35+ Events Happening this May in Mystic Country Last Updated 6/16

April showers bring May flowers... and season openings, foodie favorites, festivals, celebrations and more. Here's a rundown of nearly 40 events, festivals and exhibits in eastern Connecticut to visit in May.

  • For more events, click here to view our 101 Biggest Events in Mystic Country magazine.

Openings & Season Starts

Argia Sets Sail
Historic Downtown Mystic
Sail away aboard Argia, an 81-foot traditional sailing ship. Discover islands, lighthouses and the beauty of sailing as you bask in the sun and salt air aboard a 19th century schooner. argiamystic.com

Opening of Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough
May 6 / 11:30am-7pm / Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough, Noank
Abbott's is a legendary seaside restaurant visited by some 100,000 lobster lovers every summer. Dine indoors or out at a fabulous setting right on the Mystic River in Noank. Hard to find but impossible to forget. abbottslobster.com

First Friday Putnam
May 6 / 6pm / Downtown Putnam
Downtown’s Putnam's Main Street closes to traffic and opens to arts. This year the festivals (every first Friday of the month from May to October) are each inspired and themed by some of the major cities of the USA: New York City, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Nashville and New Orleans. discoverputnam.com

Hempsted Opening Day
May 7 / 1-4pm / Hempstead Houses, New London
This landmark property tells the story of three great populations whose paths collided in early New London: the Native American, the Europeans who arrived in the 1600s, and the enslaved Africans who were brought here about the same time. Celebrate the start of a new season at the Hempsted Houses. ctlandmarks.org

Putnam Peddler's Market
May 15 / 10am-2pm / 40 Main Street, Putnam
A curated urban-style flea market in a small town setting. putnampeddlersmarket.com

Third Thursday Street Fest
May 19 / 6pm / Main Street, Willimantic
Every third Thursday from May to September, stroll along Willimantic’s Main Street amid a background of musical, theatrical, visual, gastronomic, and olfactory delights. This year marks the Street Fest’s 15th anniversary. willimanticstreetfest.com

Walk Norwich Launch and the Season Opening
May 25 / 4-5:30pm / Norwich Heritage and Regional Visitors' Center, Norwich
A celebration for the Visitors' Center opening season celebrations and the Walk Norwich Launch party. The celebration is for the completion of the two self guided trails: The Benedict Arnold Trail and Uncas Leap Trail. Kevin Titus will portray Benedict Arnold and the Mohegan Tribal Drummers will perform. walknorwich.org

Season Opening of Ocean Beach Park
May 28 / Ocean Beach Park, New London
Summer officially arrives in the Mystic Country region with the season opening of this 1/2-mile beach boardwalk featuring an Olympic-size pool, miniature golf course, rides, arcade, playgrounds and a cafe and ice cream shoppe. ocean-beach-park.com



Food & Brews

Thread City Hop Fest – SOLD OUT
May 1 / 1-5pm / Jillson Square, Willimantic
Willimantic beer festival featuring craft beer tastings from more than 60 New England breweries, live music and food vendors. Ages 21+ only. threadcityhopfest.com

Harmonies & Hops
May 7 / 12-3pm / Danielson Adventure Sports, Danielson
A celebration of the harmonies of spring and beer. Only 200 tickets will be sold so get them while you can. Showcasing mostly breweries from CT, MA, and RI with a focus on the smaller, hard to find and up and coming breweries. Live music and great beer. beerfests.com/events/harmonies-and-hops

Spring Food Stroll
May 11 / 5:30-8:30pm / Downtown New London
Celebrate downtown New London at its best as you stroll through dozens of downtown venues and taste samples from some of the District’s finest eateries. newlondonmainstreet.org

Kick Off to Summer Party
May 21-22 / 11am-5pm / Stonington Vineyards, Stonington
Join us Saturday and Sunday, May 21st and 22nd from 11-5 daily to kick of the 2016 summer season! We will have DJ JOEY G spinning tunes from 2-5 daily, The Gilded Tomato Pizza Truck, MeadowStone Farm Cheese, MI Chocolate, & Behan Oysters serving up some great food! We will also have wine purchase incentives, so it's a great weekend to stock up on your favorite Stonington Vineyards' wine! Complimentary admission - normal tasting fees apply for the weekend. Stoningtonvineyards.com

Mystic Food Truck Rally
May 21-22 / Mystic Aquarium, Mystic
Two days of glorious food at the Mystic Aquarium Parking Lot. Indulge in gourmet cuisine prepared by local food truck chefs. Bring your family, friends, and appetite! Saturday, 11am-8pm. Sunday, May 22, 11am-5pm. facebook.com

Spring Farmers Market Rendezvous
May 22 / 11-2pm / Jillson Square, Willimantic
A celebration of Connecticut's food and farm. This farmers' market boasts 50+ vendors offering gorgeous asparagus, rhubarb, greens and other spring produce, vegetable plants, eggs, meats, cheeses, artisan foods, and more!

