With melting snowbanks, warmer temperatures and easier commutes comes the need to get out and do things that remind us it’s springtime in Maine. We’ve mostly got the state to ourselves before summer rolls around and visitors arrive from all corners of the world, so let’s enjoy it.
If you need some help figuring out how to spend a day or two, we’ve assembled a list of 25 things to do this spring that we think will appeal to a variety of people — from nature lovers and outdoors enthusiasts to foodies, music fans and youngsters (and those young at heart).
Soon enough, it’ll be June and we’ll have to share the magic of Maine. For now, let’s enjoy as our landscape defrosts and springs back to life.
1. Easter egg hunts, statewide, Saturday and Sunday, March 30-31; free unless noted
Easter’s a little early this year, but the ground will be just bare enough to enjoy a good old-fashioned egg hunt. A short list of hunts open to the public include the Kiwanis Easter Egg Hunt at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Pinnacle Ski Slope in Pittsfield, the Children’s Museum of Maine Egg Hunt at 9 a.m. Saturday at the museum in Portland ($6), the City of Bangor Egg Hunt at 10 a.m. Saturday at Hayford Park, the Dorcas Library Egg Hunt at 10 a.m. Saturday in Prospect Harbor, the Knox County Humane Society Egg Hunt benefit at 11 a.m. Saturday at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Rockland, and an Easter Egg Hunt at 11 a.m. Sunday at Saddleback Mountain in Rangeley.
2. 10th annual Acoustic Showcase to Benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 8 p.m. Friday, April 5, Gracie Theatre, Husson University, Bangor
This annual WHSN 89.9 FM-sponsored multiple sclerosis benefit — AS4MS for short — always brings together a night of great Maine music with bands that are not often seen in an acoustic setting. This year’s bands are the Other Bones, the Box Tiger, Beach the Whale and Dustin Saucier. Tickets are $10. For information, visit whsn-fm.com.
3. BDN Maine Garden Show and Spring Fling, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. April 5-6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 7, Bangor Auditorium
The Bangor Garden Show gets a face lift. Whether you’re a gardener or not, you can shake those winter blues with this three-day party — check out vendors, see the beautiful displays from area landscaping and garden companies, and enjoy barbecue, beer and music from Maine bands. Admission is $5; for information, visit bdnmaineevents.com.
4. Lewiston Auburn Film Festival, April 4-7, six locations around town
Eight features, 10 documentaries and 12 shorts are on the schedule for the annual Lewiston Auburn Film Festival. But there are other unique events, including a book signing by “Survivorman” Les Stroud on Thursday, the world premiere of Patrick Dempsey’s “The Peloton Project” on Friday, and a gala and awards dinner on Saturday. For a full schedule, visit lafilmfestival.org; passes are $24 to $110.
5. Ballet and dance events statewide, April 5 through May 4
Robinson Ballet’s annual performances of new works is set for 7 p.m. April 5-6 and 12-13 at the Bangor Opera House, as well as 3 p.m. matinees April 6 and 13. Bangor Ballet’s spring performance of “Snow White” is set for 4 p.m. April 6 at the Center Theatre in Dover-Foxcroft, 4 p.m. April 7 at the Brewer Performing Arts Center, and 1:30 p.m. April 14 at The Grand in Ellsworth. Portland Ballet’s staging of Karl Jenkins’ “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace,” performed with the Choral Art Society, is at 8 p.m. Friday, April 25, at Merrill Auditorium. Finally, UMaine’s annual Spring Dance Concert is set for 7:30 p.m. May 3 and 4 at Hauck Auditorium.
6. Spring concert lineup at the Strand Theatre in Rockland, April 4 through May 4
The Strand in Rockland ups its game this spring with five concerts spanning an array of genres for one full month. The lineup starts with cult favorite Alejandro Escovedo on Thursday, April 4, followed by string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops on April 11, David Mallett and the Mallett Brothers Band on April 20, American Idol alumnus Kris Allen on April 26, and bluegrass band the Steep Canyon Rangers on May 4. For tickets to all shows, visit rocklandstrand.com or call 594-0070.
