As a community whose origins span nearly a century and a half, Chautauqua Institution welcomes to its historic grounds thousands of returning and new guests (referred to as Chautauquans) each year. Time-honored traditions and an endearing “shorthand” of our own contribute to the distinctive character of the Chautauqua experience. Below is a brief guide to help new visitors navigate their Chautauqua experience. 


The Amp: Short for the open-air Amphitheater, our biggest venue and stage for worship, lectures, shows and performances, and community gatherings. The Amp has a total capacity of 6,000, with seating for 4,500 on traditional wooden benches (consider bringing a seat cushion!).

Bestor Plaza: Chautauqua’s front lawn and town square, a popular free-form public space for family picnics, conversation, games and leisure.

Brick walk: The primary pedestrian artery for navigating the Chautauqua grounds. Most of the Institution’s primary performance venues and community gathering spaces fall along these paths. If you’re on a brick walk, chances are you’ll find your destination.

Chautauquan (sha-TAW-quin): How we refer to one another, whether your family has owned property and visited Chautauqua every year since its founding, or you are experiencing Chautauqua for the first time.

Club: Short for Boys’ and Girls’ Club, our popular day camp for children entering grades 2–10.

CSO: Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra

The Daily: Short for The Chautauquan Daily, the official daily newspaper of Chautauqua Institution. The Daily is essential for navigating the dozens of programs offered each day.

The grounds: How we refer to Chautauqua Institution’s lakeside campus.

Hall of Philosophy: A Parthenon-like outdoor venue and unique space to take part in a lecture or worship service. Capacity under the roof is limited, so attendees often bring a blanket or chair to sit and listen from the adjacent grove.

Old First Night: Chautauqua’s birthday, celebrated each year on the first Tuesday in August to honor the start date of the first Chautauqua assembly in 1874. All-day festivities include a traditional evening ceremony, family-friendly entertainment, and cake — plus a popular annual 2.7-mile road race the preceding Saturday,

Q-and-A: A hallmark of Chautauqua programs. Nearly all public lectures end with an extended audience question-and-answer session with the presenter(s). Ushers will provide paper notepads for questions in the Amp, or submit questions on Twitter #CHQ2018.

Weeks and themes: Chautauqua’s nine-week summer season is divided by week into nine separate themes framing topics for deep discussion. Those staying for extended periods often refer to weeks by their number within the season (Week Four, etc.). 

The YAC: Short for Youth Activities Center, a popular gathering place for young Chautauquans for food, games and YACtivities.