How to Pack the Perfect Picnic for Tanglewood

Tips and Ideas for Picnicking Like a Pro at Tanglewood This Summer

Tanglewood Picnic on the Lawn
A picnic on the lawn is part of a complete Tanglewood experience.

© Kim Knox Beckius

Got Tanglewood lawn seats? Part of the magic of Tanglewood is packing a scrumptious gourmet picnic to enjoy on the lawn, either before you take your seats inside the Shed or another of the music center's concert halls or throughout the performance if you've purchased lawn tickets. You'll want to plan ahead for a memorable musical feast!

Here are some tips and ideas for packing the perfect Tanglewood picnic this summer:

  • Parking at Tanglewood is free, but much of it is quite a distance from performance settings, so you'll want to pack as lightly as possible. Real Simple's picnic packing checklist is a useful tool for ensuring you have all the essentials.
  • Spreading a picnic blanket out on the ground is the ideal way to go, but check to see if there has been rain in western Massachusetts (here is the weather report for Lenox). If so, your seating will soak through and leave you in an uncomfortable bind. Lawn chairs are a good solution, but remember, you'll have to carry them quite a distance. Lightweight chairs that fold up into their own carrying bags are your best bet.
  • As an alternative, lawn chairs can be rented at Tanglewood for $5 each (cash and credit cards are accepted). Lawn chairs are available at the Beer Garden at the Main Gate entrance for Shed concerts or adjacent to Ozawa Hall for Ozawa Hall concerts.
  • A nice bottle of wine is a must, and stemless wine glasses are the perfect solution to the trickiness of balancing traditional stemmed glasses on the lawn. Tasting Table recommends five types of wine that are perfect for summer picnics. If you don't drink alcohol, substitute sparkling cider or grape juice. Just remember to bring a corkscrew! If you do, you're bound to meet some of your fellow concertgoers, who will be searching about for a neighbor on the next blanket who planned ahead.
  • Pack as much of your picnic food in disposable containers as possible so that you'll have a lighter load to carry out when the concert is through.
  • Know the rules of picnic food safety, and try to avoid mayo-dressed salads, raw fish and other foods that are particularly prone to spoilage. Serve your picnic goodies in courses, so nothing sits out in the sun for too long. And remember that chocolate should be kept on ice, too, or it will melt in the sun and create a gooey mess. You may want to opt to purchase dessert on-site from the SoCo Creamery cart: Their ice cream is one of the best made in Massachusetts.
  • Tanglewood has some rules about what can be brought onto the grounds. Open flames are a no-no, so leave your candles at home. Cooking is also prohibited, so no portable grills. Tents and canopies are also not allowed on the lawn. Your best bet if it rains is to picnic in your car and upgrade your lawn seats to seats under cover in the Shed.
  • Don't have time or the desire to pack your own Tanglewood picnic? Nejaime's Wine Cellars, located right in Lenox, Massachusetts, is a convenient place to pick up a bottle of wine, and you can also order a complete Tanglewood picnic for two or four people online in advance to pick up on concert day. There's even a vegetarian option.

Some ideal Tanglewood picnic foods include:

  • Cold Quiche
  • Brie and Crackers or Fresh-Baked Bread (Buy a loaf at Berkshire Mountain Bakery if you want the best bread in the region.)
  • Cold Cooked and Seasoned Chicken Breasts
  • Tortellini or Cucumber Salad
  • Wheat Pita Bread and Hummus (Yankee Magazine's recipe for basic hummus will help you prepare this spread, which is olive-oil based and stays fresher than other picnic dips. If you want to get fancy, try Yankee's recipe for asparagus hummus with spiced pita chips.)
  • California Rolls (and other cooked or vegetarian sushi)
  • Iced shrimp and cocktail sauce
  • Celery and Carrot Sticks
  • Seedless Green Grapes, strawberries, peaches or other seasonal fruit
  • A Thermos of hot herbal tea
  • Your favorite cookies
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