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Spring Festivals Bloom From Coast to Coast
The arrival of spring alone seems like reason enough to make merry in many parts of the country. But if you need a little more incentive, springtime festivals celebrate everything from tulips to tugboats. They’re a great excuse to get outdoors, explore your own or a new city, and stuff yourself on regional treats.
At the Seattle Maritime Festival held along the waterfront at the Bell Harbor Marina and Pier 66 from May 12-14, family-oriented fun includes the world’s largest tugboat race, boat-building contests, and photo booths where the kids can pose with pirates, mermaids and Popeye. A chowder cook-off, Coast Guard demonstrations and live music will keep the adults in your group entertained. The Northwest Folklife Festival at the Seattle Center during Memorial Day weekend marks its 40th appearance in the Emerald City this year. With 1,200 performances on 25 stages, the free festival highlights the artistic expressions of world cultures thriving in the Pacific Northwest, with the 2011 theme featuring Bulgarian traditions. In between shows, you can stroll through the Living Green Courtyard to learn about sustainability and enjoy live music from local bands on the Indie Roots stage.
At Doors Open Toronto, you get the chance to step inside another era. On May 28 and 29, the city will open 150 buildings of architectural, historic, cultural or social significance for free public visitation. New properties this year include an artists’ studio cooperative housed in a former wholesale grocery store, the Canadian Turkish Islamic Heritage Association mosque, and the new Corus Quay building in the waterfront revitalization project. Woofstock, North America’s largest dog festival, takes place on June 11 and 12 this year in the St. Lawrence Market Neighborhood. When 300,000 dog lovers and their canine companions come together for Yappy Hour, the Woofstock Fashion Show, a Mr. and Mrs. Canine Canada pageant, and costume, talent and stupid trick contests, you can’t help but have some doggone fun.
The Atlanta Food & Wine Festival will bring together award-winning chefs, barbecue pit masters, sommeliers and local growers in a celebration of Southern culinary traditions May 19-22. You can attend seminars, demonstrations and tastings representing the best in food and beverage from Texas to Washington, D.C. and all states in between. The city’s month-long free Jazz Festival culminates at Piedmont Park over Memorial Day weekend, with performances by jazz legends including the Warren Wolf Quintet, Audrey Shakir and Ninety Miles, and up-and-coming artists in the North Atlanta High School Jazz Band and Rialto Jazz for Kids.
For the quintessential Chicago experience, visit the city during the June 10-12 Chicago Blues Festival at Grant Park. The largest free blues festival in the world, this jam-packed show plays tribute to the musical greats who gave the city its reputation as the “Blues Capital of the World.” Chicagoans showcase their diverse neighborhoods with more than 400 local festivals throughout the year. The one-time community block party on Lincoln Avenue that has become Ribfest Chicago , the city’s most anticipated street fair, will lay a spread of 50,000 pounds of ribs and barbecue from two dozen city restaurants. You can join an expected 45,000 other hungry visitors there during the June 10-12 event. Generations of Tuscan traditions characterize South Oakley Avenue, and residents of this proud neighborhood will put their Italian heritage on display for you at the Oakley Festa Pasta Vino June 17-19.