Some kind of magic switch seems to have gotten flipped. With summer here, Connecticut turns into a sunny wonderland of outdoor music festivals, county fairs, regional food shindigs and other finely focused affairs. Celebrate the seasonal joys of everything – from strawberries, to oysters, to jerk chicken, to bluegrass, to all kinds of jazz, to reggae, blues, outdoor theater, dance, and whatever else floats your boat. Here’s our rundown of the state’s big festivals. Get out the sun screen and the folding chairs.
Annual Milford Oyster Festival, Town Green and Fowler Field, Milford, (203) 878-5363, milfordoysterfestival.org. Aug. 19-20. Food, music, history, harbor activities, stuff for kids and more.
Antique and Classic Boat Rendezvous, Mystic Seaport, 75 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic, (888) 973-2767, mysticseaport.org. July 23-24. Gathering of pre-1965 wooden sail and motorboats, with a three-mile boat parade.
Cajun Zydeco Festival: Blast From the Bayou, Strawberry Park, 42 Pierce Rd., Preston, (888) 794-7944, strawberrypark.net/cajun-zydeco-festival. June 9-12. 15th annual festival featuring cajun/zydeco music, food and dancing from the bayous and cities of Louisiana. Camping available.
Capital Classics Shakespeare Festival — Richard III, Saint Joseph College, 1678 Asylum Ave., West Hartford, (860) 231-5555, capitalclassics.org. July 28-Aug. 14. David Watson directs a compelling presentation of Shakespeare's historical drama featuring one of the theatre's most reviled villains: King Richard.
Chester Fair, Chester Fairgrounds, Rte. 154, Chester, (860) 526-5947, chesterfair.org. Aug. 26-28. Agricultural fair with livestock shows, animal pulls, live music, arts and crafts expos, games and more.
CitiCenter Danbury Summer Series, Danbury Green, Downtown Danbury, (203) 792-1711, citycenterdanbury.com. June 18: The Danbury Symphony Orchestra. July 8: The Sixties Show. July 9: The Larry Ayce Band. July 15: Philly LoPresti and the Clark Eno Orchestra. July 16: Future Tense. July 22: Kashmir. July 23: Gunsmoke. July 29: Cross Purpose. July 20: Eight to the Bar. Aug. 5: Abraxis. Aug. 6: Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra. Aug. 11: Afrikan Drumming. Aug. 12: Beyond the Wall. Aug. 13: Jai-Ho India Festival. Aug. 19: Tusk: Fleetwood Mac Tribute. Aug. 20: Roxy Perry. Aug. 26: Limelight. Aug. 27: The Glamour Girls. Sept. 10 & 11: Brian Howe of Bad Company.
Clinton Bluefish Festival, Andrews Memorial Town Hall, 54 E. Main St., Clinton, clintonbluefishfest.com. July 22-23. Annual festival features a talent competition, kids' activities, fishing tournament, chowder cook-off and more.
Connecticut Ballet's 30th Anniversary Dance Caravan, Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 300 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford, Aug. 13, 7:30 p.m. Other locations throughout CT, July 16-Aug. 27. (860) 713-3131, connecticutballet.com/season.
Connecticut Free Shakespeare: The Three Musketeers, (203) 393-3213, ctfreeshakespeare.org. July 20-31: Beardsley Zoo, 1875 Noble Ave., Bridgeport, 8 p.m. August 3-7: Guilford Green, Guilford, 7:30 p.m.
Connecticut Folk Festival and Green Expo, Edgerton Park and other venues, ctfolk.com. Sept. 9-11. Live folk music and eco-friendly educational programs and activities.
Connecticut's Historic Garden Day & Riverwood Poetry Festival, The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, 77 Forest St., Hartford, (860) 522-9258, harrietbeecherstowe.org. June 26, 12-4 p.m. Stroll the gardens and try your hand at plein-air painting, performances by local spoken-word poets. Free.
Connecticut Irish Festivals Feis and Agricultural Fair, North Haven Fairgrounds, Washington Ave. (Rte. 5), North Haven, (203) 469-3080, ctirishfestival.com. June 25-26. Irish step-dancing, live music, Irish sports for kids, petting zoo and more.
Connecticut Wine Festival, Route 53, Goshen Fairgrounds, (860) 677-5467, ct.wine.com, July 30 and 31. Fourteen vintners, specialty foods and crafts, plus musical entertainment.
