Pure, authentic, richly sweet maple syrup: We sometimes forget how lucky we are here in New England! I know because my colleague in the old England, UK Travel Expert Ferne Arfin, recently told me all she can buy across the pond is Canadian maple syrup, and it just doesn't hold a candle to the New England-produced maple the native New Yorker remembers from home.
If all you've ever tasted is Aunt Jemima Original Syrup (Ingredients: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, water, cellulose gum, caramel color, salt, sodium benzoate and sorbic acid preservatives, artificial and natural flavors, sodium hexametaphosphate), man are you in for a treat when you sample real maple syrup, made from the sap that courses through the veins of New England's maple trees as winter yields to spring. And if you attend one of these maple-themed New England events, you'll experience maple's myriad possibilities and appreciate the ancient process still used to transform tree juice into one of... the most delicious natural substances on Earth.
01 of 06
Maple lovers descend on the central Connecticut town of Hebron the third weekend of March each year to tour eight area sugar houses, taste maple pudding cake and other sweet treats, watch blacksmith demonstrations and participate in family-friendly activities that are both educational and entertaining. Festival admission is free, but it'll be hard not to splurge on a few maple goodies.
02 of 06
With nearly 100 participating sugarhouses, New Hampshire Maple Weekend, held the third weekend in March, is New England's largest celebration of the sugaring season. Map a route through the Granite State that enables you to visit a variety of maple producers, large and small, and to purchase sweet souvenirs that make ideal gifts all year long. Can't make it that weekend? Maple Month events are taking place throughout March, plus the first weekend of April, too.
03 of 06
On the fourth Sunday in March, more than 90 sugarhouses throughout Maine open their doors to visitors for an up-close look at the maple syrup-making process. Most offer free tasting of their maple products, and many have a full day of festive activities on tap. Which will you choose to tour? It's tough to decide when their offers range from free ice cream with warm maple syrup to live music.
04 of 06
Visit Old Sturbridge Village, a living history complex in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, during one of the four weekends in March, and you'll have the opportunity to see sap boiled for syrup the 19th-century way... in steaming, fire-heated pots. At the Village's Freeman Farm, costumed historians will cook with maple products by the hearth, and a variety of other demonstrations and exhibitions will give you a new appreciation for America's favorite pancake topping.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Make plans to attend this annual April celebration of syrup in St. Albans, Vermont. Most activities are free at the three-day Vermont Maple Festival, which has been a tradition for 50 years. Highlights include a parade, syrup tasting, sugarhouse tours, maple demonstrations, carnival rides, a pancake breakfast and a Maple BBQ dinner.
06 of 06Maple season's last "Hurrah!" is held the final Saturday of April in northeastern Vermont. St. Johnsbury dubs itself the Maple Center of the World, and this community celebration features a craft show, live music, family entertainment, a pancake breakfast and a Sap Lap 5K run (to work off those sweet calories). It all leads up to the crowning of the World Maple Syrup Champion. Festival admission is free.