17 Must Attend New Bedford Events

Michael Silvia
by Michael Silvia

The city of New Bedford is known for its fishing industry, whaling past and downtown historic district.  Each year the city of New Bedford and several organizations throw some outstanding cultural events with great food, music and activities for all.  Below are 17 of the best events that you should attend in New Bedford this year, listed in chronological order.

Check out our event calendar for daily events in the southcoast of Massachusetts! Have a suggestion for a must attend event in New Bedford? Email me at info@newbedfordguide.com.

Aha Night New Bedford MAAha! Night (Art – History – Architecture)Website

Date: 2nd Thursday of each month (5:00 – 9:00 PM)

Location: Downtown New Bedford

Cost: Free

Details: Downtown New Bedford provides an Arts and Culture event promoting over 60 downtown museums, galleries, arts organizations, merchants, restaurants and other New Bedford cultural venues. Most businesses stay open much longer than usual during aha! Nights. If you enjoy art, great food and live music you’ll want to head downtown on the second Thursday each month. We have lots of articles on AHA!, so check them out!

New Bedford Half MarathonThe New Bedford Half Marathon Website

Date: 18 March, 2012 (starts at 11am sharp!)

Location: New Bedford, MA

Cost: $50

Details: The New Bedford Half marathon (annual 13.1 mile race) is one of the top half marathons in American and is hosted by the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.  The 2011 field was the largest ever for the event, with 2,730 runners. The previous largest turnout for the event was in 2010, with 2,603 runners. $250.00 goes to the first Man & Woman from New Bedford to finish the race. There is a free Tech Shirt for first 3,500 Registrants. You can register at: http://newbedfordhalfmarathon.com/register-for-2012-race/

New Bedford Jazz FestivalNew Bedford Jazz Festival Website

Date: 18 May, 2012 (5-11 PM)

Location: Downtown New Bedford, Custom House Square

Tickets: $30 for reserved seating, $20 for general admission standing room only.

Details: This is the first year for the New Bedford Jazz Festival and proceeds will benefit Your Theatre Inc. Headlining the event will be Gerry Gibbs and the Electric Thrasher Orchestra featuring Nicholas Payton and Dave Liebman. There will be a main stage tent for the musicians  and smaller tents housing local food and beverage vendors as well as the work of artists from Southeastern Massachusettsand the surrounding area. Tickets can be purchased online or at Pier 37 (37 Union Street, New Bedford).

6th Annual Aviation Fun Day

Date: 19 May, 2012 (10am – 4:00 PM)

Location: New Bedford Regional Airport

Details: The 6th Annual General Aviation Fun Day at the New Bedford Regional Airport is scheduled for May 19th, 2012 from 10 am to 4 pm. There will be performances by local dance studios, karate demonstrations, Mad Science of Southeastern Mass, formation flying, aircraft displays, skydivers, airplane rides, Buttonwood Park Zoo’s Zoo Choo, and so much more!

Full details here: http://www.newbedfordguide.com/6th-annual-general-aviation-fun-day/2012/03/24

Taste of the Southcoast Website

Date: 20 May, 2012 (12:00 – 5:00 PM)
Taste of Southcoast New Bedford
Location: Downtown New Bedford, Custom House Square

Tickets: $15 in advance and $18 at gate for adults. $5 for children 6-12, under 6 years-old are free.

Details:  Sample and taste the best of SouthCoast restaurants, caterers and bakeries! Vote for your favorite restaurant for People’s Awards and Best Table Presentation.  Live music all afternnoon with The Relics and J. Kelley Band.

Summerfest New BedfordSummer FestWebsite

Date: First weekend of July (7 and 8 July, 2012)

Location: Custom House Square in the Historic Park in downtown New Bedford

Cost: TBD

Details: On the first weekend of July, over 100 musicians and vendors take over Williams Street, the Custom House parking lot and several other locations in downtown New Bedford. In 2009, Summerfest featured over 70 performers and 90 arts and crafts vendors. Summerfest has been running for over 15 years and is a major attraction for locals and tourists alike.

whaling city festivalWhaling City Festival – Website

Date: 13, 14, and 15 July, 2012

Location: Buttonwood Park

Cost: Free

Details: The Whaling City Festival has been running for 42 years. Over 150 thousand people visit the festival every year. At the festival you can shop over 200 flea market and craft vendors and eat at one of the 26 food vendors. Enjoy music and entertainment from local bands and local radio stations. The festival wouldn’t be complete without taking a ride on one of many Mark Fanelli’s Carnival rides.