Durham Fair, Durham Fairgrounds, 24 Town House Rd., Durham, (860) 349-9495, durhamfair.com. Sept. 22-25. Live music, food, carnival rides, animal exhibits, art shows and more. Concerts by KC and the Sunshine Band, Blues Traveler and Steel Magnolia.
Fairfield County Irish Festival, Fairfield University, 1073 N. Benson Rd., Fairfield, irishfestival.org. June 17-19. All things Irish, including music, step dancing, food, Gaelic football, vendors, crafts and more.
Friday Film Festival, William Benton Museum of Art, 245 Glenbrook Rd., Storrs, (860) 486-4520, thebenton.org. June 24-July 22, Fridays at 12:15 p.m. A different film shown every two weeks, including Who Gets to Call It Art?, Exit Through the Gift Shop and Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock?
Gathering of the Vibes, Seaside Park, Bridgeport. (203) 908-3030, gatheringofthevibes.com. July 21-24. Seaside Park, Bridgeport. Annual summer music, camping and arts festival, celebrates the Grateful Dead & showcases a variety of music.
Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, Bushnell Park, Hartford, (860) 727-0500, hartfordjazz.com. July 15-17. Hartford's popular downtown jazz festival returns with live music by local, national and international jazz musicians playing crowd-pleasing jazz favorites and original compositions. Free.
Guilford Art Center Craft Expo 2011, Guilford Green, Rte. 1, Guilford, (203) 453-5947, guilfordartcenter.org. July 14-17. Juried works by diverse craft artists, eats and more.
Guilford Rotary Lobster Fest, Guilford Fairgrounds, Lovers Ln., Guilford, guilfordrotarylobsterfest.com. June 25, 4:30-8 p.m. Maine lobsters, steak, corn, baked potatoes, beverages and desserts. Tickets must be purchased by June 17.
Haddam Neck Fair, Haddam Neck Fairgrounds, 26 Quarry Hill Rd., Haddam Neck, (860) 267-5922, haddamneckfair.com. Sept. 2-5. Food, carnival rides and games, live entertainment and more.
Harriet Beecher Stowe's 200th Birthday, The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, 77 Forest St., Hartford, (860) 522-9258, harrietbeecherstowe.org. June 11, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. A community open house befitting a 200th birthday celebration — house tours, an interactive community art project, horse and carriage rides, readings from Uncle Tom's Cabin, lawn games, garden painting and birthday cake. Free.
Hartford Symphony Orchestra's Talcott Mountain Festival, Performing Arts Center at Simsbury Meadows, Iron Horse Blvd, Simsbury, (860) 244-2999, hartfordsymphony.org. June 24, 7:30 p.m.: Summer Begins! Stirring classical program selected by new music director Carolyn Kuan. Celebrate America! July 1, 7:30 p.m.: The Annual Red, White & Blue Tradition. Kuan leads the orchestra in a program of American classics, thundering marches and a fantastic display of fireworks to celebrate our nation's independance. July 8, 7:30 p.m.: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. See the Symphony and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy perform a New Orleans swing concert in the tradition of legendary big bands. July 15, 7:30 p.m.: The Music of Michael Jackson, Celebrate the King of Pop's 40-year musical career, beginning with songs from the Jackson 5 through the HIStory album.
Hot Steamed Jazz Fest¿, Essex Steam Train, 1 Railroad Ave., Essex, (800) 348-0003, hotsteamedjazz.com. June 24-26. Galvanized Jazz Band w/ Jane Campedelli, Sugarfoot Youth Jazz Band, Bob Seeley, Dan Levinson's Fete Manouche, Riverboat Ramblers, Jazz Jesters Novelty Orchestra, Heartbeat Dixieland Jazz Band, Firecracker Jazz Band, Dan Levinson's Apex Project - A Tribute to Jimmy Noone, Wolverine Jazz Band w/ Dr. John Clark, Funky Butt Jazz Band, Festival All Stars w/ Jeff Hughes, Ben Mauger's Vintage Jazz Band, Jon Sieger and the All Stars.
Ideat Village, Downtown New Haven, ideatvillage.org. June 11-25. DIY celebration of local art, music, film and counterculture in general, including music showcases, art exhibits and more.
International Festival of Arts & Ideas, Western Connecticut State University Westside Campus, 43 Lake Avenue Extension, Danbury, (866) 558-4253, ivesconcertpark.com. June 27: Michael Franti and Spearhead, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. July 1: Peter Frampton. July 2: Earth, Wind and Fire. July 25: Steely Dan. July 27: Allison Krauss & Union Station, Jerry Douglas. Aug. 3: Guster, Ra Ra Riot. Aug. 13: The J. Geils Band. Aug. 14: The Beach Boys. Aug. 25: ZZ Top.
