When Is Labor Day? Plan Your End-of-Summer New England Getaway

From Music to Garlic, These Labor Day Weekend Events Are Best Bets

Labor Day in New England, Rhythm & Roots Festival, Rhode Island

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In New England, Labor Day marks the unofficial end of the summer travel season. But when is Labor Day this year and beyond?

In the United States, Labor Day is always observed on the first Monday in September. It has been an official federal holiday since 1894. Originally a tribute to labor unions and their members, Labor Day has evolved to become a low-key day off for most American workers.

Whether you'll be barbecuing at home or joining the throngs of motorists headed to New England's beaches for one last hurrah over the three-day Labor Day weekend, here is a handy guide to Labor Day dates for the years ahead.

Labor Day Dates 2020—2024

Monday, September 7, 2020 | Monday, September 6, 2021 | Monday, September 5, 2022 | Monday, September 4, 2023 | Monday, September 2, 2024

What is Open and Closed on Labor Day?

Labor Day is a national holiday, so the following are closed: U.S. post offices, government offices, schools, universities, libraries, banks, and stock markets. Essential services that remain open include airports, hospitals, and police stations.

Most businesses close, providing employees with a three-day holiday weekend.

Most retail and hospitality businesses, however, stay open on Labor Day including restaurants, hotels, inns, transportation services (limited schedules may be in effect), gas stations, supermarkets, drug stores, and retail stores. Laws regulating whether liquor stores may be open on Labor Day vary by state.

Best Beaches for Labor Day in New England

By Labor Day, New England's lake waters and Atlantic surf have typically reached their maximum warmth, and you'll find crowds at seashore hot spots like Maine's Old Orchard Beach and New Hampshire's Hampton Beach. Rhode Island has such a variety of beaches, you can choose a lesser-known spot if you're hoping to spend a more peaceful day at the beach. Connecticut's largest beach, Hammonasset Beach State Park, is a popular Labor Day weekend destination for sunbathers, swimmers, and overnight campers (make reservations early), but there are quiet alternatives on the Long Island Sound shore, too, such as duBois Beach in Stonington, Connecticut.

How to Celebrate Labor Day in New England

There are many fun annual events that take place in New England over the Labor Day holiday weekend including:

  • The Southern Vermont Garlic & Herb Festival in Bennington, Vermont: a two-day (Saturday and Sunday) garlic extravaganza featuring food (even garlic ice cream!), music, demonstrations, children's activities, and more. While you're in Bennington, be sure to take the elevator to the top of Vermont's tallest structure, the Bennington Battle Monument, for panoramic views.
  • Celebrating its 23rd anniversary, the Rhythm & Roots festival, held each Labor Day Weekend in Charlestown, Rhode Island, will once again be three full days in 2020. Plan ahead and save money by purchasing tickets and camping access in advance to see a line-up of more than two dozen bands.
  • The final show of the season in L.L. Bean's summer concert series at its flagship store in Freeport, Maine, is always held the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, and this year's finale features multi-platinum singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw.
  • The 68-year-old Marlborough Labor Day Parade in Marlborough, Massachusetts, is the largest end-of-summer parade in New England, and it's always held on Labor Day Monday.
  • Gloucester, Massachusetts' annual Schooner Festival celebrating the role these sailboats have played in the history of America's oldest seaport features a series of events beginning with the ships' arrival on Friday and continuing through their departure on Monday. Don't miss Saturday night's Boat Parade of Lights and fireworks.
  • The Labor Day Weekend Celebration in Northfield, Vermont, is a 44-year-old tradition and Vermont's largest Labor Day celebration—2019's theme was Celebrating Norwich 200, honoring the bicentennial of Norwich University.
  • The Historic Festival at Lime Rock Park, a historic auto racing venue in Lakeville, Connecticut, is your chance to see classic race cars on parade and in action on the track. 
  • The Woodstock Fair in Woodstock, Connecticut, keeps agricultural traditions alive and thrills kids of all ages with Midway rides.
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