By Carol Thistle
That buzz you hear on the beaches, in the city’s cultural districts and along the working waterfront is the sound of a summer tourism season that’s expected to sizzle. As the Boston Globe recently reported, the state’s tourism industry is expecting the best season since the start of the Great Recession.
In Gloucester, a community that drives the Cape Ann tourism sector with dozens of events throughout the season, optimism for summer visitor growth abounds. GloucesterMa.com reports that tourism-related internet searches and website visits rose more than 15% throughout the spring and in May alone, traffic spiked by 66% compared with 2013.
Considering the economic importance of tourism to Massachusetts (the state reports that tourism supports more than 126,000 jobs across the Commonwealth) and the city, positive indicators for the ’14 season are welcome news. As always, Gloucester is ready to welcome guests with a diverse array of attractions and events throughout the summer:
- CAPE ANN ARTISANS TOUR (Saturday, June 21st & Sunday, June 22nd)
Gloucester is proud to get summer started as a participating community in the Cape Ann Artisans Tour. Gloucester has been named one of the country’s top ten Art Destinations by American Style Magazine.
- ST. PETER’S FIESTA (Wednesday, June 25th to Monday, June 30th)
The city’s oldest and perhaps best-known festival, visitors from near and afar join the city’s fishing community to honor the patron saint of the fisherman, St. Peter. The Fiesta includes parades, carnival, concerts, sporting competitions like Bocce and the Seine boat races. Don’t miss the one-of-a-kind Greasy Pole contest and the Blessing of the Fleet!
- FISH TOWN HORRIBLES PARADE (Thursday, July 3rd at 6:00 p.m.)
There is nothing quite like as the annual “Fishtown Horribles Parade” tradition, a cornucopia of sights, sounds and festivities. The parade, which carries on a tradition that hearkens back to the 19th Century (and some, say, perhaps back to the 17th Century), features musicians and bands, brightly and artfully decorated floats, flying candy and hideous masks. Stick around for spectacular fireworks over Gloucester Harbor!
- HARBORWALK SUMMER CINEMA SERIES (Wednesday evenings at 8:00 p.m., July 9th -August 27th)
This new, FREE outdoor family series, which features games and fun for kids prior to the 8:00 p.m. movie start time, offers a great line up of classics, including the Wizard of Oz (July 9th); Raiders of the Lost Ark (July 16th), Back to the Future (July 23rd), Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factor (July 30th) and ET (August 13th.)
- DOWNTOWN GLOUCESTER BLOCK PARTIES (July 19th, August 16th , September 20th)
The Downtown Gloucester Block Parties, which take place every third Saturday during July, August and September, transform Main Street into an entertainment mall. Enjoy five performance stages featuring music, dance, theater and variety acts. Main Street restaurants offer al fresco dining and stores are open until 11 p.m. There also are plenty of children’s activities to keep the youngsters amused. Come by to eat, shop and dance in the street!
- GLOUCESTER BLUES FESTIVAL (Saturday, August 9th)
The 3rd Annual Blues Fest takes place on the beautiful harbor side setting of Stage Fort Park. This year’s list of performers includes: Ronnie Baker Brooks, Biscuit Miller & the Mix, Sugar Ray and the Bluestones. Tickets are $28 in advance; $40 at the gate.
- GLOUCESTER WATERFRONT FESTIVAL (Saturday, August 16th & Sunday, August 17th)
In its 34th year, the Gloucester Waterfront Festival celebrates 175 juried artists and craftsmen at Stage Fort Park from across the USA. Visitors enjoy unique works, a delicious menu of ethnic and summertime fare, and free, live family music.
- 30TH ANNUAL GLOUCESTER SCHOONER FESTIVAL (Friday, August 29th-Sunday, August 31st)
The Gloucester Schooner Festival is the city’s premier sailing event and honors the heritage of fishing schooners and sailing vessels. From the Parade of Lights to the Parade of Sail to the Mayor’s Race, the weekend is a lively mix of majesty, pageantry food and fireworks. Look for a special attraction this year—the U.S. Coast Guard Barque Eagle, a 295-foot-ship that features 22,300 square feet of sail and six miles of rigging