Mark your calendar! From an all-you-can-eat ice cream party and festivals of food trucks to quaint country fairs and seaside celebrations, these are some of the best events happening in the Bay State this summer.
New England Whale Festival
June 22, 11 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Marina Bay, Quincy
Exhibits promoting marine conservation and boater education, with onsite marine mammal scientists, kid's activities, free boat rides, and the debut of life-sized North Atlantic right whale, Delilah. This free festival takes place rain or shine, is dog friendly, and fun for all ages. Sift through the sand learn about the top culprits contributing to an unhealthy ocean, climb aboard a 50-foot, multi-purpose research vessel, view and touch real whale bones, and walk right into the inflatable replica of a whale see her bones, baleen, blowholes, and lungs. Admission is free. More info: us.whales.org
New England Food Truck Festival
June 22 & 23, Saturday 12-9 p.m., Sunday 12-7 p.m.
Eastern States Exposition, West Springfield
Dig in! Enjoy amazing food from throughout New England served up from dozens of food trucks. The festival also includes musical entertainment, kids’ activities and an array of vendors. Admission: $6-$35. More info: nefoodtruckfest.com
July 1 to 7
Various locations, Boston
With hundreds of activities over Independence Day weekend at Boston’s best landmarks, this family-friendly event is one of the country’s largest Fourth of July festivals. Activities include the historical reenactments, Freedom Trail walks, Boat Tours, live entertainment, fireworks and more. It all kicks off with an opening ceremony at Boston’s Faneuil Hall, featuring Colonial-era reenactments and the traditional cutting of the cake. Indulge at Chowderfest, take in live music and art displays, and watch a promenade of festively-lit boats light up the Inner Harbor and seaport. Admission to most events is free. More info: bostonharborfest.com
Northeast Balloon Festival
July 12 to 14
Three County Fairgrounds, Northampton
Go up, up and away at America’s premier Hot Air Balloon Festival. Featuring hot air balloon rides and activities, a food festival, vendor expo, craft beer, amusement rides and games, petting zoo, live music and more. Admission $15. More info: northeastballoonfestival.com.
Mac ‘n’ Cheese Festival
July 13, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Town Common, Templeton
Music, vendors, superheroes, and, of course, Mac ‘n’ Cheese are all part of this fun festival. Bring your little (or big) superheroes all dressed up and watch them play Superhero games. Area restaurants and organizations will be serving up gooey, yummy macaroni and cheese creations like Mac ‘n’ Cheese Pizza, Mac ‘n’ Cheeseburgers, Mac ‘n’ Cheesedogs and, the ol’ favorite -- classic Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Kids can enjoy an open house at the Templeton Center Fire Station while mom and dad can shop more than 40 vendors and groove to live music at the town gazebo. Admission is free. More info: templtonelders.org
July 20, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Neponset Park, Dorchester
Bring a picnic and plan to spend the day at this family event celebrating the Neponset River and environment. Free canoes and kayaks are provided for families to get out on the river. Enjoy live music, exhibitor displays, and kid-friendly fun including face painting, a rock wall, a bouncy house, a spray deck, and a fishing clinic. Kids can climb on a Boston fire truck and get up close to sea creatures at a New England Aquarium tide pool touch tank. Families can explore the paved Neponset Greenway Trail by foot or bike. Food and ice trucks will make stops throughout the day. Admission is free. More info: neponset.org/riverfest
International Sand Sculpting Festival
July 26 to 28, 10 a.m.- 8 p.m
Revere Beach, Revere One of the largest sand sculpting festivals in the world, the Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival draws artists from around the globe and hundreds of thousands of visitors to America’s first public beach. Along with magnificent sand sculptures, the festival also includes fireworks, live entertainment, food trucks/stands, children's activities, and amusement rides. Admission is free. More info: reverebeachpartnership.com
Salem Maritime Festival
August 3 & 4, Saturday 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Derby Wharf, Salem
Celebrate ships, sailors, and song! Hosted by the National Park Service, this festival by the sea offers an exciting array of free fun for everyone, including live music, harbor cruises, craft demonstrations, re-enactors, story-telling, visiting vessels, fish painting, kite-flying, radio-controlled boats, and much more. Admission is free. More info: nps.org
August 9 to 11
A quintessential New England Fair with old fashioned fun for the entire family. The fair will be open three full, fun-filled days - Friday, Saturday and Sunday - with a Midway preview on Thursday night. Attractions include a lumberjack show, demolition derby, FMX and Monster Trucks. A petting farm, livestock exhibits, midway rides and lots of animals provide fun for kids. Take in bands, fiddlers and acoustic performances, see horse, oxen and tractor pulls, and enjoy fair food, shopping, crafters, exhibits, and a farmers’ market. Admission: $10 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for kids, with children 4 and under free. More info: boltonfair.org
August 16 to 25, 12-10 p.m.
This traditional country fair dates back to the 1860s. The fair features live music, amusement rides, a midway, typical fair food and extensive farm and agriculture exhibits. Regular special events each year include the demolition derby and tractor pulls. Admission: $10, kids under 10 free. More info: marshfieldfair.org
August 25, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Main Street, Holden
This annual event promises great food, fun and entertainment for the entire family. Featuring musical and dance performances, a Kids Court, an auto showcase, and bandstand performances with local musicians. Visitors can stroll through the marketplace, food court, art lot and craft corner and peruse sidewalk sales. Kids can catch a ride on the Roaming Railroad, enjoy face-painting, games and more. Admission is free. More info: wachusettareachamber.org
Antique & Classic Boat Festival
August 24 & 25
Hawthorne Cove Marina, Salem
You don’t get to see boats like this every day! Get a glimpse at a wonderful variety of rare vintage motor yachts and sailboats from 1900-1960s. Meet skippers and crews and vote for your favorite boats. Children get to make their own wee boat, and all can board real ones. Boat rides, crafts market, artists, old-time band music, the Blessing of the Fleet and more is in store. Admission: $5 per person; children under 12 free. More info: boatfestival.org
Three County Fair
August 30 to September 2
American’s oldest continuously operated fair, the Three County Fair takes place over Labor Day weekend, featuring livestock and agricultural contests and exhibits, musical entertainment, a farm museum, delicious food vendors, demolition derbies, and an exciting midway with rides and games for all ages. Admission: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, with children 11 and under free when accompanied by an adult. More info: 3countyfair.com