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Nantucket a busy pre-summer place

Posted by Paul Kandarian  May 14, 2013 10:42 AM

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You don’t have to wait for the summer heat anymore to find things to do in Nantucket. Though things ramp up mostly after Memorial Day, and certainly by July 4, the island has a variety of early-season offerings, and hotels and inns with deals to take advantage of them.

One popular event is the Nantucket Wine Festival, marking its 17th year May 15-19, with a schedule of special events such as celebrity chef cooking demos, tastings, seminars, symposia, auctions and a charity gala. For full event schedule and pricing, visit www.nantucketwinefestival.com

The White Elephant is hosting many of the festival events, including the Grand Tastings and Harbor Gala, the former featuring more than 150 wineries from around the world. The gala is the festival’s signature event with 40 stations of dishes prepared by the country’s best chefs, which, naturally, are paired with appropriate wines. The White Elephant and sister properties, White Elephant Village and The Wauwinet, are offering weekend packages including stays, event tickets, dinners at Brant Point Grill and Topper’s, as well as brunches. Rates start at $500 a night. For info, check out www.nantucketislandresorts.com

At Harborview Place, offered by Beautiful Places villa rentals, stay three or more nights in a one- to three-bedroom residence and get a wine festival package with access to a variety of events, including the tasting, VIP party, auction, Friday night supper club and breakfast on the harbor. Visit www.beautiful-places.com/location/massachusetts for information.

Orla and Michael LaScola, owners of American Seasons, are partnering again with West Coast wineries such as Donelan Family Wines and Flowers Winery to host seminars and dinners highlighting domestic wines paired with LaScola’s take on American dishes. For information on the events at the restaurant, visit www.americanseasons.com

If you have flexible travel plans, the antique inn Century House celebrates its 180th anniversary this year by offering a weeknight stay in a queen room for $180 plus tax and service during select dates in May and June, based on last-minute availability. There is no online booking for this deal: Call 508-228-0530 on the preceding Saturday or Sunday to secure a stay the following Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night. You can also combine the special with multiple week-night stays at standard rates. And you can help celebrate innkeepers JeanEllen Heron and Gerry Connick’s 30th anniversary running the inn. Connick’s famous and massive berry breakfast alone is worth the stay.

The next month, the spring version of Nantucket Restaurant Week runs June 2-9 (another runs in the fall), with a variety of restaurants participating, including American Seasons, where they offer three-course dinners from $25-$45. For a full listing, visit www.nantucketrestaurantweek.com Writers have long been drawn to the island, including historic scribes like James Fenimore Cooper and Edgar Allen Poe, and modern authors such as Nathaniel Philbrick. The 2nd Annual Nantucket Book Festival runs June 21-23, with panel discussions, interactive readings for adults and kids, and “Authors in Bars” events giving festival goers a chance to personally toast their favorite writers. A roster of more than 20 notable American writers are expected, among them Philbrick, Paul Hendrickson and Lois Lowry. The Brant Point Grill at the White Elephant, the event’s host hotel, will host the weekend’s closing brunch June 23 with Alice Hoffman, author of more than 20 novels including “Here on Earth,” an Oprah’s Book Club choice. Other events include breakfast receptions with authors Ann Leary and Amy Brill, and a pig roast at Cisco Brewery. Check it all out at www.nantucketbookfestival.org

And lest we not forget the island’s nautical roots, the Egan Maritime Institute will hold “Red, Right, Returning: Present Day United States Coast Guard Lifesaving Procedures and Boat Safety” at the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum, May 23-Oct. 14. The outdoor exhibit features present day Coast Guard lifesaving procedures, guide to boat safety and a recreational four-person life raft for anyone to try out on dry land. Back by popular demand is last year’s exhibit, “Guiding Lights: Nantucket’s Lighthouses, Keepers and Their Families,” that includes hands-on activities.  Visit www.eganmaritime.org for more information.

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