Wicked New England – Outdoor Festivals

Don’t you just love summer and all the outdoor activities? Aside from the beach,   we’re so lucky here in New England to have so many cool outdoor festivals. There really is something for everyone – jazz, seafood, cars, art, lobster, the list goes on. So Wickeds, what kind of festival will you fight the crowds and the heat to attend?

Edith: We went to the Lowell International Folk Festival last Saturday, as we do

The Seamus Egan Project playing Irish

every year. All of downtown Lowell is closed to vehicle traffic. Musical groups from all over the world fill five venues, and dancing is encouraged. International food is served hot, smelling delectable, from Filipino to Cambodian to Portuguese to Greek. And this year it wasn’t 95 degrees, but a comfortable 75. The festival is free!

Julie: Does going to outdoor theater count? I saw Romeo and Juliet on the Boston Common last week. It is Commonwealth Shakespeare’s 22nd show on the Common. Free, and runs through this weekend (Aug 6). I went with friends, my sister, and the nieces. It is a wonderful production, and I was more than happy to be part of a crowd experiencing the show.

Jessie: I don’t really attend festivals usually but I do love Illumination Night in Ocean Park, Maine. It occurs of the first Saturday of August every year and most of the houses in the community are decked out with twinkling lights. It is a magical experience to wander through the pokey little lanes peeping at all the displays and mingling with the crowds.

Liz: I love art festivals. There was one in town a few weeks back, and in addition to the lovely art, there’s always such cool jewelry! You meet such great people, and dogs are welcome so that’s even better. And this weekend, there’s another art festival right on my street, which will be so fun.

Barb: Our town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine has lots of celebrations and festivals. Windjammer Days is the last week in June, when old wooden schooners make a stately appearance in the harbor. The Claw Down in September is a lobster cooking competition and related fun activities. And the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens festival of lights called Gardens Aglow runs through the entire holiday season. We stay pretty busy here.

Windjammer Days, Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Photo by Bill Carito

Sherry: Wow, now I want to go to all of these festivals and activities! And I love the photograph, Barb! Bedford used to have an Apple Festival on the town common that was fun to attend. One year I met the town historian there and he was fascinating! I also love to go to flea markets like the one below!

Readers: Do you have a favorite festival?



20 Thoughts

  1. They all sound great! But West Cork has a festival about every other week in summer–I debated about going to the West Cork Literary Festival a couple of years ago, but I wasn’t sure I could find my way back from Bantry in the dark. There’s the Taste of West Cork food festival. There was an agricultural fair a few weeks ago. The list just keeps going, and all of these are close by and located in delightful small towns. Maybe next year!

  2. Our area has lots of wonderful festivals. One of my favorites every summer is the Whiskey Rebellion Festival in Washington PA, which was in the heart of brouhaha. There are re-enactments on Main Street, music, vendors, tours of historic houses in town, and–of course–free samplings of whiskey from the local distillery! Wine and beer too,

  3. As Annette said, the Pittsburgh area has a lot of festivals. Including a two-week(?) art festival where it is guaranteed to rain for almost the entire thing!

  4. Yeah for Lowell! I grew up there! I went to high school in the middle of the festival’s venue. Festivals are wonderful ways for people to get together and enjoy their differences and similarities. Great food! Great Entertainment! and Great Ideas! I am partial to fall festivals and love the County and State Fairs. I see you still have the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival coming up and Topsfield Ma. Agricultural Fair is fabulous. Alas, I am in Pennsylvania but I have my share here. The Allentown Fair is at the end of this month and there is a long list.

  5. In the Anchorage area, we have a festival about every weekend from the end of May until mid-July when it starts to rain. Like it’s doing right now. Girdwood Forest Fair is a favorite. The booths are set up along a forest path. Lots of eclectic art, garden art, pottery, and good food booths. One of my favorites is the Botanical Garden Fair with all the artsy stuff, better than average food trucks, and baby plants for sale. It happens earlier in the summer. The last time I went, we got run out of the place by a bear.

  6. We have a lot of festivals in the Chestertown, MD area, but my favorite is the Harry Potter Festival which comes end of September/start of October weekend.

  7. When my son was younger, we used to trek from Long Island up to the cool Berkshires each summer Tanglewood in Parade. You could sit in on classes and rehearsals during the day then picnic in the lawn. In the evening a little train delivered The Conductor of the Boston Symphony. Some bought seat tickets under the shed but we always had our lawn chairs and blankets. My son and I would lie back and watch the stars come out as gorgeous music flowed out across the rolling lawns. We were casual with a young child, but many cane for the evening and brought small tables, candles, champagne, and ate in outdoor elegance. The program always ended with 1812 Overture with real canons booming and fireworks. It was magical and Sean still talks about it!

    1. I love Tanglewood and have happy memories of my parents, kids, cousins and brothers and sisters-in-law picnicking on the lawn on summer evenings.

  8. The only one I usually attend is the LA Times Festival of Books every April. I look forward to it every spring.

  9. I love the Yarmouth (Maine) Clam Festival! Small-town America at its best. My husband likes to watch the firemans’ muster, and I like to sample the blueberry goodies!

    It also reminds me a bit of the summertime festivities (4th of July?) in Bolton Landing, NY, on Lake George in the Adirondacks, where my mom grew up. My grandmother always disapproved of the “bed races” (people pushing decorated beds down the street), I suppose because she saw them as raucous and suggestive! I see that Bolton has revived the bed races as part of their Harvest Festival. Looks like it’s family-friendly fun these days.

    1. Yes, to the Yarmouth Clam Festival! My great uncle was a volunteer fireman in New Jersey and he and my great-aunt took my brother and I to a firemen’s muster in their town. I loved it and still remember it.

      The bed races that were held here in Boothbay (i think during the Shrimp Festival) used to scare me to death, mainly because the harbor is hilly. I wrote about them in the second Maine Clambake Mystery, Boiled Over.

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