50's Night New Bedford50’s Night

Date: 19 July, 2012

Location: Custom House Square, and Union Street/Purchase Street in Downtown New Bedford.

Cost: Free

Details: Custom House Square and several streets in downtown New Bedford get filled with 1950s cars, music and other entertainment. Check out our gallery of vintage cars form the 2011 50’s night in New Bedford.

Portuguese Feast New BedfordFeast of The Blessed SacramentWebsite
(Portuguese Feast/Madeira Feast)

Check out the Portuguese Feast Survival Guide!

Date: First weekend in August

Location: Directions here.

Cost: Free

Details: Once a year Muslims take a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia to experience a deep religious experience. Since 1915, Portuguese from throughout New England gather annually for a few days  in New Bedford to celebrate what organizers claim to be the largest Portuguese festival in the world. Madeira wine, malasadas, linguiça and giant skewers are just a few of the fabulous aromas that draw tens of thousands of visitors.

WHALE International Wine Festival and FundraiserWHALE’s International Wine Festival – Website

Date: 21 Sep, 2012 – 5:30-9:00 pm

Location: Custom House Square in Downtown New Bedford

Cost: Tickets are $70 for WHALE members and or $85 at the door.

Details: The Waterfront Historic Area LeaguE, or WHALE puts on an annual wine festival that they claim is the, “largest wine tasting event south of Boston.” Details from 2011: “150 fine wines from around the world, champagnes from France, vintage and tawny ports, cognacs, single malt scotches, cocktails, and domestic and imported beers and ales. These libations are poured by professionals who can answer any and all of your questions and give you sound advice and tips on the best wine and food pairings. In addition, 18 local restaurants and caterers will be on hand to serve samples of their tastiest signature dishes.” Call 508-997-1776 to purchase tickets or click HERE to buy your tickets online. More details here.

Oktoberfest New Bedford Fort TaberNew Bedford Oktoberfest Website

Date: 22 Sep, 2012 (3-10 PM)

Location: Custom House Square in Downtown New Bedford

Cost: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

Details: The New Bedford Oktoberfest will be kicking off its 7th year of drinking brews and dancing to tunes on Saturday, September 22nd.  The fest takes place at Custom House Square in historic Downtown New Bedford and goes from 3-10 p.m.  Oktoberfest is not only a great time to try out some unique beers with your friends, it is also a major fundraiser for a great cause.  This year, proceeds will go to benefiting Star Kids and The Childrens Advocacy Center of Bristol County.  A fundraiser that involves drinking beer and listening to great music can’t be a bad time! Tickets can be purchased for $20 in advance by going to Rose Alley Ale House or Pizan’s Pizzeria.  Tickets are $25 dollars at the door.

More details here.

Working Waterfront Festival New BedfordWorking Waterfront FestivalWebsite

Date: Last weekend of September (29 and 30 Sep, 2012)

Location: Directions here.

Cost: Free

Details: New Bedford is America’s largest commercial fishing port. The Working Waterfront Festival allows visitors to walk the decks of a scalloper, dine on fresh seafood, mend a fishing net and watch a Coast Guard rescue demonstration. Experience the workings of the industry which brings seafood from the ocean to your plate. Full details on the 2012 Working Waterfront Festival here.

New Bedford Chowder Festival

New Bedford Chowder Festival – Website

Date: 7 Oct, 2012, 12-4 PM

Location: Custom House Square in the Historic Park in downtown New Bedford

Cost: $15 in advance, $18 day of, $5 for children six to 12, and free for ages five and younger.

