PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Even though the solstice won't arrive until next Wednesday, the summer celebration has already begun in Portland.

The nonprofit group Portland Downtown is promoting a series of events taking place between Friday and Sunday as a Summer Kickoff Weekend.

The fun begins on Friday night with Square Hop. Free entertainment will run from 6 to 8 p.m. in four parks across the downtown district. The performers include PortFringe in Longfellow Square, Circus Maine in Congress Square Park, Maine Marimba Ensemble in Monument Square and Peaks Island ukes in Post Office Park.

The two events on Saturday's roster are Walk the Working Waterfront and Shop for a Cause. Visitors to the waterfront can rub elbows with fishermen along the wharves, tour a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and enjoy seafood samples. Visitors can also shop without guilt knowing that portion of their purchases at participating stores will go to support The Locker Project.

The weekend culminates on Sunday with the Old Port Festival. A carnival atmosphere will fill the streets of downtown Portland with four music stages and more than 250 vendors. The festival opens with a parade at 11 a.m. and the family-friendly activities continue nonstop until 5 p.m.


If transportation concerns are holding you back from attending, METRO may have a solution. Beginning at 4 p.m. on Friday, passengers can ride the bus service free throughout the weekend.