Albany is the center of New York State’s Capital Region. But this area is not only the center of the state’s government. It’s also a beehive of activity, a center for business and education, and hub of arts and culture, with a rich history that reveals itself in layers—in museums and institutes, but also along the city’s very streets.
Downtown Albany is a thriving marketplace and a center for culture. The New York State Museum houses an extensive collection of the state’s most treasured artifacts and preserves the history of the Empire State with ever changing exhibits. Lark Street, Albany’s “Village in the City”, is a haven and a hot spot for all varieties of arts and culture. The ten-block community is home to many of Albany’s favored bars, restaurants, and shops as well as the home of many festivals and events. May brings Tulip Fest, an annual celebration that features live entertainment and dozens of vendors and food stands as hundreds of flowers bloom in Washington Park. June features the premier arts and crafts festival Art on Lark and the crowd-drawing Friehoffer Jazz Festival. July’s Independence Day celebrations, include the 1800s-era celebration “Grand Old Fourth Of July”, and Price Chopper’s Fabulous 4th And Fireworks”, with live music and fireworks over Empire State Plaza. And from August to September, the area comes alive with an impressive annual events lineup. History takes the spotlight at Canal Splash and the 101st Apple Harvest. The Sangria Festival and the At the Plaza Food Festival bring local tastes to the forefront. The Albany Latin Fest, Capital District Scottish Games, and Iroquois Indian Festival of Arts celebrate unique aspects of local culture, while the famous Altamont Fair brings the true summertime fair experience to the area. Plus, Alive At Five showcases a huge variety of bands—local and beyond—each Thursday of the summer season downtown, and on the first Friday of each month, the city’s galleries and art centers open their doors to showcase local work for the aptly named First Friday event.
Further downtown, the Palace Theater sprawls across a corner of Clinton Street, drawing acts from around the country and crowds from a distance to take in its history and architecture as much as its shows. Built in 1931, the Palace weathered the Depression, three renovations, generations of social changes, and the advent of motion pictures. Still, much of the theater’s luxurious original décor has survived its many turns as a concert hall, theater, movie house and civic auditorium. Today, the Palace is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is the official home of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and remains one of the most successful event venues in the area.
The Hudson River is the site of much activity; river cruises and tours are available at the downtown waterfront, including a special half on land, half on the river trip aboard an amphibious bus/boat combo called a Duckboat. The tour winds through the city and ends with a splashdown in the river. History is alive at the Destroyer Escort Historical Museum aboard the only surviving World War II Destroyer Escort, the U.S.S. Slater, which is moored on the Hudson in Albany. Open for tours Wednesday through Sunday from April to November, this piece of floating history has undergone fifteen years of restoration to bring her former glory as one of the 563 destroyer escorts employed to protect American forces from Nazi U-boats in the North Atlantic and Japanese submarines and Kamikaze air attacks in the Pacific during World War II.
Wherever your interests lie, Albany has an event, an attraction, or an experience that will suit your summer sense of adventure perfectly. Visit Albany.org to plan your trip and find yours.