Jazz Up July, Columbus Park, Main St. & W. Park Place, Stamford. (203) 348-5285, stamford-downtown.com. Presented by the Stamford Downtown Special Services District. July 6: John Tesh: Big Band Live, New York Mary. July 13: Marion Meadows, The Joe Sinaguglia Trio. July 20: Joyce Dicamillo, Maydie Miles. July 27: Roberta Flack, Ralph McDonald feat. Dennis Collins and Friends.
Juneteenth Family Day, The Amistad Center for Art & Culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main St., Hartford, (860) 838-4122, amistadartandculture.org. June 11, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Commemorates the abolition of slavery in America with an opportunity to reflect, learn and enjoy. Featuring a variety of “edu-tainment” performances by local talent, art workshops and family activities.
Klingberg Vintage Motorcar Festival, Klingberg Family Centers, 370 Linwood St., New Britain, (860) 832-5524, klingbergautoshow.org. June 18, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. A gathering of restored antique cars, oldies music, Fred Astaire dancers, children's activities, historical display and great food. A wonderful way to celebrate Father's Day weekend.
Lavender Festival, Fort Farm Hills, 60 Quaddick Rd., Thompson, (860) 923-3439. June 18-19. Home to one of New England's largest lavender gardens, the farm has a weekend planned with lavender-centered activities and other family-friendly activities.
Lift Every Voice and Sing Gospel Festival and Fair, Bushnell Park, Hartford, (860) 243-8734, levasgospel.org. Sept. 10, 12-7 p.m. An annual live music festival featuring a choir of 233 altos, 233 tenors and 233 sopranos singing gospel classics. Free.
Litchfield Jazz Festival, Kent School, 30 South Main St., Kent, (860) 361-6285, litchfieldjazzfest.com. Aug. 5-7. The Clayton Brothers, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Champian Fulton Quartet, Vijay Iyer Trio, Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band, Dr. Lonnie Smith Trio, Matt Wilson Quartet plus Strings, Joe Lovano Nonet, Jimmy Heath Big Band and others. $22-$350.
Moby Dick Marathon, Mystic Seaport on the Charles W. Morgan, (860) 572-5302, mysticseaport.org. July 31-Aug. 1. 24-hour reading of Melville's massive work, in honor of his birthday.
Mystic Seaport Sea Music Festival, Mystic Seaport, 75 Greenmanville Ave., Mystic, 860-572-5315, mysticseaport.org. June 9-12. Bonnie and Dan Milner, ARRR, Current MS Chantey Staff (Mike Bartels, Denise Cannella, Craig Edwards, Geoff Kaufman, Barry Keenan, Chris Koldewey, Don Sineti), Tom Kastle, Roll & Go, Rick Spencer, Caryl P. Weiss, John Roberts, Judy Cook, Martin and Shan Graebe, Richard Grainger, Kapriol, Northern Neck Chantey Singers, Brian Peters and Jeff Davis, Celeste Bernardo and Ken Sweeney, Jack Dalton, Dan Milner and Robbie O'Connell w/ friends, Raizes, Danny Spooner, Bob Webb.
New England Jazz and Blues Festival, Quassy Amusement Park, 2132 Middlebury Rd., Middlebury, (860) 307-2909, newenglandjazzbluesfestival.com. June 18-19. Featuring James Montgomery & the Uptown Horns, Billy Squier, Elvin Bishop, Roomful of Blues, The Trio of Oz featuring Rachel Z and Omar Hakim, Ali Ryerson Quintet, and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.
Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate, Routes 44 & 272, Norfolk, (860) 542-3000, music.yale.edu/norfolk. Most weekends between June 12-Aug. 20. Featuring The King's Singers, The Norfolk Contemporary Ensemble, The Leschetizky Trio, The Artis Quartet, the United States Coast Guard Band, and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.
North Haven Fair, North Haven Fairgrounds, Washington Ave. (Rte. 5), North Haven, (203) 239-3700, northhaven-fair.com. Sept. 8-11. Rides, food, live entertainment and more.
North Stonington Agricultural Fair, Wyassup Rd. (off Rte. 2), North Stonington, (860) 535-3956, northstoningtonfair.org. July 7-10. Food, fun and live music for the whole family.
