30 summer festivals—food, cars and hot air balloons
Whether you’re into fine dining or poutine and Moxie, maritime culture or farm life, Corvettes or hot air balloons, Maine’s many summer festivals have something for everyone. From Eliot to Rockland, here are 30 festivals to guide you through the summer.
Kennebunkport Festival, June 5–10
This is the top shelf of festivals. It’s five days of chefs, fine wines, beautiful homes, acclaimed artists and the quintessential charm of Kennebunkport. The smaller in-home “Art of Dining” events featuring well-known chefs cooking for guests in local mansions tend to sell out far in advance. Larger events include Cocktails at the Colony Hotel ($45) and The Spirit of Maine party at the Pilot House Boatyard ($125). For more information and tickets: kennebunkportfestival.com.
Back to the Beach Corvette Weekend, Old Orchard Beach, June 9–11
See hundreds of the hottest cars made displayed for three hours right in downtown Old Orchard. Activities over the course of the weekend include a Corvette display downtown, caravans and self-driving tours, dining, dancing and fun in the sun with other Corvette lovers. For full schedule and registration: back2thebeach.net.
Old Port Festival, June 11
The fun starts with a parade on Exchange Street at 11 a.m. and continues with entertainment on seven stages through 5 p.m. The best view of the festival is from the top of the Casco Bay Eye Ferris Wheel by DiMillo’s on the Water on Commercial Street. For more information, including the concert schedule: portlandmaine.com/old-port-festival.
LAUNCH!: A Maritime Festival in the Kennebunks, June 14–18
More than a dozen maritime-themed events will launch summer in the Kennebunks (Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel) during the second annual LAUNCH: A Maritime Festival. Highlights include the Sailors & Sirens 5K, Clam Jam, Captain’s Cook-Off, River Lights Boat Parade, Blessing of the Fleet, Pirate Pub Crawl, Ship Building Odyssey at the Brick Store Museum, lobster bake, progressive dinner, historic walking tours and Rock the Boat after-party. launchfestme.com
Greater Gardiner River Festival, June 17
This one-day festival in downtown Gardiner along Water Street and in Waterfront Park includes an open-air craft fair, live music, active outdoor field games and fireworks. gardinermainstreet.org
Greek Festival, Portland, June 22–24
For authentic Greek food, music and dancing, stop by the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 133 Pleasant St. Though this festival is little more than a giant food tent, 10,000 people a year come for the souvlaki, spanakopita, moussaka and baklava. Open 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. with dancing only in the evenings. For more information, including photos of the menu items: holytrinityportland.org/festival.asp, (207)774–0281.
La Kermesse, Biddeford, June 22–25
Biddeford’s 35th annual La Kermesse Franco-Americaine Festival kicks off Thursday at 7 p.m. with a block party downtown and fireworks at 9 p.m. The festival moves to St. Louis Field on West Street for the weekend, beginning with a parade on Friday. There’s a midway, petting zoo, games and a main stage full of music acts, many with a Franco-Americaine connection. Don’t miss the lobster rolls or the poutine (a Quebecois dish of French fries and cheese curds topped with gravy). lakermessefestival.com
Strawberry Festival, Cape Elizabeth, June 23–24
This festival sponsored by Cape Farm Alliance begins Friday with a ticketed lobster bake and local pig roast, hosted by Shady Oak Farm, 30 Fowler Road. The dinner (which typically sells out in advance) includes live music, local beer and wine, a silent auction and, obviously, a strawberry dessert. The festival proper is Saturday at Maxwell’s strawberry fields on Two Lights Road in Cape Elizabeth from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You’ll find crafts, vendors, and family-friendly activities like tractor rides, as well as plenty of food, strawberry-centric and otherwise. capefarmalliance.org/strawberry-fest
Great Falls Brewfest, June 24
Baxter Brewing Co. presents the fourth annual Great Falls Brewfest at Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston. Brewfest, which features more than 150 beers from 45 breweries, is a celebration of craft beer, community, arts, food and music. The VIP session is from noon to 2 p.m. with general admission from 2–6 p.m. Tickets cost $35 to $60 ($15 for designated driver). Be forewarned: The Brewfest sold out last year. greatfallsbrewfest.com, (207)333–6769
Poland Spring Heritage Day & Strawberry Festival, June 24
Step back in time with the Poland Spring Heritage Day & Strawberry Festival on the grounds of Poland Spring Resort & Preservation Park. This is an all-ages event with historic tour wagon rides, a chance to see the historic springhouse, free entertainment, dunk tanks and food along the lines of lobster rolls, burgers and strawberry shortcake. The event at 37 Preservation Lane in Poland Spring benefits the Poland Spring Preservation Society. polandsprings.org, (207)998–4142
Saco Sidewalk Arts Festival, June 24
More than 75 artists and craftsmen will display a rich variety of artwork, photography and sculpture along Saco’s historic Main Street and Pepperell Square from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Food and music round out the event. Sacomainstreet.com
South Berwick Strawberry Festival, June 24
Strawberry flags will be flying all over town on June 24, when South Berwick hosts its annual Strawberry Festival that draws about 20,000 strawberry lovers a year. The one-day event includes a road race and fun run, craft vendors and musical entertainment. It all takes place on the Central School grounds (next to Dunkin’ Donuts) at 197 Main St., South Berwick. For more information, including the entertainment schedule: southberwickstrawberryfestival.com.
