2016 is set to be an exciting year for the six states that make up the US region of New England. With new flight options and an array of exciting and quirky events, there are more reasons than ever before to explore the region’s picturesque landscapes, learn about its culture, sample its culinary delights and celebrate with the locals.
In 2016 three new flight routes to New England will launch from the UK and Ireland, making the region more accessible and affordable than ever before. Low-cost airline Norwegian will operate the first ever direct flight from London Gatwick to Boston from 27 March. Using a 787 Dreamliner, the service will depart four times a week with fares starting from £179 per person one-way. In May, Norwegian will also introduce a new Cork to Boston service which will operate under Norwegian’s Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International. Flights will depart up to five times a week. In September, Aer Lingus will begin operating a new route from Dublin to Hartford, Connecticut. The introduction of this airlift will make it much quicker for holidaymakers to reach southern New England – particularly as they will be able to get US immigration pre-clearance.
January: Bag a bargain in the January sales, New Hampshire
Forget January’s ‘Blue Monday’ and kick start the new year on a positive by taking advantage of New Hampshire’s tax free shopping to get up to 70% off in the sales. Explore the towns of North Conway, Manchester and Merrimack to shop till you drop in hundreds of discount outlet stores. Brands available include Sunglass Hut, Levi’s, The Nike Factory Store and Timberland.
February: Newport Winter Festival, Rhode Island
From 12-21 February, the historic town of Newport, Rhode Island, will host ‘New England’s largest winter extravaganza’, the 28th annual Newport Winter Festival. Featuring over 150 exciting events, highlights will include an ice sculpting competition, a chilli cook-off, a costumed pet parade, an illuminated garden with thousands of lights, comedy shows, and a Winter Festival Princess Party for kids with Frozen’s Anna and Elsa at OceanCliff Castle. While in town, holidaymakers should explore the famous Cliffwalk and see the iconic Newport Mansions.
March: Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Boston, Massachusetts
Head to New England’s largest city to party on St. Paddy’s Day (17 March). Home to one of America’s largest Irish-American communities, each year the city hosts various celebratory events. These include the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the historic ‘Southie’ (South Boston) neighbourhood which will take place on 20 March. Watch Irish dancers, marching bands and festive floats journey through the streets before heading for a local Beantown pub for a perfectly poured Guinness. Top Irish watering holes include Matt Murphy’s, Plough & Stars, the Brendan Behan Pub and The Black Rose.
April: Vermont Maple Festival Turns 50, Vermont
A New England staple, the Vermont Maple Festival in St. Albans is set to return for its 50th year in 2016 from 22-24 April. Celebrating the state’s most famous export, Maple Syrup, the festival offers fun for all the family with cooking demonstrations, a craft and food show, sugar house tours, a maple buffet and a parade. Visitors can also attend a Beverage Tasting session to sample drinks made with Vermont Pure Maple Syrup.
May: Petrol-heads unite, Connecticut
To see some of the biggest and baddest cars around, head to Lime Rock Park, the road racing centre of the eastern U.S. in Lakeville, Connecticut. Over Memorial Day weekend (27-29 May), petrol-heads can first watch Trans Am cars – Mustangs vs. Camaros vs. Challengers – race on the Saturday, before spectating at the annual Sunday Royals Car Show the next day, which attracts more than 200 of the region’s finest muscle cars, tuners, rods and antiques.
June: Learn to be a pirate at the Windjammer Days Festival, Maine
During the week of 27 June, the Windjammer Days Festival will return to Boothbay Harbor, Maine to honour America’s maritime history with a host of special events. Visitors will be able to see fully rigged windjammers travel along the coastline and watch a grand sail parade through the harbour on 29 June. For kids – and adults channelling their inner Peter Pan – there will be Pirate Recruit Training at Boothbay House Hill. This will offer the chance to join up with the ‘Pirates of the Dark Rose’ to keep the British from ending the pirate fun when they ‘attack’ the following day. Training will include learning about the ‘Jolly Rodger’ and pirate weapons before receiving your own pirate gear. Other shore side activities will include fireworks, US Coast Guard Station tours, an antique boat parade and a pirate shoot out. For holidaymakers looking for an extra special New England experience, overnight trips and cruises aboard the windjammers are available.
July: Experience America’s Oldest Independence Day Celebration, Rhode Island
Wear red, white and blue on 4 July to see a unique American experience: America’s oldest Independence Day celebration in the historic town of Bristol, Rhode Island. Overlooking Narragansett Bay, the town has a classic American main street feel with beautiful stately homes patriotically decorated for the occasion, which dates back to 1785. Events include a Fourth of July ball, fireworks over the harbour and a float parade featuring bands and drum corps from across America.
August: Acadia National Park Turns 100, Maine
In the year that the US National Park Service turns 100, Maine’s Acadia National Park will also reach its centennial on 27 August. The milestone birthday will be marked by events throughout the year including photography workshops, a winter festival, historical lectures about the park’s history and growth and an experiential scavenger hunt, Acadia Quest, that encourages kids, teens, and their families to explore, learn, and protect national parks and other conserved lands.
September: See a kaleidoscope of autumnal colours, Vermont
New England is famous for its breath-taking landscapes of ‘fall’ foliage and what better way to explore the season’s early kaleidoscope of colours than on foot? To see Vermont’s natural beauty at close range, join in with one of the ‘Inn-to-Inn’ walking tours. Over four nights traverse a route that will offer views of historic sites, covered bridges, lakes, farms, mountain streams, old-fashioned swimming holes and wildlife. On each night of the trip, stay at a different Vermont B&B – and each day your luggage will be transported between locations for you. So grab your walking boots and set out to explore the Okemo Valley countryside to experience the ‘real’ Vermont.
October: Celebrate Halloween USA-style, Massachusetts
Nowhere does Halloween better than America, but are you brave enough to visit Salem, Massachusetts – home of the witch trials during the 17th century? Throughout October the 33rd Annual Salem Haunted Happenings will see a variety of events and attractions for all ages on offer. Attracting more than 250,000 people each year, visitors can enjoy a grand parade, Haunted Biz Baz Street Fair, a family film night on Salem Common, costume balls, haunted houses, ghosts tour, live music and chilling theatrical presentations.
November: Look to the skies, Connecticut
Each year Stamford, Connecticut plays host to one of the largest helium balloon parades in the whole of the USA, attended by over 100,000 people. Featuring giant balloon characters including Shrek, Scooby Doo and Mr Potato Head, award-winning marching bands and decorative floats, this event is fun for all ages. An insider top tip is to get a sneak peek of the balloons inflating the day before the parade at the Giant Balloon Inflation Party. 2016’s date is still to be confirmed, but the event usually takes place a few days before Thanksgiving.
December: Journey on the Santa Express, New Hampshire
Get in the Christmas spirit on a festive journey through the White Mountains of New Hampshire aboard the Hobo Railroad’s Santa Express. Available from the Friday after Thanksgiving until just before Christmas, the 80-minute ride in vintage railroad cars journeys along the winding Pemigewassett River from Hobo Junction in Lincoln to Woodstock and back. On board meet Santa Claus and his elves while enjoying hot chocolate, holiday cookies and the spectacular winter wonderland views outside. All children receive a special gift from Santa.
For further information on New England, visit www.discovernewengland.co.uk