As an increasing share of the American population becomes fully vaccinated (especially the AARP crowd!), an exciting next few months are on the horizon: We can finally start thinking about returning to live and in-person events, from plays and concerts to festivals and athletic tournaments. Of course, now is not the time to get careless or complacent, so organizers are committed to reopening safely, with measures in place such as mask mandates, capacity limits and socially distanced seating. From the Kentucky Derby to the Newport Folk Festival, these 10 events will be waiting for you once you're ready to get back out there.
Where: Louisville, Kentucky
When: May 1
The details: Dust off your best fascinator or seersucker suit: The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby is back on track for the first Saturday in May. At this time organizers are working under the assumption that they will need to limit reserved seating to about 40 to 50 percent of capacity and thus are holding off on selling general-admission tickets until closer to the event date, though a number of premium box and dining room packages are available. Masks will be required, and Churchill Downs Racetrack employees have all been given the opportunity to get vaccinated starting in late March.
How to get tickets: A number of ticket and package options are available for purchase online at kentuckyderby.com/tickets
Where: Charleston, South Carolina
When: May 27–June 13
The details: Inspired by Italy's Festival dei Due Mondi, this Southern cultural festival will return for the 2021 season with a slate of live performances that includes theater (Susan Hill's ghost story The Woman in Black), dance (including tap and ballet) and music (with performances from the likes of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Sarah Jarosz). With events spread across town, the festival will promote social distancing by selling tickets in safe-seating pods—groups of two to four seats that must be purchased at the same time to ensure you'll sit only with others in your bubble.
How to get tickets: Tickets can be purchased online, over the phone or in person at spoletousa.org/current-season/buy-tickets/
Where: Indianapolis, Indiana
When: May 30
The details: To ensure safety for the 105th iteration, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has unveiled a series of safety measures such as limited venue capacity, temperature screening upon entry and mandated face covering (including free masks for those who arrive without one).
How to get tickets: Tickets available for purchase here: indianapolismotorspeedway.com/events/indy500/buy-tickets
Tribeca Film Festival
Where: New York City
When: June 9–20
The details: Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2002 to revitalize Lower Manhattan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Tribeca Film Festival will be the first major U.S. festival to return to in-person screenings after the pandemic. To guarantee a safer “welcome back” event, movies and other activities will take place outside in all five boroughs, with 40-foot mobile LED screens erected everywhere from the MetroTech Commons in Brooklyn to the Pier 57 Rooftop in Manhattan and Empire Outlets in Staten Island.
How to get tickets: Check the website for ticket updates: tribecafilm.com
U.S. Open Championship (Golf)
Where: San Diego, California
When: June 17–20
The details: With its impossibly scenic coastal views (often dotted with hang gliders and paragliders), the Torrey Pines South Course is one of America's most beautiful golf courses, and it already hosted the U.S. Open once before, back in 2008. While the tournament has put a temporary pause on selling tickets until there is more clarity from the state on changing COVID-19 protocols, organizers “remain optimistic” that they will be able to welcome fans in person.
How to get tickets: Check the website for ticket updates: usopen.com/content/us-open/tickets/2021-u-s--open-tickets--faqs.html
Shakespeare in the Park
Where: New York City
When: July 5–Aug. 29
The details: For its grand return to Central Park's Delacorte Theater, New York's Public Theater is presenting a new adaptation of the bard's The Merry Wives of Windsor by playwright Jocelyn Bioh and director Saheem Ali. The production, billed as “a celebration of Black joy, laughter and vitality,” will transport the action from a provincial English town to the West African immigrant community in South Harlem.
How to get tickets: Free tickets are distributed in several ways: daily in person in Central Park, by in-person lottery at the Public Theater downtown, through an online lottery and at a number of rotating distribution points in all five boroughs: publictheater.org/programs/shakespeare-in-the-park/
Newport Folk Festival
Where: Newport, Rhode Island
When: July 23–25 and 26–28
The details: Due to capacity restrictions, America's premier folk musical festival — which has hosted the likes of Bob Dylan (79), Joan Baez (80) and Dolly Parton (75) since it started in 1959 — will be divided into two intimate, three-day events of surprise performances, storytelling and workshops. The festival will be held at Fort Adams State Park, the host site since 1985.
How to get tickets: Check the website for ticket and lineup updates: newportfolk.org/2021-info/
Williamstown Theatre Festival
Where: Williamstown, Massachusetts
When: July 6–Aug. 8
The details: After an audio-only 2020 season, in partnership with Audible, this Tony-winning festival in the beautiful Berkshires of western Massachusetts is returning with three outdoor performances: Outside on Main: Nine Solo Plays by Black Playwrights, performed on the front lawn of the ‘62 Center for Theatre and Dance; Row, a musical about the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic, performed on the reflecting pool of the Clark Art Institute; and Alien/Nation, an immersive theatrical experience that takes guests (by foot or by car) around town and into stories inspired by real events that took place here in 1969.
How to get tickets: Tickets go on sale in mid-June; check the website for schedules and casting information: wtfestival.org
Santa Fe Opera
Where: Santa Fe, New Mexico
When: July 10–Aug. 27
The details: This open-air opera festival's 2021 season features a number of new and classic shows, including Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro, Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin and the newly commissioned English-language The Lord of Cries, which pairs elements of Bram Stoker's Dracula and Euripides’ The Bacchae. Ticket sales are on hold until public health officials finalize plans on seating capacity guidelines, but they should resume as we get closer to the festival.
How to get tickets: Check the website for updates: santafeopera.org
Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival
Where: Manchester, Tennessee
When: Sept. 2–5
The details: If you're (very) young at heart, relive your Woodstock days at this four-day festival on a 700-acre farm in Tennessee. Many music lovers choose to camp, but you can opt for more comfort by staying in an RV or simply taking a shuttle from Nashville or Chattanooga. While the lineup is filled with young singers, bands and rappers you may not have heard of, the festival has been skewing more multigenerational in recent years, with headlining performances by U2 and Robert Plant (72). This year catch sets by the likes of the Foo Fighters, Janelle Monáe, Leon Bridges and Jason Isbell, plus performers from the Grand Ole Opry.
How to get tickets: Tickets on-sale now at bonnaroo.com
Chris Nashawaty, former film critic for Entertainment Weekly, is the author of Caddyshack: The Making of a Hollywood Cinderella Story and a contributor to Esquire, Vanity Fair, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.