Attend These Summer Festivals on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway

May 24, 2023

Salem Arts Festival

Date: June 2-4, 2023

Where: 32 Derby Square, Salem, MA

Arts and Culture are an integral part of day-to-day life in Salem. The Salem Arts Festival has become a source of pride and revenue for hundreds of creative professionals and a major economic boost to the local community, with over 7500 attendees annually. Public activities include multiple outdoor performance areas, onsite art-making for all ages, local artisans and makers selling their creations, pop-up art exhibitions in businesses around town, a live mural slam on Artists Row, and a temporary public art installation. There are events for the whole family!

Arts Fest Beverly

Date: Saturday, June 17, 2023 

Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Where: Downtown Beverly, MA

Arts Fest is a free family-friendly art festival held in Beverly, Massachusetts. The festival offers many exciting things to do, from admiring the works of over 125 artists and crafters to free activities and fun for kids and food trucks. Many creators will also have their works for sale, meaning that you might just take home a one-of-a-kind treasure.

North Shore Pride Festival in Salem

pride flag at a festival

Date: Saturday, June 24, 2023

Time: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Where: Riley Plaza, 1-21 Margin Street, Salem, MA

The North Shore Pride Parade and Festival returns to Salem this year. The mission of North Shore Pride is “to promote the general welfare and unity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community within the North Shore, and to advocate for the acceptance of the members of the LGBTQ community by the broader North Shore community.”

The pride parade and festival are joyous celebrations of that mission. The event includes the Pride Parade, an After Party, and the Drag Brunch. There will also be food vendors present alongside other fun activities. For more information, please visit the North Shore Pride website.

Marblehead Festival of Arts

Photo Credit: Karen Hosking

Date: July 1-4, 2023

Time: Varies

Where: Various locations, Marblehead, MA

The Marblehead Festival of Arts’ July Summer Festival hosts a wide range of art exhibits, outdoor music concerts overlooking Marblehead Harbor, Film Festival, Street Festival, Children’s Festival, Artisans Marketplace, and many other cultural activities designed to provide a fun and enriching experience for the entire family.

The Marblehead Festival of Arts is an important contributor to the arts in Marblehead and the Essex National Heritage Area (Essex County).

North Shore Fourth of July Festivals

The Fourth of July falls on a Tuesday this year, which means that there will be events and happenings all throughout the weekend leading up to the holiday. All across the area, you can find various Independence Day-themed events and, of course, spectacular fireworks displays. So be sure to keep an eye out.

Rockport Jazz Festival

Date: July – September 2023

Time: Varies

Where: 37 Main Street, Rockport, MA

The Rockport Jazz Festival is a multi-day celebration of jazz music and culture. Jazz musicians from all over the world come to the Shalin Liu Performance Center to perform their biggest hits and favorite tunes. Each show brings its own unique spin on the genre, ensuring a different experience each night. 

Gloucester Blues Festival

blues guitar

Date: Saturday, August 12, 2023

Time: Gates open at 9:00 am, and music starts at 11:00 am

Where: 41 Hough Avenue, Gloucester, MA

Are you a Blues lover? If so, the Gloucester Blues Festival is a must-visit event. Some of the nation’s best blues musicians come to Stage Fort Park to perform their world-class blues tracks. Perhaps best of all, the stage is located on the waterfront in front of the scenic Cressey’s Beach. Event-goers can also visit the beer garden and food and craft vendors. 

Riverfest Salisbury Beach

Date: Saturday, August 26, 2023

Time: 1:00pm

Where: Broadway Boardwalk, Ocean Front S, Salisbury, MA

Riverfest Salisbury Beach is a free show open to the public. It takes place on the Broadway Boardwalk at Salisbury Beach. Because of the popularity of this event, attendees are encouraged to get there early with blankets and chairs for a day of great live music!

Rockport Celtic Festival

Date: September 14-17, 2023

Time: Varies

Where: 37 Main St, Rockport, MA

The Rockport Celtic Festival returns this summer to the Shalin Liu Performance Center. The Celtic festival goes well beyond traditional Celtic music (though there’s certainly plenty of that!). The festival includes dancers and storytellers focusing on the cultural connections between Celtic and American traditions. Each show offers its own unique cultural experience through the performances of local and global artists and musicians.


Date: Saturday, September 16, 2023

Time: 12:00pm-6:00pm

Where: Various locations on Plum Island 

PlumFest is a community-driven project that features live music and other events throughout scenic Plum Island. The event is completely free – all hosts, bands, and staff are volunteer members of the community. While the event locations and artist line-up haven’t been finalized yet, keep checking the PlumFest website for updates.

If you are also looking for some more things to do in the summer, you can check out our “Beaches to Explore” blog where we list the most beautiful beaches to visit along the Byway.