Labor Day weekend in Gloucester marks the arrival of the annual Schoonerfest - a can't-miss event put on by Maritime Gloucester and the City of Gloucester. The Gloucester Schooner Festival features activities jam-packed into Friday, Saturday, and Sunday - including the boat parade of lights, fireworks, and the Mayor's race!

The festival starts off on Friday, September 4th, when the participating vessels begin to arrive. A Mayor's reception takes place at 5PM for invitees, and simultaneously the Gloucester Block Party takes place downtown from 6 to 11 PM. There is also a gala at Maritime Gloucester (click here for tickets and information).

On Saturday, events are as follows:

10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Maritime Gloucester Heritage Day

Maritime Gloucester at 23 Harbor Loop, will host its annual Heritage Day celebration. Free and open to the public, the event features over 25 artisan and food vendors and community organizations, which will set up on Schooner Way and down Webster Pier with both demonstrations and family activities. Meridian, a traditional Celtic band, performs on the Boat House stage at 11:30 am and 1:00 pm. Schooners will be at the dock and open to visitors, and Maritime Gloucester's exhibits and aquarium will be open throughout the day for half-price admission.

10:00 am

Fitz Henry Lane's Gloucester: A Guided Walking Tour

This tour paints a picture of what Gloucester was like in the 19th century when Fitz Henry Lane was literally painting pictures. Tour lasts about one and a half hours (participants should be prepared to be on their feet the entirety of the tour) and held rain or shine. Cost is $10 for Cape Ann Museum members; $20 for nonmembers which includes museum admission. Space is limited, reservations are required.

4:00 pm

Fiddlin' in the Fo'c'sle Ceilidh Aboard Adventure

Local Celtic musicians Michael O'Leary, Adrienne Howard, David de la Barre and Linda Swicker host an acoustic ceilidh of traditional tunes on the deck of the Schooner Adventure – at the dock. Open to the public, family friendly, BYOB with available snacks/food. Tip: bring collapsible beach/lawn chairs and/or seat cushions for the 'deck furniture'.

6:30 pm to 10:30 pm

Concert on Stacy Boulevard

Guilty Pleasure will perform on Stacy Boulevard with a break during the fireworks.

7:00 pm

Boat Parade of Lights

The annual Boat Parade of Lights begins at dusk at Jones Creek, travels down the Annisquam river, through the drawbridge and into Gloucester Harbor, ending at Smith's Cove.

Schooner Festival Fireworks

Celebrate Gloucester's annual Schooner Festival with a fireworks display viewed from the terrace and lawn of Beauport , the Sleeper-McCann House, 75 Eastern Point Blvd, Gloucester, and enjoy an abridged evening tour as the house transforms at night. Bring blankets, chairs, picnics, and mosquito spray. Candles are prohibited. Adults and children over twelve only, please. $10 Historic New England members, $18 nonmembers. Registration is required. 978-283-0800 to purchase tickets.

Following the Boat Parade, there will be fireworks in Gloucester harbor beginning around 9:15 PM.

Sunday's events:

8:30 am

Skippers Meeting

This meeting is required for all Schooners sailing in the Mayor's Race. Meet at Solomon Jacobs Park, immediately adjacent to the U.S. Coast Guard Station on Harbor Loop.

10:30 am

Parade of Sail as Schooners proceed from Inner Harbor, past the Fishermen's Memorial on Stacy Boulevard, to the race starting area off Eastern Point. Also,

Come to Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, 75 Eastern Point Boulevard, Gloucester, for some of the best views of the Parade of Sail. Watch schooners sail to the Eastern Point Light breakwater to begin the Mayor's race for the Esperanto Cup. Coffee and light breakfast refreshments are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Bring blankets and/or chairs and other refreshments if preferred. $5 for Historic New England members, $10 nonmembers. Registration is required. 978-283-0800 to purchase tickets.

1:00 pm

Start of Mayor's Race for the Esperanto Cup, Ned Cameron Trophy and Betty Ramsey Trophy off Eastern Point.

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Reception and Awards Ceremony

for captains, crews and invited guests (ticketed event)

7:30 pm (Boarding at 7:00 pm)

Roomful of Blues Festival Cruise. 5-time Grammy nominees Roomful of Blues will rock the Beauport Princess. Admission includes concert and harbor cruise. A full bar and light snacks are available for purchase.

Stay tuned next week for a follow-up post about the local schooners that will be participating in the festival!