Norwalk Oyster Fest, Veteran's Park, Seaview Ave., Norwalk, (203) 838-9444, seaport.org/oysterfest.html. Sept. 9-11. Featuring live music, food booths, BBQ vendors, demos, crafts and competitions. Oysters too. Lots and lots of oysters.
Pipes in the Valley, Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 300 Columbus Blvd, Hartford, (860) 713-3131, riverfront.org. Sept. 24, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. This culturally rich festival featuring the Red Hot Chilli Pipers and Ten Penny Ale also includes Highland games, bagpipers, traditional dancing, birds of prey, Highland cows and delicious Celtic food. Fun for the whole family. Free.
Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival. Martin Park, 307 Burnside Ave., East Hartford, (860) 528-1458, podunkbluegrass.net. Aug. 4-7. Enjoy a world-class festival in East Hartford featuring the top names in Bluegrass music.
Ray Gonzalez Latin Jazz & Salsa Festival, Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 300 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, (860) 713-3131, riverfront.org. July 23, 5-10 p.m. In partnership with Guakía, this festival features Hartford's own Ray Gonzalez and his orchestra with other local Latin jazz favorites. Viva la música. Free.
Riverfest, Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, Hartford & Great River Park and Founders Plaza, East Hartford, (860) 713-3131, riverfront.org. July 9, 4-9:30 p.m. Celebrate the area's oldest fireworks tradition with a community-wide celebration, live entertainment and family activities. Free.
Riverfront Dragon Boat and Asian Festival, Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 300 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, (860) 713-3131, riverfront.org. Aug. 20-21, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. All-day entertainment includes colorful and competitive dragon boat races, Asian-inspired live music, dancing and food. Free.
Shakespeare on the Sound, (203) 299-1300, shakespeareonthesound.org. June 16-26: Much Ado About Nothing, at Pinkney Park, Rowayton. July 5-10: Much Ado About Nothing, at Baldwin Park, Greenwich.
Riverton Music Festival, July 2, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Riverton Green, Robertsville Rd., Riverton, rivertonct.com. Performances by the Valley Swing Shift, The Girls of Mad River Crossing, the Al Fenton Big Band, The Rivertones, and Vinyl Vortex.
SoNo Arts Celebration, Various locations around Washington Street in South Norwalk. sonoarts.org. Aug. 6-7. Musical performers, dance and theater troupes, children's entertainers, artists food and a puppet-filled street parade.
The Shaboo Festival of Blues, Jillson Square, Main St., Willimantic, (860) 456-6123, windhamhospital.org. June 25, 4 p.m. The Elvin Bishop Group, The James Cotton Blues Band, David Foster and the Shaboo All-Stars. $25-$30.
Sounds of Summer Concerts on the East Hartford Town Green, June 30-Aug. 25, ehccc.com. Performances on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. Free. Featuring the Afro-Semitic Experience, On Call, Memphis Soul Spectacular, Silverado, Slide Ireland, Simply Swing, Dave Palla Quartet and Jonathan Edwards.
Spring Dance Festival, University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Ave., West Hartford, (860) 768-4862, hartford.edu. June 18-19. Celebrate ballet, modern and jazz dance with an end-of-the-year dance performance featuring members of the Community Division's Pre-Professional Intensive Program.
Strawberry Festival, North Canton Community United Methodist Church, 3 Case St., Canton. (860) 693-4589. June 18, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tag sales, vendors, burgers and dogs. The kids enjoy Kid's Korner while you bid on silent auction items donated by local merchants. Free.
Summer Wine and Food Festival, Stonington Vineyards, 523 Taugwonk Rd., Stonington, (860) 535-1222, stoningtonvineyards.com. July 16-17 and Sept. 17-18. Gourmet vendors, wine tastings, live music, cellar tours.
Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, Hill-Stead Museum, 35 Mountain Rd., Farmington, (860) 677-4787, hillstead.org. June 8, July 6 & 20, and Aug. 3, 6:30 p.m. Hear two hours of world-class poetry and live music against the tranquil background of Hill-Stead's historic Sunken Garden. Bring your own picnic supper or purchase one on-site. Free.
Taste of the Caribbean & Jerk Festival, Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 300 Columbus Blvd., Hartford, (860) 713-3131, riverfront.org. Aug. 6, 1-11 p.m. Head to the riverfront for authentic Caribbean cuisine, cool island beverages, spectacular costumes, live music and dancing to the island rhythms at one of Hartford's biggest summer events.
