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Travel Talk: Search summer festivals for eventful trips

Sometimes the timing of a visit means everything. Bud and I happened to venture into Prague a few weeks after the devastating floods in 2006. Not so much fun! On the other hand, we timed our visit to Bethlehem, Penn., to coincide with their annual Musikfest (muzikfest.org) celebration. Serious fun! The city was dressed to the nines, residents grinned with pride, the food was fabulous and we can still hear Norah Jones on a warm summer eve . . . it was terrific! Granted, you can’t always time your vacation excursions with local revelry. But as you’re thinking about this summer’s possibilities, why not try?

Music festivals

Music in the summer is always grand, and what’s better than having a great soundtrack playing in your head when you think of a city a few years down the road? Whether you’re on the edge of doddering, like me and Bud . . . or a young family or a couple with more, shall we say, modern taste in music, there are lots of ways to find appealing acts and venues. First, if you have a favorite artist, band or even orchestra, you can Google the name and that will get you right to the performer’s main website. Often they have alert functions where you can sign up for advance emails (and access to tickets) for upcoming events. Pick a venue – the most popular acts are often headliners in larger events or festivals. Or perhaps you missed out on the Newport Jazz Festival back in the ’60s, but can fit it in now. Visit newportjazzfest.net and mark your calendar for the first weekend in August. You can also search broader websites like musicfestivaljunkies.com for inspiration from Tennessee to Vegas. The main listing is by date, but you can search by month, artist, region or genre. But a word of caution: Most tickets are nonrefundable and nonchangeable, truly. Be sure to read the fine print and understand whether you are buying from the venue itself or from a third-party reseller. Prices can vary dramatically for the same seat depending on the purchase point.

Food and wine festivals

What about festivals planned around tasting? From crab fests down south to Tex-Mex in Texas, not to mention lobsters and corn on the cob in Maine, regional food is often an irresistible theme for a summer festival. If you’re a foodie (and who isn’t these days?), the search is a bit more challenging than if your primary interest is cool sounds. Start with your dream meal or taste . . . New England clam chowder? Use that as a search phrase along with the word “festival” and a location. Regional works well (Northeast, South) but sometimes identifying a state and going right to the state website is best. Visitnh.gov has a whole section on festivals! Or try whichfestival.com (pc or app versions), which has info on festivals all over the globe – current listings include Madrid, Myrtle Beach, Boston and Dublin, Ireland – and the app version highlights upcoming festivals right near you. One that caught my eye right away is the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival in early September – but also on the list is the Lowell Folk Festival at the end of July.

Favorite places

The other way to make sure you see a city or an area under memorable circumstances is to go right to the city/town website. No matter how hard they try, it’s impossible for global, national or even statewide websites to list everything. If you yearn to see Montreal, tourisme-montreal.org alerts you to the possibilities. Even in rural areas, most towns have websites, and many of them boast visitor or tourist pages!

(Chase Binder lives in Bow. Read her blog at travels

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