Windham Summerfest, June 24
Start your day with a parade, end it with fireworks and fill in the middle with food, a car show, entertainment and vendors. It’s all on the grounds of Windham High School at 406 Gray Road, Windham. Windhamsummerfest.com
Wells Antiques Show, June 25
More than 60 antiques vendors from all over New England will be at the Annual Wells Antiques Show at the historic Wells Reserve at Laudholm Farm from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. Whether a collector or a dealer looking for fine furniture or a tourist looking for a souvenir, there is something in everyone’s price range at this show. Lunch and snacks will be sold. The farm is at 342 Laudholm Farm Road, right off Route 1 in Wells. (800)641–6908
Stars and Stripes Spectacular, Portland’s Eastern Prom, July 4
The July Fourth fireworks party on Portland’s Eastern Prom is a big event of the summer, with the symphony and fireworks against the backdrop of Casco Bay. The opening ceremony is at 7 p.m., the Portland Symphony Pops Concert at 7:40 p.m. and the fireworks show at 9:20 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the whole event moves to July 5. For details on the limited parking: july4thportland.org.
Maine YogaFest, Portland, July 7–9
Who says festivals can’t be healthy? This three-day annual event at the East End Community School and East End Beach serves up yoga every which way, plus healthy food, live music and wellness-oriented talks and vendors. maineyogafest.com
Moxie Festival, Lisbon Falls, July 7–9
Lisbon Falls hosts three days of wicked cool Moxie fun celebrating Maine’s official soft drink. The fun includes a car show, fireworks, petting zoo and concert as well as food and Moxie. moxiefestival.com
Lobster Roll Festival, Portland, July 8
This first-time festival includes The World’s Best Lobster Roll Competition. Head to Thompson’s Point for food, music, kids’ area and Maine-made gifts from noon to 5 p.m. downeast.com/lobsterroll
Maine Celtic Celebration, Belfast, July 14–16
Belfast hosts a weekend-long celebration of Celtic history, culture and music at two adjacent parks in Belfast: Steamboat Landing and Belfast Common. The event is Friday 5–9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to fireworks (approximately 9:15 p.m.) and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Celtic music is a big part of the Celebration. For information on performers: mainecelticcelebration.com.
Yarmouth Clam Festival, July 21–23
Home of the Maine State Clam Shucking Contest, the Yarmouth Clam Festival is one of the largest and longest-running summer festivals in Maine. The three-day event includes live music on three stages, food by non-profits, arts and crafts, road races, a parade, a pink elephant sale and a carnival and rides on the midway. Admission is free. For the schedule: clamfestival.com.
Antique Tractor & Engine Show, Eliot, July 24–26
This three-day festival includes a tractor parade, a ladies’ skillet toss, and engine, tractor and machinery demonstrations. All this and more at the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum, 2077 State Road, Eliot (near the New Hampshire border). raittfarmmuseum.org
Casco Days, July 27–29
The small community of Casco near Sebago Lake goes big on its annual three-day festival, including church dinners, a parade, midway, concerts and fireworks. cascodays.com
Greater Portland Festival of Nations, July 29
This grassroots festival celebrates food, music and dance through the lens of multiculturalism at Deering Oaks Park in Portland from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. No admission fee is charged. There’s a Facebook page for “Greater Portland Festival of Nations.”
Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland, Aug. 2–6
More than 20,000 pounds of lobster is served each year during these five days of fun and feasting in Midcoast Maine. mainelobsterfestival.com
York Days, Aug. 5–6
This town festival at the York Beach ball field includes a craft fair, road race, outdoor movie, and softball tournaments. But the highlight is the Christmas in July lighting of Nubble Light. yorkparksandrec.org
Great Falls Balloon Festival, Aug. 18–20
In addition to all the usual festival fun, this one includes five balloon launches throughout the weekend. Everything is centered around Simard-Payne Memorial Park off Oxford Street in Lewiston. greatfallsballoonfestival.org
Maine Highland Games & Scottish Festival, Topsham, Aug. 19
A cross between a festival, a sporting competition and a gathering of the clans, this festival on the Topsham Fairgrounds is a primer in Scottish culture, food, music, dance and athletics. mainehighlandgames.org
Life Happens Outside Festival, Portland, Aug. 25–26
This first-time festival at Thompson’s Point is a celebration of active outdoor lifestyles for all ages and abilities. Buy tickets in advance at lifehappensoutside.org.