New England Summer Festivals

Maine Lobster Festival

 Tim Sullivan Photography, courtesy of the Maine Lobster Festival

The variety of New England summer festival offerings is mind-boggling, and wherever you wander throughout the region's historic cities and quaint towns, you're sure to uncover unique and wonderful events with themes ranging from from classical music and dance to eggs and crustaceans. Sadly, the Vermont Zucchini Festival is no more. Thank heavens for the Zydeco Festival!

Please note that some of these events may be canceled, postponed, or altered for the summer of 2020. Be sure to check the events' websites for updated information.

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Arts & Ideas Festival

Arts & Ideas Festival Connecticut

Judy Sirota Rosenthal, courtesy of the Arts & Ideas Festival

The International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, Connecticut, is a multifaceted celebration of the arts. The festival features hundreds of performances; most events are free. Highlights include free headline concerts on the New Haven Green, free family shows, ticketed music and theater productions, movie screenings, tastings, experiential tours and more.

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Blueberry Festival

Did you know that Maine produces 99 percent of the country's wild blueberries? The annual Machias Wild Blueberry Festival in Washington County, where the majority of these berries are harvested, celebrates the state's top fruit crop. The free event features a children's parade, blueberry farm tours, music, a blueberry pancake breakfast, crafts, a blueberry quilt raffle, a blueberry pie eating contest and more.

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Chamber Music Festival

The Portland Chamber Music Festival puts on captivating classical performances in Portland, Maine. A highlight of 2019's season was PCMF's first-ever performance of George Enescu’s Octet for Strings. Ticket and other information may be obtained by calling toll free: 800-320-0257. Or, order your tickets online at the festival website.

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Discover Jazz Festival

Burlington, Vermont, hosts 10 days of performances ranging from Latin sounds to reggae to funk and soul at a variety of venues on Lake Champlain during the Discover Jazz Festival. Pharoah Sanders will play the Flynn MainStage on June 1, and other headliners include Tia Fuller, Toots & The Maytals and Christian Sands Trio, with more to be announced. Tickets for various performances may be purchased online. Some events at area restaurants, bars and clubs are free, as are shows on the Church Street Marketplace stages. For details, call 802-863-7992.

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05 of 26

Egg Festival

Take part in the 47th annual Central Maine Egg Festival. Pittsfield, Maine's Manson Park is the place to be for egg breakfast cooked in a 300-pound frying pan, entertainment, the "Egglympics" and egg-citing surprises. The theme for 2019 was: "Agriculture and 'FarmEgging' Past – Present – Future." For information, call 207-341-3456.

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Festival of Fireworks

Festival of Fireworks
J. Curley / Flickr / Creative Commons

The Jaffrey Chamber of Commerce's annual Festival of Fireworks takes place at Jaffrey Airfield Silver Ranch in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Take your family to see this spectacle in the sky—touted as one of the best fireworks shows in New England. Tickets must be purchased in advance for this one-of-a-kind show by Atlas PyroVision, a company based in Jaffrey for the last 70 years.

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Garlic and Herb Festival

No vampires allowed. The annual Southern Vermont Garlic & Herb Festival takes place in Bennington, Vermont. Enjoy live music, sample a wide variety of garlic foods, learn about garlic and herbs and watch cooking demonstrations. Call 802-447-3311 for more information.

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Hillsboro Fest and Fair

Hear live bands and more during the four-day Hillsboro Fest and Fair, in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Hot air balloons are no longer a part of this annual tradition, but the festival's being reinvented this year to feature new rides and more food and entertainment. For schedule details and more information, call 603-464-0377.

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International Film Festival

The Maine International Film Festival in Waterville, Maine, features screenings of nearly 100 American and foreign independent films, plus films made by innovative Maine and New England filmmakers. Call 207-861-8138 for more information.

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Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival
 Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

With free "Inside/Out" performances Wednesday through Saturday evenings and a schedule of major performances by some of America's foremost dance companies and ensembles, Jacob's Pillow in Lee, Massachusetts, is definitely a dance lover's place to be this summer. 2019 marks the festival's 87th year; it is the longest running dance festival in the U.S. For information about this summer's events, call 413-243-9919. For tickets, call the box office at 413-243-0745.

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Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival

From, enjoy a wide array of Friday evening and Sunday afternoon classical concerts at Kneisel Hall in Blue Hill, Maine, as the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival celebrates its 117th year. For more information on the festival, call 207-374-2811. To purchase tickets, call call 207-374-2203.

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Lowell Folk Festival

Lowell Folk Festival
Richard Howe / Flickr / Creative Commons  

For the 33rd year in 2019, head for one of the largest free folk festivals in the U.S—three days of traditional music and dance, crafts, ethnic foods and more on five outdoor stages throughout Lowell, Massachusetts. For more information about the Lowell Folk Festival, call 978-275-1764.

