Designated Massachusetts Cultural Districts
- HyArts Cultural District, Barnstable
- Fenway Cultural District, Boston
- Central Square Cultural District, Cambridge
- Concord Center Cultural District, Concord
- Cottage Street Cultural District, Easthampton
- Essex River Cultural District, Essex
- Harbortown Cultural District, Gloucester
- Rocky Neck Cultural District, Gloucester
- Lowell’s Canalway District, Lowell
- Central Exchange Cultural District, Lynn
- Marlborough Downtown Village Cultural District, Marlborough
- Natick Center Cultural District, Natick
- Orleans Village Center Cultural District, Orleans
- Upstreet Cultural District, Pittsfield
- Rockport Cultural District, Rockport
- Glass Town Cultural District, Sandwich
- Shelburne Falls Cultural District, Shelburne Falls
Cultural District, Barnstable
Located in the thriving Cape Cod seaside village of Hyannis, the
HyArts Cultural District provides a wide array of arts and cultural
experiences, outdoor activities, shopping, and dining. Visitors
can explore President John F. Kennedy’s Cape Cod roots at the
Hyannis Museum and the new Kennedy Legacy Trail. Learn about
the Cape’s rich maritime traditions at the Cape
Cod Maritime Museum and set sail on the catboat Sarah. See
exhibitions of talented local artists at the Hyannis
Harbor Arts Center at the Guyer Barn. Attend free concerts
right on the harbor through the Citizens
Bank Tuesday Night Concert series and Sunset
Celebrations. Visit the Harbor
Shanties to buy work from local
artisans or check out any of the dozens of unique shops within
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Fenway Cultural District, Boston
A walk through the Fenway Cultural District in Boston puts you at the doorstep of the world's most acclaimed cultural destinations: the Museum of Fine Arts with its new Art of the Americas wing; the incomparable Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and its new performance venue where every seat is in the front row; and Symphony Hall, home of America's favorite orchestra, the Boston Symphony. And you haven't even scratched the surface. Art and history lovers will feast on the best of American culture and still come back for more. Dine in a museum courtyard, or duck into an authentic ethnic restaurant. Other top destinations include Fenway Studios, the New England Conservatory, the Boston Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, Massachusetts College of Art, Simmons College, and the Massachusetts Historical Society. All are easily accessible by public transportation.
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Central Square Cultural District, Cambridge
Cambridge's Central Square Cultural District is home to a mix of small, funky, independently-owned shops and creative start-ups, with larger, well-established corporations, all supported by existing cultural resources such as public art, resident artists, dynamic cultural organizations, ethnic restaurants, and leading educational institutions like Cambridge College and MIT. Central Square is home to a number of large cultural events, including Cambridge Science Festival, Cambridge River Festival, Central Square World's Fair and the City Dance Party, together drawing an annual audience to the square in excess of 500,000. Property-owners in the Square are committed to the vision of the District and support attracting new businesses that will maintain a positive balance of size, diversity and industry. The Central Square Cultural District amplifies an authentic, urban neighborhood that is constantly evolving while maintaining its core identity as a unique and eclectic place to live, work and play.
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Center Cultural District, Concord
The Concord Center Cultural District is a picturesque New England village. 18th, 19th and 20th century buildings in a National Historic District are backdrops for world-class dance, concerts and art exhibitions. Although you see a bit of history at every turn, you are invigorated by history being made today by goldsmiths handcrafting jewelry, artists creating and teaching their craft, and performers taking an evening dining experience to another level.
The first battle of the American Revolution took place in Concord on April 19, 1775. Listen to fife and drum corps from all over the nation as they march down Main Street at the annual Patriot’s Day Parade complete with marching Minutemen and historical re-enactors on horseback. The Concord Players traces its history back to 1856 and pays homage to its founder, Louisa May Alcott. Today, the Players perform at The Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden, which is also home to the Concord Band and the Concord Orchestra. And there are more than 50 resident artists at Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts that open their studios twice a year. Concord’s ArtWalk, Sizzlin’ Summer Sidewalk Sales, and Holiday Shopping Night bring Concord’s merchants, artists, and performers to the streets. Concord Center has been the hub of activity for centuries for Concord residents and visitors and remains so today.
