We know you’ve got a lot of stuff you want to do this summer. Between swimming, paddling, grilling, chilling, lounging, laughing and everything in between, it sometimes seems like those glorious three months of true summer are over before they even start. But no matter; it’s here, and as Mainers, we know the secret: we have the best summer in the country. Here’s our third annual list of 50 things to do this summer — there’s something for everyone, from kiddos to retirees. We hope that, for you, this is the best summer yet.
River City Cinema outdoor movies, 8:30 p.m. Fridays, June 29-Aug. 3, downtown Bangor
For the 10th year in a row, River City Cinema will host free outdoor movies in Pickering Square in downtown Bangor. Bring your own chair, money for popcorn, and the whole family. This year’s theme, “Give My Regards to Bangor,” will show classic movie musicals, including “Grease,” “Cabaret” and “West Side Story.” Best of all? It’s free! Visit rivercitycinema.org for more information.
Stillwater Artsapalooza, 6 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, June 23, Orono
There’s way too much to list in one paragraph at this year’s Stillwater Artsapalooza, an evening of music, dance, theater and other performances throughout Orono. From jazz to folk, ballet to swing, poetry to storytelling and a number of high school plays and musicals, there’s something for everyone. Visit stillwatercommunityarts.org for a full schedule.
Taste of the Nation Maine, 2:30-8 p.m. Sunday, June 24, Great Diamond Island, Portland
Raise money for an excellent cause — feeding hungry children — with the annual Taste of the Nation event in Portland. Your $125 ticket gets you an afternoon and evening of fabulous food by some of Maine’s best chefs, served after a gentle cruise to Great Diamond Island in Casco Bay. For information, visit ce.strength.org/portlandme
Portland Performing Arts Festival, numerous locations, June 28-July 1
The inaugural Portland Performing Arts Festival hosts four days of a bewildering variety of music, dance, theater and performance art. From large events such as classical guitarist Sharon Isbin and a new dance piece by Alison Chase, to 15 fringe festival performances citywide, the festival is one of the most far-reaching cultural events in recent Maine history. For tickets and a full schedule, visit portlandfestival.org.
Kneisel Hall concerts, 7:30 p.m. Fridays and 4 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 26, Blue Hill
Beautiful Kneisel Hall hosts intimate, world-class chamber music concerts every weekend at its Blue Hill campus — from Bach to Prokofiev, and everything in between. Tickets are $30 for hall seating and $20 for porch seating, and provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of a Maine summer. For information, visit kneisel.org.
Penobscot Theatre Block Party, 3-8 p.m. Saturday, July 30; $5 suggested donation, Bangor
PTC hosts an afternoon and evening of fun events celebrating the season that’s past and the season that’s ahead. A community barbecue kicks off the event, followed by kids’ theater games, opera house tours, games, ticket giveaways, a cabaret performance by Ben Layman and Christie Robinson and a screening of “The Puffy Chair,” with actor Mark Duplass and Mainer and actress Katie Aselton leading a talkback.
Houston-Brook Auctioneers, Sunday mornings and 1-4 p.m. every day but Tuesday, Burnham
Bargain-hunters and antiques enthusiasts alike haven’t seen anything like the weekly auctions in Burnham — everything from fabulous furniture to baseball cards, from antique guns to vintage dresses. The bidding starts at dawn on Sundays and stops when they’re done. They’re located just off Route 202, on Route 220 in Burnham; for a list of what’s on the table, visit houstonbrooks.com.
Pirate Festivals in Damariscotta, Prospect and Eastport, throughout summer
Pirate fever continues unabated, and there “arrrrrr” lots of chances for you to get your yo-ho-ho on this summer. June 23, the pirates invade Damariscotta; on July 21 they’ll take over Fort Knox State Park; and Sept. 7-9 the Eastport Pirate Festival swashbuckles into town.
