Here in Connecticut, we put on a good front in regard to winter. “Hiking in the snow is beautiful!” we say. “You get to cut your own Christmas trees!” But the reality of the situation is much simpler: Winter stinks. It is, by far, the worst season in our state.
So when winter finally ends and spring finally starts to, well, spring, we know how to celebrate the season in style: With festivals! These are the spring festivals that you’ve got to check out this year to help usher in the warmer weather, longer days, and beautiful sunshine.
Meriden Daffodil Festival
Every year, Meriden ushers in the spring with style: And daffodils. This is the 40th year of the Meriden Daffodil Festival, two weekends dedicated to all things spring.
In reality, the festival just runs for a single weekend, April 29th and 30th. But because of the sustained hype and excitement, the celebration has grown to include a “pre-festival weekend,” which in 2018 falls on April 21st and 22nd.
But what is it all about? Well, daffodils (obviously). The festival began 40 years ago as a way to celebrate the coming of spring with the blossoming of the daffodils in Meriden’s Hubbard Park. This year, it is expected that 600,000 blooms will shoot up to wow the tens of thousands of people who attend the festival.
The pre-festival weekend features gourmet food trucks, carnival rides, a 5k road race, and what is often billed as “CT’s Largest Tag Sale.” If you’re looking to buy or sell, this is the place to do it. The actual festival weekend features a parade, craft fair, live music, fireworks, food vendors, carnival rides, and so much more. Bring your appetite: Festival favorites include fried dough, steamed cheeseburgers, Silver City waffles, grinders on a stick, loaded baked potatoes, and apple-pie empanadas.
Parking and admission to the festival are free, as is shuttle service from the parking lot to Hubbard Park, where the festival is held. You only need to pay for what you buy or eat (or if you decide to take in any of the rides or entertainment), making this a perfect way to spend a day to spend with the family enjoying the coming of spring.
New Haven Cherry Blossom Festival
The New Haven Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the 1973 planting of 72 Yoshino Japanese Cherry Blossom Trees by the New Haven Parks Department in Wooster Square. Though it began as a modest event with just a local band that would entertain the neighborhood, it has grown into a major celebration attracting more than 10,000 visitors every year. 2018 makes this the 45th annual festival.
A longstanding annual tradition in New Haven’s Historic Wooster Square, the Cherry Blossom Festival brings large crowds of locals and visitors for food, music, crafts, vendors, and of course, cherry blossoms. The festival is a great and inexpensive way to bring in spring with the family.
The festival begins with the pre-festival concert at St. Michael’s Church on Saturday (read about other musical performers at this year’s festival). Then, on Sunday, stroll through the park to enjoy the blossoms, a “Little Italy” area, a “Wooster Square Reunion” area, a pet-friendly section, and a section dedicated to family and children (featuring arts and crafts, face painting, puppets, and activities from a number of museums including the Peabody Museum, New Haven Museum, Eli Whitney Museum, and more.
If you get hungry, be sure to check out the amazing food on offer, including Abate Apizza, Buccitti Italian ice, Chabaso Bakery, the Cheese Truck, Fryborg, Jack’s Hot Dogs, Lalibela Ethiopian Food, and a lot more. You can find a full list of food vendors and other exhibitors here, and a map of the festival here.
You can park for free at the following locations: West Hills Magnet School, 511 Chapel Street; Metropolitan Business Academy, 115 Water Street; and High School in the Community, 175 Water Street. For a parking map, see here.
Fairfield Dogwood Festival
Every year, the Greenfield Hill Congregational Church in the Greenfield Hill section of Fairfield hosts its annual Dogwood Festival on Mother’s Day weekend to usher in the spring.
The free event typically runs the full Mother’s Day Weekend, which in 2018 would be Friday, May 11 to Sunday, May 13th. It features free musical entertainment, crafts, plants, and a large arts festival, as well as a luncheon, tag sale, and fun run. 2017 marks the 82nd year of the festival, which for many in the area has come to signify the true beginning of spring.
The festival is scheduled to coincide roughly with the blossoming of the hundreds of dogwood trees located at the church, which produce a beautiful pink and white flower; thousands of people visit the church festival each year to marvel at the beauty of the flowers, the community, and the fun. The tradition of planting the flowering trees at this location is more than 200 years old, making this festival a part of Connecticut history.
If you’re interested in attending, the festival is located at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church, 1045 Old Academy Road in Fairfield. It typically runs from 10am to 5pm each day of Mother’s Day weekend. Admission is free, but you should bring cash if you think you’ll want to purchase any food, crafts, or plants.
All proceeds from the festival go to support local, national, and international charities that support families and at-risk children and address homelessness, so by attending you’re also doing your own part to help make the world a better place!
Cheshire Strawberry Festival
The Cheshire Strawberry Festival happens every year in June, coinciding with the strawberry harvest (in 2018, it’s June 9th, from 10am to 4pm). And yes, June is a little late in the year to still be talking about spring festivals, but no list of spring festivals seems complete without this one. If you want to call it a summer festival, we won’t judge!
2018 marks the 81st year for the cheery festival, which features farm-fresh strawberry shortcake, grilled foods, handmade crafts, amusements, and entertainment that is sure to keep the entire family entertained and happy.
Crafters and artisans from all around New England converge on Cheshire for the festival to sell their one-of-a-kind goods, making this the perfect spot to stock up on unique gifts for yourself and loved ones. Between clothing a jewelry, knits and other fabric arts, woodcarving, bird houses, pottery, and more, there’s something here to get everyone excited.
The food on offer, of course, revolves around strawberries. From strawberry shortcake to frozen strawberry drinks to chocolate covered strawberries, it’s easy to get your fill of this spring and summertime favorite at the festival. Hotdogs, hamburgers, popcorn and other fair foods are also available.
The festival is located at the historic Church Green in the center of downtown Cheshire (at 111 Church Drive). For directions and more information, see the event’s website. Below is a map of the festival layout, though this is liable to change.