7. Unity College Sportmen’s Conference and Wild Game Dinner, Friday, April 12
For the seventh year in a row, Unity College hosts its Wild Game Dinner, a chance for foodies to taste wild game nosh-ables from venison and moose meat to bear, beaver, wild duck, goose and turkey. The event, set for the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts, starts with an appetizer hour at 4:15 and dinner at 5 p.m. Tickets are $30 for general seating and $40 for VIP, which includes wine and preferred seating. Hurry; they sell out quickly. To reserve a seat, call 948-9205.
8. Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race, starting at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 20
Whether you’re a longtime competitor or a “river vulture” perched on the banks of the stream watching the boats come in, the Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race is the iconic spring event in Bangor. It’s almost as much fun to watch as it is to paddle the 16.5-mile route. Watching is free; competing is $20 per person if you register early, $40 on the same day. To register, visit kenduskeagstreamcanoerace.com or visit the Bangor Parks & Recreation office at 647 Main St.
9. Fee Free Week at Acadia National Park, April 22-26
The locals and not-so-locals can enjoy all the benefits of Acadia National Park with none of the fees: For five days in April, you can come and go as you please in the park before tourists arrive. Most of the Park Loop road is closed until May 19, so you can’t drive up Cadillac, but you can enjoy a quiet picnic on Sand Beach or take in the scenery at Seal Cove, among other things.
10. WERU-FM 25th anniversary celebration, beginning April 27, throughout eastern Maine
WERU-FM began broadcasting 25 years ago from the top of Blue Hill Mountain, providing noncommercial community radio to eastern Maine. Help the station celebrate its anniversary with several events, including the Spring Fling and Music Sale set for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at the Belfast Boathouse, an all-day anniversary radio marathon on Wednesday, May 1, and the Farm Fresh Live Radio Auction set for 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, June 6, with more than 50 gift certificates from local farms and purveyors up for grabs. More events are planned for the rest of the year. Visit weru.org, or listen to 89.9 FM Blue Hill or 99.9 FM Bangor.
11. Belfast Free Range Music Festival: opening night party, Friday, April 26; full festival, 11 a.m. to midnight Saturday, April 27
Year Four of the Free Range Music Fest means continued growth for what is one of the most fun, laid-back, diverse music festivals in New England. Bands ranging from indie folk heroes O’Death to alt-country rockers Waylon Speed are set for the day in seven venues around town; a total of 30 acts will be featured. Passes are $25 for the full weeken, or $20 for just Saturday. To reserve your ticket, visit freerangemusicfestival.com.
12. BDN Maine Outdoors Expo, May 4-5, Portland Expo
Join the BDN in a celebration of all things in the great Maine outdoors — two days of fishing, hunting, biking, hiking, camping, ATVing, paddling and more, as well as outdoors fashion and appearances by outdoor personalities. Admission is $5 and the expo runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
13. Kid Central Festival, Saturday, May 4, downtown Bangor
It’s free, it’s fun, and it positively screams spring. The third annual Kid Central Festival takes places at businesses and organizations in downtown Bangor and offers up activities ranging from soda making at Central Street Farmhouse to tie-dye workshops at Howling Threads Studio. Bring the kids, whether they’re wee little toddlers or fifth-graders.
14. Farmers’ markets open, beginning May 3
Late April and early May is usually when weekly farmers’ markets statewide begin setting up, meaning the growing season has started and farm-fresh veggies, fruit, meat, eggs, cheese and other goodies are filling stalls all over the place. Some great markets include Portland (April 27), Houlton (May 1), Belfast (May 3), Brunswick (May 3), Orono (May 4), Bangor (May 5), Brewer (May 7), Bar Harbor (May 11) and Camden (May 12). Visit getrealmaine.com for more information.
15. Halfway to Halloween, Saturday, May 4, downtown Bangor
Do you miss Halloween, even when it’s not fall? Fear not; downtown Bangor’s got you covered. The third annual Halfway to Halloween party is set for the evening of Saturday, May 4, with downtown bars and businesses participating, and Paddy Murphy’s as ground zero. Costumes are highly encouraged, so bust out that thing you wore one other year or even make up a new getup for this year. Prizes will be awarded in multiple categories.
16. Skip Baker Film Fest, May 6-11, The Grand, Ellsworth
The Grand’s longtime projectionist, Skip Baker, passed away in 2005, but his legacy lives on. The theater celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and to honor the man who loved film and loved Ellsworth, the staff is screening six classics that Baker loved, with 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. showings. In order, the films are “Casablanca,” May 6; “Some Like It Hot,” May 7; “To Kill a Mockingbird,” May 8; “Shakespeare In Love,” May 9; “High Noon,” May 10; and “Cinema Paradiso,” May 11. It’s a rare chance to see some true cinema gems on the big screen.
