Summer with Shakespeare at Sand Harbor

Posted by Brooke Sullivan on Wednesday, May 31st, 2017 at 5:40pm

The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival returns for the 45th time to Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe.

There are many Shakespeare festivals throughout the United States, however none is quite like the LTSF. The backdrop alone is unrivaled – a packed sand amphitheater surrounded by picture-perfect Ponderosa Pine Trees stretching to the sky and the clear, deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe. Locals fondly call the festival “Shakespeare in the sand”. One could argue that the seats furthest from the stage provide the best views; the higher you are, the better you can see the lake and surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The actual experience is far more sophisticated than “Shakespeare in the sand” might suggest. You won’t find folks lounging around in après-swim gear, sand in all the places that sand should never be. The theater is beautifully staged with imaginative backdrops and the professional actors in creative costuming truly set the scene. Attendees are seated in comfortable chairs and when purchasing tickets can choose from assigned seating in the lower deck or general admission in the upper gallery. Drinks, dinner and snacks can be ordered before the show and at intermission.

The beach at Sand Harbor is next door, but far enough away that the beach goers’ sounds are only a distant muffle. This is the festival’s 45th season and will run from July 8 until August 27. Each season they offer both a Shakespearean classic and a non-Bard performance. This year they will be performing “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and “The Hound of the Baskervilles”. The venue even plays host to the occasional concert over the summer months.

Thinking of attending the festival this year? We have some tips before you go.

Don’t wait to buy tickets. Weekend tickets go fast and it’s best to buy now before the slots start filling up. Pay $99 for a premium or café table seat for Saturday night shows and enjoy the complementary wait service. If you buy tickets to both performances, you will end up saving a little on the ticket price. Lower gallery assigned seats cost $59 and the upper deck GA is available for $32. Kids are full price in the premium and café section, however those 25 and under will get a discount for the upper and lower galleries. Tickets for Sunday through Friday shows are even less.

Arrive early. The performance begins at 7:30pm, but arriving early will be advantageous in a few different ways. The parking lots do get crowded and it is a good idea to anticipate traffic to the event or construction on the Tahoe highways. The park is not in the heart of commercial areas with restaurants and stores so there is only one way to get there. However, don’t arrive before 5pm or you must pay the $12 parking fee. The festival gates open at 5:30pm and any extra time you have before the show is the perfect opportunity to explore the beautiful surroundings.

Prepare for weather change. Bring a flashlight too, the performance will end after nightfall and this will make it easier to find your car! Lake Tahoe is an alpine lake which means the high desert sunshine keeps temperatures warm during the day, but after sundown it can get cold especially being so close to the open water. Bring a jacket or a blanket to keep you cozy throughout the show.

Enjoy the food. This year, you can order food along with your ticket to avoid any wait in line. The menu includes delicious classics like charcuterie, tacos, burgers and pulled pork sandwiches. Enjoy wine, beer, mixed drinks, sodas, hot chocolate and dessert as well. You can also bring your own food; however, coolers are not allowed at the café tables. Check the website for exact specifications.

Should you bring the kids? This venue is a great way to introduce your kids to classic English literature. There’s plenty to keep their attention and the show is always full of fun with its many live performances. The atmosphere is relaxed and easy-going, with plenty of staff to assist at a moment’s notice. It’s easy to take the kids for a walk if they aren’t happy, but if you think that they aren’t ready for a full-length play there are abbreviated one-hour versions in the Young Shakespeare program.

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