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Cottage Street Cultural District, Easthampton
Located at the base of Mount Tom, Easthampton’s Cottage Street Cultural District, known for its “down-to-earth funkiness,” has an eclectic array of quaint shops, galleries, and bustling night-life all set in the back-drop of a diverse arts scene. Enjoy a Sunday brunch and a movie with views of the Nashawannuck pond at Popcorn Noir—a cinema and restaurant that serves up movies, cocktails, theater, and live music. Next door is Platterpus, Too - known for being “what a record store used to be.” Bibliophiles and collectors head to White Square Books and Fine Art replete with carefully selected first editions and reasonably priced books. Luthier’s Co-op serves-up live bluegrass, local beers, and a wide-array of guitar strings and vintage instruments. Experience the dynamic monthly Art Walk Easthampton, a vibrant array of exhibitions, performers, and musicians held every Second Saturday. Visit Open Studios twice a year hosted by over 60 working artists in the Cottage Street Studios. Events that happen throughout the year including Art Walk and the Nash Gallery’s Plein Air Paint Out make Easthampton’s Cottage Street Cultural District a premiere artistic destination.
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River Cultural District, Essex
The Essex River Cultural District is sensible and compact, both
in terms of geography and concept: this is where "the town meets
the river." The district meanders past ancient burial grounds,
active shipyards and marinas, bustling restaurants, antique shops
and galleries. The district offers vistas of Burnham's Shipyard,
the Essex Historical Society and Shipbuilding Museum, which houses
an important collection of marine related antiquities and much
of Essex's rich history, and the stunning Essex River with its
salt marsh borders looking out to Hog Island and Crane Beach.
Pocket parks line the street with benches for relaxing and taking
in the views. The district presents a dynamic and active relationship
between history and the river, not one that is frozen in the past.
Residents are encouraged to get out onto the river to experience
it first-hand; the shipbuilding tradition is still alive and well
and the town celebrates each new launch; and early antiques share
shelf space with more recent memorabilia and contemporary crafts.
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Harbortown Cultural District, Gloucester
The Harbortown Cultural District is the hub of Gloucester’s downtown and the center of the oldest seaport in New England. The harbor and its work have inspired all manner of creative artists, iconoclasts and activists for centuries and continue to draw locals and visitors. Harbortown boasts a staggering array of cultural assets, businesses, and year-round creative arts and entertainment activities. Dozens of festivals celebrate the city's diverse ethnic heritage, fishing traditions, literary giants, and contemporary arts and culture. Harbortown counts more than 35 restaurants, many of which host live music at night and feature changing art exhibits. The Cape Ann Museum is lauded as one of the finest small museums in the country. Harbortown also features the HarborWalk – an interactive public path featuring stories and images of the district’s annual St. Peter’s Fiesta, heroic fisherman Howard Blackburn, artists such as Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper, poets Charles Olson and T.S. Eliot, writers Sebastian Junger and Virginia Lee Burton, along with inventors and waterfront workers. The Walk loops by a working waterfront, past sea captain mansions, pocket parks, the seven gabled Fitz Henry Lane house, and the museums.
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Rocky Neck Cultural District, Gloucester
There's something special about the light here. Find out why artists from around the world are drawn to one of America's first artist colonies: Gloucester's Rocky Neck. Stroll through artist galleries and studios nestled on this Cape Ann peninsula. Talk to the artists and watch them work. Grab lunch on the water overlooking a working fishing harbor. Rocky Neck is one of America's oldest art colonies, supporting an impressive number of year-round working artists. The district is home to numerous galleries and restaurants as well as the critically acclaimed Gloucester Theatre Company. Venues offer a calendar of special events like Nights on the Neck and the Rocky Neck Artist Ball. A dynamic new cultural and visitor center is also in the works.
