U.S. National Toboggan Championships, Camden, ME. This is a raucous and lively athletic event where being overweight is actually an advantage. Held at the toboggan chute of the Camden Snow Bowl. Call tel. 207/236-3438. Early February.
Dartmouth Winter Carnival, Hanover, NH. Huge, elaborate ice sculptures grace the village green during this festive celebration of winter, which includes numerous sporting events. Call tel. 603/646-1110. Mid-February.
Stowe Derby, Stowe, VT. The oldest downhill/cross-country ski race in the nation pits racers who scramble from the wintry summit of Mount Mansfield into the village on the Stowe Recreation path. Call tel. 802/253-7704. Late February.
New England Spring Flower Show, Dorchester, MA. This annual harbinger of spring presented by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society (tel. 617/536-9280; www.masshort.org) draws huge crowds starved for a glimpse of green. Second or third week in March.
College Sports Extravaganza, Boston. In 2009, Boston plays host to the semifinals and finals of the Men's Hockey East Tournament, to an NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional -- both at the TD Banknorth Garden (tel. 617/624-1000; www.tdbanknorthgarden.com) -- and to the NCAA Women's Frozen Four (hockey), at Boston University's Agganis Arena (tel. 617/358-7000; www.bu.edu/agganis). Expect giddy crowds, sold-out hotels, and packed sports bars. Hockey East (www.hockeyeast.com), late March; Frozen Four (www.ncaa.com), March 20-22; East Regional, March 26-28 (www.ncaa.com).
Maine Boatbuilders Show, Portland, ME. 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. Call tel. 207/774-1067. Mid- to late March.
Patriots Day, Boston area (Paul Revere House, Old North Church, Lexington Green, Concord's North Bridge), MA. The events of April 18 and 19, 1775, which signified the start of the Revolutionary War, are commemorated and reenacted. Participants dressed as Paul Revere and William Dawes ride to Lexington and Concord to warn the Minutemen. Battle reenactments take place at Lexington and Concord. Call the Lexington Chamber of Commerce (tel. 781/862-1450; www.lexingtonchamber.org) or the Concord Chamber of Commerce (tel. 978/369-3120; www.concordchamberofcommerce.org). Third Monday in April; a state holiday in Massachusetts and Maine.
Daffodil Festival, Nantucket, MA. Spring's arrival is trumpeted with masses of yellow blooms adorning everything in sight, including a cavalcade of antique cars. Call tel. 508/228-1700. Late April.
Brimfield Antique and Collectible Show, Brimfield, MA. Up to 6,000 dealers fill several fields near this central Massachusetts town, with similar fairs in July and September. Call tel. 800/628-8379 or go to www.brimfieldshow.com. Mid-May, also mid-July and early Sept.
Cape Maritime Week, Cape Cod, MA. A multitude of cultural organizations mount special events -- such as lighthouse tours -- highlighting the region's nautical history. Call tel. 508/362-3828. Mid-May.
Lilac Festival, Shelburne, VT. See the famed lilacs (more than 400 bushes) at the renowned Shelburne Museum when they're at their most beautiful. Call tel. 802/985-3346. Mid-May to late May.
Figawi Sailboat Race, Hyannis (on Cape Cod) to Nantucket, MA. The largest and wildest sailboat race on the East Coast. Intensive partying in Hyannis and on Nantucket surrounds this popular event. Call tel. 508/362-5230. Late May.
Old Port Festival, Portland, ME. A block party in the heart of Portland's historic district with live music, food vendors, and activities for kids. Call tel. 207/772-6828. Early June.
Yale-Harvard Regatta, on the Thames River in New London, CT. One of the oldest collegiate rivalries in the country. Check the schedule for the heavyweight men's crew at http://yalebulldogs.cstv.com. Early June.
Taste of Hartford, Hartford, CT. One of New England's largest outdoor festivals, where many area restaurants serve up their specialties. You'll also get a "taste" of local music, dance, magic, and comedy. Call tel. 860/728-3089. Early June.
