Monthly Archives: July 2015

Shine Bright – The Lighthouses of the North of Boston

The North of Boston region is home to 12 lighthouses.  Each of these structures offer wonderful photo opportunities and each has a unique story behind it.  This week, we’re featuring Salem’s three lighthouses…

Bakers Island Light Station (1820)
Bakers Island | Salem, MA |


Photo via Essex Heritage

Salem’s Bakers Island has a colorful history leading up to the 47-foot lighthouse we know today.  Legend has it that the 55-acre Bakers Island was named after a man who was killed by a falling tree.  While there is no evidence that said fatal accident occurred on the island, a man named Baker was killed by falling lumber in Salem in 1640.  If legend is to be believed, the island was thus (morbidly) named in his memory.  Which, in hindsight, probably wasn’t the best of ideas.

In the late 1700’s, a lighthouse was erected on the island.  Call it “the curse of Baker,” but this light station wasn’t terribly effective and there were a number of shipwrecks attributed to the lighthouse.  The Salem Marine Society, believing that two lighthouses would be more effective, lobbied to have a second lighthouse built on the island in 1820 and the lighthouse we know today was erected.  The two lighhouses were referred to as “Ma and Pa Baker.”  In the 1920’s,  however, “Ma Baker” (the original lighthouse) was discontinued and torn down.

Meanwhile, Bakers Island had become a posh summer getaway and visitors flocked to the hotel on the island during the summer months…which burned down in 1906 (the “curse of Baker” strikes again!).  Even without the large hotel, Bakers Island, with its 55 cottages remains a popular summer destination.

However, as Bakers Island is private property, lighthouse enthusiasts were not allowed to visit the light station until very recently when the Bakers Island Light Station was transferred from the US government to Essex Heritage.  With money raised via Kickstarter, Essex Heritage restored the lighthouse and is now inviting the public to access the island and visit the light station via their new landing craft, the Naumkeag.  This two-hour trip includes an hour-long tour of the 10-acre light station and ample photo opportunities.  You can learn more about visiting Bakers Island Light on Essex Heritage’s website.

Fort Pickering Lighthouse (1871)
Winter Island
50 Winter Island Road | Salem, MA


Photo via Wikimedia Commons

In the mid-1800’s, $30,000 was allocated for the construction of three lighthouses in the Greater Salem area – Derby Wharf Light Station (Salem), Hospital Point Light Station (Beverly), and the Fort Pickering Lighthouse.  These small lighthouses were strategically placed to allow ships to enter Salem Harbor at all times of the day.  Today, visitors are welcome to visit Winter Island Lighthouse.  Winter Island, with its public beach, campsites, gift shop, picnic and recreation areas, and events, is a popular Salem destination.  Compared to the larger Baker’s Island Light, Fort Pickering Light appears rather underwhelming but the beautiful scenery of Salem Harbor and Winter Island make for great backdrops for photos of the light station.  Fun fact – for most of it’s “life,” Fort Pickering Light was painted a brown or red color, not the white color we see today.


Derby Wharf Light Station (1871)
Derby Wharf | Salem, MA


Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A “sister lighthouse,” if you will, to Fort Pickering Light, the Derby Wharf Light Station was one of the three light stations built in the 1870’s to aid merchant ships pulling into Salem Harbor.  This uniquely square-shaped station is also, much like Fort Pickering, easily accessible to visitors.  Originally lit via an oil lamp, Derby Wharf Light is completely solar-powered today and flashes a red light approximately every six seconds.

Music in the air

Every summer, the North of Boston region is host to numerous outdoor music festivals, concert series, and more.  Music of all genres is in the air throughout the entire region.  So, come enjoy terrific summer weather and great music during…

1Castle Hill Picnic Concert Series
Thursdays, through September 3
Castle Hill on the Crane Estate
290 Argilla Road | Ipswich, MA

The Trustees and Castle Hill on the Crane Estate invite you to enjoy a series of evening picnic concerts this summer.  Set on Castle Hill’s spacious lawn, attendees are welcome to bring a picnic supper or purchase seafood, empanadas, pizza, and ice cream from on-site vendors. Ipswich Ale and Mill River Winery will sell beverages on-site at a beer and wine garden.  Click here for more information, including the concert line-up.


11249557_10153511109592490_3459831857567318531_n2015 Summer Concert Series at Salisbury Beach
Saturdays, through September 5
Salisbury Beach | Salisbury, MA

Get your groove on this summer at Salisbury Beach!  The Summer Concert Series features a different performer every Saturdays night.  Enjoy concerts from Entrain, The Lisa Love Experience, Joshua Tree, and more!  Click here for a full concert line-up.

11351325_892000850861081_2390068142578142637_nGloucester Blues Festival
Saturday, August 8
Stage Fort Park
24 Hough Avenue | Gloucester, MA

Enjoy a day of music and fun as the nation’s finest performers play on scenic Cressey’s Beach.  Featuring performances by the Juke Joint Five, Mitch Woods, Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials, and more, the event also includes a beer garden and marvelous food and craft vendors, making for the perfect summer day in Gloucester.  Click here to view the full lineup.

