June 16 – 18, 2017 – This is a Kennebunkport-Kennebunk-Arundel Chamber of Commerce Event – below is the 2016 schedule – please stay tuned for 2017 similar events…
Kennebunkport Launch – Blessing of the Fleet
Kennebunkport is such a seafaring, fun loving, festival throwing kind of town. Everything in the Kennebunks centers around the water, the beaches, the maritime history and the love of Maine’s nautical heritage. Even in the heart of winter, Kennebunkport celebrates Christmas Prelude and February for Lovers. So where better in Maine than to have a lively marine celebration? Old salts in town will recall that for many years Kennebunkport had a Blessing of the Fleet in June to christen the boating season. Well, dust off your dock shoes, because here comes “LAUNCH” a Kennebunkport Maritime Festival.
LAUNCH makes a splash starting Friday June 17th 2016. The Festival starts with Landing School Boat Launch, a Clam Jam at the Seafood Center of Maine in Arundel 4-7pm. This kick off Clam fest will features clam cakes, lobster buoy decorating, and kids games. Other Friday events include a Wine & Waves River Cruise, Cape Arundel Cottage Crawl, Village Art Walk, and a Pirate Party at the Pilot House.
Saturday “launches” with a Sailors & Sirens 5k fun race at 9am at the Franciscan Monastery, mermaid & sailor costumes encouraged – hosted by the Downeast Divas. Crafts by the River takes place 10-4 by the South Congregational Church. A “Captain’s Cook-Off” will take place at The Waterhouse Pavilion in Kennebunk, this chef competition over seafood, blueberry and maple specialties should be dishy as local talents compete for a panel of peers, 11-2pm with local food trucks and Kennebunk’s Farmers Market as well. There will also be kids cooking contest.
Lobster Lunch & Learn is a fun informative luncheon at The Nonantum Resort with Captain Bob of the Rugosa, who will tell share facts about lobstering while you enjoy a lobster roll picnic, $25 12-1pm. .Saturday a traditional Maine Lobster Bake at the Pilot House will be held with entertainment 4-7 on the Kennebunk River.
A “shore” highlight and LAUNCH signature event is the River Lights Boat Parade on the Kennebunk River at 8:30pm Saturday, local boat owners are invited to deck their boat decks with lights and lavish decorations and parade in formation from Colony Beach up the Kennebunk River while spectators line the River banks to enjoy the flow and show of lights floating past (might plan your spot now at Stripers, Arundel Wharf or Davids Kpt). Of special note, the “Last Boat” in the parade will be filled with local families battling cancer, so be “shore” to cheer for them. Kudos to the Chamber for organizing such an inclusive event.
LAUNCH will host a first ever VIP “Rock the Boat” adults-only evening event 8-11pm, tickets are $50 to get on board this dancing floating affair. Kennebunkporters know how to have a good party. After all, this is a drinking village with a fishing problem.
Sunday morning, June 19, the LAUNCH weekend concludes with the traditional Blessing of the Fleet at Cape Porpoise Pier, wishing captains and crew a safe and bountiful season at 8am.
Other LAUNCH events during the weekend include Wine Walks, Goat Island Lighthouse Boat Tours, a Landing School boat launch, historic maritime tours with costumed characters by The Brick Store Museum and White Columns – Kennebunkport Historical Society, and a Garden Party.
Leave it to the locals to launch such a fun festival, the week following the lavish wine and dine Kennebunkport Festival June 6-11, 2016. Why dry up when you can party in your preppy nautical attire all season long?!
Sea you at LAUNCH, where Kennebunkport, Kennebunk and Arundel celebrate local seafood, shipbuilding, and salute fishermen, lobstermen, captains and crew. Kennebunk and Kennebunkport’s deep nautical history and passion for the ocean are what make this Maine seaside community such a special place.
For seaside lodging during the Launch festival, see our guide to inn and hotels in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. For the best places to eat in the Kennebunks, see our restaurant guide. For boat charters, sailing and whale watching, see our guide to boating on the Kennebunk River.