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New England Events — May 2014

Welcome to May in New England! See landscapes of daffodils, azaleas and rhododendrons. Join the annual Duckling parade in Boston, head to one of the best antiques fairs in the United States in Massachusetts or join a festival in Maine that celebrates one of the richest migratory bird areas in the US.

For more New England events in May 2014, check the individual state websites at the bottom of the page.

34th Annual Fine Art & Flowers

May 1–3, 2015
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut

This is the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art’s premier spring fundraiser. During the event, floral arrangements and garden designs inspired by works of art in the museum’s collections are created by community florists, garden clubs and designers, and are displayed in the galleries throughout the weekend. Also enjoy special events, tours, a Marketplace featuring hand-made goods for sale by local vendors and more!


May 1-31, 2014
Cape Cod, Massachusetts

The month-long event will include a variety of Cape-wide maritime-themed activities, including guided kayak excursions, lighthouse & walking tours, nautical art exhibits, the 18th Annual Cape Cod Martime History Symposium at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, and more.

Kinney Azalea Garden

May 1-31, 2014
Kingston, Rhode Island

Wander through six acres featuring over 500 varieties of azaleas and rhododendrons. Flowering typically peaks mid-May through June. The gardens were created by Lorenzo Kinney, Jr. in his retirement; he also developed new varieties of azaleas that would thrive in southern New England.


May 14, 24, & 30
Providence, Rhode Island

WaterFire is a highly unique public art experience that has attracted tens of thousands of visitors to Rhode Island’s creative capital city of Providence. The event is based on an original artistic installation of bonfires lit on the three waterways passing through downtown Providence. On select evenings throughout the year, WaterFire creates a magical artistic event celebrating earth, air, fire and water. Amidst the flickering firelight of 100 bonfires, stroll through Waterplace Park and enjoy music and entertainment from around the world.

SoNew Tours

May 3, 2014
Various locations in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island

Come along on one of 9 themed tours hitting the highways and byways in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Choose from historic tours, biking tours, and ghost tours. Discover southern New England and have a great time!

Big Times on the Dead River – White Water Rafting

May 3, 10, 25 and 31, 2014
The Forks, Maine

On these dates, special dam-controlled high water releases on Maine’s most continuous whitewater offer Class IV excitement. The Dead River builds throughout the day in rapids such as Humpty Dumpty, Elephant Rock and Spruce Ledges, culminating in the longest rapid in the Northeast, “Poplar Hill Falls.” Trips fill quickly, so book today! See the website for the various rafting operators in this region.

Misquamicut Springfest

May 9-11, 2014
Misquamicut State Beach — Westerly, Rhode Island

SpringFest will include the Beer, BBQ and Bands tent with entertainment throughout the week — a “Pondfire” will be the centerpiece, with fire pits in and around the pond, as well as games and prizes — a Ferris wheel and major rides, a petting zoo, pony rides and more. Fireworks on Friday night.


May 11, 2014
Shelburne, Vermont

Celebrate a new season at the Shelburne Museum on Opening Day. The grounds are typically in fragrant full bloom with more than 400 lilacs in 90 varieties. Enjoy lilac tours, gardening tips, demonstrations and live music.

Duckling Day — The Boston Public Garden

May 11, 2014
Boston Common - Boston, Massachusetts

This beloved annual event on Mother’s Day celebrates the classic children’s story “Make Way for Ducklings,” about a pair of mallard ducks who decide to raise their family on the island of the Boston Public Garden lagoon and the family’s adventures getting there. Each year, more than a thousand children dressed as their favorite characters from the story gather on the Common to enjoy face painting, music making, clowns and other entertainment before marching through Beacon Hill behind the Harvard Band to the Public Garden. Boston dignitaries will greet families at the end of the parade, and actors from the Wheelock Family Theater will read the beloved book by Robert McCloskey. Registration and entertainment on the Common begin at 10:30 a.m. at the base of the Shaw Memorial, across Beacon Street from the State House, and the parade begins at noon. There is a $35 donation per family ($40 the day of the event).

Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum

May 13-18, 2014
Arnold Arboretum — Boston, Massachusetts

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is the oldest public arboretum in North America and one of the world’s leading centers for the study of plants. Of the thousands of flowering plants in the Arboretum, only one — the lilac — is singled out each year for a daylong celebration. Come to Lilac Sunday for tours of the lilacs, dance performances, picnicking (allowed on this special day only), and family activities that make for a memorable day. Be a part of this beloved Boston tradition! Street parking along the Arboretum perimeter is limited, and visitors are advised to take public transportation.

Brimfield Antique and Flea Market Show

May 13-18, 2014
Brimfield, Massachusetts

The Brimfield Antiques Show is the largest outdoor antiques show in the country, with more than 4,500 dealers and 130,000+ visitors during the course of the week. Often referred to as “The Show,” it is actually comprised of 23 fields, owned by promoters who lease spaces to dealers from all over the world. The Show takes place three times a year. The Show runs about a mile along Route 20, on both sides of the road, extending several hundred yards back from each side of the road. Most dealers opt to show their wares inside large and comfortable tents, and all fields are contiguously located next to each other, so seeing everything is an easy stroll. This show repeats in July and September.