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Canalway District, Lowell
How many urban landscapes offer both whitewater rafting and Smithsonian-affiliate museums right in their downtown? Lowell’s Canalway Cultural District offers both, along with a thriving arts community. Lowell National Historical Park, Whistler House Museum of Art, Angkor Dance Troupe, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre are just a few examples of the city’s flourishing creative network. With seven large-scale annual festivals, a wide variety of performance spaces, hundreds of concerts per year, innovative creative spaces for making and exhibiting artwork including The Arts League of Lowell, Brush Art Gallery and Studios, and unchARTed, and more than nine countries of cuisine in three city blocks, Lowell is the premier entertainment city of the Merrimack Valley.
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Exchange Cultural District, Lynn
The core of this city may be one of Massachusetts' best-kept secrets -- a fusion of contemporary artists and multicultural cuisine and the authentic bricks and mortar of a city steeped in a history at the forefront of America's industrial history. Mingle with the artists and entrepreneurs who are drawn to the myriad of street activities, performances, and museums. Lynn's Central Exchange Cultural District includes historic museums, multiple performance spaces (like LynnArts' Neal Rantoul Black Box Theater), galleries like RAW showcasing young artists, numerous artist studios, WFNX Radio, ethnic restaurants and marketplaces reflecting the city's diverse population, and a resurgence of new restaurants like the Turbine Wine Bar.
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Downtown Village Cultural District, Marlborough
The Marlborough Downtown Village Cultural District—referred to as the "cultural heart" of the city--is an architecturally attractive, ethnically diverse, and inviting area that is easily accessible by bus, car, bike, and foot. The downtown's cultural assets are enjoyed by residents from all parts of the city, and cultural stakeholders have endeavored to increase Downtown Marlborough's profile across the region and further expand upon its natural assets. Most notable to the cityscape are the many steeples and spires of City Hall and area churches that characterize a skyline which has remained visually unaltered since their construction. Marlborough Downtown Village, Olde Marlborough and Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce are three groups that promote the arts, history, and creative economy within the City and the region. It is comprised predominantly of service-related businesses, including a robust selection of restaurants representing a variety of cuisines, barber shops, CPAs, law offices, and printing companies. Marlborough's Cultural District encompasses the building blocks to a blossoming cultural district in ways that are authentic to the city.
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Center Cultural District, Natick
The Natick Center Cultural District’s majestic, late 19th-century, “neo-gothic” architecture serves as a visually impressive historic platform for the district’s numerous cultural offerings and its cultural anchors – The Center for Arts in Natick (TCAN) and the municipally-owned Morse Institute Library. Another key destination within the cultural district is the town common. Quintessentially New England, with its ample green space and wooden gazebo, the common provides an ideal stage for a busy calendar of free public concerts and festivals. The district is a culmination of over a decade of historic preservation and public and private investment in the town center’s streetscape and façade improvements, and cultural facilities. In 2003, TCAN opened its doors, following an impassioned rescue mission by a group of local citizens and the thoughtful restoration of Natick’s historic (c. 1875) Central Fire Station on Summer Street – into the premier performing arts center in the Metrowest area. TCAN has drawn nearly 20,000 attendees to its 300 performances, classes, lectures, film programs, and art exhibitions during the past year. The district is home to over 100 working artists and dozens of independently owned businesses, and events such as the yearly Natick Open Studios, the Art Walk, and historic walking tours knit together its many activities. And, just steps away from the Common, the world-renowned Walnut Hill School for the Arts brings artists from all over the world to Natick, and down to Main Street to perform in the heart of this wonderful little town.
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Orleans Village Center Cultural District, Orleans
Anchored by the Old Firehouse and Parish Park, the Orleans Village Center Cultural District is a walkable network of attractions starting with Theresa’s Way and extending through a necklace of pocket parks, public spaces, greenbelts, and vistas. Maritime heritage meets modern hospitality, art galleries and boutiques line the pathways, and iconic shops are around every corner. History lives on in Orleans—in the Federated church dating to 1639, militia encampments celebrating the Battle of Rock Harbor from the War of 1812, and in “pulling boats” re-enacting the Cape’s first canal through Jeremiah’s Gutter. Catboats flourish on Town Cove and Pleasant Bay, sailing out of Orleans Yacht Club, Namequoit Sailing Association, and Nauset Marine, supported by wooden boat-builders such as Arey’s Pond Boat Yard and Pleasant Bay Boat and Spar. Performing arts, entertainment, lifetime learning, and countless recreational opportunities beckon year-round at the Academy Playhouse and School. And community celebrations abound, including “Spring into Summer” in May, Orleans Heritage Month in August—which culminates with a performance by the Orleans Pops featuring the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra, “Celebrate Our Waters” in September, Ukulele Cabaret and Plein Air painters during “Capture the Cape,” in October, and much more.
