Category Sponsor: LAUNCH! A Maritime Festival
A stop-by-stop road map to everything the Pine Tree State has to offer when the sun is shining, the ocean is warm(-ish), the festivals are plentiful, and the dining is al fresco. Join us on the hunt for the best Maine summer ever.
25. Watch the Fireworks from Bug Light
For years, folks in the know had a front row seat on Portland’s spectacular July 4 fireworks show, even while managing to avoid the hordes on the Eastern Prom. Where’d they go? Bug Light Park in South Portland, home to the diminutive Portland Breakwater Light (aka Bug Light, because of its size). It’s still the best seat on the bay, although it’s not so much a secret anymore — these days, Independence Day at Bug Light is an official celebration, with live music, kids’ activities, and food trucks all day. 40 Madison St.
Selfie: Stand on the granite pier with the adorable beacon behind you. (If you can get exploding fireworks in there, so much the better!) And don’t stay outside the thing — the lighthouse is open to the public for the occasion.
26. Shuck a Clam at the Yarmouth Clam Festival
On the third weekend in July, some 100,000 revelers descend on Yarmouth to see a loooong parade, browse handicrafts, catch some live music, but mostly, to feast on Maine clams. You’ll find the bivalves steamed, caked, and fried in both batter and crumbs. The main event is the Maine State Clam Shucking Contest, in which the champions in the amateur division might shuck a dozen clams a minute (the best pros can nearly double that). July 21–23. 207-846-3984.
Selfie: Technically not a selfie, because we want to see you in the shucking contest. See the festival website for registration details and have a friend take the photo.
27. Sponsored: Celebrate the Sea at the Kennebunks’ LAUNCH!
A freewheeling celebration of all things seafaring, LAUNCH! A Maritime Festival is in its second year and already a southern Maine summer highlight. Five days of salty shenanigans around the Kennebunks include an open-invite lobster bake, a slate of nautical kids’ activities (buoy decorating! knot tying!), and a none-too-serious beachside 5K (with mermaids beckoning and pirates jeering as runners pound sand). Kennebunkport Brewing Company, a branch of the pioneering Shipyard Brewing Company, is turning out a special ale for the occasion, and there’ll be other libations aplenty at Saturday night’s VIP Rock the Boat party, aboard the Spirit of Massachusetts in the Kennebunk River, along with live music and specialty bites. June 14–18. Various sites around Main Street Kennebunk, Lower Village and Dock Square, Arundel, and Cape Porpoise. 207-967-0857.
Selfie: The River Lights Boat Parade, after dark on Saturday the 17th, turns the Kennebunk River into a surreal and celebratory light show. Find a good spot to watch and grab a selfie with the glowing, flowing river.
28. Get Serenaded at Sweet Chariot
Soon after musician Doug Day moved to Maine from Chicago, he was smitten by our windjammer fleet. So he befriended some captains and invited them and their passengers to music nights in his barn. From those get-togethers emerged the Sweet Chariot Music Festival. Every summer, the fleet, along with scores of smaller vessels, sweeps out to Swan’s Island in Penobscot Bay for a three-night fest at Odd Fellows Hall, starring folk musicians from around the country. Since there’s limited lodging on the island, most people spend the night on board among the fishing boats in Burnt Coat Harbor. Aug. 1–3.
Selfie: You don’t need to be a ticketed show-goer to enjoy the most charming tradition: a serenade by Day and his conspirators from the deck of schooner Redbird in Burnt Coat Harbor. Each afternoon, “we go around shanty caroling,” he says. “We sing to every boat in the harbor.” Get your selfie with the Redbird as it passes by.
29. Join the Tintammare at the Acadian Festival
You should also come for the terrific music, the spectacle of the poutine-eating contest, and the ployes (light and yummy little buckwheat pancakes, just like Mémé used to make). But the highlight of this 40-year-old family-friendly fest in the St. John Valley, celebrating the culture and traditions of the descendants of French settlers, is the closing night tintammare, a traditional Acadian parade that’s all participants and no spectators, big on makeshift instruments, drums, and other noisemakers. Rolling in a noisy throng down the streets of Madawaska, you’ll notice that an uninhibited whoop sounds the same in English as in Acadian French. Aug. 11–15. 207-728-6250. acadianfestival.com
Selfie: No standing on the sidelines — we want to see you in the crowd.