Arts, culture, and other fun activities PDF  | Print |

Few people voyage to Hastings Nebraska expecting Las Vegas-style entertainment. But most people are surprised by the incredible array of artistic and cultural opportunities that do abound in our region. Seeing a stellar art exhibit, hearing an amazing orchestra, discussing the latest literature, celebrating summertime at fairs and festivals all are part of the cultural fabric of our community. Complementing these kinds of events are, of course, the everyday fun offered at movie theaters, cool coffee shops, independent bookstores, restaurants and other entertainment venues.

It's impossible for us to cover every activity and attraction that's here to enlighten and amuse. So here's a short list of highlights with links where you can learn more:

Hastings Symphony Orchestra  Not only is this professional orchestra the only one in Greater Nebraska but it also is one of the oldest continuous orchestral groups in the country. Founded by a Hastings College teacher and musician in 1926, today's 80-member orchestra presents a variety of different music from a variety of different composers every season. Their schedule typically includes certain free concerts as a gift to the Hastings community.

Hastings Museum of Natural and Cultural History  The Hastings Museum brings to life the natural and cultural history of Hastings, Adams County and the Great Plains. It connects Nebraska to the world and universe through educational programs, films and exhibits. Exhibits include many species of animals set in their natural habitats, such as the world's largest display of Whooping cranes; the history of the early inhabitants of the Nebraska plains; and how Edwin Perkins created the soft drink Kool-Aid. The museum also features the J.M. McDonald Planetarium, the hands-on Groundwater Discovery Adventure, and the Lied Super Screen Theatre with a movie screen five stories tall. 

Hastings Community Theatre  This highly regarded community theater troupe regularly performs pieces ranging from Broadway to Shakespeare that provide a night of quality family entertainment. It is a member of the Nebraska Association of Community Theatres, where several Hastings theater members serve as volunteers.

The Listening Room  With a mantra of "Bringing Live Acoustic Music to Central Nebraska," this downtown space provides a great venue to hear great live music from several nationally-known musicians and other performance artists who tour through Hastings each year. 

Cottonwood Festival  Every June, Hastings' beautiful Brickyard Park comes alive with a three-day celebration of fine arts, crafts, music and more that draws over 15,000 visitors. Exhibiting artists are eligible to win cash prizes for 'best of show' awards. The park's amphitheater also hosts several concerts throughout the summer, as well as,

The annual Kool-Aid Days festival, which celebrates the invention of Kool-Aid, Nebraska's Official Soft Drink, in Hastings by Edwin Perkins in 1927. Started in 1995 and held every August, the lighthearted festival includes the World's Largest Kool-Aid Stand, appearances by the famous pitcher-faced Kool-Aid Man, concerts, boat races, a classic car show, and many more free, family-oriented activities.

Adams County Fairfest  Hastings is home to the annual Adams County fair, which provides the best in traditional county fair fun. From the midway and carnival, to the award-winning 4-H exhibits and animals, to the kickoff parade and professional bull-riding events, there's something that can appeal to every kid and adult alike.

Hastings College Art Gallery  Located on the Hastings College campus, this art center features a strong permanent collection and about eight new exhibitions per year by students, by important regional artists and by nationally prominent artists, free and open to the public. Several visiting artists and art historians lecture, demonstrate, exhibit and collaborate with students and faculty. Past visiting artists have included James McGarrell, Dale Chihuly, Frank Gallo and Sheila Hicks.

Graham Gallery  Located in downtown Hastings for over 10 years, the Graham Gallery gives artists an attractive venue to display and sell their artwork and gives the public a venue to view and purchase this artwork. The gallery focuses on being an accessible, hometown, gallery with a progressive attitude that benefits not only the gallery but the artists.

Hastings Public Library  The library offers 170,000 items including books, magazines, audio books, videos and music to residents of Adams County. Other services include reference help, a bookmobile service, public Internet access, interlibrary loan, story times for preschoolers and toddlers, a summer reading program for ages preschool through adult, and a monthly adult book discussion group.