Hike No. 1: Mount Battie, Camden Hills State Park
Mount Battie is a relatively easy hike, suitable for families and those not accustomed to more rugged terrain. You’re rewarded with an exceedingly picturesque view of Camden Harbor. And you can grab a delicious lunch or dinner or do some shopping afterwards in town. A perfect daytrip.
Bangor Pride Festival, Saturday, June 30, throughout Bangor
Though it’s a lot newer than the Southern Maine Pride Festival, Bangor’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Festival is just as much of a fun, family-friendly event, with a parade kicking off the fun at noon, followed by a daylong festival in West Market Square.
Kingfield Pops, with the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, June 30, Kennedy Farm, Kingfield
A spectacular setting for a gorgeous BSO concert under the stars, with conductor Lucas Richman and special guest Noel Paul Stookey, set for 8 p.m. Saturday, June 30. It’s preceded by an art walk in Kingfield the night before, and an art festival the day of, featuring lots of bluegrass, blues and others roots music.
Chords for the Cure, 3-11 p.m. Wednesday, July 4, Bangor Waterfront Pavilion
For a big Fourth of July spectacular, look no further than the Bangor Waterfront, which will host an afternoon of local music, followed by Maine’s biggest fireworks display. OneSixtyOne, Juicebox, Chris Ross and the Stone Doctors will provide the soundtrack, and the fireworks blast off at around 9 p.m. Your $5 admission benefits the ALS Association and the Pediatric Cancer Center in Brewer.
Ghostbusters Art Show, Friday, July 6, Coast City Comics, Portland
You ain’t afraid of no ghosts? Then get down to Coast City Comics on Congress Street in Portland, where they will host an art show featuring submitted art inspired by the movie “Ghostbusters.” Ecto-cooler will be served, and the Maine Ghostbusters will be in attendance. It’s during Portland’s First Friday Art Walk, too, so there’s lots to do the whole night.
Arootsakoostik Music Festival, Saturday, July 7, Thomas Park, New Sweden
A beautiful town park, in a beautiful part of the state, while beautiful music is being performed. What could be better? This family-friendly daylong festival, now in its seventh year, boasts some of Maine’s best musicians — from Portland to Fort Kent — and is just $15. Fun starts at 10 a.m. and goes until 8 p.m.
Finn Dances, Finn Hall, Route 15, Monson
Finnish dances, featuring traditional Finnish music and celebrating the Finnish population in central Maine, have been going on here for more than 75 years. They’re held on intermittent Saturdays, including June 23 and July 7 and 28. Bring your dancing shoes and enjoy some freshly made, traditional bulla rolls. Dances start at 7:30 p.m., but there’s a warm-up session at 6:30 p.m.
Waterman’s Community Center, North Haven; events all summer
Check the ferry listings and make your way to the idyllic island of North Haven, where Waterman’s Community Center hosts all kinds of interesting events all summer. There’s concerts from groups like Balkan duo Cinder Conk (June 24) and jazz musicians Shepley Metcalf and Ron Roy (Aug. 22), lectures from artists, authors and scientists, and a community production of “Fiddler on the Roof” Aug. 2-5. You can stay at one of the two inns on the island, or you can arrange to be taken home by Equinox Island Transit.
Shaker Village, Sabbathday Lake, New Gloucester; events all summer
The serene simplicity of the Shaker Village at Sabbathday Lake is still a kind of secret in Maine, but the centuries-old religious sect maintains a strong schedule of programming all summer. There’s the Maine Festival of American Music June 27-30, with talks and concerts on American music, both new and old; cooking and canning classes; and even workshops on making traditional Shaker furniture.
Food trucks, statewide, all summer
Food trucks are like the Sasquatch or Loch Ness Monster of the food world: mythical things that appear spontaneously. Except in the case of the Food truck, they’re definitely real. They range from Good n’ You (tacos and sausages) in Belfast, Pizza Pie on the Fly in Portland, Velasquez Mexican Food in Milbridge, and Street Bistro (gourmet French-Mexican-Asian fusion) in Bangor. Look them up on social media and find out where they are!
