The folks from Provincetown tourism rounded up a terrific array of events and activities for travelers of all sorts from gay and lesbian to nature lovers to culture vultures.
Here’s their hot list.
For the LGBT Visitor
Provincetown’s reputation as a gay and lesbian mecca began in the 1920s when the town was a summer destination for artists, writers, playwrights, poets, socialists, radicals and dilettantes. This reputation was fostered throughout the 20th century thanks to summer regulars taking up permanent residency and purchasing local businesses to further entrench themselves in the town’s fabric. Today, Provincetown, the “Gayest City in the U.S.” according to the 2010 Census, attracts a wide swath of summer visitors for its annual LGBT events and festivals.
- Provincetown Bear Week (July 7-13, 2012)
A Provincetown tradition, Bear Week celebrates the bear community and their admirers with a week of tea dances, galas, barbecues, dance parties, performances and more. (www.ptownbears.org)
- Provincetown Family Week (July 28 – August 4, 2012)
As an organization that celebrates diversity and promotes community building for same-sex parents raising children, the Family Equality Council sponsors a week of family-oriented picnics, clambakes, activities, unity and pride parades and more. Events are open to all families. (familyequality.org)
- Carnival (August 12-18, 2012)
Rivaling the diversity and energy of Rio, Provincetown celebrates Carnival every August with this year’s theme being “Ptown: A Space Odyssey.” Events include DJs spinning dance music, karaoke, the infamous Gay Pride Parade (August 16) with floats down Commercial Street, art exhibits, boat cruises and more. (ptown.org/Carnival)
- Single Women’s Weekend May 18 – 20, 2012
- Memorial Day Weekend May 24 – 28, 2012
- Women of Color Weekend May 30 – June 3, 2012
- Girl Splash: The Women’s Summer Party July 17 – 21, 2012
- October Women’s Week October 8 – 14, 2012
For the Arts & Culture Enthusiast
Recognized as the nation’s oldest artist’s colony and as the birthplace of modern American theatre, Provincetown has inspired artists, writers and playwrights such as
Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, Edward Hopper, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer and Michael Cunningham over the years.
- 14th Annual Provincetown Film Festival (June 13-17, 2012)
This five-day festival features an impressive lineup of more than 50 American and international narrative films, documentaries and shorts, bringing together some of the entertainment industry’s most popular and recognized names. Honorees this year include Roger Corman receiving the 2012 Filmmaker on the Edge Award, Kirby Dick receiving the prestigious 2012 Career Achievement Award. (ptownfilmfest.org)
- Portuguese Festival (June 21-24, 2012)
What began in 1947 as the Blessing of the Fishing Fleet to pay homage to the town’s patron St. Peter, the Provincetown Portuguese Festival has expanded into a four-day celebration of the town’s vibrant Portuguese heritage with traditional food, games, music, dance and art. (www.provincetownportuguesefestival.com)
- Robert Motherwell: Beside the Sea Exhibition (July 20 – September 30, 2012)
Just one of the many 20th-century artists who came to call Provincetown home, Robert Motherwell was the youngest and most prolific member of the Abstract Expressionist movement, which included Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Franz Kline. This exhibition at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) marks the 70th anniversary of the artist’s first visit to Provincetown and the 50th anniversary of the creation of his Beside the Sea series, based on his experiences living Provincetown. (paam.org)
- 8th Annual Provincetown Jazz Festival (August 11 & 13, 2012)
A three-day lineup of artists includes Washington DC musicians Sharón Clark (the vocalist JazzTimes calls “a revelation”), Paul Carr (director of the non-profit Jazz Academy in the Washington, DC area) and Joe McCarthy (Grammy Award-winning drummer, producer and bandleader of Afro Bop alliance, and chief in charge of the US Naval Academy Jazz Ensemble). (provincetownjazzfestival.org)
- 7th Annual Tennessee Williams Theater Festival (September 20-23, 2012)
A celebration of Tennessee Williams’ legacy, this three-day festival features nine innovative productions from as near as Boston and as far as Italy. (twptown.org)
- Nationally-Known Performers (throughout the summer)
Provincetown’s reputation for attracting top-tier talent continues this summer with scheduled appearances and performances by Whoopi Goldberg, Bruce Vilanch, Margaret Cho, Kate Clinton, Patti LuPone, Betty Buckley and more.
For the Nature Lover
Surrounded by water on three sides, Provincetown boasts the Cape Cod National Seashore, home to some of the best beaches in the country, most of which are accessible by bike trails. It is also the closest port to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, a federally-protected marine habitat home to whales, dolphins, sea turtles, deep sea fish and sea birds.
- Bay State Bike Week (May 14-21, 2012)
Bay State Bike Week takes up residence in Provincetown in mid-May as a weeklong celebration of human-powered, two-wheeled transportation. Take advantage of the newly-rehabilitated, eight-mile long Province Lands Bike Trail, the first bike trail designed and constructed in a national park area, as well as a variety of activities for the cyclist. (www.baystatebikeweek.org)
- Provincetown Whale Week (July 23-28, 2012)
A weeklong celebration of family-friendly, marine-themed events, Whale Week features a build-your-own boat paddle race, arts and crafts, talks and sunset whale cruises. (www.coastalstudies.org)
- Provincetown Harbor Week (September 1-7, 2012)
The perfect way to wrap up the summer season, the Great Provincetown Schooner Regatta kicks off a week of schooner races, art exhibitions, cookouts, films, tours, parties and award ceremonies during Harbor Week. Winding down the maritime festivities is the 25th annual Provincetown Harbor Swim for Life & Paddler Flotilla (September 8), a community-building swim through the harbor that raises money for a variety of Cape Cod charities. (provincetownschoonerrace.com, swim4life.org)
For the History Buff
Provincetown is rich with historical significance as the site of the Pilgrims’ first landing in the New World when they arrived from England on the Mayflower.
- Independence Day Weekend (July 3-5, 2012)
Provincetown teems with Fourth of July activities and celebrations. Set off over Provincetown Harbor, the annual fireworks display is the culmination of a weekend of parades, bands, live music and performances. (www.provincetowntourismoffice.org)
- In the Path of the Pilgrims (throughout the summer)
A new walking tour that traces the path the Pilgrims took upon their 1620 landing in Provincetown, their three exploratory treks throughout the Lower Cape, and their subsequent signing of the Mayflower Compact, the first written declaration of a democratic commonwealth in the New World. (www.capehistorymuseums.org)
- Historic Walking Tour (throughout the summer)
Available as a mobile app (with voice-over narration) or brochure, this 50-site self-guided walking tour leads visitors past icons of early- and mid-20th century residential architecture, famous artist and playwright homes, as well as historic whaling captain homes from the 19th century. (provincetowntourismoffice.org)