17. Portland Kitchen Tour, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 10-11, throughout Portland
Want to surprise your mom with a Mother’s Day treat? Look no further than the Portland Kitchen Tour, which features beautiful kitchens all over the city, each dolled up and offering tastings, demos and cookbook signings. The tour starts at St. Lawrence Arts on Congress Street on Munjoy Hill, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit St. Lawrence Arts’ programming. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. To reserve a spot, visit portlandkitchentour.com.
18. Bug Light Kite Festival, Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, South Portland, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 18
Come enjoy a day of old-fashioned, kite-flying fun at Bug Light Park. Members of the Noreasters Kite Club and Kites Over New England will offer a fantastic display of fun and fanciful kites, a barbecue, a kite sale and activities such as bol racing and a candy drop for the kids. Organizers will help anyone looking to learn how to fly their own kite. Bug Light will be open to the public during the festival.
19. “American Treasures” series, open in full June 1, Farnsworth Museum, Rockland
The Farnsworth presents “American Treasures,” an exhibition that will celebrate Maine’s role in American art by displaying the best among the more than 13,000 works in the museum’s collection. On view will be paintings, photographs and sculpture by many of America’s most important artists, including Marsden Hartley, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, John Marin, Louise Nevelson, Alex Katz, Robert Indiana and N.C. Wyeth, Andrew Wyeth and Jamie Wyeth. “Small Treasures” and “Other Voices” are already open; “Maine Voices” opens May 18 and ”New Visions, New Languages” “Visions of the Land and Sea” and “Family and Friends” all open on June 1. They will all run through 2013. For information, visit farnsworthmuseum.org.
20. Taste of Bar Harbor, May 16-19, downtown Bar Harbor
Taste of Bar Harbor is a food festival featuring local restaurants, cafes and others with dinners, demos and tastings for four straight days. Events include Thursday’s Dessert Night, a self-guided tour through downtown to taste and judge sweet treats; a pub tour on Friday night; a special chef’s table dining event on Saturday and a “royal brunch” on Sunday. To reserve tickets and for information, visit the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce website.
21. Caribou City Wide Yard Sale, May 18-19, 200 spots in Caribou
Bargain hunters, you can start salivating now. The annual Caribou City Wide Yard Sale is a two-day affair in which folks from all over the region set up tables and sell, sell, sell. A yard sale lovers’ paradise. Pick up your treasure map from the Caribou Chamber of Commerce at 657 Main St.
22. East Coast Ghost Trackers Ghost of Fort Knox guided tours, Saturday, May 18, Fort Knox State Park, Prospect
Join the East Coast Ghost Trackers for a night of supernatural fun, with ghost tours set for 7 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. The cost is $15 and it’s BYOF — bring your own flashlight. To reserve a spot, call 469-6553. It’s also a great opportunity to take an afternoon ride up to the Penobscot Narrows Observatory, which opens for the season on May 1.
23. Downeast Spring Birding Festival, May 24-27, Cobscook Bay area, Washington County
The annual Down East Spring Birding Festival provides a unique birding experience during spring migration and the breeding season, with four days of self-guided explorations, guided hikes, boat tours and presentations led by area experts. There are tours throughout the area, with starting points in Baring and Trescott at Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge headquarters and at the Cobscook Community Learning Center. For information, visit DESBF’s website; registration fees range from $20 to $75.
24. Piscataquis Heritage Hot Air Balloon Festival, May 31-June 2, Charles A. Chase Junior Memorial Field, Dover-Foxcroft
This festival, several years in the making, will bring three days of big, beautiful hot-air balloons to Piscataquis County, lighting the sky up with color. It’ll also be a celebration of central Maine heritage and offer food and craft vendors. Balloon lift-offs are at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day, with balloon glows at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is just $1.
25. Old Port Festival, Sunday, June 9, Portland
The Old Port Festival is one of the unofficial kickoffs to the summer. It starts at 11 a.m. the second Sunday of June, with the Shoestring Theater parade down Exchange Street, and continues with Maine-made music, arts, crafts, food and children’s activities. It’s fun for the whole family, and it’s free.