With the launch of Continental's first direct flight from New York to Edinburgh (flying time: 6 1/2 hours), it's even easier for theater fans to cross the pond to take in the largest arts festival in the world. The Edinburgh Fringe (44-131/226-0026; www.edfringe.com ; August 8-30 ) offers audiences avant-garde theater, comedy, and dance, but the real fun lies in discovering talent long before your friends at home do—Emma Thompson and Jude Law once performed here. Founded in 1947 by performers who were rejected by the city's famed International Festival, the Fringe now offers more than 20,000 performances. Check out promising newcomers and big names alike at the Pleasance (60 The Pleasance; 44-131/556-6550 ) and the Gilded Balloon (Bristo Square; 44-131/226-2151 ). As with bagpipes and haggis, however, some Fringe shows aren't for everyone. Be brave and wear walking shoes. STAY The Glasshouse (2 Greenside Place; 44-131/525-8200; www.theetoncollection.com ; doubles from $380 ) combines a 150-year-old church façade with 1950's glamour. DON'T MISS A performance by comedian Demetri Martin, the 2003 winner of the Fringe's annual Perrier Award (the Oscar of stand-up comedy).
MEMPHIS Fifty years ago this month, Elvis Presley swaggered into Sun Studios. His hometown celebrates the King himself, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Johnny Cash with a 12-month "50 Years of Rock 'n' Roll" bash (www.50yearsrocknroll.com), including a July 5 tribute concert.
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NEW YORK What's a town without a Frank Gehry-designed concert hall?The undulating Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts is the new home of the Bard Music Festival (www.bard.edu/bmf). From July 8 to August 22, its focal point is the work of Russian composer Dmitry Shostakovich.
LOS ANGELES Now that the Philharmonic has moved to the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Plácido Domingo-directed Los Angeles Opera (www.losangelesopera.org) is the principal occupant of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. This month brings A Little Night Music, a romantic farce with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
01 "Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet! The Bruyas Collection from the Musée Fabre, Montpellier" at the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, Mass.; www.clarkart.edu) is a tour de force show of 19th-century French painting, with works by Courbet, Delacroix, Géricault, Ingres, and Millet. THROUGH SEPTEMBER 6.
02 Richard Linklater's Before Sunset opens in theaters nationwide. Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) reunite nine years after their chance meeting on a train from Budapest to Vienna (see Before Sunrise). This time, the setting is Paris and the couple has just a few hours to decide if they belong together.
23 The Elephant Vanishes, a stage adaptation of three wonderfully eerie tales by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, premieres at the Lincoln Center Festival (www.lincolncenter.org) in New York City. Simon McBurney directs the co-production of London's Complicite ensemble and Japan's Setagaya Public Theater. THROUGH JULY 25.
06 Pirouette at this altitude? Soloists and dance companies from around the world prove it can be done at the Vail International Dance Festival (Colorado; www.vvf.org). Members of the American Ballet Theatre, London's Royal Ballet, Spain's Victor Ullate Ballet, and Les Ballets Africains strut their stuff. THROUGH AUGUST 15.
Looking to escape the city and get a culture fix?Dia: Beacon may have stolen the spotlight this year, but we've chosen a handful of other cutting-edge museums outside major urban hubs—from Boston to Los Angeles—that should not be missed.
Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (258 Main St., Ridgefield, Conn.; 203/438-4519; www.aldrichart.org). WHERE 50 miles north of New York City; 60 miles southwest of Hartford. WHAT'S ON After a yearlong, $9 million renovation that doubled its size, the Aldrich reopened last month with a 100-foot-long wall drawing by Sol LeWitt and a survey of work by emerging British sculptors (through September 1). STAY The Elms Inn (500 Main St.; 203/438-2541; www.elmsinn.com; doubles from $150), a short walk from the Aldrich, has 23 Victorian-style rooms. EAT The best restaurant in town is the Elms Restaurant (203/438-9206; dinner for two $100), where chef Brendan Walsh grills a mean buffalo steak.
MASS MoCA (87 Marshall St., North Adams, Mass.; 413/662-2111; www.massmoca.org). WHERE 125 miles west of Boston; 175 miles north of New York City. WHAT'S ON For corpus, installation artist Ann Hamilton fills a football field-sized building with millions of drifting sheets of paper accompanied by light and sound effects (through October). STAY Paint-by-number pictures adorn the 47 retro rooms at Porches Inn (231 River St.; 413/664-0400; www.porches.com; doubles from $160). EAT For the best barbecued spare ribs north of the Mason-Dixon Line, head to Hickory Bill's BBQ (20 Holden St.; 413/663-6665; lunch for two $12).
Tacoma Art Museum (1701 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, Wash.; 253/272-4258; www.tacomaartmuseum.org). WHERE 35 miles south of Seattle. WHAT'S ON "Andy Goldsworthy: Mountain and Coast Autumn into Winter" highlights a selection of the British artist's trademark stone, leaf, and twig sculptures. STAY Chinaberry Hill (302 Tacoma Ave. N.; 253/272-1282; www.chinaberryhill.com; doubles from $125), an 1889 Victorian mansion, has a wraparound porch overlooking the bay. EAT 21 Commerce (21st and Commerce Sts.; 253/272-6278; dinner for two $35) is known for its Northwest-influenced Asian dishes and its extensive martini menu.
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla (700 Prospect St., La Jolla, Calif.; 858/454-3541; www.mcasd.org). WHERE 12 miles north of San Diego; 110 miles southeast of Los Angeles. WHAT'S ON "Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge" will be on display at this oceanfront museum through September 12. The show includes works by artists such as Gronk, Patssi Valdez, and Rupert García. STAY On a bluff overlooking the Pacific, the Lodge at Torrey Pines (11480 N. Torrey Pines Rd.; 800/656-0087; www.lodgetorreypines.com; doubles from $375) is an Arts and Crafts masterpiece. EAT Fresh (1044 Wall St.; 858/551-7575; dinner for two $80) lives up to its name with a creative seafood menu (try the ahi carpaccio with wasabi cream).