Festivals and family events in Massachusetts
One of the best ways to get to know a destination is to seek out local fairs and festivals, and Massachusetts is no exception. Events all over the state celebrate local heritage and emerging cultures, seamlessly melding different points of view into a whole lot of fun for the entire family.
Each October, the town of Topsfield hosts one of the oldest agricultural fairs in the country. Started in the early 1800s, the Topsfield Fair is a regional destination for those who want to show off their livestock raising, produce growing, baking and canning skills. For the rest of us, it's rides, games and presentations for all ages -- and a whole lot of fun. Don't miss the All New England Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off!
Location: 207 Boston St., Topsfield, Massachusetts
Rates: Weekdays $11, weekends $15, kids under 8 free
South of Boston in coastal Marshfield, the Marshfield Fair has been a part of late summer for many generations. While originally agricultural in nature (and it still retains some agricultural elements), many fair visitors come for the midway, the rides, the fair foods -- and the demolition derby! You'll enjoy concerts, contests and games too. It's fun for all ages.
Location: 140 Main St., Marshfield, Massachusetts
Rates: General admission $10, kids 6 and under free
The Big E
The "Big E" is a nickname for the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield held each fall. And big it is! This is the biggest fair in New England and highlights the six New England states. You'll find the traditional agricultural elements, of course, but there's also so much more. Spend time on the huge midway of rides and games, and choose from plenty of food on a stick -- even a Mardi Gras style parade. Concerts include fairly big national names as well as regional favorites. There's something for everyone at the Big E.
Location: 1305 Memorial Ave., West Springfield, Massachusetts
Rates: Adults $15, kids 6 to 12 $10, kids 5 and under free.
Cambridge Science Festival
In the spring, the MIT Museum sponsors a citywide festival to highlight one of the area's biggest industries and exports: science. From activities to lectures to demonstrations all over the area, the Cambridge Science Festival is nine days of brainy fun -- so fun, in fact, you might not realize you are learning more about science! There's "Science on the Street" events, events that show the silly side of science and plenty of opportunity to be unabashedly geeky. It's interactive and accessible and totally worth seeking out. You might even get to participate in a science-themed flash mob!
Location: Multiple locations around Cambridge, Massachusetts
King Richard's Faire
If it's fall in Massachusetts, and dressing up and role playing sound like fun to you, then practice your old English, get out your jousting gear and get yourself to the largest Renaissance Fair in New England. For several weeks each fall, King Richard's Faire brings medieval living to modern life. There are vendors, jugglers, performers, demonstrations and any manner of opportunity to learn about and experience a decidedly retro way of life. Though a bit of a splurge, you'll be whistling the minstrel's tunes long after you leave.
Location: 235 Main St., Carver, Massachusetts
Rates: Adults $27, kids $15
Lowell Folk Festival
Six stages and three days in July bring the best of folk and traditional music to downtown Lowell for a free festival for the whole family. In addition to music that will make you want to get up and move, you'll find arts and crafts to be seen (and purchased), ethnic food to be tried (celebrating Lowell's diverse population) and a family activity area to keep the kids occupied between sets.
Location: Downtown Lowell, Massachusetts
Shades of Autumn Fall Harvest Festival
Each October, Tower Hill Botanic Garden hosts the Shades of Autumn Harvest Festival. It's a terrific opportunity to not only visit a beautiful hilltop garden and greenhouse, marvel at the vistas of changing leaves, take a hay ride, do some crafts and enjoy a market full of local products, but also to sample some rare and delicious apples. Apples? Yes, apples. Tower Hill is home to an heirloom apple orchard of 119 pre-20th century apple varieties. At the Shades of Autumn festival, the garden offers tours of the orchard with tasting -- and they are some of the most interesting apples you'll ever sample. A limited number of apples are available for purchase -- try the "Winter Banana."
Location: 11 French Drive, Boylston, MA