Fall is a terrific time to visit the North of Boston region! There’s so much to do during your visit – come explore the changing of the leaves, apple and pumpkin picking, hayrides, festivals, and more during this wonderful time of year!
Click here to view our Fall Newsletter and get information on upcoming events, lodging and dining deals, activities, and more!
There’s so much to do this summer in the North of Boston region! From open studios and classic car shows to 1920s lawn parties and numerous festivals, there’s something for everyone! The only problem is fitting it all into your schedule – but don’t worry, you have all summer to explore, navigate and play!
Click here to check out our awesome summer newsletter, which includes great events, restaurant deals, hotel packages, and more!
Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d bring you a little something sweet to celebrate (we admit it – we’re notorious procrastinators when it comes to Valentine’s gifts). Last year, we brought you on a delicious field trip to Harbor Sweets. This year, we took another field trip to Salem to explore Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate and Ice Sculpture Festival, an annual event that celebrates February’s defining characteristics: cold weather and chocolate.
Every year, just as love starts to warm up the chilly February air, Salem shows off its sweet side. Kicking off with a Chocolate & Wine Tasting event, Salem’s So Sweet brings 2 weeks of sweet, savory fun to help you fight off the harsh winter weather. The Golden Ticket, available at many participating businesses, is your key to special discounts and offerings throughout Salem. Receive 15% off your purchase at Harbor Sweets, fabulous discounts in the Salem Witch Museum’s gift shop, or try the delicious Salem’s So Sweet Special at Finz. Don’t forget to have your ticket validated – you can enter to win the wonderful Salem’s So Sweet gift basket. Could it get any sweeter than that?
Well, yes, it can! As you walk around the city, enjoy the ice sculptures placed around downtown. Sponsored by local businesses and attractions, these sculptures range from the whimsical to the humorous, thought-provoking, adorable, and fun.
Unfortunately for us, the frequent snowstorms this year had delayed our trip to the festival. This cloud has a silver lining, however; thanks to the extremely cold weather, the ice sculptures have been wonderfully preserved throughout the event. So, why not spend Valentine’s with your sweetheart and explore all that Salem has to offer this winter? The Festival runs through this Sunday, February 15th. For more information, please click here.
The 4th of July is a very important holiday in the North of Boston region. The history of the North Shore is deeply entwined with that of the United States – many of the first settlers made this area home (and left us with a wealth of “First Period” architecture), George Washington slept here, the US Coast Guard was formed in Newburyport, and the US Navy began in Beverly/Marblehead. Even one of our most beloved patriotic songs, “America” (also known as “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”), was written in Andover in 1831. Thus, it’s only fitting that the North of Boston region goes all out when it comes to July 4th celebrations. If you live here or plan on visiting the region, you can’t miss…
Fireworks Over Gloucester Harbor CANCELLED Website Experience Gloucester’s annual fireworks display from the terrace and lawn of Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann house and enjoy an abridged evening tour as the house transforms at night. Bring blankets, chairs, picnics, and mosquito spray.
Mahi Mahi Fireworks Cruises July 5 & 6 (**NEW DATE**) Website Party like it’s Independence Day aboard the Hannah Glover or Finback! You’ll get your oohs and ahhs as the annual 4th of July fireworks shoot across the sky above us. Enjoy unobstructed views out on the water as we cruise through Salem Sound. Great for all ages, this cruise is the perfect way to spend your holiday with family or friends. After celebrating a 4th of July with Mahi Cruises, we’re sure that you’ll be back next year!
4th of July Weekend at Salisbury Beach July 3-5 Website This Independence Day weekend, join us at Salisbury Beach! On Thursday, July 3, enjoy Rhythm Coalition (9-piece band with horns) on the beachfront stage. RB Entertainment will provide music to celebrate the 4th in style! Spend the day on the beach. Our kid-friendly activities start at 5pm – Hula Hoops, Karaoke, Line Dancing and Sing-along with DJ Ralphie B, and so much more!
Salem Celebrates the 4th! July 6 (**NEW DATE**) Website Bring your beach blankets and folding chairs to enjoy the 42-piece Hillyer Festival Orchestra on Derby Wharf at the Salem Maritime National Historic Site for a grand celebration of our nation’s Independence Day. Featuring a Pops concert, a Kid Space play area, and fireworks launched over Salem Harbor, this is a quintessential celebration of the 4th of July. Fireworks begin at 9:15pm.