Spring Market Pop-Up Market at Holmberg Orchards
May 28 / 12pm / Holmberg Orchards, Gales Ferry
eatured will be more than 40 farmers and artisan vendors, wine tasting, guided wagon rides through the orchards with long range views of the Poquetanuk Cove, live acoustic blues music by Ramblin’ Dan Stevens, face painting and food trucks. This event will kick off the opening weekend for Holmberg’s Wine Tasting Barn, open Saturdays and Sundays through October. www.holmbergorchards.com.



The Exhibits

Herman Leonard: Jazz Memories
Now– May 29 / Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London
Among the greatest of all jazz photographers, Herman Leonard created iconic portraits that shaped the image of jazz music and its identity in the American psyche. Working in New York and Paris in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s, Leonard captured such legendary artists as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Dizzy Gillespie, among others. This exhibit features thirty photographs from Leonard’s Jazz Memories series, displayed together for the first time since they came to the museum in 1998. lymanallyn.org

Ten/Forty: Collecting American Art at the Florence Griswold Museum
Now–May 29 / Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme
An exhibit commemorating the 40th anniversary of Jeffrey Andersen’s tenure as Director of the Museum, and the tenth anniversary of Curator Amy Kurtz Lansing. The exhibition reflects on the evolving nature of how the Museum has approached building and stewarding a collection of American art. Recent acquisitions and selections from the permanent collection are placed in the context of new scholarship and examined in terms of how museums have changed their approach to the subject over the past forty years. Ten/Forty looks back over decades of transformation and contemplates avenues for future growth in telling the story of art in Connecticut. florencegriswoldmuseum.org

Guerrilla Girls: Art, Activism & the “F” Word
Now–May 22 / William Benton Museum of Art, Storrs
Founded in 1985, a group of female artists joined together to form the Guerrilla Girls, an art activist group devoted to protesting the under-representation of female artists in many of the world’s most prominent art museums.

126th Norwich Art School Student Exhibition
Now – May 30 / Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich
Two successive exhibitions will feature art work by NFA and elementary students who participated in the various art courses offered during the academic year. Paintings, drawings, prints and mixed media pieces, photography and graphic designs, sculpture, clay objects, metal and jewelry creations, and wood working projects will be displayed. slatermuseum.org

Members/Elected Artists Exhibition
Now – May 30 / Mystic Museum of Art, Mystic
A non-juried show open to all members of the Mystic Museum of Art and elected Artists. mysticmuseumofart.org

Free Range
Now–June 25 / Hygienic Art, New London
The artists of Free Range are experimental in their work style, materials and methodology. Each artist has a specific approach; all are explorative and continuously evolving. Preparation for this show formed collaborations between contributing artists, which will be displayed along with individual bodies of work, allowing for an exhibition of coproduced vision and creation. Opening Reception: Saturday, May 28, 7-10pm. hygienic.org

Celabrations & More

Spring Outdoors: Last Green Valley
Now - May 31 / Various locations in The Last Green Valley
Spring Outdoors is a fun-filled and scenic opportunity to connect with the land and trails while enjoying guided walks and learning about interesting features, stories, or management strategies on land trust and conservation commission properties during the spring season of awakening. TLGV has developed a web-based brochure (that can be downloaded and printed) listing all of your choices. thelastgreenvalley.org

The Arrival & Tours of the Cuauhtemoc
May 2-5 / New London City Pier
The ARM Cuauhtémoc, the Mexican Navy’s training vessel, has set sail for New London and will arrive at New London City Pier at 10am on May 2. A 21-gun salute with a mobile saluting battery from Submarine Base New London positioned at Fort Trumbull. An informal flotilla of vessels is expected to greet the ship. Free tours of the Cuauhtémoc will be conducted from noon to 4 p.m. May 2 and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 3, 4 and 5. facebook.com

First Friday Norwich
May 6 / 6-9pm / Downtown Norwich
Downtown Norwich galleries, theatres, businesses, and civic organizations collaborate by uniting a variety of local artists, musicians, culinary experts and authors to bring you an art experience to remember. firstfridaynorwich.com

Downtown Mystic Spring Stroll
May 7 / Historic Downtown Mystic
Come celebrate Spring with the Downtown Mystic Merchants. Participating businesses will be offering specials, promotions and fun activities for the kids. mysticdowntown.org

Community Free Day
May 7 / 10am-5pm /  Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme
It is a great time to gather family and friends for a day of art, history and nature. Visitors can explore art exhibitions, tour the historic Griswold House, and meander the beautiful grounds. All ages will enjoy playing gallery games, making art, visiting an artist's studio, or just relaxing by the Lieutenant River. florencegriswoldmuseum.org

Free Comic Book Day
May 7 / Multiple Locations
Visit comic book shops throughout the region during this nation-wide celebration of comic book fandom. Participating shops in eastern Connecticut include Sarge's Comics (New London), A.J.'s Comics (Colchester), and Wonderland Comics (Putnam).