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Upstreet Cultural District, Pittsfield
How do you decide among the 50 restaurants, wine bars, and cafes that populate the Upstreet Cultural District? A calendar chock full of events and celebrations that regularly fill the street with vendors and artists that will tempt your aesthetic and culinary taste buds. This vibrant district will lure you into its amazing theater scene and to its family-friendly Berkshire Museum. Upstreet is home to dozens of visual, performing, and literary artists and numerous cultural institutions, including the Barrington Stage Company and its Musical Theatre Lab, the Hancock Shaker Village, and the beautifully restored Colonial Theatre. The district also boasts a number of locally-run retail shops, art galleries, a diverse selection of ethnic restaurants, and a year-round calendar of events and celebrations like 3rd Thursdays and the WordXWord Festival.
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Rockport Cultural District, Rockport
From the tip of Bearskin Neck and the iconic Motif #1, to Rockport Music's world-class Shalin Liu Performance Center with its stage overlooking the Atlantic, you'll have a once in a lifetime experience in Rockport. Shop in more than 40 art galleries. Grab a cup of coffee while watching the waves. Find out why international visitors make this a regular destination. Rockport's district boasts over 40 individual artist galleries and studios, as well as cultural institutions like the Rockport Art Association, one of the oldest active art associations in the nation.
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Town Cultural District, Sandwich
Sandwich's Glass Town Cultural District focuses on the village center, with the Sandwich Glass Museum serving as the focal point – a lens to tell the story of Glass Town. Whether photographing the picturesque Shawme Pond, watching live glass-blowing, or learning about our nation's colonial history, visitors may easily spend a week in Sandwich and still have sites to enjoy. Recent restoration work on the historic Town Hall has reopened the upstairs theater space. The Dexter Grist Mill & Hoxie House was recently restored to capture life in the 1600s. The Sandwich Public Library houses the town's historic archives and offers cultural programming for various age groups. Historic inns, private residences, four architecturally significant church buildings, restaurants and shops are located in the district. Outdoor juried artisan shows, an antique market, and an annual Street Fair with a Best Sandwich in Sandwich Competition take place yearly. There are two art galleries and a small community of working artists and a great response to the recent revival of community theater productions. The focus on "Glass Town" connects the town's history with its present, and weaves together both art and industry. This is not your "typical Cape town" – there is something different here, rooted in history but continuing in the present day; a heritage connecting artisanship and innovation; a sense of place that celebrates the beauty of a natural setting while calling attention to the ways it has been shaped by the hands of people.
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Falls Cultural District, Shelburne Falls
This rural pairing of two villages – Shelburne and Buckland – on either side of the Deerfield River joined by an historic iron bridge is a delightful surprise. Honored as one of the “100 Best Small Art Towns in America” the towns are recognized as a nationally desirable cultural destination. Shelburne Falls gets it all right – preserving its historic, small town character while being open to the best of modern life. It is a village with a thriving cultural community nestled in the heart of farms and country roads. Enjoy world class opera in Memorial Hall’s 1898 Met Live series. Visit eclectic art and crafts galleries and studios throughout the village. Enjoy the ambience of Mocha Maya’s Coffee House offering live music year-round. The Bridge of Flowers, once a busy trolley bridge, is now a world famous garden. Visit the trolley museum, the candlepin museum, or the curious geological potholes. Linger in local eateries. Fun family-friendly fairs and festivals throughout the year celebrate the arts, culture and nature of Shelburne Falls and the surrounding hill towns.
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