Amesbury’s 4th of July Fireworks and Music July 5 (**NEW DATE**) Website The Annual Fourth of July Fireworks display at Woodsom Farm starts on Friday July 4th 2014 at sunset. Bring your friends and family and join us for music, fireworks and tons of fun!
4th of July Fireworks Aboard the Sea Shuttle’s Endeavour
July 4 Website Welcome aboard for an unforgettable tour with coastal fireworks galore. We will see fireworks from Lynn to Gloucester. There will be snacks and thirst-quenching libations for purchase on board. The Endeavor will depart from the Salem Willows Park Pier at 7:45PM and will return at 10:30.
4th of July on the Beauport Princess
July 4 Website Cruise with us on the fourth of July! Great buffet, watch fireworks all around and enjoy some great music on Cruiseport Gloucester’s newest cruise line, the Beauport Princess!
Photo by Jeff Folger
Marblehead Fireworks & Harbor Illumination July 5 (**NEW DATE**) Website The Marblehead Fireworks & Harbor Illumination happens every year on July Fourth in the Town of Marblehead, Massachusetts to celebrate Independence Day! The Fireworks are scheduled for Thursday, July 4th, 2013 approximately 9:00 p.m. The Harbor Illumination will begin at 8:45 p.m. and immediately following we will light this fuse in this year’s fireworks!
Shalin Liu Performance Center (Photo by Robert Benson)
In 1981, the first Rockport Chamber Music Festival was held in the Rockport Art Association and Congregational Church. The brainchild of composer David Alpher and friend/singer Lila Deis (who were inspired by the beauty and atmosphere of Rockport) and local businessman Paul Sylva, the Festival grew over the years to become a nationally-recognized gem in the crown of the North Shore’s cultural offerings. Since 1995, the Festival has been under the leadership of renowned pianist David Deveau who has fostered and encouraged this exponential growth.
In the 33 years since that first festival, a lot has changed. In 2008, the Chamber Music Festival evolved into Rockport Music – a central organization whose offerings and influence expands beyond the annual Festival. More excitement was to come in 2010 with the opening of the Shalin Liu Performance Center, a 330-seat concert hall with the most beautiful view in Rockport and the new home of the Rockport Chamber Music Festival.
This year’s Festival will continue through July 13th and features numerous concerts by world-class musicians as well as pre-concert lectures and free events for music lovers of all ages. Be sure not to miss performances by 2013 MacArthur Award winning pianist Jeremy Denk, the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble and the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, as well as amazing young superstars such as pianist Joyce Yang, pianist Charlie Albright, the Claremont Trio, and their new Rising Star Series with the Neave Trio, pianist Daria Rabotkina and the Donald Sinta Saxophone Quartet.
Can’t make it to Rockport before July 13th? No problem! Rockport Music presents numerous fantastic concerts, lectures, festivals, and screenings throughout the year, including the upcoming 3rd Annual Rockport Jazz Festival August 13-17.
For more information on Rockport Music, be sure to check out their fantastic new website, www.rockportmusic.org, or call their box office at 978-546-7391.
They’re great with cheese, even better with peanut butter, and (along with ginger ale) are perfect for settling an upset stomach. In fact, you probably have a box of them in your cupboard or pantry right now. But did you know that crackers have their roots in Newburyport?
Are they making masks or sea biscuits? Is there really even a difference?
In 1792, Newburyport resident John Pearson sought to create a biscuit with a long shelf life. You may be wondering how dreadfully boring 18th century Newburyport must have been if townspeople were occupying their time with baking experiments – but boredom was not the case. Newburyport was a rich maritime hub; the home to an important, bustling port. Pearson was concerned as the traditional biscuits sailors took along on their voyages went stale fairly quickly. Baking a mixture of water and flour, Pearson created a long-lasting biscuit known as “hardtack” or “sea biscuits” which became very popular among the grateful sailors (who probably weren’t aware that they were eating baked paper mache).
