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Weekend Fun Guide | Magazine

Your guide to fun every (precious) weekend of summer in New England

Dozens of events from the mountains to the ocean, featuring music, fireworks, quilts, beer, wine, barbecue, lobsters, and more.


Summer Kickoff Weekend and Old Port Festival

Maine, June 9-11

Cars are banned from Portland’s Old Port on Sunday at its centerpiece celebration to make way for a puppet parade, four stages of entertainment, and an array of crafts and food vendors. Friday evening sees music and dancing in city parks, and Saturday offerings include tours of the working waterfront. The 90-foot Casco Bay Eye (a Ferris wheel) spins all weekend. Old Port and other locations, Portland, 207-772-5800,

Rhode Island Scottish Highland Festival

Rhode Island, June 10


A sea of tartans fills the Washington County Fairgrounds as more than 30 clans celebrate the Celtic arts. Athletic feats, including stone and caber tosses, are always crowd favorites, while the skirl of bagpipes powers the Highland dance and piping competitions. Food includes meat pies and haggis, Scotland’s national dish. Washington County Fairgrounds, 78 Richmond Townhouse Road (Route 112), Richmond, 401-742-5383,


Ziontific 7 Summer Solstice Music Fest

Vermont, June 16-19

Grown-up music with positive, kid-friendly messages dominates this festival of reggae, funk, and hip-hop. Youngsters can also make mandalas and rain sticks or join a drum circle in the “kid zone.” After the main-stage performances, head to the silent disco, where you can don a wireless headset and dance under the stars all night (until 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, 2 a.m. Monday). Prospect Mountain Cross Country Ski Area, 204 Prospect Access Road, Woodford,

Summer Family Day Creative Encounters

Massachusetts, June 18

To encourage creativity, staff members at the Clark Art Institute think outside the box when they dream up activities to complement the exhibitions at this annual event. Expect a roving giant Picasso puppet, myth-themed theater pieces, build-your-own cubist sculptures, and performances by Latin Grammy Award winner Mister G. Non-artists might enjoy the beer tasting and table tennis. 225 South Street, Williams-town, 413-458-2303,



17th Century Encampment

Connecticut, June 23-24

Seventeenth-century New England was surprisingly cosmopolitan. At a replica Pequot farmstead, Native, English, Dutch, and French reenactors channel daily life in Colonial times. Visitors can make their own arrowheads, join a militia drill, or watch an Eastern Niantic tribal member cook a whole striped bass over an open fire. Mashantucket Pequot Museum, 110 Pequot Trail, Mashantucket, 800-411-9671,

Mutton & Mead Medieval Festival

Massachusetts, June 24-25

The Mutton & Mead Medieval Festival in Montague. David L. Fimbres

You never know what will happen when Robin Hood meets the sheriff of Nottingham in this faux medieval shire. But don’t get so caught up in the drama that you miss the magic performances, women’s sword-fighting troupe, or jousts in full armor. Come in costume, or outfit yourself with chain-mail jewelry or a leather mask from the marketplace. And, yes, mutton and mead will be available along with more traditional fair foods. Millers Falls Rod & Gun Club, 210 Turners Falls Road, Montague,


Frendly Gathering Music Festival

Vermont, June 29-July 1

You might begin the day with sunrise yoga and end it with a campfire singalong. In between, musical performances range from folk to rock to bluegrass and include festival regular Twiddle, a Vermont-based jam band. The new location at Sugarbush adds more camping and provides festivalgoers with discounts on the resort’s summer activities. Mount Ellen base area, Sugarbush Resort, 626 Mount Ellen Road, Waitsfield,


All Styles Dance Battle

Massachusetts, July 2

Members of the tap company Dorrance Dance at Jacob’s Pillow.