Shalin Liu PC-Robert Benson Photography

Shalin Liu. Photo by Robert Benson Photography

Rockport Jazz Festival
August 13-16
Shalin Liu Performance Center
37 Main Street | Rockport, MA

Cool cats and jazz neophytes rejoice!  The 4th Annual Rockport Jazz Festival is almost here and features a fantastic lineup of jazz musicians, including Mikarimba, a star-studded ensemble of Mika Stoltzman, legendary drummer Steve Gadd and the incomparable Eddie Gomez. The Festival continues with artists like the soulful Alicia Olatuja and the incredible jazz guitarist Julian Lage.  For a full schedule of concerts, click here.

newlogoheaderSalem Jazz and Soul Festival
August 15-16
Salem Willows
167 Fort Avenue | Salem, MA

The Salem Jazz and Soul Festival is a FREE weekend-long event at the historic Salem Willows.  Featuring concerts, a beer garden, artisan fair, kids’ tent, and more, this is one weekend you won’t want to miss!  Parking is limited, but the Salem Trolley and Mahi Mahi Cruises and Charters will be on hand offering alternate transportation to and from the festival.  Click here for a schedule of events and concert line-up.

Riverfront Music Festival Logo - FinalNewburyport’s Riverfront Music Festival
Saturday, September 5
Waterfront Park
36 Merrimac Street | Newburyport, MA

Spend the day on the waterfront in Newburyport! The Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and 92.5 The River invite you to enjoy a musical Labor Day with a fantastic lineup.  Come early and enjoy great food & shopping while waiting for the concert to begin.  Click here for more information.

Oh Say Can You See – North of Boston 4th of July Celebrations

Steven Perlmutter_Rockport Fireworks_Rockport.  .  Courtesy of Essex Heritage

Photo by Steven Perlmutter, courtesy of Essex Heritage.

Every heart in the North of Boston rings true for the red, white, and blue on Independence Day!  From live readings of the Declaration of Independence to silly “Horribles” parades, lobster bakes, and grand fireworks displays there’s something for everyone!

Fourth of July Events

Beauport Princess 4th of July Cruises
Saturday, July 4 | 11am-2pm and 7-10pm
At 11am, enjoy a wonderful New England lobster bake aboard the Beauport Princess.  Take in all the beautiful rich history that Gloucester Harbor has to offer while enjoying music and dancing provided by DJ Scottie Mac.
Later in the evening, dance the night away with their July 4th Party Cruise featuring blues icon James Montgomery.

Danvers Family Festival – Horribles Parade and Reading of the Declaration of Independence
Saturday, July 4 | 9am, 12-1pm
Join the most “horrible” parade in Danvers this 4th of July (parade rain date on July 5).  All are welcome to dress up yourselves, your wagons, your bikes, make your own floats, or just march in your most festive 4th of July attire.  Later in the day, join your neighbors for a Community Reading of what got the Fireworks started 238 years ago.

Gloucester Independence Day Celebration
Friday, July 3 | begins at 5pm
Kick off your Independence Day celebration with a free concert on Stacy Boulevard in Gloucester and continue with the always fun Gloucester Horribles Parade.  The event ends with a marvelous fireworks display over Gloucester Harbor.

Mahi Mahi Fireworks Cruise
Friday, July 3 | 7:30pm
There are limited tickets left for Mahi Mahi’s excellent fireworks cruise!  They’ll be heading over to Swampscott for an unparalleled view of the town’s fireworks display.  You’ll get your oohs and ahhs as the fireworks shoot across the sky above.

Manchester-by-the-Sea Independence Day Parade
Saturday, July 4 | 10am

Marblehead Fireworks & Harbor Illumination
Saturday, July 4 (rain date July 5) | 8:45pm
Come and see the fireworks show that Coastal Living Magazine continually ranks in the Top 10 Spots to Celebrate the Fourth in the entire country!  The Harbor Illumination is scheduled to start at 8:45 PM when flares are lit all around the perimeter of the harbor, creating a magnificent ring of light that sets the stage for the main event: at about 9:05 PM or a few minutes thereafter the fireworks are launched off a barge at the mouth of Marblehead Harbor, which creates ideal viewing opportunities for the public from the parks at Fort Sewall, Chandler Hovey Park, and Crocker Park.

Rockport 4th of July
Saturday, July 4 | 6-9pm
Get into the 4th of July spirit with the Rockport Firemen’s parade followed by the Rockport Legion Band convert on Back Beach.  After the concert, warm up with the annual Rockport Bonfire.

Rockport Rotary Club’s Reading of the Declaration of Independence
Saturday, July 4 | 10am
Join the Rotary Club of Rockport in Dock Square for a rousing reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Salem Celebrates the 4th!
Saturday, July 4 | 9am, 4pm
Join Mayor Driscoll on Salem Common to start off Salem’s 4th of July festivities with a live reading of the Declaration of Independence.  The celebration continues later in the day on Derby Wharf at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site.  Free children’s activities begin at 4pm with the opening of the Kids’ Space and live entertainment begins at 5pm with LUX.  Opening ceremonies begin at 7:15pm when Mayor Driscoll and other local dignitaries will lead a parade down the wharf accompanied by the Salem Veterans Honor Guard and Salem Boy Scout troops and the fireworks extravaganza begins at 9:15pm with a live performance of the 1812 Overture.

Salisbury July 4th Celebration
Saturday, July 4 | 4pm

Fireworks Displays

**For a complete listing of fireworks displays in Massachusetts, please visit or WCVB**

July 3:

Amesbury | Woodsom Farm

Andover | Andover High School

Gloucester | Gloucester Harborwalk

Haverhill | Riverside Park

Lynn | Red Rock Park

Swampscott | Humphrey Street

July 4:

Marblehead | Marblehead Harbor & Crocker Park

Nahant | Bailey’s Hill

North Andover | Town Common

Salem | Pickering Wharf

July 5:

Merthuen | Riverside Park

August 9:

Beverly (part of Beverly Homecoming Days celebration) | Lynch Park