Guilford is a vibrant community on the Connecticut shoreline with a long history of involvement in the arts, thanks in part to its location midway between Boston and New York City, its proximity to Yale and Wesleyan universities and the presence of many independent music, theater, dance, visual and literary arts organizations.
Founded in 1639 by Puritan immigrants, Guilford is distinguished by its picturesque Green and one of the nation’s largest collections of 17th- and 18th-century homes.
From its roots as a colonial plantation, Guilford grew into a thriving farming, commercial and maritime community, as well as a popular summer destination. The Green is ringed by churches, the town library and community center, shops, restaurants and historic homes—many of which double as performance venues during the Guilford Performing Arts Festival. The newly renovated Guilford High School has a state-of-the-art performing arts center to complement the school’s excellent music and theatre arts programs.
Guilford residents have played prominent roles in literature, music and design through the centuries. Anti-slavery author Harriet Beecher Stowe, the daughter of a Guilford native, spent part of her childhood here and Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park in New York, owned a farm in Sachem’s Head. More recent residents of Guilford have included “The Thorn Birds” author Colleen McCullough, “Roots” actor Moses Gunn, author C.D.B. Bryan and Morris Pleasure of the band Earth Wind & Fire. We created the festival in part because there are many world-class artists living and teaching in the area, and we wanted to provide a forum for them to perform—and for the community to see and hear their work—close to home.
The Guilford Performing Arts Festival joins an annual Shakespeare production, a nationally recognized craft exposition and a popular town fair/parade among major events drawing visitors to town. We’re happy and honored to have the strong support of Guilford’s town government, especially the selectman’s office; the public schools, library and Parks & Recreation department; leadership of the town’s churches; and business owners. Join us in what’s fast becoming one of the most happening places on the Shoreline.