By Elisa Rodero
As travel across the U.S. opens back up, arts lovers throughout the nation are thrilled to start planning their visits. If you’re seeking vibrant arts scenes couched in the charm, scenery and history of New England, Maine has it all. This list will help you build your itinerary—whether you’re looking to visit a city or a small town.
From museum to mosh pit, Portland and its surrounding communities offer the music, theater, and visual arts you’re craving. Here, you’ll enjoy the variety a city offers without being intimidating by size; Portland is small enough to be manageable while allowing you to sample a bit of everything.
Spend a day—or a week—perusing more than 18,000 works of art, from Warhol to Monet, at the Portland Museum of Art, or enjoy a sampling each month from local artists with free admission to a variety of galleries, museums and other venues during the First Friday Art Walk. If the energy of performance art appeals to you, the nonprofit organization Portland Ovations offers year-round live and virtual music, dance, screen and stage events.
Music fans may be aware that Portland was recently recognized by Rolling Stone as a dark-horse destination where passionate bands are making a big noise on the indie scene. Although 2020 put a damper on all live music, its tentative return is being applauded enthusiastically as venues plan to host shows that were rescheduled from last year. Livestreams are available for ticket holders if in-person attendance isn’t possible.
Check out Portland’s tourism page for top-notch recommendations for food, lodging and libations. And if you’re having trouble choosing what to do, just throw a dart at the activities list offered by Creative Portland, where you can find everything from concerts to classes, and you’ll hit a winner every time.
A small town with a large arts community, the whimsical mid-coast Maine town of Belfast has it all—arts, farms, outdoor fun, delicious seafood and unique artisan shops.
The Belfast region showcases local and national artists throughout the summer. Late June’s Arts in the Park festival features local fine art and high-quality crafts, and the North Atlantic Blues Festival in July is one of the East Coast’s most prestigious events for blues performers.
But to truly enjoy the variety this small-town arts community has to offer, you’ll want to check out some of its local artists, galleries and shops, where you’ll find everything from fiber art to pottery. Bring your holiday gift lists—you’ll be sure to get some of your shopping out of the way early. And a variety of performing arts centers around town will keep you entertained with music and theater well into the evening.
Not only will Belfast satisfy your craving for creative arts, its restaurant scene also hits the spot, with variety including delicious, locally caught seafood and innovative vegan fare.
To find more things to see and do in the Belfast area, the Waldo County Chamber of Commerce magazine provides plenty of options.