Market Square Weekend, Portsmouth, NH. This lively street fair attracts 300 vendors and revelers from throughout southern New Hampshire and Maine into downtown Portsmouth to dance, listen to music, sample food, and enjoy summer's arrival. Call tel. 603/436-3988. Early June.
Motorcycle Week, Loudon and Weirs Beach, NH. Tens of thousands of bikers descend on the Lake Winnipesaukee region early each summer to compare their machines and cruise the strip at Weirs Beach. The Gunstock Hill Climb and the Loudon Classic race are the centerpieces of the week's activities. Call tel. 603/366-2000. Early June.
Nantucket Film Festival, Nantucket, MA. This annual event focuses on storytelling through film and includes showings of short and feature-length films, documentaries, staged readings, panel discussions, and screenplay competitions. You may see a celebrity or two. Call tel. 508/228-1700. Mid-June.
Provincetown Film Festival, Provincetown, MA. Focusing on alternative film, this fete has brought out celebrities like John Waters and Lily Tomlin. Call tel. 508/487-FILM. Mid-June.
Boston Pride March, Back Bay to Beacon Hill, Boston. The largest gay pride parade in New England is the highlight of a weeklong celebration of diversity. The parade, on the second Sunday of the month, starts at Copley Square and ends on Boston Common. Call tel. 617/262-9405 or go to www.bostonpride.org. Early June.
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Becket, MA. The oldest dance festival in America features everything from ballet to modern dance and jazz. For a season brochure, call tel. 413/243-0745 or go to www.jacobspillow.org. Late June through August.
Williamstown Theater Festival, Williamstown, MA. This nationally distinguished festival presents everything from the classics to comedies and contemporary works. Scattered among the drama are readings and cabarets. Call tel. 413/597-3400 or go to www.wtfestival.org. Late June through August.
Tanglewood Music Festival, near Lenox, MA. The Boston Symphony Orchestra makes its summer home at this fine estate, bringing symphonies, chamber groups, and soloists to the Berkshire Hills. Call the orchestra's home base in Boston at tel. 617/266-1492 or go to www.tanglewood.org. July through August.
Boston Harborfest, downtown Boston, along Boston Harbor, and the Boston Harbor Islands, MA. The city puts on its Sunday best for the Fourth of July, which has become a gigantic weeklong celebration of Boston's maritime history. Events include concerts, tours, cruises, fireworks, the Boston Chowderfest, and the annual turnaround of USS Constitution. Contact Boston Harborfest (tel. 617/227-1528; www.bostonharborfest.com). First week in July.
Boston Pops Concert and Fireworks Display, Hatch Memorial Shell on the Esplanade, Boston. The big day culminates in the famous Boston Pops' Fourth of July concert. People wait from dawn 'til dark for the music to start. Visit www.july4th.org. July 4th.
Wickford Art Festival, Wickford, RI. More than 200 artists gather in this quaint village for one of the East Coast's oldest art festivals. Call tel. 401/294-6840 or go to www.wickfordart.org. Mid-July.
Sail Boston 2009, Boston Harbor and waterfront. The Tall Ships -- magnificent sailing vessels from around the world -- parade into the heart of the harbor, berth at piers that are open to the public, and leave town in another stately procession. Festivals, fireworks, and tours of the ships await the millions of visitors who flood eastern Massachusetts for this uniquely enjoyable event. Make reservations as early as possible. For more info, visit www.sailboston.com. July 8-13.
Friendship Sloop Days, Rockland, ME. This 3-day event is a series of boat races that culminates in a parade of sloops. Call tel. 207/596-0376. Mid-July.
Vermont Quilt Festival, Northfield, VT. Displays are only part of the allure of New England's largest (and oldest) quilt festival. You can also attend classes and have your heirlooms appraised. See descriptions at www.vqf.org, or call tel. 802/485-7092 for more information. Mid-July.
Revolutionary War Days, Exeter, NH. Learn all you need to know about the War of Independence during this historic community festival, which features a Revolutionary War encampment and dozens of reenactors. Call tel. 603/772-2411. Mid- July.
Barnstable County Fair, East Falmouth (on Cape Cod), MA. An old-time county fair complete with rides, food, and livestock contests. Call tel. 508/563-3200. Late July.