Organizers anticipate “a fun mishmash” of novice and expert dancers as Jacob’s Pillow performers and tap students share their best moves alongside local dance crews. All genres are welcome; expect a lot of hip-hop and street style. Standing-room general admission puts viewers in the thick of the action. Jacob’s Pillow, 358 George Carter Road, Becket, 413-243-9919,


A Stroll Through the Gardens of Salem

Massachusetts, July 8

Pick up horticultural tips on this largely self-guided tour of 10 or more private gardens in Salem’s McIntire Historic District. In addition to guides, some gardens will feature musicians and artists. Lemonade and cookies provide a boost along the route. Various locations, Salem,

The Nice Festival

Connecticut, July 8

Dress up or down for the Nice Festival in Norwalk, Connecticut.

“Think globally, act locally” might as well be the motto of the Norwalk International Cultural Exchange, founded in 2014 to celebrate the community’s rich traditions and cultures. This second annual festival features African drumming, Irish step dancing, a steel band orchestra, and lots more. When you get hungry, choose from a global smorgasbord, including Central and South American, Asian, Caribbean, and soul food as well as barbecue. Oyster Shell Park, North Water Street, Norwalk, 203-919-3000,


Nantucket Comedy Festival


Massachusetts, July 12-15

Laugh your head off for a good cause at this 10th annual festival supporting confidence-building programs for Nantucket youth. Friday night’s discussion with the Farrelly brothers and comedy writing team Babaloo Mandell and Lowell Ganz will precede a performance by Jeff Foxworthy. Audience members help select the winner in Saturday’s SmACKdown among four comics each from Boston and New York. Nantucket Dreamland Theater, 17 South Water Street, Nantucket, 508-901-9281,

Green River Festival

Massachusetts, July 14-16

Alejandro Rose-Garcia (at right), a.k.a. Shakey Graves, at the 2016 Green River Festival in Greenfield. joanna chattman for the boston globe

Nonstop music embraces everything from rock, country, folk, bluegrass, and funk-soul to Afro-blues and Afro-Latin beats. New this year, Friday night’s Next Wave stage presents five local groups under age 18, while the KB Whirly’s Musical House stage features music for families. Need more? Hot air balloons make several launches over the weekend and participate in Saturday night’s magical balloon glow. Greenfield Community College, One College Drive, Greenfield, 413-341-5995,


Fly By Disc Golf

New Hampshire, July 21-23

This new event takes over Alnoba, a 400-acre estate with the trails, fields, and ponds that make for a rewarding disc golf course. The 18-hole course is open to the public on Saturday and for professional and recreational tournament play on Sunday. Instructors will give tips to newbies on Saturday, and loaner discs are available for first-timers. Alnoba, 24 Cottage Road, Kensington, 508-686-1849,

Summer Pride Festival

Vermont, July 21-23

A Summer Pride Festival production of “Last Summer at Bluefish Cove,” by Jane Chambers, in Vermont. Robert M. Eddy/First Light Studios

The seventh annual theater festival opens for the first of two weekends at the 1907 Chandler Music Hall. Two full-length works, Love Alone by Deborah Salem Smith and Family Holiday by DC Cathro, draw on tragedy and farce to explore human dynamics, while Out of the Closet features nine 10-minute plays. Talkbacks after the full productions illuminate issues of concern to the LGBTQ community. Chandler Center for the Arts, 71-73 Main Street, Randolph, 802-728-6464,


International Sand Sculpting Festival

Massachusetts, July 21-23

Competitor Sue McGrew of Tacoma, Washington, at the 2015 International Sand Sculpting Festival on Revere Beach. craig f. walker/globe staff/file/Globe Staff

Master sculptors from around the world collaborate to create the centerpiece sculpture — this year the USS Constitution — before crafting their own entries in the annual competition. Judging, including People’s Choice, takes place on Saturday afternoon, followed by an awards ceremony and fireworks. Revere Beach, Revere, 781-902-9742,


New England Morgan Horse Show

Massachusetts, July 25-29

A New England original, Morgan horses are so versatile that they perform well in almost all competitive divisions, including dressage, jumping, and Western. About 500 horses will be assembled for the 78th year of the country’s oldest all-Morgan horse show. Visitors are welcome to this family-friendly event, where many horse-owning families span several generations. Three County Fairgrounds, 41 Fair Street, Northampton,

