30 Community Highlights: Spring Equinox to St. Patrick’s Day. Spring Musicals to Film Festivals.

Spring arrives on Wednesday, March 20th with the Vernal Equinox. Families are invited to witness the sunrise (6:45am) or sunset (6pm) at the UMass Amherst Sunwheel. Astronomers Judith Young and Stephen Schneider will discuss the astronomical cause of the suns changing position during the hour-long gatherings. They will also explain the seasonal positions of Earth, the sun and moon, phases of the moon, building the Sunwheel, and answer questions about astronomy

Annie to Oklahoma. St. Patrick’s Day to Spring Equinox. Jane Yolen to Georges Méliès… These are just a few of the learning highlights we’re featuring this week! Get out into your community and learn while you play!

LiteratureHistoryNature/Animal StudiesParent Workshops/Support GroupsSustainabilitySpring Musicals FilmSt. Patrick’s Day

And be sure to check our list of supporting book & DVD titles to supplement the learning on the different topics highlighted each week. Purchase them for your family library, or check them out from the public library!


Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington hosts author Brian Selznick for a screening of the movie adaptation of his book, Hugo on Sunday afternoon, March 17th. The film (meant for families) features Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese. Following the screening, Selznick discuss the process of transforming the book into film, and will answer audience questions.

Amherst Cinema screens the film version of Harper Lee’s English class staple, To Kill a Mockingbird on Tuesday evening, March 19th. If you’ve read the book as a family (or your kids read it in school), see the cinematic adaptation and compare it to the story. Part of the cinema’s Books into Films series.

Join the Jury at the Odyssey Bookshop Courtroom as they put the sirens, jezebels, murderesses, thieves and other female villains on trial. On Thursday evening, March 21st in South Hadley, heckle and shout at infamous ladies such as Cleopatra, Bloody Mary, Mata Hari, Typhoid Mary, Anne Boylen, Calamity Jane and many more! Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple will read from their new book Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves and Other Female Villains. The trial will be performed by the Michael E. Smith Middle School Drama Club and the audience in encouraged to dress as their favorite women from history. All ages welcome, and it’s free.


There are many types of events that can change a community – and fires are one of the most noticeable and quickest tragedies that can affect a town. On Saturday morning, March 16th, older students can learn about notable fires in Williamstown’s history with fire chief Craig Pedercini at the Williamstown Historical Society. This free lecture will touch on important events in the town’s history, and can help to add details and context to local history.

Clang, clang, clang goes the trolley! This classic line from the Trolley Song could have been written about Western Massachusetts during the heyday of trolley transportation. The Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke hosts a lecture on Monday evening, March 18th on the history of trolley transportation in the area – visitors will learn about the era through photos, objects, costumes, and more.

What would Colonial residents of the Pioneer Valley have eaten, grown, and preserved? Was it similar to the things we’re still growing here? On Monday evening, older students can learn all about the food-related practices of those who settled this area at the year’s first free meeting of the Pelham Historical society at the Pelham Community Center.

The Springfield Museums’ Museums a la Carte midday lecture on Thursday, March 21st, is all about World War I – history buffs will learn about the Western Front. Ed and Libby Klekowski, PBS documentary makers, will share information about the war remains (bunkers, trenches, artillery, and more) that can be found in the woodlands covering the area that once was home to one of the most brutal fights Europe had ever seen (at the time). Best for older students.

The Amherst Historical Society hosts History Bites, a lunchtime history talk on Friday, March 22nd at at Simeon Strong House . This week’s free talk is presented by Bob Drinkwater, and will provide a brief history of gravestones in the Pioneer Valley. Cemetery studies can help us earn quite a bit about community members past, as well as the culture, traditions, and socio-economic status of Pioneer Valley residents past. Takes place. Best for older students.


You can’t judge a dog by its bark, but you can definitely judge trees by theirs! On Saturday morning, March 16th, learn the skills necessary to identify trees by their bark– a particularly useful trick during months when the trees are free of leaves and buds. This event is for ages 12+ and will be lead by Michael Wojtech (author of Bark, a book on tree identification) at Northfield Mountain.

Though there’s still a bit of snow on the ground, spring is near and there are lots of signs of the coming season change. Explore Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary in Hampden on Saturday morning to learn about the migratory birds who have returned to the area and to search for sprouting early plants.


Have you learned CPR? Childcare of the Berkshires is offering a free CPR class for parents on Monday evening, March 18th in North Adams – call to make sure there’s space. Knowing CPR is an empowering just-in-case skill every parent should have.

La Leche League of Northampton hosts a free meeting at the Amherst Family Center on Tuesday morning, March 19th. All nursing mamas & babes + siblings welcome for breastfeeding support, discussion, and Q&A time.

