Civic festivals are a mainstay of Maine’s little towns, each one clamoring to stake its claim to some obscure aspect of Maine life and culture, and its hard to keep up with all the Whoopie Pie festivals (in Dover-Foxcroft in June), Potato Blossom festivals (in Fort Fairfield in July), and Moxie festivals (also July, in Lisbon).
Maine Office of Tourism maintains a pretty comprehensive and searchable calendar at www.visitmaine.com/events. In the late summer and early fall, various small-town and county agricultural fairs present a classic slice of rural Americana—midways, tractor pulls, livestock exhibits, and so on. The Blue Hill Fair in early August and the Fryeburg Fair in early October are the best of these. Check www.mainefairs.org for a list.
New Year's Portland. Ring in the New Year with a smorgasbord of events and entertainment throughout downtown Portland. Events for families are scheduled in the afternoon; adult entertainment, including loads of live music, kicks off later in the evening. One admission price buys entrance to all events. December 31 and January 1.
U.S. National Toboggan Championships, Camden. A raucous and lively athletic event where being overweight is an advantage. Held at the Camden Snow Bowl's toboggan chute (www.camdensnowbowl.com; tel. 207/236-3438). Early February.
Maine Boatbuilders' Show, Portland. More than 200 exhibitors and 9,000 boat aficionados gather as winter fades to make plans for the coming summer. A great place to meet boat builders and get ideas for your dream craft (www.portlandcompany.com/boatshow; tel. 207/774-1067). Mid-March.
Maine Maple Sunday. Maple sugarhouses throughout the state open their doors to visitors (www.mainemapleproducers.com; tel. 207/287-3491). Fourth Sunday in March.
Ogunquit Patriot’s Day Festival. Commemorating the 1775 Battle of Lexington and Concord, Ogunquit’s celebration is all about fife and drum bands, colonial-themed games and races, historical reenactments, and the like. Call [tel] 207/646-2939. Weekend of the 3rd Monday in April.
All Roads Music Festival, Belfast. Dozens of Maine bands and performers converge on every available venue in Belfast for a full-day of concerts, panels, and special collaborations (www.allroadsmusicfest.org; tel. 207/370-9197). Late May.
Old Port Festival, Portland. A block party in the heart of Portland's historic district with live music, food vendors, and activities for kids (www.portlandmaine.com/old-port-festival; tel. 207/772-6828). Mid-June.
Annual Windjammer Days, Boothbay Harbor. For nearly 4 decades, windjammers have gathered in Boothbay Harbor to kick off the summer sailing season. Expect music, food, and a parade of magnificent sailboats (www.windjammerdays.org; tel. 207/633-2353). Late June.
Independence Day, region-wide. Communities all along the coast celebrate with parades, greased-pole climbs, cakewalks, cookouts, road races, and fireworks. The bigger the town, the bigger the fireworks. But many small coastal towns feature seafood and/or lobster-boat racing, an unusual and fun way to celebrate the occasion. Eastport's 4-day-long celebration is particularly impressive. Check local newspapers or contact chambers of commerce for details. July 4.
Portland Summer Concerts. They run all summer, but July’s the peak month for big outdoor concerts at Portland’s Maine State Pier and Thompson’s Point, featuring everything from country acts to jam bands to Bob Dylan. Check www.waterfrontconcerts.com and www.thompsonspointmaine.com for summer schedules. June, July, and August.
York Days, York Village. Enjoy a quintessential coastal Maine celebration complete with crafts, road races, parades, dances, concerts, fireworks, and much more. Call tel. 207/363-1040. Late July to early August.
Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland. Enjoy a boiled lobster or two, and take in ample entertainment during this informal waterfront gala celebrating Maine's favorite crustacean (www.mainelobsterfestival.com; tel. 800/576-7512). First week of August.
Wild Blueberry Festival, Machias. A festival marking the harvest of the region's wild blueberries. Eat to your heart's content (www.machiasblueberry.com; tel. 207/255-6665 or 207/633-2353). Mid-August.
Camden Windjammer Festival. Come visit Maine's impressive fleet of old-time sailing ships, which host open houses throughout the weekend at this scenic harbor (www.camdenwindjammerfestival.com; [tel] 800/562-25290). Labor Day weekend.
Blue Hill Fair, Blue Hill. A classic country fair just outside one of Maine's most elegant villages. Call tel. 207/374-3701. Early September.
Common Ground Country Fair, Unity. A sprawling, old-time state fair with a twist: The emphasis is on organic foods, recycling, and wholesome living. Great music and demonstrations. This is a Maine classic (www.mofga.org/thefair; tel. 207/568-4142). Late September.
Fall Foliage Festival, Boothbay. More than 100 exhibitors display their arts and crafts at the Railroad Village; plenty of festive foodstuffs and live music, too. Call tel. 207/633-4727. Early October.
Damariscotta Pumpkin Fest & Regatta. Many pumpkin-themed activities; huge painted pumpkin sculptures lining Main Street. But the highlight is when local crazies hop inside giant, hollowed-out pumpkins and race them across the harbor, either with paddles or outboard motors. You have to see it to believe it (www.mainepumpkinfest.com; tel. 207/563-8340). Columbus Day weekend.
Mount Desert Island Marathon, Bar Harbor. A scenic 26.2-mile race through gorgeous island scenery (www.runmdi.org; [tel] 207/276-4226). Mid-October.
OgunquitFest, Ogunquit. A 3-day pre-Halloween bash, featuring arts, crafts, costumes, and a parade. Call tel. 207/646-2939. Late October.
Festival of Lights, Rockland. Horse-drawn carriages, singing, shopping, and open houses of local inns. Call tel. 207/596-0376. Late November.
Portland Beer Week. Special brewery tours, tap takeovers, a battle of the bands, and, of course, a tricycle race (www.portlandbeerweek.org). Early November.
Christmas Prelude, Kennebunkport. Santa arrives in a lobster boat, followed by a blitz of street shows, pancake breakfasts, and tours of the town's splendid inns (www.christmasprelude.com; tel. 207/967-0857). Early December.
Vintage Christmas, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The streets are decked, the tree is lit, and the historic Strawberry Banke Museum dazzles with old-time decorations and more than 1,000 candles lighting the 10-acre grounds (www.vintagechristmasnh.org; tel. 603/433-1100). First 3 weekends in December.
York Village Festival of Lights. This beautiful festival displays an entire York Village and York Beach lit with Christmas lights, carolers, a parade, and much more. Call tel. 207/363-1040. Early December.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.