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Jan 12

5 Unique Massachusetts Winter Events

Outdoors

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Posted by the Mass Office of Travel and Tourism

The holiday festivals and craft fairs might be behind us, but that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of entertaining events taking place around Massachusetts in January and February.

Many of the cities and towns spread across the Commonwealth have their own signature winter events you won’t find anywhere else, featuring everything from chowder contests to ice sculptures.

Without further ado, here are five special Massachusetts events and excursions where you can count on having a good time this winter.

Cape Cod Boatbuilders’ Show in Hyannis, MA

Dubbed “the best little boat show in the northeast,” the eighth annual Cape Cod Boatbuilders’ Show will feature unique, custom-built sailboats and powerboats in over 50 exhibits this year. Unlike most major boat shows, audiences will find craft boats and limited-edition creations by local builders. Avid boat fans can marvel at the craftsmanship that went into many of these one-of-a-kind pieces and interact with the builders at each exhibit, while those who are less knowledgeable will get the chance to learn the ins and outs of boat design or just enjoy these true works of art.

Entry is $5 (and free for children under age 12!) with free parking at the Resort and Conference Center in Hyannis, which is located here. To get a sense of what shows have looked liked in previous years, just watch this video:

Carnaval! Masquerade Party in Worcester, MA

If you’re more into exploring culture than hitting the slopes, circle Carnaval! at the Worcester Center for Crafts on your calendar. This interactive exhibit, which runs from January 28 – March 16, celebrates global culture and includes free lectures, a day of clay mask-making and weekly tours, culminating with a DIY-inspired Carnival fair. Click here for a detailed list of events and contact information.

Saturday, February 1, is the day of the main attraction: the Carnaval! Masquerade Party! You’re strongly encouraged to bring your dancing shoes, your family and your Mardi Gras mask, with prizes being doled out for the best costumes and masks. The dance will feature authentic Caribbean reggae, international food and mask making (just in case you left yours at home!). Contact the Worcester Center for Crafts to buy tickets for $25 in advance or snag them at the door for $35.

Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend in Gloucester, MA

Do you like to be out and about, even during the chillier months? Look no further than the Cape Ann Birdwatchers Weekend in Gloucester, MA, which gives you the chance to do just that and see some special wildlife along the way! From January 31 – February 2, highly skilled birdwatchers and novices alike can enjoy the wide variety of opportunities to see Massachusetts’ winter seabirds and learn from the experts via guided boat tours, bus tours, art exhibits and presentations scheduled throughout the weekend.

With a variety of options to choose from, budding ornithologists can either attend the exhibits for free (3 – 7 p.m. on 1/31, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on 2/1) at The Elks at Bass Rocks (directions here) or register for an entire weekend of winter birding. For the grand finale, on Sunday, February 2, birdwatchers can enjoy a tour on Gloucester’s 7 Seas Whale Watch boat, the Privateer IV, for a closer look at the variety of species that populate the region (weather permitting). Whether you prefer to bird watch by land or by sea, this unique weekend will suit anyone with a passion for wildlife and the great outdoors.

Cape Ann bird

Photo: One of many rare birds you can encounter in Cape Ann via Facebook

North Adams WinterFest in North Adams, MA

Saturday, February 15marks the 17th Annual WinterFest, one of the Bay State’s most anticipated festivals in western Mass. Nestled in the downtown area of the quaint Massachusetts city of North Adams, WinterFest is known for showcasing the best that New England has to offer through its famous ice sculptures, chowder contests, and winter family fun in this jam-packed day.

This year, foodies and chowder connoisseurs will enjoy sampling North Adams’ best recipes from local restaurants and can vote for the “cream of the [chowder] crop!” For a preview of which restaurants might make appearances this year, check out this map of Downtown’s eating and drinking spots. As if the chowder alone isn’t reason enough to make the trip, North Adams has plenty of places to put your feet up if you’re staying overnight (we know that chowder sampling can be exhausting!).

New events and performances are still in the process of being added to this year’s schedule, so, if you have questions, be sure to direct them by phone (413-664-6180) or email to the City of North Adams to see what’s in store for 2014!

Holyoke Winter Carnival in Holyoke, MA

You’ll find the perfect blend of traditional and quirky things to do this winter in the City of Holyoke. If dog shows, domino tournaments and ski trips pique your interest, you’ll want to stick around from February 7 – 16 to enjoy an entire week’s worth of winter-themed activities at the Third Annual Holyoke Carnival throughout the city.

Kicking off with the Quilt Show at 9 a.m. on February 7, this celebration also features wine tasting for the grownups, puppet performances for the kids, a scenic winter bike ride for anyone who wants a little wind in the face and even curling demonstrations! Take a look at the schedule for the full even listing and to find out how you can also access $15 lift tickets to the Berkshire East Ski Resort, skate for free at the Fitzpatrick Arena, or show Holyoke your chili cooking chops at the 2014 Roaring Chili Cook-Off.

Holyoke skiing

Photo: Family Ski Night at the Holyoke Carnival

Of course, this is just a sampling of the variety of events and activities that a winter in Massachusetts has to offer. To find even more to fill your schedule, just click here.

Will you be heading off to any special outings this winter? Let us know in the comments!

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  • Dianne

    Attleboro is holding a Winter Night Festival on Feb. 22 from 5-9pm. I just added it to your event listing. Bring the family, it’s all free!

    • MassVacation

      Thank you for doing that, Dianne! Sounds like a good time :)

  • Tyler Franks

    One of the fun things to do in Salem, Ma in the winter was to travel between friends houses through the smuggling tunnels. The women used to travel this way in the winter bringing dishes to their friends’ homes to keep them warm. Themselves and the food. For now you can wait till the Spring so you can travel through them too. Check out the Salem Tunnel Tour, the best Salem walking tour in town. Also check out the book about the tunnels too Salem Secret Underground:The History of the Tunnels in the City I bet the runaway slaves appreciate this leg of their journey during the winter too. I took this tour and loved it. I found their winter comments hilarious.

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