Hike No. 2: Bold Coast, Cutler
This eight-mile hike through gorgeous, windswept coastline in Washington County offers some of the most stunning geological vistas in the state (and wildlife spotting), overlooking the Bay of Fundy and Grand Manan Island. It’s a long hike, but it’s well worth the drive and the day. There’s a campsite and several small beaches along the way.
Kennebec River Releases, July 9 and Sept. 8 and 22
There’s whitewater rafting, and then there’s whitewater rafting on dam release days. Four times a year, there are turbine test releases, in which double the amount of water is released — which means double the fun for those daredevils who want to tackle it. There are a number of rafting companies up north; check listings.
L.L. Bean 100th Anniversary Hometown Celebration, July 4-7, Freeport
Maine’s iconic brand celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and the flagship store in Freeport has a big party planned. There are big Fourth of July festivities on the day, followed by free paddleboarding workshops, a visit from Wally the Green Monster and the Red Sox World Series trophies, free concerts and a huge fireworks display. For information, visit 100.llbean.com.
Fort Knox Events, all summer, Prospect
Fort Knox is an ideal background for all kinds of events. The fun starts June 30, with ghost tours that evening, and their Civil War-era cannon will fire on both the 30th and July 1. Other events include the Scottish Tattoo on July 14, Ten Bucks Theatre’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Aug. 2-5, and the Paranormal/Psychic Faire Aug. 11-12. Find the full schedule at http://fortknox.maineguide.com/events.html.
Craft Beer Comes to Boothbay, July 14, Boothbay Resort
For one glorious day, all the craft brewers in Maine will come to one place — and you can taste them all. This 21-plus event is set for 1 to 4 p.m. at the Boothbay Resort, and admission includes food and tastings. Tickets are $50, and there are also a $75 VIP ticket and a $25 designated driver ticket. For information, visit mainebrewersguild.blogspot.com.
Flamingo Festival, July 13-16, Harbor House, Southwest Harbor
For four days in July, the town of Southwest Harbor goes hot pink. The pink plastic lawn ornaments will decorate every window and lawn in town, as flamingos invade the quiet side. There are parades, parties, an arts and craft fair, music and much more. For information, visit harborhousemdi.org.
West Market Festival, July 21, downtown Bangor
For the fourth year in a row, this free summer party will bring some great Maine bands to the stage in West Market Square, along with artisans, food, dance, fashion and much more. BangPop productions took over the reigns last year, and this year they are collaborating with WPC Presents to bring up bands like Worried Well, Temperature of the Sun and Lit on the Flash.
Music Doing Good, locations in Bath and Boothbay
This midcoast organization brings unique musical experiences to stages across the region, while raising money for some seriously good causes. They range from a program of music from the Prohibition era on July 18 at the Boothbay Opera House to the Alphabet Soup variety show on July 20 at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, as well as the Art of the Songwriter concert at the Chocolate Church in Bath.
Hike No. 3: Haystack Mountain, Castle Hill
Head west out of Presque Isle on Route 163, and take a hike at Haystack Mountain, a short but intense trek up a 1,142-foot mountain that results in a lovely view of the rolling hills and forests of Aroostook County. On a nice day, you can see Katahdin.
Center Theatre, Dover-Foxcroft
The Center Theatre — one of the prettiest and most acoustically impressive halls in Maine — has upped its game with its summer scheduling. In addition to musical theater, movies and this weekend’s Whoopie Pie Festival (June 23), there’s music from the likes of Leon Russell (July 20), Chris Smither (Aug. 25), Dar Williams (Sept. 16) and, in the fall, James McMurtry (Oct. 6).
65th annual Maine Potato Blossom Festival, Fort Fairfield, July 14-22
It’s a treasured Maine tradition — for eight days in July, Aroostook County throws a big party to celebrate the potato. Besides the midway and the food, there’s all kinds of time-honored fun, like the Maine Potato Blossom Queen pageant, mashed potato wrestling, a pet show, lots of music, horse shows and tractor pulls and other events.