But how did the cracker get its name? Well, in 1801, another Massachusetts baker, Josiah Bent, burned a batch of his biscuits and found that, as they burnt, the biscuits made a cracking sound. Thus, the name “cracker” was born.
Bent wanted to expand the “sea biscuit” market beyond sailors and make a snack food everyone could enjoy. Savvy to the fact that water and flour didn’t make for a pleasant taste, he experimented with flavors and eventually came up with the soda cracker (great-cracker-grandfather to the saltine). Bent’s cracker business grew and popularity and was purchased by Nabisco (aka, the National Biscuit Company) in 1810. The rest, they say, is history.
After the December hype of the holiday season dies down, things get pretty quiet in the North of Boston region (with the exception of the occasional blizzard – but even those become rather tedious after awhile). The rest of winter is for the birds.
Literally. For dedicated ornithologists and casual birdwatchers alike, the end of January/beginning of February bring two of the biggest birding events in the area- the Cape Ann Birding Weekend and Merrimack River Eagle Festival.
Cape Ann Birding Weekend
January 31-February 2, 2014 http://capeannchamber.com/signature-events/cape-ann-birding-weekend/
Bird watchers of all skill levels from all around flock to Cape Ann for the Cape Ann Birding Weekend. Organized by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce and Massachusetts Audubon Society, this event birding enthusiasts to join expert guides on tours of birding hotspots, attend birding workshops, and more. Artists will also be in attendance giving live demonstrations and showing off bird-related pieces. Explore Cape Ann’s scenic coastline and see winter seabirds, grebes, Harlequin Duck, Purple Sandpiper, and more!
Merrimack River Eagle Festival
February 8, 2014 http://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/joppa-flats/news-events/the-merrimack-river-eagle-festival
The Bald Eagle makes it return to the Merrimack Valley this February! Celebrate its return at the Merrimack River Eagle Festival and join the Mass Audubon at Joppa Flats and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge for a day full of free activities including an Eagle Tour, eagle magnet, mask or button-making, and so much more! This year, Festival is pleased to debut the Eagle Festival Eagle Eye Scavenger Hunt! Now through February 8, visit participating Newburyport merchants and find hidden eagle facts in their stores. You can download a scavenger hunt form or pick one up at the Joppa Flats Education Center or at Newburyport Public Library.
Be prepared to be shocked: We’re daring to break the taboo and discuss the holiday season before Thanksgiving. Actually, we did that a week ago when we put up holiday decorations, but that’s another story for another time.
Please don’t be upset with us – we just love the holiday season in the North of Boston region. And at least we’re not starting our holiday shopping on Thanksgiving (we have the decency to wait until after midnight, when it’s officially Friday). So, get into the spirit with us and check out these great holiday events! (For more holiday events, visit http://www.northofboston.org/holiday
Wenham Museum’s Sleigh Bell Artisan Fair November 22 – 23, 10am-4pm
Shop local and support your community this holiday season at the Sleigh Bell Artisan Craft Fair this Friday and Saturday. Silhouette artist Carol Lebeaux will be at the museum all weekend creating keepsake hand-cut portraits. Reservations are recommended and walk-ins are welcome. Pulitzer Prize author Paul Harding will be signing copies of his newest novel, Enon on Saturday at 1:00pm. Donate an unwrapped toy to Northshore 104.9’s 18th Annual Holiday Toy Drive. Artisans will be generously donating 20% of their sales to Wenham Museum. http://wenhammuseum.org/adultprogramsandbenefits.html
Salem Holiday Happenings November 29 – January 1, 2014
Celebrate, shop, and dine in Salem during the holiday season. Festival highlights include the annual Christmas in Salem Historic Home Tour, Christmas at the Gables, and Santa’s arrival atop the Hawthorne Hotel! http://salem.org/calendar_main/festival/salem-holiday-happenings/
