By: Nicole Pensiero, Special To Follow South Jersey
An easy drive from New Jersey, New York State’s Catskills region – part of the Hudson River Valley – is known for its breathtaking natural beauty. But as the weather warms up, there is no shortage of festivals to enjoy in both Ulster and Greene counties – two of the most popular destinations on the western side of the Hudson River. This year’s warm weather lineup includes everything from a days-long bluegrass festival to massive arts & crafts fair.
Some of the upcoming festivals in Greene County include:
- The 16th Annual Rip Van Winkle Wine, Brew & Beverage Festival (May 13, 11:30 – 5 p.m.): Patrons will enjoy wine, craft beers, distilled beverages, cheeses, shopping for craft goods, food, and live music throughout the day.
- 46th Annual East Durham Irish Festival (May 27-28): For the last 46 years, The Michael J Quill Irish Cultural & Sports Centre has celebrated the East Durham Irish Festival.
- Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival (July 12-16): The annual Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in Oak Hill, NY, features a variety of acoustic music including bluegrass, jam bands, old-time, swing, and Cajun. The five-day festival – which can draw up to 20,000 people over the course of the event – also offers seminars, a Bluegrass Academy for kids, open mic night, yoga/meditation, and more. Prices range from $90-$300, depending on the package. Kids 12 & under free.
- Taste of the Catskills Irish Arts Week (July 17-18): This week-long celebration is for everyone, with workshops and concerts. Dance during ceilis each night with Irish musicians. Participate in nightly sessions at local pubs where music and banter meet.
- The Catskill Mountain Jubilee in East Durham, NY, (August 11-13) offers a weekend full of music food and vendors.
For more information about Greene County events, go to www.greatnortherncatskills.com.
In Ulster County, upcoming festivals/events include:
- The Dirt Farmer Festival (May 20), presented by Levon Helm Studios – the late member of The Band lived in the Hudson Valley – features performances on two stages, along with local food vendors, craft beers and other activities. At Arrowood Farms, Accord, NY.
- The Field & Supply Spring Fair (May 26-28) in Kingston, features more than 150 artisans and vendors – offering everything from handmade jewelry, ceramics, lighting and furnishings. There’s also food and drink, live music, and demos.
- The 42nd Annual Woodstock-New Paltz Art & Crafts Fair (May 27-29). Enjoy high-quality juried creations of over 200 artists and craftspeople from across America. Features include furniture, architectural crafts, demonstrations, handcrafted specialty foods, health care products and more.
- The Catskills Great Outdoor Expo (June 10) features the best the Catskills have to offer in hiking, paddling, bicycling and other outdoor recreation activities for all ages, food, presentations, raffle prizes.
- The first-ever Soulshine Festival (July 1) is will feature Michael Franti & Spearhead, along with special guests Tank & The Bangas, Son Little and The Big Takeover. The festival, held in Accord, NY, will also local, sustainable food and craft vendors and family-friendly activities. All ages.
- Upstate Art Weekend (July 21 – July 24). This year’s event will incorporate sculpture parks, museums, galleries, residencies, creative projects and open studios in the Hudson Valley and Catskills. It connects tourists and locals alike, with art and the outdoors, celebrating the cultural vibrancy of Upstate New York. Held at various locations throughout Ulster County and beyond.
- New for 2023, is the Borscht Belt Fest, making its debut on Saturday, July 29 in Ellenville, NY. The festival will celebrate the Borscht Belt era and pay homage to the vibrant past, while showcasing its wide-ranging influence on contemporary American culture. Designed for all ages, the event features stand-up comedy, live music, film, educational programming – and of course, food.
- The Ulster County Fair (August 1 – 6). Since 1886, this county fair, held in New Paltz, NY, has been a family event promoting local agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and good, old-fashioned fun. Admission includes all entertainment, shows, parking and exhibits.
- Ellenville’s Blueberry Festival (August 12) features live music, vendors featuring crafts, music, delicious foods and blueberry pies. Rain or shine.
For more information about Ulster County activities, go to: www.visitulstercountyny.com.
Where to stay: There are countless lodging options, from large resorts, to small motels and spacious Airbnb rentals. One buzz-worthy, family friendly resort that opened in 2022 is the Wylder Windham Resort in Greene County. With its summer-camp vibe and activities that range from s’more making on the lawn to European-style saunas, it’s got something for everyone – and is also dog friendly.
Where to eat: One place not to miss is the always-popular Phoenicia Diner in Ulster County. It’s unlike any diner you’ll visit in NJ; almost gourmet-style food, but very reasonably priced is what it’s about. Oh, and there’s a bar, too — so enjoy a vanilla bourbon milkshake while you’re there. If you’re in Kingston, Frank Guido’s Little Italy, is a can’t-miss Italian restaurant frequented by locals and celebrities alike. It’s perfect for a pre- or post-meal if you want to enjoy a sightseeing cruise on the Hudson River.
Nicole Pensiero is a South Jersey resident and a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA).
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