In the United States, Columbus Day is celebrated in recognition of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492, which is why the holiday is always celebrated on the second Monday in October. If you're planning your next trip to New England to celebrate, you'll need to know the dates for the upcoming annual holiday so that you can plan ahead and book cheap flights.
In New England, the three-day weekend around the Columbus Day holiday is often associated with peak fall foliage, particularly in Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Even if the leaves don't cooperate, many fall festivals and events are planned for Columbus Day weekend, and it's an ideal time to experience the diverse pleasures of New England in the fall.
In recent years certain controversies have arisen over celebrating Columbus, whose history also involved the mass genocide of native populations of the Americas as well as a slew of other bad choices he made as a captain and explorer. For this reason, many cities around the United States are changing the holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day to celebrate the native heritage that Columbus nearly wiped out in his search for land.
Columbus Day Dates 2018 Through 2022
The following are the next five dates for Columbus Day (or Indigenous Peoples Day) in the United States:
- Monday, October 8, 2018
- Monday, October 14, 2019
- Monday, October 12, 2020
- Monday, October 11, 2021
- Monday, October 10, 2022
Past dates include October 9, 2017; October 10, 2016; October 12, 2015; October 13, 2014; October 14, 2013; October 8, 2012; October 10, 2011; October 11, 2010; and October 12, 2009.
Columbus Day Events in New England
Two distinctly New England events should top your list of activities if you're visiting the region during the three-day weekend: The Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta in Maine and the Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts.
The Damariscotta Pumpkinfest & Regatta in Damariscotta, Maine, is always on Columbus Day Weekend, and it is a sight to see: giant pumpkins on parade, pumpkin pie eating contests, Pumpkin Derby races, pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, a pumpkin hunt for kids, and a 180-foot giant pumpkin drop that is a gooey orange mess of destruction. The ultimate event of the weekend, though, is Columbus Day Monday's Pumpkin Regatta, where giant hollowed-out pumpkins are used as boats in a madcap race—get there early for a harborside seat.
The Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, Massachusetts, is also a Columbus Day Weekend tradition, and once again, giant pumpkins take center stage. The New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off is a highlight of this nearly 200-year-old agricultural fair, which ends its 11-day run on Columbus Day each year. A few years ago, history was made when a Rhode Island farmer took the prize with the world's first one-ton pumpkin! This popular fair also features farm animals, grandstand entertainment, carnival games and rides, a petting zoo, arts and crafts, and, of course, fair food.
The holiday weekend is also your perfect opportunity to see the Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular in Providence, Rhode Island, to hang out with the spooks at the Haunted Graveyard at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut, or to attend an Oktoberfest celebration such as Acadia's Oktoberfest in Maine or either Harpoon Octoberfest or Mount Snow Oktoberfest in Vermont.