti’s opera buffa Don Pasquale.

Vermont Festival of the Arts

August 1 to September 2, 2013

Hands down the state’s most diverse celebration, the Vermont Festival of the Arts introduces festivalgoers from near and far to the Green Mountain State’s flourishing creative community. On any given day of its impressive five-week program, visitors can take in the annual exhibition of amateur and professional photography on display at Waitsfield’s picturesque Round Barn Farm. The Art in the Garden Tour shuttles plein-air enthusiasts around the Valley, where local artists set up canvases to capture the area’s most beautiful blooms; Carlyn Hass, Joyce Kahn, Dotty Kyle, and Candy Barr have painted in the past. For folks more interested in the art of eating, A Taste of the Valley showcases the edible masterpieces of area restaurateurs. Favorite participants have included Lareau Farm’s American Flatbread—which arrives with its copper traveling oven in tow—and Warren’s Chez Henri Restaurant & Bistrot. There’s no better way to savor what Vermont has to offer.

Sugarbush Brew-Grass Festival

June 15, 2013

Nothing screams “summer” like a cold beer dripping condensation down your arm. Accordingly, Sugarbush Resort serves up the annual Brew-Grass Festival, neatly timed around the summer solstice. Hundreds of beer enthusiasts raise a glass to the best in microbrews, bluegrass music, and barbecued eats, all gathered under the beating sun at Lincoln Peak. What’s on tap? Last year’s kegs came from more than twenty regional craft brewers, including the Alchemist, Long Trail, Magic Hat, and Woodchuck Hard Cider. Admission includes samples and a souvenir glass. Cheers!

SIPtember Fest

September 28, 2013

A foliage-season visit to Vermont wouldn’t be complete without a spectacularly scenic lift ride to the summit of General Stark Mountain on Mad River Glen’s historic single chair. And if there’s a cold one waiting for you at the bottom of the slope, all the better. SIPtember Fest specializes in gathering Vermont hops all in one place, including the small-batch brews that won’t be found at just any bar, such as those from Bristol’s Bobcat Café & Brewery or Warren’s Lawson’s Finest Liquids. Buy a ticket to sample the suds—or go for the family-friendly live music, local fare, and kids’ games.

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