Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Festival Fun Across America This Summer, from California to Rhode Island

This year, families seeking a cost-effective summer getaway that will be both pleasurable and enriching may opt to discover local traditions and cultures showcased though various festivals across North America.

Combining history and entertainment while on vacation is not only enlightening, but affordable. Listed below is a sampling of the top family-friendly festivals occurring at some popular destinations this summer season, many of which offer free activities and events.

Gravenstein Apple Fair; August 14-15, 2010
The Gravenstein Apple Fair, sponsored by Sonoma County Farm Trails, showcases the best in arts, crafts, food, wines and brews, games, entertainment and farm life activities. Brimming with tradition, the fair has the flavor of a country get-together. Local farmers sell everything from apples and fiber arts to miniature plants and gourmet goodies. Over 125 artisans display arts and crafts. A miniature train tours the hillsides while antique farm equipment fascinates all ages. At the “Children’s corner” area kids can create an art piece to take home, watch a puppet show or participate in fun games. Proceeds fund the Sonoma County Farm Trails Map & Guide and Farm Trails' educational programs. For more information, visit

Montreal International Jazz Festival; June 25 to July 6
Montreal celebrates the magic of music as it welcomes the most renowned jazz musicians for a mid-summer festival, the largest of its kind in the world. Approximately 3,000 musicians perform on festival stages and the 31st edition will feature prominent names such as George Benson, Steve Miller Band, Doobie Brothers and Joan Armatrading, while Cassandra Wilson and Lionel Richie headline the star-studded opening gala. The festival includes 370 free outdoor shows for 12 straight days. Indoor venues range from cozy jazz clubs to the grand halls of Place des Arts. The festival site is closed to vehicular traffic during this time, making it safe for families. For more information, visit

International Festival of Arts & Ideas; June 12 – 26, 2010
Now entering its 15th year, this annual New Haven festival is firmly established as one of the world's most significant arts festivals and is a much anticipated start to the summer season in the Northeast, featuring an unrivalled performing arts series with renowned international stars, newly discovered artists, world premieres and an eclectic ideas program offering a mix of serious, controversial, and whimsical topics, all designed to inspire new ways of thinking. Programming is planned to engage and delight adults and children alike and is an excellent value with more than 80 percent of festival events free to the public, including some of the most prestigious opera, jazz, classical, rock, folk and fusion music in the world.

Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament; August 20-28
Pilot Pen is an Olympus US Open Series event on the ATP World Tour and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour held every summer in New Haven at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University. The family friendly event features a number of international tennis stars. Visitors can also enhance their stay in New Haven by purchasing tickets to one of many “Special Access” off-court events taking place during the Pilot Pen Tennis Tournament. The third-annual New Haven Food & Wine Festival (August 25, 5:00- 7:00 p.m.) will offer visitors the opportunity to sample, compare and contrast the culinary creations of the daring and innovative chefs, who call New Haven home. More than 15 celebrated local restaurants will offer up their most talked about and original recipes.

Rhode Island International Film Festival; August 10-15Providence has long served as inspiration for top Hollywood directors, producers and actors. The RIIFF is the largest public film festival in New England and an Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences qualifying event that provides yet another way for travelers to take advantage of a quick city escape to Providence with screenings, VIP parties and events happening throughout the city. With affordable passes and kid-friendly programming this is an ideal event for families. For more information, visit

Spoleto Festival USA, May 28 – June 13
Each spring, the Spoleto Festival USA takes over the historic theaters, churches and outdoor venues of Charleston with more than 140 performances by renowned artists and emerging performers. Showcased disciplines include opera, theater, dance, jazz, as well as the visual arts – a type of entertainment for every age group in the family! This year’s festival features everything from German punk-rock to a fiddle and banjo trio from the Carolinas. For more information, please call (843) 722-2764 or visit

Blackbeard Pirate Festival; July 9 – 11, 2010
Join Blackbeard and his crew in Downtown Hampton, Virginia, for the 11th annual Hampton Blackbeard Pirate Festival. See the notorious Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard, as he fights his final battle versus Lt. Maynard of the Royal Navy. This family festival celebrates living history and returns the Hampton waterfront to the way of life in 1718. Full-scale sea battles, tall ships, treasure hunts, sea shanties, historic reenactments, a pirate camp, strolling entertainers and a spectacular fireworks display highlight the weekend. Events take place from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, visit: and

Thank Goodness it’s Ocean View (TGOV) Beach Party and Music Series; Beginning July 9, 2010 (Fridays in July and August).
The lazy days of summer will be no match for TGOBV in Norfolk. The ‘Thank Goodness It’s Ocean View Beach Party and Music Series (TGOV) will be a sure fire way to rev up the after-work crowd and start off the weekend right. The Friday evening beach parties feature live music, family-friendly entertainment, children’s activities and a host of culinary options. Town Point Park. For more information, visit

34TH Annual Harborfest®; June 11-13, 2010
Hampton Roads’ largest summertime event featuring an astounding 700 international tall ships, sailboats, battleships and cruise ships; national, regional and local entertainment; children’s activities; fireworks and more. For more information, visit

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