Hudson Valley, NY (June 2012) – What defines summer? Fireworks, fairs and festivals that delight all ages. Hudson Valley fields, lawns, and gardens fairly sing with happenings every weekend from now through the last day of summer in September. These lazy, hazy days are a great time to gather the family and drive just a short distance to some wonderful fun.

Summer starts off with a bang on July 4th at the Fabulous 4th & Fireworks on the Plaza in Albany. It’s a full day of fun, food and entertainment surrounded by the beauty of the Empire State Plaza and its breathtaking views. As dusk approaches sit back, relax, and watch one of the most spectacular fireworks shows of the year. Across the river at Riverfront Park on July 14th and 15th, the Troy Pig Out welcomes professional BBQ teams from across the U.S. The two-day competition is a tasty addition to your calendar, a chance to savor some great BBQ, vendors, live music, with fireworks on Saturday night over the Hudson River.

What could be more delightful than an outdoor concert? The Caramoor International Music Festival is one of the top outdoor music events in America, featuring classical, jazz, pops, Latin, opera, symphonic and chamber music. The Spanish Courtyard and gardens surrounding the 1930’s estate are a beautiful enhancement to the concerts happening now through August 8th in Katonah. The arts continue to be upbeat at ArtBeat in Brewster on July 7th and August 4th when artists gather to sell their works in the village. Live music, dancers, and jugglers are all part of the fun as browsers delight in the wide selection of art available.

If you’re thinking Europe this summer, visit Ireland and Elizabethan England right here in the Hudson Valley. One of the northeast’s largest celebrations of Irish culture takes place July 15th in Harriman State Park. Hundreds of pipe bands will welcome visitors to the Rockland County Feis and Field Games. Along with the great music, be sure to see the Irish soda bread competition, sheaf throwing, and Irish football. Then come spend a day with a knight at the New York Renaissance Faire in Sterling Forest. From August 4th through September 23rd join Queen Elizabeth and her court, jugglers, wenches, magicians, fairies, and all sorts of costumed characters in this fanciful English village. Lilting period music plays throughout the streets as you visit vendors, food stalls, theaters, a live chess match, mud wrestle, and joust among the many other entertainments.

The fun continues two hundred years later as crafts from the 1800’s are demonstrated and sold during the Austerlitz Historical Society 2012 Blueberry Festival on July 29th. Starting with a blueberry pancake breakfast, there’s blueberry everything with a wider variety of foods to choose from as well. Look for antiques, live music, many vendors, and entertainment for children. Plenty of antiques will be found this year at the Rhinebeck Antiques Fair on July 21st. Held entirely indoors, the huge selection of vintage wares and memorabilia lures hundreds of shoppers from all over the metro area.

Country fairs are an icon of summertime and the Ulster County Fair celebrates its 125th anniversary from July 31st through August 5th in New Paltz. This old-fashioned family pleaser has plenty of 4-H exhibits, tractor pulls, and horse shows attracting crowds of all ages. Stroll through agricultural displays and exhibits, watch pig races, or enjoy over 20 rides on the mid-way. Don’t miss the evening concerts, great entertainment with a number of popular groups. Join the hometown fun in the village at the Athens Street Festival on July 14th. Live music on 3 stages is a great background to the classic car show, rides, lighthouse tours, and huge fireworks display. Over 200 vendors line the streets, offering shoppers a full day of browsing along with all the entertainment.

Summer fairs and festivals are mini vacations you can take over and over in the Hudson Valley. Visit faraway places this summer, or stick to hometown America just by driving a few miles down the highway. The choices are dazzling and varied enough to provide months of entertainment for the whole family.

Hudson Valley Tourism, Inc. is the 10-county region designated by I LOVE NEW YORK to promote tourism for the area. Counties include Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rensselaer, Rockland, Ulster and Westchester. The Valley welcomes over 20 million visitors a year who spend $3 billion annually. Regional information can be obtained from any of the county tourism offices, the Hudson Valley Tourism website, followthehudsonriver, or by calling 845-615-3860.