Come and celebrate the arrival of spring “Daffy Style”!
From early April to mid-May, over three million daffodils of every color, shape and size bloom on Nantucket. Daffodils grace the island’s roadsides, gardens and shop windows with blooms of yellow, orange, white and even pale pink. This blossoming is the focal point of the Annual Daffodil Festival (April 26-28, 2013). Organized and sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, the Annual Daffodil Festival is a full-scale celebration of winter’s thaw, joyous for both islanders and visitors alike. Come wear your daffy hat, watch the car parade, have a tailgate picnic and welcome spring!
The Daffodil Festival’s grand event held on Saturday is the Annual Antique Car Parade, featuring over 100 daffodil-bedecked vintage cars (pre-registration necessary for participation). After winding through town the cars make their way across the island to charming Siasconset. Once there, participants join residents and visitors for the Annual Daffodil Tailgate Picnic. What better way to herald the arrival of spring than an al fresco lunch on the lush lawns of this picturesque village. Picnic fare ranges from elaborate gourmet cuisine served on fine china to box lunches and burgers.
Other festival highlights include the Nantucket Garden Club’s Annual Daffodil Show, Children’s Daffodil Parade, Daffy Hat Pageant, Daffodil Dog Parade and even a Daffodil 5K Race. This year, get a team together and take part in a scavenger hunt, open all weekend and offering wonderful prizes from local businesses (more information on most events can be found by clicking on the Calendar of Events on the right side of this page). The Chamber will also sponsor other new events this year, including a picnic & free concert at Children's Beach, with rides available in an antique fire truck, and a Daffodil non-profit market downtown
History of the Daffodil Festival
Our festival weekend dates back to 1974 when the late Jean MacAusland (former Nantucket summer resident and the publisher of Gourmet Magazine) persuaded the Nantucket Garden Club to invite the American Daffodil Society to sponsor a daffodil show on the island. The first official Daffodil Show held in conjunction with the American Daffodil Society took place in 1975. A special sale of daffodil paintings provided by Sybil Goldsmith and fellow artists was held in order to help fund the costs of the show and the planting of bulbs in public places. Mrs. MacAusland herself donated thousands of bulbs and the Nantucket public was asked to assist with the planting. Their goal was to plant over one million daffodil bulbs. Unfortunately, many of the first bulbs planted along Milestone Road didn’t survive. They were planted too close to the road and didn’t withstand the town’s annual mowing of roadsides. For the next planting, the Garden Club set the bulbs out in random bunches farther from the road. This “drift planting” protected the bulbs and gave their blooms a more natural setting. While planting methods have developed over the years, the annual November planting is now an entrenched community event.
In 1978, Mrs. MacAusland together with Mr. H. Flint Ranney planned a classic-car parade and tailgate picnic in ‘Sconset which combined with the daffodil show would create a weekend-long event - the first “Annual Nantucket Garden Club Vintage Motor Car Outing” was launched. 19 antique vehicles were registered in the first parade including Mrs.MacAusland’s own 1966 Van Dan Plas Rolls Royce and Mr. Ranney’s 1927 American LaFrance ladder truck. In 2012 some 107 cars and 3 motorcycles participated in the parade and competed for most authentic, best decorated, best in show and peoples’ choice awards.
The 1980’s witnessed the Festival’s increasing popularity and thousands of people drawn to the island for the “annual rite of spring”. The Chamber of Commerce assumed the responsibility of organizing the parade and picnic in 1980 and extended the weekend festivities further by including a shop-window-display contest. More activities have been added to the festival calendar over the years and now there is truly something offered for everyone.
See our Community Calendar for the latest information on this year’s Festival and check out our Daffodil video, which is also available on the Nantucket App for Smartphones: https://vimeo.com/38106241