Look out London Eye, here comes Casco Bay’s version


It’s not the River Thames, but the mighty Fore will resemble London’s South Bank for a few days in June.

A 90-foot gondola wheel outside Dimillos is the newest addition to the 41st annual Old Port Fest held June 6th to 8th. The panoramic ride will spin all weekend.

Announced today, this outdoor live music party has morphed into a three-day circus in the streets with art, acrobats and a Ferris wheel tossed in for good measure. “It’s a little bit of everything. The full Portland experience in one weekend,” said Will Ethridge, marketing manager for Portland’s Downtown District, the fests main organizer.

New partners Buy Local, Creative Portland, the CVB and Growing Portland have elevated the event. From a working waterfront tour, to a pedestrian-friendly First Friday Art Walk to an app-powered scavenger hunt, the celebration has come a long way from its 1973 origins.

Revamped, retooled and rebranded. It’s now a Weekend peppering the peninsula with good, clean fun.

If you attended the car-free December Art Walk, you know that a blocked off Congress Street is a many-splendored thing. The apprentices from the Circus Conservatory of America, performing in Monument Square, are as daring as they are witty.

Now that alfresco dining and food trucks are out in full force, this could be the most frolicsome weekend all summer.

“It’s a mix of the best things about Portland, art and performance. First Friday is a great opportunity for that. And Saturday is about food and local business,” said Ethridge.

The musical acts that will take over six outdoor stages Sunday will be announced next week.

Old Port Festival Weekend is 90 percent free — the Casco Bay Eye comes with a fee. But think of all the epic iPhone pix you can jam your media streams with all weekend. Let’s make those Brits jealous.

See you at the circus!

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.