Details: If you love chowder (or soups and seafood), the New Bedford Chowder Festival is a must attend event. Each year around 20 area restaurants provide patrons samples of clam chowder, seafood chowder, kale soup and stuffed quahogs hoping to take home the “best …” prize. This is a must attend event for those wanting a true taste of New England!

downtown New Bedford Holiday StrollDowntown New Bedford Holiday Stroll – Website

Date: 1-2 Dec, 2012

Location: Downtown New Bedford

Cost: Free

Details: The first weekend in December is a special time of the year in New Bedford. The City of New Bedford starts to offer free street and lot parking, and retailers offer great values for shoppers looking to get some great local items for Christmas. This event is a great way to support local businesses and kick off your shopping season. Additionally, the City of New Bedford usually brings out the Trolley to shuttle around shoppers.

New Bedford 5k Santa Fun RunSanta 5k Fun Run Website

Date: 8 Dec, 2012

Location: Start/Finish line at the New Bedford City Hall (133 William Street)

Cost: TBA

Details: Around 1,500 Santas ran the streets of New Bedford last year. For 2012, organizers expect 3,000 – 5,000 people to turn out.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Show

Date: 31 Dec

Location: The location alternates between the New Bedford Harbor and the Custom House Square.

Cost: Free

Details: The City of New Bedford always puts on a great firework show and local bars always provide great New Year’s Eve parties.

Moby Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling MuseumMoby Dick Marathon

Date: TBA, usually in early January

Location: The New Bedford Whaling Museum

Cost: Free


Each year the Whaling Museum celebrates their Annual Moby-Dick Marathon with a 25-hour, nonstop reading of the book by over 150 readers. The marathon takes place each January, and is complemented by special exhibits, artwork, slideshows, ticketed buffet dinner, cash bar, lectures, a Q&A and other events and activities. Prizes are given away and the event is accompanied by a live video feed via livestream. You can read about the 16th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon’s fun filled activities, photos, and video at 16th Annual Moby-Dick Marathon.

Did I miss an event? Post a comment with YOUR favorite event!

About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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  1. Just wanted to let you know that the Chowder Festival is an awesome avent with great food, drink and music – but the date listed is last year’s — This year is Sunday, Sept. 12th – from 12 noon to 4:00 – advance tickets are $12.00

  2. Thanks for posting the details for Oktoberfest! We recently changed our venue from Fort Taber to Custom House Square in Downtown New Bedford. The event is still Saturday October 2nd, from 3-11pm.

    Tom Rainford

  3. Mary Anne Letourneau

    The definition of sacrilege: “1. the misuse or desecration of anything regarded as sacred or as worthy of extreme respect.”

    The “Feast of the Blessed Sacrament” has become mostly a demonstration of all that is ugly about American culture, albeit with a little bit of traditional Portuguese culture showcased. Take a look at the “entertainment,” the behavior of many in the crowd, the way women dress (and men, too), some of the vendors selling disgusting items, the parade featuring politicians who support moral abominations that are affronts to the Blessed Sacrament. It is time to totally remove the name of the Blessed Sacrament, Our Blessed Lord Himself, from the feast. Call it the Portuguese Feast, Madeira Feast if you want to associate your once-beautiful culture with the perverse. But once and for all, please stop calling it the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament. What courageous authority will, for the sake of the Virgin of Fatima and her Son, call to account those who perpetuate this sacrilege?

  4. I like this page. I think all of the events listed are great. But you forgot to include Whaling City Festival. That’s my favorite of all. I’ve been in New Bedford for 30 years, & I always go to that festival. The best thing, it’s FREE to attend. It’s great for children, adults, & families. Every July, usually the second weekend, Buttonwood Park.

    • Whaling City is last on that list. Those who live around the park are over run by trash, an increase in crime, noise and all around lack of respect by the WCF staff. How would you feel if 100,000 people showed up on your door step and didn’t leave all weekend.

      • West End, you have posted the same thing before and we asked you then and we’ll ask you again: did you read the parts where there is a NEW President trying to take things in a new direction? He also left his phone number the last time you commented. Have you called him to discuss things?

  5. Make it and even 10!

    New Bedford JazzFest (First Annual) to benefit Your Theatre, sponsored by Bridgewater Credit Union!

    May 18th in Custom House Square, in the heart of Downtown NB!

    Jazz, Drink and Food starting at 5pm.

    Like it on Facebook if you want more info or see us at http://www.YourTheatre.org or call YTI at 508 993 0772 for tickets.

    $5 discount on advance purchase on all ticket levels. Limited reserved seating available, so contact us now.

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