Marlboro Music Festival, Marlboro, VT. This is a popular 6-week series of classical concerts featuring talented student musicians and seasoned artists performing in the peaceful hills outside of Brattleboro. Call tel. 802/254-2394 (or 215/569-4690 in winter) for information. Weekends from July to mid-August.
Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland, ME. Fill up on the local harvest and a boiled lobster or two at this event marking the importance and delectability of Maine's favorite crustacean. Call tel. 207/596-0376. Late July to early August.
Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, downtown Hartford, CT. Join locals for free performances at the pavilion in Bushnell Park. Visit www.hartfordjazz.com. Late July.
Southern Vermont Art & Craft Fair, Manchester, VT. More than 200 artisans show off their fine work at this popular festival, which also features creative food and good music. Held on the grounds of Hildene, a grand historic home. Call tel. 802/362-2100. Early August.
Newport Folk Festival. Newport, RI. Thousands of music lovers congregate at Fort Adams State Park for a heavy dose of performances on an August weekend. It's one of the nation's premier festivals. Go to www.newportfolk.com. Early August.
Annual Star Party, St. Johnsbury, VT. The historic Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium hosts special events and shows, including night-viewing sessions during the Perseid Meteor Shower. Call tel. 802/748-2372. Mid-August.
Wild Blueberry Festival, Machias, ME. A festival marking the harvest of the region's wild blueberries. Call tel. 207/794-3543 or 207/255-6665. Mid-August.
JVC Jazz Festival, Newport, RI. This 3-day jazz festival brings together some of the best in the music industry to play for a sizzling weekend at Fort Adams State Park. Go to www.festivalnetwork.com. Mid-August.
Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Fair, West Tisbury, MA. An old-fashioned country fair featuring horse pulls, livestock shows, musicians, and woodsman contests, along with plenty of carnival action. Call tel. 508/693-4343. Third weekend in August.
Pops Goes the Summer, Barnstable County Fairgrounds, Falmouth, MA. Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra concert followed by a huge fireworks display. Call tel. 508/548-8500. Late August.
Windjammer Weekend, Camden, ME. Come visit Maine's impressive fleet of old-time sailing ships, which host open houses throughout the weekend at this scenic harbor. Call tel. 207/236-4404. Labor Day weekend.
Vermont State Fair, Rutland, VT. All of Vermont seems to show up for this grand event, with a midway, live music, and plenty of agricultural exhibits. Call tel. 802/775-5200. Early September.
Norwalk Seaport Oyster Festival, Norwalk, CT. This waterfront festival celebrates Long Island Sound's seafaring past. Highlights include oyster-shucking and slurping contests, harbor cruises, concerts, and fireworks. Call tel. 203/838-9444 or go to www.seaport.org. Weekend after Labor Day.
Eastern States Exhibition, West Springfield, MA. "The Big E" is New England's largest agricultural fair, with a 4-H horse show, ox pulling, carnival food, a midway, and entertainment from the likes of Joan Jett. Call tel. 413/737-2443 or go to www.thebige.com. Mid- to late September.
Provincetown Arts Festival, Provincetown, MA. One of the country's oldest art colonies celebrates its past and present with local artists opening their studios. Call tel. 508/487-3424. Late September.
Common Ground Country Fair, Unity, ME. A sprawling, old-time state fair with a twist: The emphasis is on organic foods, recycling, crafts, and wholesome living. Call tel. 207/568-4142. Late September.
Fryeburg Fair, Fryeburg, ME. Cotton candy, tractor pulls, live music, and huge vegetables and barnyard animals at Maine's largest agricultural fair. Call tel. 207/985-3268. One week in early October.
Mystic Seaport Chowderfest, Mystic, CT. A festival of soup ("chowda" in these parts) served from bubbling cauldrons set on wood fires. Call tel. 860/572-5315, or visit www.mysticseaport.org. Mid-October.
Head of the Charles Regatta, Boston and Cambridge, MA. High school, college, and postcollegiate rowing teams and individuals -- some 4,000 in all -- race in front of hordes of fans along the Charles River's banks and bridges. Call tel. 617/868-6200 or visit www.hocr.org. Late October.
