Amherst Center Cultural District
Nestled within the heart of the famously literary Pioneer Valley, Amherst has been the home and inspiration of some of history’s greatest authors, thinkers, and wordsmiths. Visitors to the Cultural District can take a tour of Emily Dickinson’s home, then wander over to Amherst College to view her historic manuscripts–as well as Robert Frost’s. A diverse selection of libraries, publishers, literary magazines, and bookstores round out Amherst’s bookish atmosphere, and readings, book launches, and open mics are weekly occurrences. A year in Amherst is framed by LitFest in the spring and the Poetry Festival in the fall–featuring workshops, author talks, and poetry marathons, free and open to all.
Many artists make Amherst their home–and their canvas. Art can be found everywhere in downtown Amherst, in places both expected–The Mead Art Museum, Gallery A3, Hope and Feathers Framing–and unexpected–electrical boxes, murals, public sculptures. Every first Thursday, Amherst Arts Night Plus is hosted at fifteen or more venues in and around the downtown area, each displaying a different artist or cultural attraction, rotating monthly. For those interested in the more cinematic, Amherst Cinema brings new releases, art house films, and cult favorites to downtown Amherst 365 days a year.
If you’re searching for musical offerings, you won’t have to look for long–just train your ear while walking down Main Street and you may hear music drifting out of The Black Sheep Deli, which hosts weekly live music events for any who care to wander in. When it’s time to swap out coffee and local folk music for a cocktail and jazz, even more options abound: Bistro 63, McMurphy’s Tavern, and 30Boltwood all host live sets throughout the evenings. Amherst Center also hosts two renowned musical instrument shops–Stamell String Instruments and Fretted Instrument Workshop–and a record store, Mystery Train Records, within a mile radius. The music scene hits the streets every spring with Jamherst!, a weekend in which Pioneer Valley musicians take over the town in a marathon of musical performances, both acoustic and electric. All this sets the stage for Downtown Beats, the Amherst Business Improvement District’s free summer concert series in which our parks become stages and all are welcome to dance the warm nights away.