Thanks to throngs of dedicated volunteers, the annual Marblehead Festival of Arts has long been a sprawling event. There are so many features for young and old, it can be hard to wrap your head around all of them.

The Marblehead News thought it might be helpful to put together a quick primer for visitors, those new in town or anyone in need of a bit of a refresher. For a complete listing of all things MFoA, visit the Festival’s website.


One centerpiece of the festival is, of course, the visual arts, with six sites around town hosting exhibits in various media.

  • Abbot Hall: Crafts, Painting, and Printmaking
  • St. Michael’s Church: Mixed Media, Digital Art, and Sculpture
  • Unitarian Universalist Church: Drawing and Senior Art
  • Old North Church: Youth and Student
  • Old Town House: Photography
  • Marblehead Arts Association: Painting the Town

Exhibit hours are as follows:

  • Friday, July 1, 3 to 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 2, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 3, noon to 5 p.m. at the churches, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. elsewhere
  • Monday, July 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

As a special treat, chamber music will be performed in Abbot Hall during exhibit hours.

Performing Arts

Crocker Park is “home base” for the Performing Arts portion of the Marblehead Festival of Arts. This year’s features 14 acts over four nights and three days. Check out the full schedule here, and Marblehead News’ feature story on the Performing Arts aspect of the Festival here.

For the kids

A number of events during the Festival are geared toward children.

  • Sand Sculpture (Saturday, July 2, beginning at 9 a.m.): Sign up at the registration table at Devereux Beach then dig away. The event will conclude with judging and an awards ceremony.
  • Kite Festival (Saturday, July 2, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.): Purchase a kite kit for $5 and then fly your new creation over Devereux Beach.
  • Boat Building (Saturday, July 2, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Lee Mansion Gardens): For $25, build a model boat and then test its seaworthiness at the annual “regatta” at Redd’s Pond from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Children’s Festival (Sunday, July 3, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Lee Mansion Gardens): Hands-on art activities for children approximately 10 years and younger, accompanied by an adult. Activities are free… and somewhat messy.
  • Art on the Avenue (Sunday, July 3, 1 to 4:30 p.m., Atlantic Avenue): Paint-your-own pottery with Hestia Creations outside at Erik’s Barbershop parking lot, 27 Atlantic Ave., Marblehead, or make a “braclace,” a wrap bracelet that can also be worn as a necklace, with EOS Designs Studio in the open parking area next to Shubies. Paint-your-own pottery requires registration, and there were a few spots left open at this writing.
  • Street Festival (Monday, July 4, 11:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m, Bank Square): Mimes, music, balloon twisting, face painting and, back by popular demand, Big Nazo, an international performance group of visual artists, puppet performers, and masked musicians who “unite to create bizarre and hilarious larger-than-life sized characters, environments, and spectacles.”

Fuel future festival fun

To help support future Marblehead Festival of Arts programs and scholarships, a couple of fundraisers will be ongoing during the weekend.

Festival of Cod auction: For the fifth year in a row, the Marblehead Festival of Arts invited a talented group of regional artists to decorate large wooden codfish using any medium of their choosing. The decorated cods will be on display in various Marblehead businesses throughout the weekend, or visit the online gallery here. Bidding is conducted online.

Grill raffle: Courtesy of Marblehead Hardware, the Festival will be giving away a Traeger Pro 780 Wood Pellet Grill valued at approximately $1,000. Suggested donation to enter the giveaway is $20. Enter here.

You can also shop the Logo Store based at the Old Town House at One Market Square (intersection of Washington, State, and Mugford streets). Logo Store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, July 2 and 3; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, July 4.

Shopping opportunity

The Artisans’ Marketplace (Sunday, July 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Monday, July 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Abbot Hall grounds) is another popular annual feature of the Festival. This year, you can shop for art, pottery, jewelry and more from 37 artisans, 14 of them new to the Festival.

On hiatus

A couple of events that have traditionally been part of the Festival, the Literary Festival and the Film Festival, will not be held in 2022. But Festival organizers have already begun to solicit entries to bring back the Film Festival in 2023.

Getting around

One of the most stress-free ways to make your way around the Festival is to park at Marblehead High School and let the trolley shuttle you to the exhibit areas. The trolley will be running at the following times:

  • Saturday, July 2, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Sunday, July 3, noon to 6 p.m.
  • Monday, July 4, noon to 5 p.m.
Marblehead News staff
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