PlumFest, Plum Island’s free annual music festival, returns on Saturday, September 18th from 12 – 6 pm. Transforming local porches on the island into stages for small concerts, PlumFest is a grassroots operation completely run by volunteers, from hosts to musicians to organizers.
An early participant in the “porch-fest” movement, PlumFest relies on local residents on the island to share their yards, porches, and parking lots with local musicians so they can perform for visitors. Growing in numbers each year, the music festival now features close to 100 performers at more than 40 locations, including local island businesses such as: The Plum Island Beachcoma, Mad Martha’s, The Cottage, and The Plum Island Grille.
So what’s the best way to experience this popular music festival? Organizers urge attendees to skip cars and to walk, ride bikes, and bring strollers. For non-island residents, free parking will be available at the airport as well as paid parking on the island. PlumFest will have circling shuttles you can hop on and off of all day to visit different venues and to get to and from your car.
Expect a huge range in music, from full bands to acoustic performances, from bluegrass to classic rock to rap. Performances are scattered all over the island with hot spots like Northern Boulevard, Southern Boulevard on the South End, and Old Point Road. You can plan ahead by going online to see the full list of performers as well as a map of locations or just ride the shuttle and hop off when you hear something you like. View the 2021 PlumFest map and schedule. This is the final posted schedule as of 8:30 AM on Saturday, 9/18! If you would like a printed copy, we highly recommend printing it to take with you to take with you as they will have very limited printed copies available at the event.
While there will be a few food trucks out and about, organizers hope that visitors will give back to the community by popping into local establishments to grab some food or a drink. And if you love a band, purchase a t-shirt or book them for your next event!
Each year PlumFest picks a cause to raise money for. While the festival is entirely free, red buckets are set up at the performers’ locations to collect donations. This year, funds will go to the Boys and Girls Club of Lower Merrimack Valley. Donations will enable the expansion of the music curriculum by adding instruction in recording technology, studio engineering and sound management. Over the past four years, PlumFest has donated $25,000 to various causes.
For more fun happenings in Newburyport, be sure to check out our full Events Calendar! The first band picture featured in the article is Unnamed Colors and the second is the Dune Dogs Band playing at the Plum Island Grille.