Nantucket Island is getting ready for a 2022 spring season that is better than ever! Four fun festivals are being relaunched, featuring in-person events that everyone can enjoy. There will be family activities, picnics, parades, art exhibits, parties, lectures, and gatherings.
The fun begins in April with the Nantucket Daffodil Festival by the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce. This weekend of celebrating spring starts on Friday, April 22 with a Flower Power Party hosted by the Nantucket Historical Association. From 6 to 8:30 pm, guests can enjoy a look at new exhibitions around the museum, music and dancing, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, and, of course, the coveted prizes for the “best blooming” outfits.
On Daffy Saturday, April 23, the festival starts at 9:15 am, when dozens of antiques cars and some antique motorcycles — all adorned for Daffy — line up on Main Street for the public to see. This staging is in place in downtown Nantucket until 12 noon. At 10 am on Saturday, more festival fun will be held at Nantucket’s Children’s Beach (a moderate walk from Main Street) that includes the Daffodil Hat Pageant followed by the Children’s Parade with kids and their decorated bicycles. After these signature annual events, there will be family fun that includes a NanPuppets Performance, a visit from Barnaby Bear, giveaways, and a Daffy Dog parade presented by the Nantucket Island Safe Harbor for Animals at 12:30 pm. There are so many events on Daffodil Saturday, that you’ll want to plan an itinerary that enables you to see them all!
At 12 noon on Saturday, April 23, the Tailgate Picnic in ‘Sconset begins. Parking is at a premium in Sconset and participants in the Antique Car Parade get reserved spots, so be prepared to park a few blocks away and walk to Main Street, Siasconset to stroll along the picnic route. Most of the picnics have themes and many participants don creative costumes. A few may share their treats, but that is not a given, and there will not be food for sale in Sconset, so bring your own basket if you want to enjoy a picnic lunch. Live music and other events usually liven up the day.
The Nantucket Garden Club’s famous Daffodil Show opens to the public on Saturday, April 23 at 2 pm. Held in the greenhouses of Bartlett’s Farm, this display of more than 700 daffodils plus daffodil flower arrangements and photographs of daffodils is truly a sight to behold! The show continues on Saturday until 5pm, and is open again on Sunday, April 24 from 10am to 4 pm. The show is free to all, with donations to the Garden Club gratefully accepted. The Nantucket Daffodil Show is approved by the American Daffodil Society.
Most people plan a visit to Nantucket for the entire weekend so they can participate in all the festival events. You can find travel and lodging info on The Insider’s Guide to Nantucket.
The island goes quiet for a few weeks after Daffy until mid-May, when the Nantucket Wine & Food Festival opens on May 18. The festival was founded by Denis Toner, who created what has become one of the most prestigious events of its kind. When the first vintners arrived to the island and bottles were uncorked, a magical tradition was launched. The festival typically attracts more than 3,000 attendees to the island and boasts a continually growing family of vintners, wineries, renowned chefs, and restaurants who offer tastings, seminars, luncheons, talks, receptions, and special dinners.
The more than 100 Luminaries expected to be part of the 2022 Nantucket Wine & Food Festival include Eduardo Chadwick, Hubert de Billy, Joe Donelan, Chef Lydia Shire, Chef Elizabeth Falkner, Paul Hobbs, Chef Joseph Keller, Emmanuel Lemoine, Chef Linkie Marais, Christian Moreau, Chef Bruce Sacino, Michael Silacci of Opus One, Eric Asimov of the New York Times, and Dionne Irvine.
The first half of June 2022 brings two more festivals to Nantucket Island: The Plein Air Festival and The Nantucket Book Festival.
Plein Air is a beautifully low-key festival presented by the Artists Association of Nantucket. Island artist Frank Swift Chase was a huge proponent of en plein air painting, and he taught outdoor classes on Nantucket Island from 1920 through the early 1950s. The core of his regular students became the founders of the AAN. In this spirit, the Artists Association hosts Plein Air Nantucket every year and presents Frank Swift Chase awards: juried prizes given to artists who participate in the festival.
This year the festival is being held from June 14 to June 19, with the date(s) for the annual Paint Out at Brant Point expected to be announced soon. During the Paint Out, artists will be painting outdoors in a public place, and spectators are invited to watch them from a safe distance. A list of suggested Plein Air locations will be posted on the Artists Association website.
There is no designated painting area artists interested in participating in Plein Air Nantucket and there is no entry fee; however artworks eligible to be considered for a Chase Award must measure 16” x 20” or smaller. All artists should be respectful of signage and not violate private property restrictions. The majority of the work should be painted on location and brought to the AAN gallery upon completion.
The Frank Swift Chase Awards will be posted in the Cecelia Joyce & Seward Johnson Gallery at 19 Washington Street, Nantucket, and Plein Air works will be on display there.
The Nantucket Book Festival by the Nantucket Book Foundation has become very much beloved by the Nantucket community and beyond in the ten years it has been held on our island. Held this year June 16 to 19, the festival will feature more than 30 presenting authors, who will give talks, join forums, and sign their books. Authors participating in 2022 include: Nathaniel Philbrick, Roy Blount, Jr., Alice Hoffman, Imbolo Mbue, Zak Salih, Sharon Stone, Scott Turow, Louise Penny, Evan Osnos, Azar Nafisi, and Ridley Pearson.
In addition to the author events during the 2022 Nantucket Book Festival, on June 17 and 18, Typewriter Rodeo will be in the Atheneum Garden to write spontaneous, custom-composed poems with just a sentence or topic from participants. There is no charge to have a poem written, but donations are encouraged and appreciated.
Highlighting the weekend at 8pm on Saturday, June 18 will be a rare appearance by the Rock Bottom Remainders, a garage band of authors including Dave Barry, Sam Barry, James McBride, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount Jr, Scott Turow, Ridley Pearson, Greg Iles, Alan Zweibel, Susie Essman, and Mary Karr. Hailed by critics as having “one of the world’s highest ratios of noise to talent,” the Remainders have no music videos, no record contract, no Grammy® nominations—but do have over 159,000 hits on Google. Most Book Festival events are free of charge, but tickets to the few paid events are available at NantucketBookFestival.org.
Another festive weekend event this June is Open Day at Sankaty Lighthouse. On June 18 and 19 between 11 am and 2 pm, the lighthouse will be opened for people to climb the steps and enjoy an unparalleled view. The line to enter the lighthouse can be long, and parking at the site is very limited. All participants must remain within the boundaries of the fences: as their website states “If the poison ivy doesn’t get you, the drop will.” All dogs must be on leashes.
Thanks to the generosity of donors, the ’Sconset Trust Board of Trustees, and the dedication of volunteers, government officials, and island businesses, the 7-acre site where Sankaty Lighthouse is located is open for public visits from dawn until dusk all year-round. The lighthouse is available for tours during specific Open Days: all other days and times, access into the lighthouse is strictly prohibited. The ’Sconset Trust maintains the lighthouse and more details about the organization and Open Days can be found at SconsetTrust.org.