Do you struggle with helping your special needs child get to sleep easily? The Community Network for Children is hosting a workshop titled, “Promoting Sleep in Children with Special Needs” on Thursday evening, March 21st at Erving Elementary School. This free workshop is open to parents of children who are early childhood-elementary aged. Dinner served and childcare is available.

Learn about baby language with the Family Resource Center on Friday morning, March 22nd at a free parent workshop in North Adams. Parents will learn all about many of the cues that babies communicate to us (sometimes successfully, and sometimes with difficulty!).

On Friday evening, March 22nd, Pothole Pictures screens, “Bully,” a film that follows five young students in order to illustrate the role that the issue of bullying plays in society. The film highlights the difficulty that teachers and parents surrounding the students have in dealing with the issue, and two of the students featured tragically commit suicide (PG-13). Takes place at Memorial Hall in Shelburne Falls.


Learn how to efficiently make your own Black Gold at the Lee Library on Saturday midday, March 16th. Families will learn – thanks to the Center for Eco Technology – all about using their food waste to create healthy compost for gardens and houseplants to enjoy at this free workshop.

What’s permaculture? Learn all about it at the Sunderland Library on Wednesday evening, March 20th – this free workshop will share lots of information on gardening and advice for growing in the Northeast.

Learn about those before you who were also interested in sustainability and protecting the environment. The Dickinson Library in Northfield will host a free screening A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet on Wednesday evening. Spanning 50 years of grassroots and global activism, this Sundance documentary brings to light the vital stories of the environmental movement where people fought — and succeeded — against enormous odds.


On Saturday afternoon and evening, March 16th, Northampton High School presents Annie! The beloved tale of a curly-haired orphan features local students and takes place in the school’s auditorium.

The wind is whipping down the plains on Saturday afternoon and evening at Amherst High School – students perform Oklahoma in the school’s theater!

What if in the Bible’s Garden of Eden lived a couple named Adam and Steve, instead of Adam and Eve?! Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School presents, The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, at the Academy of Music on Saturday and Sunday evenings, March 16th & 17th in Northampton. The show follows Adam and Steve, as well as Jane and Mabel, from the garden all the way through religious history to present times – the satirical show is incredibly funny, and takes a critical look at history, relationships, and faith.

Mt. Everett Regional High School will present the musical thriller, Sweeney Todd, at the Thomas A. Consolati Performing Arts Center in Sheffield on Friday evening, March 22nd, and the weekend of March 23rd & 24th. The chilling and suspenseful masterpiece of murderous barber-ism and culinary crime tells the infamous tale of the unjustly exiled barber who returns to 19th century London seeking revenge against the judge who framed him and destroyed his family.


Images Cinema’s International Family Film Festival in Williamstown continues on Saturday morning & afternoon, March 16th with screenings of Party Mix, a collection of beautiful, artistic, and heartwarming short films from all around the world. Great for kids interested in film, or families looking for a good movie to see!

On Saturday morning, March 16th, the Mason Library in Great Barrington will host free screenings of the films of Georges Méliès, a French illusionist and filmmaker famous for leading many technical and narrative developments in the earliest days of cinema, including the classic, A Trip to the Moon.

Amherst Cinema is hosting a Miyazaki film festival throughout the spring – On Sunday afternoon, March 17th & Wednesday evening, March 20th, they will screen My Neighbor Totoro, a 1988 film about two girls and the creatures who live near their countryside home… magically, they can only be seen by children.


The City Singers of Hartford present Celtic Fire at the First Congregational Church of Amherst on Saturday afternoon, March 16th. The show celebrates the music, traditions and ancient roots of the Celtic people.

Ventfort Hall in Lenox is hosting a special Shamrock Tea in honor of St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday afternoon, March 16th. Visit the Guilded Age mansion for a beautiful and delicious event, featuring fiddler Eileen Markland playing a variety of Celtic-inspired music. Best for kids with audience skills.

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in western Mass’ most Irish city on Sunday morning, March 17th – the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade is a longstanding annual tradition, and is filled with floats, music, costumes, and green and gold galore! A fun, free event for the entire family.

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated at the Westhampton Library on Sunday evening – the library will be serving tea and hosting a free performance from the Mother Pluckers Harp Ensemble. The trio of harpists will be accompanied by singers and a guitarist, and will play beautiful Irish music. There will even be some sing-a-longs! Not a children’s event, but open to kids with audience skills who appreciate music.

List of Weekly Suggested EventsFind out about these events and over 100 other events & activities happening all next week in our List of Weekly Suggested Events. All of our listed events are “suggested.” Please take a moment to confirm that these events are happening as scheduled, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before heading out.


[Photo credit: (ccl) Julie Falk]

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: