Cape Ann is beautiful in the summer, which is the perfect time to visit. But beyond the calming beaches, wonderful weather, and weekly Cape Ann Farmer’s Market (Thursdays June-October), the area is known for summer festivals. Here’s a selection of some of the fun festivals happening this summer:
Essex River Day
A favorite event among locals, the Essex River Day started as a sort of community bonding experience, and has grown. The idea is that families/individuals with boats offer rides on the Essex River to neighbors and community members without boats, in order to give everyone the chance to enjoy the beauty of the river. This neighborly event has evolved to include ball games, live music, food vendors, and even a bonfire. In fact, in the spirit of sharing the river with everyone, Essex River Cruises is offering a free cruise on the evening of Friday June 19th to anyone interested.
St. Peter’s Fiesta
The turn of last century saw many Italian fishing families immigrating from Sicily to Cape Ann, and they brought their traditions with them. Today, the most famous—and most colorful!—is St. Peter’s Fiesta. This five-day festival is held as close as possible to the Feast Day of St. Peter, who is the patron saint of fisherman, and celebrates not just the Italian-American heritage of the area, but the strong fishing traditions as well. The carnival atmosphere is accented by delicious food, daily live music, colorful decorations, and sporting events (such boat races and the greasy pole contest). St. Peter’s Fiesta culminates with an open-air Mass on Sunday morning, and the annual blessing of the fishing fleet.
July 19th, August 16th, September 20th
For the seventh year in a row, downtown Gloucester is going to rock during this summer’s Block Parties. As always, the festival’s four stages have a great line-up of musicians, with fantastic food provided by local restaurants. The ever-popular Kids’ Town will be joined by the new Art Town, where local artists and artisans will have a chance to share their work. We’ll see you at the kick-off performance at Bank Gloucester Stage, July 19th at 6pm!
Festival by the Sea
Combining all of the festivals on this list, Manchester’s Festival by the Sea is one event you definitely don’t want to miss. This all-day, family-friendly event is spread throughout the downtown, with local artisans displaying their wares, local farmers marketing fresh produce, local restaurants offering delicious food, and local musicians performing on two different stages. The event centers around Masconomo Park, where the evening concert takes place, making it truly a ‘festival by the sea’. The views of the harbor and this bustling town are worth plenty… but this festival (and parking!) is completely free to the public.
Gloucester Blues Festival
Stage Fort Park
Blues-lovers come from all over to attend this incredible afternoon of some of the best jazz musicians performing today, such as Biscuit Miller, Tinsley Ellis and Sugar Ray and the Blues Tones. The Gloucester Blues Festival will take place right beside Cressey’s Beach, and vendors will offer refreshments—complete with a beer garden! Bring your own chairs/blankets, but no outside food/alcohol or pets. Tickets can be purchased here.