Tom Sawyer Day, The Mark Twain House & Museum, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford, (860) 247-3131, marktwainhouse.org. June 11, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. A day of family fun with guest artists, musicians, magicians and buccaneers. This year's theme is “pirates.” Free.
WILI Boom Box Parade, Willimantic, (860) 456-1111, wili-am.com/parade.htm. July 4. A people's parade that has been covered by the Washington Post and CBS Evening News. Participants and spectators bring portable radios tuned to marching band music broadcast by the local station, WILI-AM 1400. Begins at 11 a.m. in Jillson Square, proceeds to Memorial Park.
Wolcott Country Fair, Frisbie School Fairgrounds, 24 Todd Rd., Wolcott, wolcottfair.com. Aug. 19-21. Animals, arts and crafts, food, rides, entertainment and more.
Woodbury Reggaefest, 785 Woodbury Rd., Woodbury, (203) 263-2203, woodburyskiarea.com/summer/concerts. June 25-26. Great reggae acts including Inner Circle, the Big Takeover and Rebel Fire. $40-$75.
Women and Their Music Festival — A Musical Tribute to Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, 77 Forest St., Hartford, (860) 522-9258, harrietbeecherstowe.org. July 14, 1-4 p.m. Enjoy a family-friendly outdoor concert celebrating one of Hartford's most famous writers. Free.
Woodstock Faire, Routes 169 and 171, South Woodstock, (860) 928-3246, woodstockfair.com, Sept. 2-5. Carnival rides and games, local animal and agricultural industry displays, antique farming equipment, entertainment, food vendors and more.
Farther Afield (Outside the State)
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, George Carter Rd., Becket, MA. (413) 243-9919, jacobspillow.org, June 18-Aug. 28. America's longest-running, international dance festival with performances, lectures, tours, films, exhibits, and talks with artists from all over the world.
Wanderlust Festival, Stratton Mountain Ski Resort, Stratton Mountain, VT. stratton.wanderlustfestival.com. June 23-26. A one-of-a-kind festival bringing together the world's best yoga teachers and musical performers in a setting of breathtaking natural beauty. With Michael Franti & Spearhead, Andrew Bird, Todd Boston, the Wailers, New York's Krishna Das, Northampton's Sonya Kitchell, Brooklyn's Sub Swara, and Deepak Chopra.
Williamstown Theatre Festival, Route 2, Williamstown, MA. (413) 597-3400, wtfestival.org, June 22-Aug. 28. Including shows: Three Hotels, She Stoops to Conquer, Ten Cents a Dance, A Streetcar Named Desire, One Slight Hitch, A Doll's House, and Touch(ed).
Solid Sound — A Music and Arts Festival Curated by Wilco¿, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA. (413) 662-2111, solidsoundfestival.com. June 24-26. Lineup includes Wilco (Fri.-Sat.), the Levon Helm Band, Thurston Moore, Syl Johnson & the Sweet Divines, Here We Go Magic, Dave Douglas & Brass Ecstasy, many others.
Caramoor Music Festival, 149 Girdle Ridge Rd., Katonah, NY. (914) 232-5035, caramoor.org. June 25-Aug. 10. Classical, jazz, Latin, pop and American roots music. The versatile Orchestra of St. Luke's is the resident ensemble.
Freihofer's Saratoga Jazz Festival, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY. (518) 587-3330, spac.org/jazzfest. June 25-26. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, The Bad Plus, Michael McDonald, Dee Dee Bridgewater, George Wein & The Newport All Stars, Jack DeJohnette Group, many others.
Tanglewood 2011, 297 West St., Lenox, MA. (617) 266-1200, bso.org. June 28-Sept. 4. Many of the world's great musicians performing an impressive range of music from classical to jazz, pop, and rock, with performances virtually each and every day of the summer.
Boston Harborfest, City Hall Plaza, downtown Boston, MA. (617) 227-1528, bostonharborfest.com. June 29-July 4. Celebrating Boston's colonial, Revolutionary War and maritime history and featuring more than 200 events, half of which are free.
Bang on a Can Marathon, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA. (413) 662-2111, bangonacan.org/marathon. July 11-31. The perennially popular pinnacle of the Bang on a Can Festival, the marathon features six exciting hours of sounds from the edge, mixing innovative music written last week with rare and ear-expanding performances of classic experimental music. Come and go as you please, or stay right through.