New England Forest Rally, July 14-15, Sunday River, Newry
Vroom! The New England Forest Rally is a two-day motorsports event at Sunday River that’s free and full of high-octane thrills. There are rally races all weekend, spotlighting some seriously speedy rally cars as they wind their way through twisty western Maine roads. If there’s a car enthusiast in your life, this is a weekend treat sure to make them happy.
Live for $5 series at the Stonington Opera House
An affordable way to entertain yourself and your kids doesn’t get much better than Opera House Arts’ Live for $5 series, all summer at the Stonington Opera House. Upcoming shows include contemporary dancer Adele Myers with her company (July 11), physical comedian Brent McCoy (July 18), Maine’s own AudioBody (July 25), the Celebration Ensemble’s new play “Thumbs Up!” (Aug. 1), films inspired by Robert McCloskey (Aug 15), and roots duo Hymn for Her (Aug. 29).
Open Farm Day, July 22, statewide
Visit a farm and see what farm life is all about. Watch farm activities and demonstrations from milking to felting, pet farm animals, pick berries, tour a barn or go on a hayride. There will be farm-raised products for sale, displays to see and samples to taste. For a list of participating farms, visit getrealmaine.org.
Festival of Nations, Sunday, July 29, Deering Oaks Park, Portland
This festival, in its ninth year, is a day of music, dance and other performing arts, representing cultural traditions from across America and the world. Reggae, Congolese and Irish music rub elbows with German food and Native American dancing.
East Benton Fiddler’s Convention and Contest, Sunday, July 29, Littlefield’s Farm, East Benton
All things fiddle converge on Littlefield Farm in the Kennebec County town of East Benton for the 40th annual East Benton Fiddler’s Convention. Performers include the Northern Valley Boys, Old Grey Goose, Country Choir, Jewel Clark, East Benton Hug Band and the Maranacook String Band. There’s also a big fiddle competition, so if you’re a player, bring your instrument and see if you’ve got what it takes. Admission is $10.
Maine European Motorcycle Meet, July 26-29, Bethel
Four days at the end of July are all about European motorcycles in and around Bethel and Sunday River. From Moto Guzzi to BMW, it’s all about bikes that are a little different. To reserve a spot, visit sundayriver.com — or just take a jaunt out west to check out the fun.
Maine’s Dooryard Festival, July 27-28, Poland Spring
This unique celebration is held at the Poland Spring Resort, just outside of Lewiston, and it’s a unique combination of arts and antiques and Maine humor and lingo. On Friday, there’s a $10 wine tasting mixer, followed by a Maine fashion show and auction hosted by humorist Gary Crocker. On Saturday, there’s an art festival all day. All events besides the wine tasting are free; for information, visit mainedooryardfestival.com.
Hike No. 4: Kineo, Rockwood
Half the fun is getting there by boat — the Rockwood ferry is a scenic ride to Kineo, which is unreachable by car. You can amble around the carriage roads, or you can take one of two ways up: the faster Indian trail or the prettier Bridle Trail. Either way, expect brilliantly green and lush forests full of wildlife and a stunning view of Moosehead from several summits.
Western Maine BBQ Festival, Aug. 2-5, Fryeburg Fairgrounds
If you can throw it on a grill, it’ll be on the menu at the annual Western Maine BBQ Festival, set for the Fryeburg Fairgrounds the first weekend of August. Brisket, sausage, chicken, pulled pork, wings, ribs — it’s a meat-lover’s paradise. There’s music and other fun, too. For information, visit westernmainebbqfestival.com.
Beltek Festival, Aug. 3-5, Belmont
The annual Beltek Festival returns after a year off, and it’s back in its home base, a farm in rural Waldo County. More than 40 DJs and electronic artists will pump the area full of fresh beats and beautiful noise. Tickets for the full weekend are $60 in advance and $70 at the gates; day passes are $40.