Tanglewood Takes Flight

Massachusetts, July 27-30

In a novel collaboration, Tanglewood and Mass Audubon’s Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary harmonize for a celebration of birds and music. Guided walks, lectures, and musical programs at both properties guarantee that birdsong and woodwinds will be forever entwined in your musical memory. Pleasant Valley events are free. Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, 472 West Mountain Road, Lenox, 413-637-0320,; Tanglewood, 297 West Street, Lenox, 617-266-1492,

Maine Quilts 2017

Maine, July 27-29

Maine winters are long, so the state’s quilters had plenty of time to prepare for the 40th anniversary show. This year’s Challenge Exhibits feature quilts made solely in red and white as well as quilts on the theme of “Fantastically 40!” Expect to see more than 500 quilts, along with demonstrations, raffles, and a variety of merchants. Augusta Civic Center, 76 Community Drive, Augusta, 207-216-7358,


Maine Lobster Festival

Maine, August 2-6

With a record catch of 130 million pounds in 2016, there’s plenty to celebrate at the 70th anniversary of this festival dedicated to Maine’s favorite crustacean. Former Sea Goddess Pageant royalty will join Saturday morning’s Big Parade, and a special heritage tent will trace the history of the festival. For the truly hungry, the signature shore dinner of steamed clams, corn on the cob, and cole slaw can be ordered with double or triple lobsters. Harbor Park, Rockland, 800-576-7512,

Newport Jazz Festival

Rhode Island, August 4-6

Bassist Solomon Dorsey at the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival. EVA HAMBACH/Getty Images

It wouldn’t be summer in New England without the Newport Jazz Festival. Founded in 1954, the event no longer has to make the case for jazz as a legitimate art form. Instead, it celebrates its great practitioners and champions rising talent. Fort Adams State Park, 90 Fort Adams Drive, Newport, 401-848-5055,

Central Mass Skate Festival

Massachusetts, August 4-6

More than 400 pro and amateur skateboarders converge on picturesque Harvard for one of the largest, most rad competitions in the sport. Friday features mini ramp skating with prizes for tricks. Saturday spins with long downhill races in elimination heats. Sunday is styling time on ramps and steep downhill slides. Spectating is free, but adrenaline comes from competing. 1 Still River Road and other locations, Harvard,

Hops in the Hills Beer and Wine Festival

Vermont, August 4-6

If selecting from more than 75 craft beers and ciders from area brewers gets too overwhelming, take a break on the mountain coaster or treetop challenge course at Okemo’s Adventure Zone. Live music and craft vendors round out the festivities, while food trucks provide sustenance. Okemo Mountain Resort, 77 Okemo Ridge Road, Ludlow, 802-228-1600,


Wild Woods Music & Arts Festival

New Hampshire, August 11-13

Music performances on three stages range from funk to jam bands to electronica, and it’s all “very danceable,” say the organizers, who note that there’s plenty of room for listeners to cut loose. The stages themselves are works of art, and artists painting live during performances intensify the creative vibe. Music floats through the woods until 3 a.m., and the Wild Woods Flow Troupe might dance alongside the musicians with hula hoops or fire. Page Farm, 46 Sand Hill Road, Croydon,

The Great Gatsby Movie Experience

Rhode Island, August 13

You’ll almost expect to see Robert Redford and Mia Farrow sipping champagne on the lawn when you tour Rosecliff mansion after a light breakfast and screening of the film The Great Gatsby. The 1902 “cottage,” built for a Nevada silver heiress famous for her parties, was the perfect setting for the 1974 film about the excesses of the Jazz Age. Jane Pickens Theater and Event Center, 49 Touro Street, Newport, 401-847-1000,


Berkshires Arts & Culture Festival

Massachusetts, August 17-20

Eastover, a Gilded Age estate built in 1910, is the setting for this new Berkshires arts show. About 100 artisans from around the country offer everything from burlwood sculptures to handcrafted brooms. If you want to do more than just look and buy, workshops range from relief printmaking to creating zipper bracelets or ribbon and fabric flowers. Eastover Estate & Retreat, 430 East Street, Lenox, 845-661-1221,