Salem Haunted Happenings, Salem, MA. Parades, parties, fortune-telling, cruises, and tours lead up to a ceremony on Halloween. Contact Destination Salem (tel. 877/SALEM-MA), or check the website (www.hauntedhappenings.org) for specifics. All month.
Northampton Independent Film Festival, Northampton, MA. The cultural center of the state's Pioneer Valley hosts a creative film fest and brings in guests from the region. Visit www.niff.org for details. Early November.
Thanksgiving Celebration, Plymouth, MA. The town observes the holiday that put it on the map with a "stroll through the ages," showcasing 17th- and 19th-century Thanksgiving preparations in historic homes. Nearby Plimoth Plantation, where the colony's first years are re-created, wisely offers a Victorian Thanksgiving feast (reservations required). Call Destination Plymouth (tel. 800/872-1620; www.visit-plymouth.com) or Plimoth Plantation (tel. 800/262-9356 or 508/746-1622; www.plimoth.org). Week including Thanksgiving Day.
Victorian Holiday, Portland, ME. From late November until Christmas, Portland decorates its Old Port in a Victorian Christmas theme. Enjoy the window displays, take a free hayride, and listen to costumed carolers. Call tel. 207/772-6828 or 207/780-5555. Late November to Christmas.
Black Nativity, Converse Hall, Tremont Temple Baptist Church, 88 Tremont St., Boston, MA. (tel. 617/723-3486; www.blacknativity.org). Poet Langston Hughes wrote the "gospel opera," and a cast of more than 100 brings it to life. Most weekends in December.
Christmas Prelude, Kennebunkport, ME. This scenic coastal village greets Santa's arrival in a lobster boat and marks the coming of Christmas with street shows, pancake breakfasts, and tours of the town's splendid inns. Call tel. 207/967-0857. Early December.
Christmas Stroll, Nantucket, MA. The island briefly stirs from its winter slumber for one last shopping/feasting spree, attended by costumed carolers and Santa in a horse-drawn carriage. The weekend event is the pinnacle of Nantucket Noel, a month of festivities starting in late November. Call tel. 508/228-1700. Early December.
Candlelight Stroll, Portsmouth, NH. Historic Strawbery Banke gets in a Christmas way with old-time decorations and more than 1,000 candles lighting the 10-acre grounds. Call tel. 603/433-1100. First two weekends in December.
Boston Tea Party Reenactment, Old South Meeting House and Congress Street Bridge, Boston. A lively, all-ages audience-participation happening re-creates the events of December 16, 1773. Call tel. 617/482-6439 or visit www.oldsouthmeetinghouse.org. Mid-December.
Christmas Season Festivities, Newport, RI. The whole city collaborates to use only clear bulbs to illuminate the harbor and wharves, the restored colonials, and the Victorian splendor of Bellevue Avenue. It's all designed to simulate candlelight and the atmosphere of olden days. There also are wreath sales, a blessing of the fleet, caroling evenings, holiday concerts, gingerbread-house viewings, and more. Visit www.christmasinnewport.org. Every day in December.
Woodstock Wassail Celebration, Woodstock, VT. Enjoy classic English grog, along with parades and dances, at this annual event. Call tel. 802/457-3555. Mid-December.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, festivities throughout New England. Nantucket, MA, features carolers in Victorian garb, art exhibits, and tours of historic homes. December 24 and 25.
First Night, Boston. The original arts-oriented, no-alcohol, citywide New Year's Eve celebration includes a parade, ice sculptures, art exhibitions, theatrical performances, and indoor and outdoor entertainment. Fireworks light up the sky above Boston Common at 7pm and over Boston Harbor at midnight. For details, contact First Night (tel. 617/542-1399; www.firstnight.org) or check the newspapers when you arrive. December 31.
New Year's Eve, regionwide. Portland, ME; Providence, RI; Hartford, CT; Portsmouth, NH; Burlington, VT; and many other cities and towns, celebrate the coming of the New Year. Check with local chambers of commerce for details. December 31.
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.