The Summer of Adventure

Daniel Hautzinger
A giant manta in Micronesia, in PBS's Big Pacific. Photo: Ernie Kovacs/NHNZ
A giant manta in Micronesia. Photo: Ernie Kovacs/NHNZ

Summer is a time for vacationing to new places, exploring nature, and enjoying the outdoors. But when it gets too hot or you’re exhausted from your exploits, you can continue your expeditions on PBS, with the Summer of Adventure: eight new programs that take you from Alaska to Cuba, China to Ireland, Yellowstone to the African bush. Catch a preview of the upcoming shows here.

The Story of China

Tuesdays, June 20, 27, and July 11 from 8-10:00 pm

Attempting to condense 4,000 years of history into 360 minutes, the six-part The Story of China follows host and historian Michael Wood as he explores the origins and heights of China’s empires, their collapse, and the rise of Communist China. The exotic trade of the Silk Road, China’s greatest female poet, the sprawling enormity of modern Shanghai: it’s all here.

Check back on June 20 for an interview on Playlist with the series filmmaker Rebecca Dobbs and host Michael Wood. Discover hidden masterpieces of Chinese art at the Art Institute of Chicago.Night time near the Drum Tower in Kaifeng. Photo: Mick DuffieldNight time near the Drum Tower in Kaifeng. Photo: Mick Duffield

Great Yellowstone Thaw

Wednesdays at 9:00 pm, beginning June 21

As winter melts into spring and then summer in Yellowstone, the temperature can shift some 140 degrees. Kirk Johnson of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History hosts three episodes in which extreme temperatures pose a threat to wolves that have only just recovered from near-extinction, owls that must migrate in search of food, and bears forced out of hibernation early.

Revel in stunning photography from Yellowstone featuring the majestic landscape and hardy creatures who live there, here.

Big Pacific

Wednesdays at 8:00 pm, beginning June 21

This five-part series surveys the “Mysterious,” “Violent,” “Voracious,” and “Passionate” depths of the Pacific Ocean and concludes with a making of episode. Hosted by actor Daniel Dae Kim of Hawaii Five-0 and Lost, it shows how the diverse creatures of the vast Pacific Ocean feed, fight, reproduce, and survive.

On June 21, explore the Shedd Aquarium with an animal trainer and a Shedd vice president on Playlist.Bluestreak wrasse cleaning lionfish mouth at Kenting, Taiwan. Photo: Scott Snider/NHNZBluestreak wrasse cleaning lionfish mouth at Kenting, Taiwan. Photo: Scott Snider/NHNZ

Nature’s Great Race

Wednesdays at 9:00 pm, beginning July 12

While bird migrations receive all the press, there are some extraordinary land migrations across the world as well. In three episodes, Nature’s Great Race follows caribou in the Arctic and elephants and zebras in eastern and southern Africa as they traverse perilous landscapes and thousands of miles.

Follow the majestic migrations in photos.

Weekend in Havana

Tuesday, July 18 at 8:00 pm

WTTW’s own Geoffrey Baer hosts this tour of the unique city of Havana, only recently re-opened to Americans. With a restoration architect, a salsa dancer, and an Afro-Cuban pianist as his guide, Baer explores Havana’s vibrant culture and history, from its 1950s cars to its crumbling old buildings to Hemingway’s haunts to Santeria.

Stay tuned for an interview with one of Baer’s tour guides, the architect Daniel de la Regata.Vintage car along the Plaza de Cristo in Havana Vieja. Photo: WTTW and Brian CanellesVintage car along the Plaza de Cristo in Havana Vieja. Photo: WTTW and Brian Canelles

RARE – Creatures of the Photo Ark

Tuesdays at 9:00 pm, beginning July 18

Joel Sartore is seeking to photograph every single species in captivity in the world for his Photo Ark, thus preserving both the everyday and the nearly extinct. A photographer for National Geographic, Sartore has so far captured more 6,500 species for the Ark. Watch his quest to save and document endangered species in this three-part series.

Playlist talks to Joel Sartore about nature photography, conservation, and more in July.Joel Sartore. Photo: © 2016 Joel Sartore Photography Inc.Joel Sartore. Photo: © 2016 Joel Sartore Photography Inc.

Wild Alaska Live

Sundays, July 23 and 30 at 7:00 pm and Wednesday, July 26 at 8:00 pm

In an all-new, three-part live broadcast, the Kratt brothers (of the PBS Kids show Wild Kratts) host a look at Alaska’s summer feast, in which bears, wolves, moose, orcas, and eagles gather. In addition to the Kratts, scientists, filmmakers, and photographers discuss the preservation of the Alaskan wild and the incredible animals that live there.Brown Bear in Brooks Falls Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Photo: Gareth WildmanBrown Bear in Brooks Falls Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Photo: Gareth Wildman

Ireland’s Wild Coast

Wednesday, August 2 at 8:00 pm

This two-hour special follows wildlife cameraman Colin Stafford-Johnson on a trek along the rocky Atlantic Coast of Ireland as he investigates the animals and landscapes of his homeland.

The Summer of Adventure also includes three new PBS Kids specials: Nature Cat: Ocean Commotion, Wild Kratts Alaska: Hero’s Journey, and Ready Jet Go!: Return to Bortron 7. In June, Playlist features a two-part profile of Spiffy Pictures, the producers of Nature Cat.