Pomfret Town-Wide Tag Sale
May 7 / Pomfret
Celebrating 10 years! Purchase a map to guide you to more than 50 participating residences, businesses and organizations spread throughout the town. Maps are sold for $1 at Pomfret Community School (20 Pomfret St.) and Christ Church ( 527 Pomfret St.). visitpomfret.com

Heritage Metal Fest
May 7 / 10am-4pm / Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum, Willimantic
Come here and see and listen to the sounds of railroading. Listen to the various blacksmith hammers striking the hot steel on anvils. Take a ride on the hand-powered pump car, assist in turning the 16 ton Armstrong turntable, take a train ride along an original section of the Air Line (once traveled by the famous Ghost Train); train rides extra cost. cteastrrmuseum.org

Hal Holbrook: Mark Twain Tonight
May 14 / 8pm / Garde Arts Center, New London
Hal Holbrooks legendary one-man show brings the beloved author to life with irreverent humor and astonishing authenticity. gardearts.org

Mansfield Pup Crawl
May 14 / 9:30am / Mansfield Town Square, Mansfield
Participants and their four-legged best friends enjoy a guided walk through Storrs Center with fun and educational stops along the way. This free event is open to the public. mansfieldct.gov/pupcrawl

Mystic Half Marathon & 10K
May 15 / 7am / Starts at Olde Mistick Village, Mystic
The best way to admire the beauty of the Connecticut coast? Running in the Mystic Half Marathon & 10K. Experience 13.1 mystical miles past historic tall ships, through charming downtown and along the scenic shoreline. Like Mystic itself, this event promises to quickly become a true New England classic. hartfordmarathon.com

May 15 / 10am / 28 Bridge Street, Willimantic
Come float down the Willimantic river float from Eagleville during Riverfest. All skill levels are welcome. Other events include a road race, bike ride, food and more. willimanticwhitewater.org

Vintage Motorycle Classic
May 15 / 9am-5pm / Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Thompson
The inaugural Vintage Motorcycle Classic, presented by Indian Motorcycle of Springfield will include a track event on the 1.7 mile road course, swap meet, antique motorcycle show, and manufacturer's midway area. thompsonspeedway.com

HYG HARBOR: Modern Primates
May 19 / Doors Open at 8pm / Hygienic Art, New London
Highlighting regional musicians, HYG HARBOR rocks out in Hygienic Art's underground gallery once a month on Third Thursdays October thru May. hygienic.org

Cyndi Lauper & Boy George
May 20 / 7:30pm / Mohegan Sun, Uncasville
Two icons of the 1980s will share the stage when Cyndi Lauper and Boy George . mohegansun.com

Velvet Mill Open Studios
May 20-21 / The Velvet Mill, Stonington
Visit over 50 studios and businesses and see the inner workings of the artists and creative businesses at The Velvet Mill. Explore the studios of Oil painters, creative art therapists and health professionals, graphic designers, interior designers, jewelry makers, metal fabrication artists, photographers, printmakers, restorers and conservationists, sculptors and weavers. thevelvetmill.com/whats-on

IFAM(E) – Indigenous Fine Art Market East
May 20–22 / Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Mashantucket
NEW | Expected to be the largest 3-day juried Native American art show and celebration on the east coast hosted at the Pequot Museum. Artists will show and sell contemporary and traditional fine art in the museum’s Gathering Space. indigefam.org

Louis CK
May 25 & 26 / 8pm / Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket
Six-time Emmy Award winner Louis C.K. is one of the most honest and respected comedic voices of his generation, finding success in both television and film as well as the live stage. foxwoods.com

Salute to Summer
May 28-29 / 9am-5pm / Mystic Seaport, Mystic
Climb aboard historic vessels, explore exhibits, and take part in fun outdoor activities, including: 19th-century carnival games; tug-of-war; harpoon throwing; 19th-century lawn and parlor games; and visitor whaleboat rowing. Dress up your pup and participate in a festive parade around our Village Green on Saturday, May 28, 2016. Judges will select a prize winner in three categories: Best Nautical Costume, Most Patriotic Costume, and Best Summer-Themed Costume. The parade line-up and judging begins at 3 p.m. and the parade starts at 3:30 p.m. Pre-registration is encouraged, but dogs may be entered the day of the parade. Parade registration is free and includes Museum admission for one dog owner. mysticseaport.org/event/salute-to-summer

Vintage Country Market
May 29 / Golden Lamb Buttery, Brooklyn
Come, shop and support local, talented vendors selling vintage, antique, repurposed and handmade items. Food vendors as well as light quick service lunch offerings and bar available at the restaurant. facebook.com

Decoration Day
May 30 / 9am-5pm / Mystic Seaport, Mystic
Mystic Seaport will pays tribute to fallen Civil War soldiers during its annual Decoration Day ceremony. At midday, amid the tolling of steeple bells, all are welcome inside the Greenmanville Church for a brief service complete with a sermon and hymns. The afternoon music performance features the fife and drum contingent from the procession, discussing the role of music on the homefront, in camp, and on the battlefield during the Civil War. The day’s observances conclude with the gathering of citizens from 1876 Greenmanville in the Seamen’s Friend Society Reading Room, where visitors can speak with those who witnessed the war from both land and sea, saw President Abraham Lincoln, or lost a loved one. mysticseaport.org/event/decoration-day/