Necronomicon Providence

Rhode Island, August 17-20

The biennial festival of weird fiction, art, and academia bubbles up again in the city that spawned H.P. Lovecraft. More than four dozen panels dissect the Cthulhu Mythos, explore weird Westerns, and debate the arcana of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Speculative-fiction authors give readings, eerie movies play, and a good shudder is had by all. The hall where 70-plus vendors sell T-shirts, art, and more is open to non-conference-goers for a fee. Providence Biltmore Hotel, 11 Dorrance Street, and Omni Providence Hotel, 1 West Exchange Street, Providence,

The Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee

Massachusetts, August 19

The Deerfield Dirt Road Randonnee. Ben Barnhart

Affectionately known as D2R2, this mostly dirt-road cycling event traverses eight different routes along quiet, scenic back roads. The longest circuits challenge serious cyclists, while shorter routes allow recreational cyclists and families to take it slow and enjoy the views. Good food is the reward: pre-ride breakfast, lunch along the way, and dinner, with a pint of Preservation Ale. Most routes start at corner of Wells Cross Road and Mill Village Road, Deerfield, 413-625-9151,

Festival of Fireworks

New Hampshire, August 19

Expect a good show when one of New England’s leading fireworks companies illuminates its hometown. For this year’s extravaganza, Atlas PyroVision draws inspiration from the music of Motown. Arrive well before dark to enjoy the live bands, rock-climbing wall, and food vendors and to watch the sky-divers. Jaffrey Airfield Silver Ranch, 190 Turnpike Road (Route 124), Jaffrey, 603-532-4549,


Brooklyn Fair

Connecticut, August 24-27

A lawn mower race at the Brooklyn Fair. Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/File

This country fair with a knack for recognizing up-and-coming talent always draws national recording stars. But agriculture remains at the heart of the activities, with livestock shows, ox and pony pulls, vegetable and herb exhibitions, and bread- and pie-baking competitions. Everyone takes a break at the carnival rides and midway. 15 Fairgrounds Road, off Route 169, Brooklyn, 860-779-0012,

Hampton Beach Talent Competition

New Hampshire, August 25-27

All of the performers are musically solid, say the organizers of this popular evening talent competition. But it always helps to have a little personality, a little fire. The junior (under age 18) and senior (18 and older) categories each consist of two dozen hopefuls. After the semifinals on Friday (juniors) and Saturday (seniors), the finalists in both categories take the stage Sunday. First-, second-, and third-place finishers get bragging rights and cash prizes. Sea Shell Stage, 180 Ocean Boulevard, Hampton Beach,


Stone Soul Festival

Massachusetts, September 1-3

“Barbecue, blues, and history” is the mantra for this 29th annual celebration. Civil War reenactors from the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment set up camp for a weekend that includes carnival rides, lots of free food (along with barbecue for sale), a health fair, and practically nonstop music. Saturday morning features breakfast and a parade. Sunday’s interdenominational church service is followed by a big picnic and daylong gospel music. Blunt Park, between Roosevelt Avenue and Bay Street, Springfield, 413-737-1485,

Camden Windjammer Festival

Maine, September 1-3

On Friday afternoon, more than a dozen windjammers arrive with flags and banners flying as Camden’s harbormaster announces each vessel and captain. Maritime-themed activities include a mock pirate battle, music, a build-a-boat competition, and first mate certification. Vessels are open for tours Saturday and Sunday. Sunday’s boat parade caps off the festivities. Public Landing, Harbor Park, and other locations, Camden,

22d Annual Garlic and Herb Festival

Vermont, September 2-3

Southern Vermont doesn’t grow as much garlic as Gilroy, California (the reputed garlic capital of the world), but its festival is equally spirited — and pungent. About 200 vendors offer arts and crafts as well as garlic ice cream, deep-fried nuts, pickles, and more. Sample garlic margaritas at the beer and wine garden, and bring a chair, since seats fill up fast for the all-day entertainment. For a break, peruse the wares at Antiques at Camelot, one of the state’s largest antiques centers. Camelot Village, Route 9 West, Bennington, 802-447-3311,

Patricia Harris and David Lyon are frequent contributors to the Globe Magazine. Send comments to Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.