Schoodic Arts For All Festival, July 29-Aug. 12, Winter Harbor
There’s something for everyone at this festival, one of the most diverse in the state. In addition to countless workshops on sailing, cooking, woodworking, metalsmithing, puppetry, writing and more, there’s music ranging from steel drums to Quebecois. For a full listing of the more than 75 events scheduled for those two weeks, visit schoodicartsforall.org.
Mainewoods Dance Camp, two sessions Aug. 12-18 and 19-25, Indian Acres, Fryeburg
Romanian, Macedonian, Israeli, Balkan and English Country dances are just a few of the myriad dance styles taught at this yearly camp, held in western Maine. You stay in a cabin, you eat homecooked meals, and you dance all day and all night. There are significant discounts for first-time dancers and youth dancers; visit mainewoodsdancecamp.org for information.
Kotzschmar Centennial celebrations, Aug. 17-22, Merrill Auditorium, Portland
The Kotzschmar organ — a beautiful musical machine celebrating its 100th birthday this year — will be feted with a series of mid-August performances, ranging from a screening of the Harold Lloyd film “Speedy” with organ music accompaniment to a gala concert event. For information and tickets, visit porttix.com.
Crown of Maine Balloon Fest, Aug. 23-26, Presque Isle
If you’ve never been, this is the year: three days of beautiful late summer weather and soaring hot air balloons. Wow your kids with a balloon ride, enjoy the art walk, craft fair and food vendors, and send off your summer in style. For a full schedule, visit crownofmaineballoonfest.org.
International EarthCache Event, Sept. 2, New Gloucester
The first event of its kind in Maine, Earth Cache will bring together enthusiasts of geocaching, a unique phenomenon that is like a real-world treasure hunt, and earthcaching — similar to geocaching, but more place-based, incorporating geology into the mix. Bring your GPS and your sense of adventure. Not sure what it all means? Visit earthcacheevent.org/index.html.
Fashion Night Out Bar Harbor, 6-10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6
Join merchants and designers in Bar Harbor for an evening of high fashion, with special deals and events all over town. Dress up, go out and be fabulous, in this yearly event that is hosted in cities nationwide. For information, visit fashionnightoutbarharbor.com.
Hike No. 5: Bradbury Mountain, Pownal
It’s short, sweet and lovely: Bradbury Mountain in Pownal is one of the oldest state parks in Maine, and in addition to the hike up the mountain, there’s mixed use trails for bikers and horse riders, and snowmobilers in the winter. Did we say winter? That’s a dirty word! Grab a bite at the charming and delicious Pownal cafe Edna and Lucy’s afterwards, a quick jaunt down the road.
International Seaplane Fly-In, Sept. 6-9, Greenville
If airplane noises would translate into text, we’d write that. Instead, we’ll allow you to imagine a multitude of small aircraft flying in and landing on Moosehead Lake. The International Seaplane Fly-In is a yearly favorite among Moosehead lovers and aviation enthusiasts. There’s community cookouts, craft fairs and vendors all weekend long, too. Look at the full schedule at seaplanefly-in.org.
Hill in the Ville 2012, Sept. 7-8, Downtown Waterville
This annual free outdoor concert has now expanded to two days, which means twice as much fun. Bands set to play this year include local favorites like Rubblebucket, the 220s, the Brew, the Ryan Montbleau Band, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and many more. There’s lots of kids activities too, and remember — it’s free!
Maine Open Lighthouse Day, Saturday, Sept. 15
More than 25 lighthouses along the Maine coast will throw open their doors to the public. It’s a great chance to educate yourself and your family about Maine’s maritime heritage — and it’s an excuse to hang out on the coast. A full list of participating lighthouses can be found at visitmaine.com.
The Telephone Museum, Winkempaugh Road, Ellsworth
A big gray barn on a country road in Maine houses an unusual display of communications technology. At The Telephone Museum, the history of the telephone network from Alexander Graham Bell’s patent in 1876 to the cellphone age shows the ingenuity and craftsmanship of thousands of telephone workers, innovators and entrepreneurs over more than 100 years.