Sea Festival of Trees November 30 – December 1 From trees filled with up to $1,000 in retail gift cards and concert tickets, to those decorated with original oil paintings, polar bears, angels, trains, music, beach and recycle themes, 85 sparkling trees will delight the senses at the 1st Annual Sea Festival of Treesat Blue Ocean Music Hall on Saturday, November 30 and Sunday, December 1. Presented by The Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank, the holiday wonderland fundraiser features Santa’s arrival by fire truck, a winter wonderland electric train display, music and dance performances, strolling characters, a candy shoppe, café and giant 10 foot high x 8 foot X 8 foot whimsical gingerbread house. Proceeds from the event will benefit Anna Jaques Hospital and the Salisbury Beach Partnership. All of the 6 foot to 10 foot high lighted trees are being donated by local businesses, organizations, elected officials, student groups and families. Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets and enter to win the themed trees of their choosing. Tree winners will be drawn on Sunday, December 1 at 5:00pm. http://www.blueoceanhall.com/seafestival-of-trees/about-the-festival.html
Santa Parade and Tree Lighting
December 1, 3:30-5pm
As the holiday season approaches, Santa & Mrs. Claus arrive in the most fitting way for this seaport town… by US Coast Guard boat! Welcome Santa on the Sunday after Thanksgiving as he and Mrs. Claus dock at the boardwalk and begin to parade through downtown Newburyport, then gather in Market Square for the annual Christmas tree lighting and carols. http://business.newburyportchamber.org/Events/details/santa-parade-and-tree-lighting-5835
In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
In 2013, on Columbus weekend, we look for stuff to do…
Okay, so maybe the meter is a bit off, but for many, Columbus Day weekend provides us with 3-4 days free days to do as we please. So, other than the numerous sales at car dealerships and department stores, what is there to do this weekend? Here is just a taste of what’s going on in the North of Boston (for a full schedule of area events, visit https://northofboston.org/events/month/).
Fall Harvest Festival Newburyport, MA October 13-14
Held Sunday & Monday of Columbus Day weekend, enjoy great live music, art, fine crafts, food from Newburyport’s best restaurants! There’s something for the whole family, from Linsdsay & Her Puppet Pals Puppetry and Storytelling at Market Square (Sunday, 10:30-11am) to live music from the Squeezebox Stompers (Sunday) and 97 North (Monday) (1-4pm, Market Square). http://business.newburyportchamber.org/Events/details/fall-harvest-festival-5834
… Celtic Music Sail Schooner Thomas E. Lannon 63 R. Rogers Street Gloucester, MA Saturday, October 12 (2:30-5:00pm)
Join Celtic singer Michael O’Leary & Friends for a sailing ‘seisiun’ of traditional songs ‘n tunes aboard the schooner Thomas E. Lannon as she takes an early autumn sail around beautiful Gloucester harbor on Saturday, October 12, 2:30-5pm. The musicians include harper/singer Moira Kelly, fiddlers Ramona Connelly and Kate Hanlon, and singers Susan Goyette Young, Chris Leghorn and Austin O’Keefe. For more info and tix: http://schooner.org/ or 978.281.6634.
(Photo by Brian Giamberardino)
Topsfield Fair 207 Boston Street Topsfield, MA Now through Monday, October 14
A tradition for nearly 200 years, the Topsfield Fair is an Essex County staple. The oldest fair in America, the Topsfield Fair is 10 days of fun for the whole family. From the record-breaking giant pumpkin contest and sand sculpture exhibit to the mouth-watering food, countless rides, and concerts by Bobby Vinton, Cher Llyod, Tate Stevens, and many more, this year’s fair is not to miss! http://www.topsfieldfair.org/index.php
… 32nd Annual Salem Haunted Happenings Now through Thursday, October 31
A frighteningly festive celebration of Halloween and autumn in New England, Haunted Happenings has fun and activities for all ages including the Haunted Biz Baz Street Fair, Family Film Nights on Salem Common, farmers’ markets, costume balls, ghost tours, haunted houses, live music, and chilling theatrical presentations. Visit Salem this October for a spook-tacular time…if you dare. For a full schedule of Haunted Happenings events, visit http://hauntedhappenings.com/calendar
The area from Boston, Massachusetts' doorstep extending to the New Hampshire border is a diverse and beautiful place with historical and cultural significance. Distances are short, prices are reasonable, and the people are friendly and welcoming. Known for cozy hotels and inns, delicious restaurants, fascinating museums and great beaches, North of Boston, MA is the ideal vacation destination. The North of Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau proudly promotes the thirty-four cities and towns of Essex County as a tourism destination.