Art, Ocean, Music: Three August Events Show How Gloucester Does it Differently
Gloucester, Massachusetts welcomes travelers seeking a change from just another weekend at the Cape.
PR for Gloucester, the travel and tourism media outreach campaign started by local business owners and working in partnership with the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, has news for anyone tired of waiting in traffic to spend a weekend in the same old seasonal destination: three August events to make this a summer to remember. The elements of theGloucester Schooner Festival, Cape Ann Ceramics Festival and Gloucester Blues Festival may sound familiar – ships, art and music – but the details set Gloucester and Cape Ann apart from that other Cape to the south.
Located 35 miles north of Boston, on beautiful Cape Ann, Gloucester is easily reachable by car (multiple exits off of a major highway), rail (commuter rail from Boston), air (between two major airports) and sea (ferries from New England locations north and south; cruise port). Gloucester features a walkable downtown, centered on a historic Main Street and filled with museums, restaurants and cafés for every palate, boutiques and antique shops, bookstores and more. Add to this the beaches and parks within easy walking distance, and the ability to stay almost entirely out of the car – the one you may have just spent the entire week commuting in – becomes a reality.
Gloucester is home to the Rocky Neck Art Colony, the oldest working art colony in the United States and one of the first designated cultural districts in Massachusetts. The recently opened Cultural Center at Rocky Neck is host to the Cape Ann Ceramics Festival highlight, “Beauty in Use: Ceramic Art from Cape Ann, Pucker Gallery and Beyond,” which runs from August 9-25, Thursday-Sunday, 12-6, with a gala opening on August 11 from 4-6 p.m. The festival spotlights Cape Ann ceramic artists and increases awareness of the skills and talent present in this historic, scenic area. It is held throughout the month of August in various locations around Cape Ann, including Gloucester, named one of the top 25 Small City art destinations by American Style Magazine for the second year in a row.
Located in the heart of downtown and incorporated in 1873, the Cape Ann Museum is a vibrant regional center for historic and contemporary art, including the largest grouping of works by native son and renowned marine artist, Fitz Henry Lane, as well as work by other prominent painters and sculptors who lived on, visited or were inspired by Cape Ann.
This Labor Day Weekend, August 30-September 1, is Gloucester’s globally known maritime and sailing event, the 29th annual Gloucester Schooner Festival. The Festival honors the major role the fishing schooner has played in the heritage of Gloucester and the eastern seaboard, featuring a unique mix of the old and new, as modern day trawlers share their home port with traditional vessels from the age of sail. A spectacular highlight of the Gloucester Schooner Festival is the Parade of Sail on Sunday morning, as the participating schooners make their way through the harbor and out past the breakwater, to the Mayor’s Race starting area off Eastern Point.
There are other coastal towns that can boast beaches, but Gloucester’s are different: easily accessible (check out the trolley] and with a beach to suit everyone. Swimming and sunbathing, surfing and shelling, Gloucester beaches fill every desire – nestled in secluded coves, white sand stretching for miles or family favorites with playgrounds and tidal pools.
Gloucester’s rich maritime history is on display – alongside touch tanks for an up-close look at local marine life – on the downtown waterfront at Maritime Gloucester. A working waterfront museum, as well as a marine and maritime educational center, Maritime Gloucester features the oldest continuously operating marine railway in the country. Check out a boat on the rails, and learn about the rich history of schooner repairs on this cherished site. Take a sail on the Center’s Schooner Ardelle, a 49-passenger traditionally built, 55’ pinky schooner that offers daily public sails from May through October.
With more music venues per capita than Austin, Texas, which claims to be the Live Music Capital of the World, Gloucester has a thriving, vibrant live music scene. There are unusual venues, including two schooners with live music, several historic churches with astoundingly good acoustics and plenty of wonderful outdoor spaces that feature music all summer long, including Stage Fort Park, a waterfront park with a classic bandstand.
On August 10, Stage Fort Park will serve as backdrop to the Gloucester Blues Festival, where world-class blues reverberate through the waterfront with some of the nation’s finest performers playing from the Gloucester Blues stage.
Throughout the year, live music can be found at an abundance of comfortable venues –not just bars and restaurants – most without a cover charge. The scene attracts fans of all ages: it’s easy to find people from 21-81 in the same venue at the same time dancing to the same live band.
In addition to live music, Gloucester supports Broadway quality theatre: Gloucester Stage Company, founded by award-winning playwright/director/actor Israel Horovitz. “This is Our Youth,” by Kenneth Lonergan, runs August 8-25 and features Jimi Stanton (9 Circles), Elliot Norton Award-winner Alex Pollack, and Amanda Collins (9 Circles).
To learn more about Gloucester, including lodging options (from oceanfront hotels such as Bass Rocks Ocean Inn to Rocky Neck Accommodations’ efficiency rooms and suites overlooking Smith’s Cove), schedule of events, and more to help create the perfect getaway, please visit www.capeannvacations.com. Prefer to speak with a local source directly? Call the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce at (978) 283-1601.