New England

Summer 2021 | Best New England Outdoor Happenings & Events

From the Boston Swan Boats to Maine’s Great Falls Balloon Festival, this roundup of top New England 2021 summer happenings and events is here to help you have your best season yet.

By Yankee Editors

Apr 28 2021


Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic

Photo Credit : Paul Dionne/iStock
Itching to stretch your legs and get out and enjoy the sunshine this summer? From the Boston Swan Boats to Maine’s Great Falls Balloon Festival, this roundup of top New England 2021 summer happenings and events is here to help you have your best season yet.
Summer 2021 | Best New England Outdoor Happenings & Events
Maine windjammers embark on a new sailing season beginning in May.
Photo Credit : Susan Portnoy

May Happenings & Events

All Hail the Hummingbird

Around the same time that this issue hits mailboxes, ruby-throated hummingbirds will be flitting into New England to the delight of pandemic-era birders everywhere. So grab those binocs! (But maybe finish reading the magazine first….)

Swan Boats Return

Boston’s Public Garden may be awash in tulips and cherry blossoms, but it won’t really feel like spring until the Swan Boats return for their 144th season, tentatively scheduled for May 8.

Lilac Season

Now is the brief season of the lilac bush, modest and enduring symbol of the depth and permanence of New England traditions. The opening lines of “Lilac Time,” the 1929 essay reprinted by Vermont’s Rutland Herald each May, remind us to seek out this blooming beauty—whether at Vermont’s Shelburne Farms, Boston’s Arnold Arboretum, Maine’s McLaughlin Garden, or in our own backyards.

Hit the ATV Trails

Mud season, begone! May 23 marks the traditional opening day for ATV riding in New Hampshire, home of the Northeast’s largest trail system, Ride the Wilds.

Del’s Frozen Lemonade Trucks

While Rhode Island’s signature summer treat, Del’s Frozen Lemonade, can be had year-round, expect the cravings to really kick in around May 29, the start of Memorial Day weekend, as seasonal Del’s carts and trucks pop up at beaches and parks.

Wild About Windjammers

Maine’s world-famous windjammers emerge from hibernation at the end of May, as the first cruises of the season get under way. (Tall-ship fans, mark your calendars and cross your fingers: Boothbay Harbor’s Windjammer Days is also slated to return this year, June 27–July 3.)

The boys of summer are set to return for Cape Cod Baseball League action starting in June.
Photo Credit : Kirkikis/iStock

June Happenings & Events 

Cape Cod Baseball League

As of press time, the storied Cape Cod Baseball League was scheduled to return June 12. We’re more than ready to see some of the best college players in the country take the field again, because rewatching Summer Catch this year just won’t cut it.

UVM Morgan Horse Farm Foal Days

The UVM Morgan Horse Farm in Weybridge, VT, trots out its newest crop of gangly youngsters mid-month for Foal Days. Even when converted to a drive-through event last year, the equine exuberance has never failed to delight.

The Great Striper Migration

If last year is any indication, anglers in southern New England can expect to start seeing the heavyweights of the striper migration (30-plus pounds) coming into their waters by mid-June, as the fish head north up the coast.

Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic
Photo Credit : Paul Dionne/iStock

The Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic

When New Hampshire’s annual Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Classic returns June 17–19, mythical creatures and other artistic fever dreams will once again rise beside the summer sea. Ah yes, this is what normal life looks like.

The Champlain Islands Bike Ferry 

On June 18, Burlington, VT’s quirky seasonal bike ferry hits high gear as it switches from weekends-only to seven-days-a-week service for cyclists on their way to the Champlain Islands.

Lupine Season

From Down East to the White Mountains, mid-to-late June belongs to another New Englandy bloom: the lupine, which—as the Maine children’s classic Miss Rumphius will tell you—truly does make the world more beautiful.

July Happenings & Events

The Newport, Rhode Island, Kite Festival

At the time of this writing, the Newport, RI, Kite Festival was still paying out string on plans for 2021. Still, there’s no better time than July to check out the regular high-flying action at the festival’s home base: breezy, beautiful Brenton Point State Park.​/newportkitefestival

The NASCAR Cup Series

One of New England’s few major summer events that stayed on track last year was the NASCAR Cup Series, which returns July 18 to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301. Let the thunder roll!

Farmington River Tubing

Hartford, CT, had its hottest day of 2020 when it hit 99 degrees on July 19—exactly the kind of day that tubing down the Farmington River was made for. Most folks try this Nutmeg State summer pastime with the help of Farmington River Tubing; keep an eye on their website for reopening info, or take the plunge and plan a DIY trip with pals.;

Maine’s Great Falls Balloon Festival
Photo Credit : Elemental Imaging/iStock

August Happenings & Events

Wild Maine Blueberry Season

There are blueberries and then there are Maine wild blueberries: petite, hardy, and practically popping with juicy flavor. Want to get in on the bounty? Early August is the time to head into u-pick fields, while Machias, ME, traditionally hosts a weekend celebration toward the end of the month.

The Perseids Meteor Shower

If the usual summer fireworks displays aren’t yet back in full force, the Perseids meteor shower—which at its peak can light up the sky with 60 to 90 shooting stars an hour—still gives us all a reason to look heavenward in awe. Expect primetime viewing Aug. 11–12.

Maine’s Great Falls Balloon Festival

Let the spectacle of dozens of brilliantly colored hot-air balloons lift your spirits at Maine’s Great Falls Balloon Festival, slated to return Aug. 20–22.

The Milford, Connecticut, Oyster Festival

Of the nearly 2 billion oysters consumed worldwide each year, odds are some of the tastiest can be found at the Milford, CT, Oyster Festival, set for Aug. 21. With 40,000 or so bivalves across 20-plus varieties, it’s a surefire summer seafood fix.

Find more in “Take It Outside,” our 2021 guide to the best ways to love the New England outdoors.