Launch – a Maritime Festival is a fun boating fest in Maine, a celebration along the Kennebunk River. Its a wave of fun – five days of fishing, a boat parade, lobster bakes, fun runs of pirates and mermaids on the beach, Chef Competitions and much more. The nautical theme is the undercurrent to showcasing the Kennebunks’ rich maritime heritage in this lively seaside community. #LaunchFestME – originally launched in 2016 is typically mid-June Launch 2020 is cancelled for Covid! Stay tuned on Launch 2021…
10 Things I love about Launch:
1. Launch is a grassroots, multi-town festival for locals by locals, stretching from KPort to Cape Porpoise, Arundel and downtown Kennebunk.
2. Its affordable and inclusive – perfectly timed following the pricey more exclusive Kennebunkport Festival. Launch is family friendly and many of the events are free. Thank you to all the volunteers that made that possible.
3. For a festival less than a decade old, Launch is already a swimming success. The schedule of events is jam packed from Fishing for Freedom – a day fishing for Wounded Warrior Project, to the Pirate Pub Crawl, River Lights Boat Parade, to the Blessing of the Fleet. You couldn’t possible #sea it all without getting your Spinnaker in a twist.
4. Whatever floats your boat, Launch has it. Costumed runners hit Kennebunk Beach for the Sailors & Sirens 5k to benefit Downeast Divas. Nauty obstacles included photo opps with mermaids lounging on lobster traps, and the race start and finish at The Pilot House.
5. For food, local Kennebunk chefs – both the pros and the-not-so-famous – flaunt their best Maine recipes for claim and fame at Launch Fest Captain’s Cook-Off. There is even a kid cook off competition. A classic Lobster Bake at the Pilot House is Saturday afternoon by the River. With Pirate parties and pub crawls, and wine tastings all around town, thirsty sailors in “Kennnedrunkport” will whet their whistle, especially at the Rock The Dock Party during the River Lights Boat Parade.
6. History buffs can take in tours galore at Launch from shipwreck tales to walking tours around our time revered streets. Century-old costumed characters revived the days of captains and crew in this vibrant shipbuilding town at White Columns and the Brick Store Museum.
7. The River Lights Parade is a highlight on Saturday night, the Kennebunk River becomes a spectacle after sunset, 9pm, as decorated boats cruised up the river to the cheers of crowds lining the Breakwater, Stripers, Yachtsman, Arundel Wharf, The Boathouse bar and the Spirit of Massachusetts. The winning boat in Launch’s first year was a 40′ Maine-made Sabre “Independence” appropriately decked in red, white and blue, with Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty aboard.
8. The parade’s Last Boat, Kylie’s Chance, is filled with families challenged with medical issues – what a treat for them and a gracious gift from the community to be the featured boat of Launch.
9. Finally Sunday’s Blessing of the Fleet is a beautiful ceremony at Cape Porpoise Pier. Here, local fishermen and pleasure yachts alike are blessed for a bountiful and safe boating season.
10. Last but not least, our sailors’ hats are off to the Kennebunk – Kennebunkport – Arundel Chamber of Commerce for this brilliant boat fest – a floating success. Thank you for the extraordinary effort of The Lauras, Michelle and Alaina, The Raymond family, The Downeast Divas, and so many more for #shore!
Are you on board for Launch ~ a Maritime Festival 2021!?
Start planning your best pirate swagger and boat parade floats now.
For seaside lodging during Launch, 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.
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