For the 34th year in 2016, the American Bus Association (ABA) has named North America's Top 100 Events, and it's no surprise that once again, New England and New York State claimed many of the continent's top festivals and celebrations. A total of 16 Northeast events were named to the ABA's 2016 Top 100 list: That's more than one event per month that will entice you to pack your bags and hit the road!
Selected as ideal group bus tour destinations, these exciting festivals, concerts, food and wine events and holiday happenings are entertaining and fun for all travelers, regardless of how you get there. Why not set a goal, and see how many you can attend?
Start by filling your calendar with these New England and New York State events that earned Top 100 honors for 2016:
May 22-June 22, 2016
Celebration of Peonies at Hildene
Manchester, Vermont (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
Hildene was home to three generations of descendants of President Abraham Lincoln, and this country estate's formal garden is loveliest when more than 20 varieties of heirloom peonies--some 1,000 plants--bloom from late May through late June, just as they have since 1907. The Georgian Revival mansion is open for tours, and the gardens, farm and walking trails add to the property's allure.
May 26-29, 2016
Corning, New York (Compare Hotel Rates ane Reviews)
Known as America's Crystal City, Corning in western New York has been the epicenter of the glass arts since the Corning Glass Works was relocated here in 1868. For the seventh year, this petite city celebrates everything that sparkles during the four-day GlassFest, which features live glassmaking demonstrations, music, an arts marketplace, dining events, shopping promotions and fireworks on Saturday night. Admission is free.
June 24-26, 2016
Newport Flower Show
Newport, Rhode Island (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
New England's most glorious outdoor flower show is held each summer on the lawns of elegant Rosecliff mansion. The Newport Flower Show is perennially named a Top 100 event for good reason: You don't have to be a gardener to appreciate the beauty of this seaside display of judged plants, flowers and exhibits. If you do have a green thumb, you'll love attending gardening lectures and perusing the Gardeners' Marketplace. The theme of the 21st annual Newport Flower Show is "Gilded: Artful Living," which honors the artistic style that characterized the Gilded Age, when Newport's fabulous mansions were built.
Take my photo tour of the 2011 Newport Flower Show for a sense of what it's like to attend.
June 26-July 2, 2016
Windjammer Days Festival
Boothbay Harbor, Maine (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
Celebrate the Boothbay Harbor region's shipbuilding heritage at this waterfront festival that features diverse events spread out over the course of a week including an antique boat parade, a lighted boat parade, concerts, a craft show, tours of local Coast Guard stations, a lobster-eating contest, fireworks over the harbor and more. The highlight is the June 29 arrival of Maine's world-famous Windjammer fleet under full sail.
August 3-7, 2016
Maine Lobster Festival
Rockland, Maine (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
They'll serve more than 20,000 pounds of lobster at the 69th annual Maine Lobster Festival, but that's only one of the reasons you'll want to be in Midcoast Maine during this crustacean celebration! Other festival highlights include lobster crate races, a big parade, arts and crafts, a cooking competition, a carnival, kids' activities and live music. Watching dinner emerge from the world's largest lobster cooker is a sight you'll never forget!
August 4-7, 2016
Lucille Ball Comedy Festival
Jamestown, New York (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
Everybody still loves Lucy, so head to Lucille Ball's hometown in western New York for this four-day laugh fest featuring more than 50 events including Lucy & Ethel dinner shows, I Love Lucy reruns on an outdoor screen, and performances by more than two dozen top comedians. You'll also want to visit Desilu Studios and the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum.
August 6-14, 2016
83rd Annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen's Fair
Newbury, New Hampshire (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
The longest-running craft fair in America is 83 years old in 2016. You'll find more than 350 juried craftspeople--plus daily performances, tours, demos and workshops--at the family-friendly League of New Hampshire Craftsmen's Fair at Mount Sunapee Resort.
August 6–September 25, 2016
New York Renaissance Faire
Tuxedo Park, New York (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
Weekends are merry good fun, as summer yields to fall during the New York Renaissance Faire's annual run. Non-stop entertainment, an artisan marketplace, rides, 16th-century games and hearty fare await visitors. Many dress in costume for this step back in time to Elizabethan England.
August 14, 2016
Pops by the Sea
Hyannis, Massachusetts (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
The 31st annual Pops by the Sea concert is Cape Cod's single largest cultural event! Once again, more than 12j,000 concert-goers will have the opportunity to experience an enchanting evening of music on the Hyannis Village Green with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and its conductor, Keith Lockhart. Buy tickets early for this annual sellout.
September 16-18, 2016
New Hampshire Highland Games
Lincoln, New Hampshire (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
603-229-1975 / 800-358-7268 (tickets)
Take your whole clan to New Hampshire for the largest Scottish festival in the Northeast. This event features bagpipe bands, Highland dancers, whisky and beer tastings, Scottish food and goods and intriguing competitions including tests of strength, sheepdog trials and fiddling and drumming contests. The Highland Games made the ABA's Top 100 Events list for the 15th time in 2016.
September 16-October 2, 2016
The Big E
West Springfield, Massachusetts (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
The Eastern States Exposition, better known as "The Big E," celebrates its centennial in 2016. The sprawling fair, which honors the bounty of all six New England states, runs for 17 fall days and features top-name entertainment, rides, shopping, foods from around the region and a daily Mardi Gras Parade. More than 1.5 million people are expected to enjoy New England's largest fair during its 100th anniversary season.
September 17-18, 2016
Mystic, Connecticut (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
With free admission and parking, how can you afford not to stock up on vampire repellent? The ninth annual Garlic Festival at Olde Mistick Village brings together more than 70 restaurants and vendors selling freshly harvested garlic and other produce, gourmet products and, of course, garlicky foods.
September 23-25, 2016
East Falmouth, Massachusetts (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
The Bourne Scallop Festival began as a community event hosted by local fishermen. Now, it has grown so popular, it has a new name--Scallop Fest--and a new home at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in East Falmouth. This 47-year-old annual celebration features tasty deep-fried scallops, along with other food selections, live music, arts and crafts, children's rides, exhibits and more.
The wickedest Halloween celebration on earth lasts the entire month of October in spooky Salem, Massachusetts: the seaside city that embraces its sullied past. Haunted Happenings magically appears on the ABA's list of top events for its fourth consecutive year. From seances to terrifying ghost tours to haunted cruises to Halloween night revelries, Salem will cast its spell on you this Halloween season.
October 3-November 6, 2016
Providence, Rhode Island (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
My photos of Providence's annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo say it all: This is a dazzling display of pumpkin artistry that you really shouldn't miss if you're in New England in the fall. Talented carvers outdo themselves each year, and the glowing spectacle mesmerizes kids and grown-ups, too.
November 18-20, 2016
America's Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration
Plymouth, Massachusetts (Compare Hotel Rates and Reviews)
Make a pilgrimage to Thanksgiving's birthplace the weekend before the all-American holiday, and watch and learn as history comes to life. A parade is one of the highlights of this annual celebration, which attracts Pilgrim, Native American, patriot and pioneer reenactors to historic Plymouth. Food, music, crafts, a farmers market and more attractions make for a full weekend of harvest season fun.