Jordan Valentine and the Sunday Saints at the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival
Here are three festivals to check out this month.
Andrew Malone

By Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Without a doubt, August’s sticky weather makes summer’s final month prime time to be near the water.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Fortunately, there are all kinds of places across Massachusetts to enjoy that backdrop, with options across the North Shore, South Coast, Cape and Islands. The next few weeks happen to be particularly eventful in the North of Boston region, where late August and early September mean festivals, as well as fresh air.

Here are three events in the area that are fun, free and fast approaching.

Gloucester Waterfront Festival
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Gloucester Waterfront Festival in Gloucester, MA

Nearly 400 years ago, Gloucester’s State Fort Park played home to the city’s first settlers. In less than two weeks, on August 16 and 17, the park will come alive as it hosts Gloucester’s 33rd annual waterfront festival, one of the region’s most enjoyable, family-friendly events. Both days will run from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., although the Saturday pancake breakfast at 7:30 a.m. does present a mighty compelling reason to arrive early.

Inside the park, visitors can peruse the unique works of 175+ juried artists and craftsmen from all around the country, and take in tunes from bands with a variety of different backgrounds. There’ll be plenty of light food, too, in the form of dips, jams, jellies, nuts, salsa and more, as well as an antique auto show that’s sure to be fun for gearheads and young ones.

For anyone coming into town, the Vista Motel provides a budget-friendly option for overnights on Saturday and Sunday, and the Gloucester Inn by the Sea is another local favorite.

Salem Jazz and Soul Festival
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Salem Jazz and Soul Festival in Salem, MA

During the same weekend, about 30 miles to the south, Salem Willows will fill up with sound, as the Salem Jazz and Soul Festival gets underway. Some might not know it, but years ago, Salem had quite the jazz scene, attracting marquee names like Duke Ellington to play in town. To celebrate this history, the jazz and soul festival was inaugurated in 2003, and has grown since then to attract more than 6,000 people each year.

This year’s performances will combine accomplished national musicians and talented local groups, with the shows starting at 11 a.m. each day and running until 7:15 p.m. It won’t just be all about jazz, either; soul, blues and funk will be well represented, making this weekend one that’ll appeal to music fans of many stripes. In addition to the tunes, the grounds will also host a kids’ tent, an artisan’s fair, music classes and a beer garden, for the 21-plus crowd.

To stay near the Willows in Salem, consider the Hawthorne Hotel or Coach House Inn.

Bread and Roses Festival
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Bread and Roses Heritage Festival in Lawrence, MA

There’s no shortage of Labor Day celebrations across New England, but the Bread and Roses Festival is a special one. The festival’s name comes from the eponymous strike in that took place in Lawrence in 1912, which ended with workers successfully negotiating a pay raise of up to 20%. The modern festival, which fittingly takes place on September 1 along the Merrimack River, celebrates Lawrence’s unique culture and history with three stages of entertainment that feature music, storytelling, dance, theater and more.

While the schedule is subject to change, there are already a number of acts on tap that ensure the upcoming festival will be fun for all. The stages will welcome eight different genres of music between noon and 5 p.m. For the kids, there will be pony rides, face painting, bubble blowing and more. The fare will draw inspiration from all around the world and serve as an excellent complement to any of the ongoing activities. For info on directions to the fairground, just click here.

For an overnight spot in the area, opt for a night or two at the Courtyard Boston Andover, which is located a 15-minute drive from the Lawrence Common.

To learn more about upcoming events in Massachusetts, click here. You can also get to know the whole North of Boston region better here.