Arts & Culture

The area’s rich culture and variety of events are available at all seasons of the year.

Ithaca’s Historic State Theatre, a classic 1,600-seat movie palace, is host to over 60 events each year, including concerts, theatricalproductions, Broadway tours, dance performances, lectures, readings, and community events. In 2011-2012 a performance byGaelic Storm and the Cowboy Junkies was featured; and shows such Bobby McFerrin and Ithaca Ballet’s “Swan Lake” are offered. Guster has played at the State Theater, as well as Lisa Lampanelli, the Count Basie Orchestra and the Ailey II Dance Company. Visit

The State Theater

The State Theater

In January 2013 the Winter Village Bluegrass Festival will run from January 25-27 2013. Please go to for more information.

For live stage theater, The Kitchen Theatre opened in a new space for its 20th season in September 2010 and offers a ‘Bold, Intimate and Engaging’ experience in its new 99-seat theatre. Go to The Hangar Theatre also made a debut in 2010 of its refurbished space – go to for more information.

For live music, the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance is an annual event held the second-to-last weekend of July in Trumansburg, New York, a lovely small town ten miles north of Ithaca. GrassRoots draws nearly 20,000 visitors throughout the course of four days and presents over 70 musicians, bands and dance troupes on four simultaneously-running stages continually throughout the long weekend. All proceeds generated go towards charities supporting arts, education, and the fight against AIDS.  The festival has been named one of USA Today’s top 10 outdoor music festivals. Genres represented among the musicians include bluegrass, Cajun, Zydeco, African, reggae, country, Americana, Native American music, old-time music, Irish music, jam band, rock and roll, hip hop, Conjunto, rockabilly and more. For information about the 2014 event, check out

The Apple Harvest Festival celebrates the bountiful fall yield with fresh apples, cider, and baked goods. This annual event showcases many regional merchants, noteworthy artists, distinctive musicians, wine makers, bakers, and exceptional craftspeople. The Annual Downtown Chili Cook-off takes place each February, with over 35 local restaurants competing for the title of “Best Chili” in town! Everyone is welcome to come down and taste each recipe while being entertained by live music, a mechanical bull, roaming entertainers, beer tastings and much more!  For more information on downtown events visit

The Discovery Trail awaits young and old alike offering eight museums and exhibiting organizations – start at the Museum of the Earth, step over to the Cayuga Nature Center then on to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, the Johnson Museum of Art, the Sciencenter, The Cornell Plantations, the History Center of Tompkins County and then put your feet up at a downtown landmark, the Tompkins County Public Library. Recovered? Get on the Cayuga Wine Trail, circle the lake on the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway and throw in the Greater Ithaca Art Trail for good measure.

Cayuga Nature Center Treehouse

Cayuga Nature Center Treehouse

And speaking of libraries, The Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library hold two book sales each year; one in the spring and another in the fall. The number of items available for each sale usually exceeds 250,000. The selection is amazing, and the prices are jaw-dropping. Bring tons of shopping bags to carry your goodies home, and patience to brave the long lines and general chaos. And don’t forget, if you’re not a big reader, don’t fret – the sale also features a modest selection of cassettes, CDs, and vinyl.  That should do it for starters.

While you’re pausing for breath, find out more – all in one place– at, a comprehensive and complete listing of arts and cultural events happening tonight, next week, next month, even a year from now. What are other organizations and groups up to?  Find out at or