Where to Party Hard this August

Five local festivals and fiestas to satisfy your cultural cravings



Revelers at Star Island's Gatsby on the Isles

Photo by Jennifer Moore

Gatsby on the Isles: Jazz Age Lawn Party & Soirée on Star Island, August 26

All aboard, old sport! One of the most mythical corners of New Hampshire turns its focus to Roaring Twenties literary mystery man Jay Gatsby and his famous parties with this overnight bash. Bring a picnic and don your best flapper attire for a fête that includes live tunes from the Wolverine Jazz Band, lawn games and a 1920s-themed beach party just like Gatsby would have thrown. The ship to Star Island sets sail on the morning of August 26 and offers two returns: 5:15 p.m. the same night for day-trippers, and 4:45 p.m. on August 27 for revelers who keep the party going all night long. Don’t forget to book in advance — this soirée has a more limited capacity than your average West Egg mansion. Sails from Portsmouth, starisland.org/program/gatsby

White Mountain Boogie N’ Blues Festival, August 18-20

For its 21st year, the White Mountain Boogie N’ Blues Festival is featuring Grammy award-winning artist Jonny Lang. From August 18 to 20, the natural amphitheater nestled between Loon Mountain and Waterville Valley will be filled with blues music, food and craft vendors, a climbing wall and fireworks. The festival is a summertime favorite for those who have participated before and a “treat” for newcomers. Thornton, whitemountainboogie.com

Medal Day, August 13

The MacDowell Colony has always been cool, but this year they’re taking things to a whole new level. The organization selected David Lynch as their Edward MacDowell Medalist for 2017, adding a decidedly avant garde twist to the list of medalists that has so far included such icons as Aaron Copland, Stephen Sondheim and last year’s Toni Morrison. The “Twin Peaks” director is not expected to attend the free public ceremony in his honor, but MacDowell Chairman Michael Chabon and Lynch biographer Kristine McKenna will give remarks. Peterborough, macdowellcolony.org

Rochester Pride, August 26

June, not August, is the month of most Pride festivals — but most Pride festivals don’t take place in towns like Rochester. The small Seacoast city will host its very own gay pride celebration on August 26 with a march, speeches, vendors and an after-party at The Garage at the Governor’s Inn. Head to Rochester’s Central Square for the state’s smallest and proudest show of support for the Granite State’s LGBT community. Rochester, rochestermfa.org/pride

Exeter UFO Festival, September 2-3

As summer winds down early next month, the paranormal activity in one New Hampshire town will be building up. Exeter — home to a prominent 1965 UFO sighting and close to Portsmouth, home of alien abductee claimants Betty and Barney Hill — has hosted one of the country’s largest gatherings of UFO enthusiasts for the past five years. This year’s fest runs from September 2-3 and features kids’ activities and a lecture series presented by experts in the field. Exeter, exeterufofestival.org

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