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Maine Lobster Festival

Maine Lobster Festival
Media photo courtesy of the Maine Lobster Festival

If you love lobster, you need to be in Rockland, Maine, for the 72nd annual Maine Lobster Festival. There's only one word for this gargantuan celebration of Maine's beloved crustacean—Yum! Each year, about 20,000 pounds of lobster are prepared in a giant cooker. Additional festival highlights include the Big Parade, Great Crate Race, concerts and entertainment for all ages. For details, call toll free, 800-576-7512.

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Newport Jazz Festival

Newport Jazz Festival
Discover Newport

The 65-year-old Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, is produced by the non-profit Newport Festivals Foundation. The festival features emerging jazz artists, along with the jazz greats concertgoers have come to expect. The event continues Saturday and Sunday at Fort Adams. Headliners for 2019 included Herbie Hancock and Corinne Bailey Rae. Tickets can be purchased online. Single day general admission tickets may also be purchased in person at the Newport Visitor Center.

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Oyster Festival

Veteran's Memorial Park in Norwalk, Connecticut, is the setting for the Norwalk Seaport Association's Oyster Festival. Highlights of the event include musical performances; children's activities and rides; an arts & crafts show; oystering and environmental exhibits and, of course, oysters galore! Tickets may be purchased online beginning April 1 and printed prior to the festival. For information, call 203-838-9444.

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Potato Blossom Festival

The annual Maine Potato Blossom Festival is in Fort Fairfield, Maine. Did you know that potato plants have beautiful white, pink or lavender flowers? Join in the celebration of one of Maine's most important crops with dozens of events including a parade, musical entertainment, mashed potato wrestling, fireworks over the Aroostook River and more. For information, call the Fort Fairfield Chamber of Commerce at 207-472-3802.

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Quilt Festival

The annual Vermont Quilt Festival is in Essex Junction, Vermont. See hundreds of beautiful, hand-crafted antique and contemporary quilts at New England's oldest and largest quilt event, shop for quilting supplies, have quilts appraised and participate in a choice of dozens of full-, half- and multi-day classes taught by quilters from across the country. Call 802-872-0034 for details.

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Rockport Chamber Music Festival

The Rockport Chamber Music Festival puts on performances by some of the world's best chamber music artists. Performances are held on select dates in Rockport, Massachusetts, starting with an Opening Night concert featuring the Grammy Award-winning Parker Quartet and pianist Stephen Prutsman. To order tickets or for more information, call 978-546-7391.

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Shakespeare Festival

The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival offers summer performances under the stars of two of the Bard's classics—Much Ado About Nothing and Cymbeline—at Boscobel, a scenic Hudson River estate in neighboring New York State. The festival also presents its first-ever Broadway musical, Into the Woods, this summer. Order tickets online or by calling 845-265-9575.

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Tomato Festival

If you adore the flavor of heirloom tomatoes, then venture to Verrill Farm in Concord, Massachusetts, for the Corn & Tomato Festival featuring the chance to taste more than 30 varieties of tomatoes grown on the farm, plus several varieties of corn and other farm-fresh foods. There's live bluegrass music and children's activities, too. For details, call 978-369-4494.

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UFO Festival

Looking for a festival that's out of this world? Exeter, New Hampshire, is the epicenter of UFO lore in New England thanks to unexplained sightings that occurred in 1965. The annual Exeter UFO Festival features lectures and activities for believers and skeptics of all ages.

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Vermont Festival of the Arts

The towns and villages of the Mad River Valley in Vermont celebrate the arts during this month-long festival. Vermont Festival of the Arts events include open studios, concerts, gallery exhibits, theater performances, tours, workshops and more. For more information, call 802-496-6682.

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Whatever Family Festival

Augusta, Maine's festival with the blasé name has been running for 42 years straight. The capital area hosts 150 family-centered events. The highlight of the Whatever Family Festival is Kennebec River Day at Mill Park featuring music, food trucks and craft vendors. Most of the scheduled events are free. Call 207-623-4559 for details.

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4X4 Festival

Head to Pittston, Maine, for the mudder of all summer festivals in New England! The annual 4x4 Festival (aka the Mud Run) is held at the Pittston Fairgrounds, and even if you don't want to venture into the Deep Mud Pit in your vehicle, you'll love observing all of the sloppy, family-friendly action. Overnight camping is available. Typically the festival is either the last weekend of May or the first weekend of June.

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Yarmouth Clam Festival

Yarmouth Clam Festival

Kim Knox Beckius  

You'll find clams, crafts, clams, a carnival, clams, concerts, and, uh... clams! at this festival in Yarmouth, Maine. The Firefighters' Muster is a must-see. Admission to the Yarmouth Clam Festival is free. Call 207-846-3984 for details.

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Zydeco Festival

The Blast from the Bayou Cajun Zydeco Festival happens at Strawberry Park in Preston, Connecticut. Make a weekend of it by reserving a campsite or rental unit. Camping in the rough is free. In addition to the line-up of musical performers, the family-friendly festival features authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine, dancing and more. For tickets and reservations, call 860-886-1944.

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