New London's SailFest takes center stage this weekend

Sailfest fireworks explode over the Thames River between Groton and New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Sailfest fireworks explode over the Thames River between Groton and New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

The first cardinal rule taught to people who organize jamborees, galas, fiestas, jubilees and sundry other large gatherings of merry-making? Do NOT have your event the week after the 4th of July, particularly if you want to involve fireworks. It's the definition of anti-climatic.

Here, don't take it from me. Consider these quotes:

"Woe to the clod who dareth host a revel only a week after the dawning of our Nation!"  

— James Madison, author of the first draft of the U.S. Constitution; co-writer of the Federalist Papers; sponsor of the Bill of Rights; and husband of Dolly, who invented snack-cakes

"Personally, the more fireworks, the better. But, ya know, the 4th of July is sorta synonymous with fireworks. A week later? I'm just sayin' ..."

— Alfred Nobel, dynamite dude and prize benefactor

On the other hand:

"Hey, we were just getting started on the 4th of July. Let's rock Sailfest!"

— City of New London

Yes! Sailfest is here. From Friday through Sunday, downtown New London, the Parade Plaza and Waterfront Park become center of the Universe of Fun. You know the drill: mucho live entertainment, including a headlining set by Roomful of Blues as well as a performance by Braiden Sunshine; and the Saturday Night Fireworks Extravaganza sponsored by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Foxwoods Resort, with the pyrotechnics produced by Garden State Fireworks and choreographed to music from K-Hits 100.9 FM.

Also happening: The Picnic on the Pier (to watch the pyrotechnics whilst feasting). Midway rides, games, carnival food, and massive participation from local merchants. A Sunday 5K run. A kiddo-centric Pirate Invasion at the Custom House on Friday. A Saturday meet 'n' greet with a Hulkbuster and a Sunday meet 'n' greet with Bumblebee from the Transformers characters.




6 p.m. — New London Big Band; 7 p.m. — Whisker Fish (pop/rock); 8 p.m. — JOON (rock/funk); 9 p.m. — Wicked Peach (rock/funk)


1 p.m. — Martial Arts Demo; 1:30 p.m. — Ada Mae; 2 p.m. — L Train (jazz/pop); 2:45 p.m. — Emma Newton (harp); 3:30 p.m. — Flight of Fire (rock); 4:30 p.m. — Zach Matari (pop/R&B); 5:30 p.m. — Few Miles South (country) 6:30 p.m. — Rhett (rock); 8 p.m.— Rohn Lawerence (blues)


12:30 p.m. — Old Dog New Trick (Americana); 1:15 p.m. — No Mind (alternative/jam); 2 p.m. — DJ and Country Line Dancing; 3 p.m. — Andre/Eddie & Friends (classic rock/soul); 4:30 p.m. — Roomful of Blues



Hyg Harbor Presents ($10 suggested donation)

6:15 p.m. — Sarah Golley (electronic pop); 7 p.m. — Living Weary (emo/hardcore); 7:45 p.m. — Motion Radio (eclectic rock); 8:30 p.m. — Driving Route 9 (alt rock/rolk); 9:15 p.m. — Olive Tiger (chamber pop); 10 p.m. — Fleet Music (jam/riff-rock)


Fiesta Latina ($5 after 8 p.m., 21+)

4 p.m. — New Haven Touch Dance Troupe; 4:30 p.m. — Zumba with Anabel Montalbano (dance); 5 p.m. — Kenny and Yordy; 7:30 p.m. — Grupo Tentacion (contemporary Latin); 7:30 p.m. — Orquestra Afinke (conjunto, norteña, more); 11 p.m. — Fireworks After Party with DJ Rich1


Acoustic Music Festival, sponsored by and nuanced by the Shoreline Acoustic Music Society

Noon — Sherwood; 12:30 p.m. — Gaetano; 1 p.m. — Raymond Lange; 1:30 p.m. — Whiskey & Aspirin; 2 p.m. — Bruce McDermott; 2:30 — Jim Lampos; 3 p.m. — Roger Viens; 3:30 p.m. — the Carolans; 4 p.m. — Alan Winslow; 4:30 — Braiden Sunshine; 5 p.m. — Dean Denis.



Noon — String Theory Music School (student performances); 1:30 p.m. — Tiger Eye (dance); 2 p.m. — New London Youth Talent Show; 3 p.m. — Writer's Block Ink (rap, spoken word, dance and more); 4 p.m.— NLCCC (New London Community and Campus Coalition)


Christian and gospel

Noon — Rock of Salvation; 1 p.m. — Church of the City; 2 p.m. — Lifeteen; 3 p.m. — International Worship Center; 4 p.m. — Sailfest Gospel Choir

Other activities:

Thames River Taxi one-hour boat tours ($20 per person; departs water taxi landing, north end of City Pier) — departures hourly 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sun.

Sailfest Picnic on the Pier — 6-11 p.m. Sat.; limited, private seating with dinner (BBQ chicken and brisket, corn, potato salad, summer salad, biscuits); optimum view of fireworks; cash bar; $80 per person, $615 table for eight;

SailFest/Charter Oak Federal Credit Union 5K Road Race — 7:30 a.m. Sun., starts in front of Citizens Bank, Eugene O'Neill Drive; registration required,

Pirate Invasion for Kids — 6:30 p.m. Fri., Custom House Pier; free, first 50 kids get foam swords to help defend waterfront from bucaneers.

Beer Tent, Custom House Pier — 5-11 p.m. Fri., noon-9 p.m. Sat., noon-6 p.m. Sun. 

Also worth noting, the following streets will be closed Saturday and Sunday: Bank Street from Tilley to State Street and State Street from Eugene O'Neill Drive to South Water Street

Sailfest, noon-11 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun., downtown and Waterfront Park, New London; free;



Sailfest crowd on the Parade in downtown New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Sailfest crowd on the Parade in downtown New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)


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