Nantucket Wine Festival

May 14-18, 2014
Nantucket Island, Massachusetts

What better reason to visit one of America’s most famous vacation islands? Come enjoy this boutique experience of world class wines and award winning food. Over the past 17 years, the Nantucket Wine Festival has become one of the most celebrated wine and food events in the country. You must be 21 or older to purchase tickets to events that include wine or spirits. Valid ID required for entry. The Opening Reception, Harbor Gala, La Fête and Grand Tastings are the heart and soul of the five day experience.

Taste of Bar Harbor

May 15-18, 2014
Bar Harbor, Maine

Nestled on the east side of Mt. Desert Island, surrounded by Acadia National park, Bar Harbor is a classic New England destination.  A Taste of Bar Harbor is a food festival featuring local restaurants, cafés, and establishments that offer the epicurean delights visitors enjoy in Bar Harbor. Enjoy a full selection of activities, including the popular Chef’s Table — a 5-course dinner and wine pairings at one of four exclusive restaurants. Chefs will be giving tours, demonstrations and sharing recipes.

Moose Mainea

Mid-May – mid-June 2014
Greenville, Maine

Each spring the Moosehead Lake Region hosts a month-long celebration of the area’s favorite resident — THE MOOSE! The events take place during the time of the year when moose are most likely to be seen. This year’s events include the Moosterpiece Craft Fair, Moose Mainea Kid’s Fun Day, Famous Moose Tales, a Quest Fest, and the Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Moose Photo Contest. Area crafters will have their annual craft fair in downtown Greenville with lots of moose memorabilia and collectables. The fair takes place in the Katahdin Steamboat parking area in downtown Greenville.

Celebration of Peonies – Hildene: The Lincoln Family Home

Mid-to-late May through mid-June 2014
Hildene Estate – Manchester, Vermont

Hildene is a beautiful Georgian Revival mansion built by Robert Todd Lincoln, son of America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. With its beautiful gardens, the hillside estate offers breathtaking views of southern Vermont. Weather permitting, the last two weeks of May and the first two weeks of June signal the beginning of the season when the Formal Garden comes to life with thousands of peony blooms; many of them from the original 1907 plants. Nearby, shop at premier brand outlet stores at Manchester Designer Outlets.


May 16-18, 2014
Deer Isle/Stonington, Maine

This annual bird migration festival celebrates birding and art on Deer Isle. The festival begins Friday evening with a gallery opening featuring work by more than 50 island artists, artisans and sculptors, all inspired by the island’s natural beauty. Saturday and Sunday are filled with guided birding walks and talks at several of the island’s conservancies, pelagic boating trips to see nesting puffins, kayak trips, bird identification lectures, eagle spotting, sculpture and painting classes, a local foods supper and many other activities.


May 17, 2014
Bristol, Rhode Island

Coggeshall Farm Museum is a living history farm set on 48 acres in Bristol, Rhode Island. The museum depicts Bristol’s agrarian life in the year 1799 through live interpretation, historic structures, and heirloom plants and animals. At this festival see craftspeople demonstrate traditional and contemporary fiber arts; purchase our own textile supplies, equipment, and gifts to take home; watch the hand shearing of sheep and help with eighteenth century textiles and farm work.


May 17, 2014
Rockport, Massachusetts

Motif No. 1 Day began in 1949 as an opportunity for Rockport residents and visitors to come together to celebrate Rockport’s heritage of the arts, symbolized by our famous red fishing shack, Motif No. 1, the subject of countless paintings during the early 20th century. Rockport honors this iconic building with a day dedicated to the arts, expressed in family-focused, interactive ways. A highlight of the festival is the Sidewalk Chalk Art contest, creating art spontaneously on the sidewalks of Rockport. Art activities for children, a scavenger hunt (finding temporary, small-scale sculptures of the Motif), poetry readings, film, art exhibits, dramatic presentations and fantastic live music will all be featured for a festival that encompasses nearly every artistic medium. This is a unique celebration of a unique coastal town.


May 17-25, 2014
Sandwich, Massachusetts

Heritage Museums and Gardens is comprised of three galleries and expansive gardens located in historic Sandwich, Massachusetts on the northern portion of Cape Cod. It includes galleries for American folk art, a vintage carousel, automobiles and traveling exhibitions. During this festival, come see thousands of rhododendrons in more than 100 varieties cover the museum’s 100 acres with spectacular blooms. Enjoy a peaceful walk surrounded by walls of flowers, learn more about these gorgeous plants from horticulture experts, explore Heritage’s connection to noted rhododendron hybridizers Charles Dexter and Jack Cowles, challenge yourself to a rhododendron scavenger hunt and participate in other family activities. A plant sale offers many varieties perfect for a Cape Cod garden, including the rare opportunity to purchase Dexter and Cowles rhododendron hybrids.


May 17, 2014
Newport, Rhode Island

Come to the seasonal opening of Fort Adams State Park, the largest coastal fortification in the United States. New in the works for 2014 — zip line from atop fort walls on a new tandem zip line! Starting on this day, daily guided tours depart from the gift shop, weather permitting, every hour on the hour. View the officers’ quarters, explore the underground listening tunnels and climb the rampart walls for breathtaking views of Newport harbor and Narragansett Bay. Parking inside the fort is free or travel over from Newport on a ferry ride. Self-guided tours are also available.


May 23-25, 2014 (no Monday events)
Lime Rock Park – Lakeville, Connecticut

Lime Rock Park, the road racing center of the eastern U.S., celebrates its opening for the 2014 season.  Lime Rock Park’s traditional season opener, the Memorial Day Race Weekend (Friday – Sunday, no Monday), will once again be jam packed with top-ranked sports car series races! Then, come back Sunday for the fourth annual Royals Car Show: more than 200 of the region’s finest muscle cars, tuners, rods and antiques sitting pretty on the front straight.


May 23-26, 2014
Cobscook Bay Area, Maine

The Annual Down East Spring Birding Festival provides a unique experience in “the real Maine” where birders can get out on their own and observe a great variety of birds in diverse natural environments. The festival offers birders various self-guided explorations as well as guided hikes, boat tours, and presentations led by area experts. More than 400 bird species have been sighted in Maine, and almost three-quarters of them have been seen in the Cobscook Bay area. Come and see why the northeast coast of Maine and the waters around Machias Seal Island have been identified as “One of the Important Bird Areas in the U.S.” by the American Bird Conservancy.


May 23-26, 2014 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Mystic Seaport, Connecticut

Crack your first lobster claw of the season at the seaport’s quintessential New England Lobster Days.  Lobsters are served in the rough; proceeds are distributed to local charities. Visitors can purchase a combination ticket for food and a museum visit, or purchase food and separate museum ticket.


May 25, 2014
Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Join the celebration of the oldest lilacs in the country. This seacoast event features lilac lectures and sales, historic house tours, and an art show and plein air event. Children’s activities include art projects conducted throughout the day, treasure and scavenger hunts, fairy houses, alpacas and more.


May 24-25, 2014
Billings Museum & Farm – Woodstock, Vermont

Celebrate Vermont’s distinctive dairy heritage during a weekend of sampling delicious Vermont cheeses and meeting local cheese makers; dairy education programs, making cheese, ice cream and butter.


May 24-25, 2014
Wilcox Park – Westerly, Rhode Island

More than 185 selected artists from New England and beyond participate in this free two-day exhibit and sale of artwork and fine crafts. Featuring food, live entertainment and free children’s activities. Rain or shine.


May 24-26, 2014
Meredith, New Hampshire

In the scenic Lakes Region of New Hampshire, the Mill Falls Marketplace in Meredith will once again come alive with color, flavor, and music for the annual Memorial Weekend Craft Festival, featuring more than 100 juried craftsmen and women from all over New England with their works. Enjoy craft demonstrations, specialty food sampling and live music daily.


May 24-26, 2014
Three Country Fairgrounds – Northampton, Massachusetts

The Paradise City Arts Festival is one of New England’s most exciting shows of fine and less-than-functional art. Located on Interstate 91 just 15 minutes north of the Massachusetts Turnpike, Northampton is less than an hour from Hartford, the Berkshires and southern Vermont; less than two hours from Boston, Albany and southern Connecticut; less than three hours from New York City. Designated “The Best Small Art Town in America” and one of AmerincanStyle Magazine’s top “Art Destinations,” Northampton is a cultural, dining and shopping destination for visitors from all over the northeast.


May 24-25, 2014
Statewide (website offers map)

Most Vermont craftspeople work in studios located in or close to their residences. These are places of production and inspiration located in downtowns as well as at the ends of dirt roads.Wherever their locations, they are exciting places to visit because they reflect the dynamic yet organized process that is used to produce the finished work of art. On this special Open Studio Weekend, drive through the beautiful countryside of Vermont and visit these artists. See website for a map of participating artists. This event is repeated in October.


May 25, 2014
Jackson Village Park – Jackson, New Hampshire

This outdoor action-packed day in the White Mountains of New Hampshire brings singles, families, strangers, businesses and guests all together to forget about life’s trials and tribulations if only for a few short hours. Laugh out loud as 3,500 yellow rubber ducks make their way downstream to the finish line.

Tough Mudder Competition at Mount Snow

May 31 - June 1, 2014
Mt. Snow, Vermont

Tough Mudder events are hardcore obstacle courses designed to test your all-around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie. Built in a valley of the towering Green Mountains, Tough Mudder’s Mount Snow course is as unforgiving as a New England winter. Strip the course of obstacles, and a hike around Vermont’s harsh, mountainous terrain is a struggle in itself. Pepper that same terrain with obstacles that aggressively push boundaries of might and fright, and that “struggle” becomes a fight for your next headband.

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