The best stuff to do in Maine this Memorial Day weekend: May 25-27

David Pelkey, U.S. Army retired, gets high fives from people lining Main Street to watch the Greater Bangor Area 2017 Memorial Day Parade. Photo by Linda Coan O’Kresik

Though we may be in for a bit of a grey, drizzly weekend, Memorial Day is — at least in Maine — the kickoff to summer. More importantly, it’s a chance to remember where we came from, and the people who sacrificed and kept us safe during scary times, so that we might have the luxury of cooking burgers on the grill and, perhaps, taking a totally premature dip in the lake. You can find a full listing of Memorial Day services around the state by visiting the BDN events page.

Leading up to Memorial Day, the weekend is chockablock with stuff to do. In Bangor, Friday night brings local improv comedy troupe The Focus Group to the Bangor Arts Exchange, while later on that night, there’s guitarist Adam Babcock at Paddy Murphy’s, Queen City Sound System’s vinyl night at Nocturnem Drafthaus, and bluegrass ensemble the Tough End String Band at Black Bear Brewing on Exchange Street. On Saturday, the Mes Amis Jazz Trio is at Nocturnem, the Altar Boyz are at Paddy’s, and on Sunday, the Waterfront Concerts season kicks off with a show from Jason Aldean, Luke Combs and Lauren Alaina at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion; apres show, the Jacob Smalley Band is at the Sea Dog.

Down in Portland, on Friday night, cello quartet Apocalyptica plays Metallica at the State Theatre, acclaimed indie rockers Parquet Courts and Goat Girl are at Port City Music Hall, there’s a dance party with DJ and sound artist Amy Reid at the Space Gallery, there’s local jam and funk with Harsh Armadillo and West End Blend at Portland House of Music, there’s local comedy at Empire, Portland songwriters Sea Level, the Memorial Skylight and Kalen Lister are at One Longfellow Square, and the Spillers, the Moneys and Time Out Timmy are at Geno’s. There’s also a nifty little event for all ages: King Friday’s Puppet Slam, a showcase of New England puppeteers, set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Mayo Street Arts.

Les Claypool, of Primus, performs onstage at the Fox Theatre, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018, in Atlanta. (Photo by Paul R. Giunta/Invision/AP)

On Saturday, all around downtown Portland there’s the Expecto Bar Crawla Harry Potter-themed pub crawl through the Old Port. Also that night, there’s the first show of the year at Thompson’s Point, with Portugal the Man and Jack Harlow. There’s jam band Gorilla Finger Dub at Portland House of Music, there’s Maine rockers King Kyote and Aubrey Haddard at Empire, and there’s a CD release party for Hannah Daman and the Martelle Sisters at One Longfellow. There’s also metal with Carnivora, Allions, Buried Beneath Concrete and Pariah at Geno’s, and local punk with Crunchcoat, Tiger Bomb and Euphemia at the Apohadion Theatre. On Sunday, yet another outdoor concert series kicks off, this time at the Maine State Pier, with Primus, Mastodon and Clutch. 

The Midcoast has a fun array of entertainment this weekend, starting Friday night, when Cuban ensemble Primo Cubano hosts a dance party at the Crosby Center in Belfast. Further down the coast in Rockland, blues songwriter Harry Manx is at the Strand Theatre, Cindy Millar and the By The Bay Jazz Trio are at Rock City Coffee, No Guts No Glory are at Trackside Station, and Jonesville is at Rock Harbor Brewing. On Saturday in Rockland, songwriter Robin Lane is at Rock City Coffee, Two Dollar Pistol at the Myrtle Street Tavern, and further inland, local rockers MLC are at Thresher’s Brewing in Searsmont.

Downeast, the summer season kicks into gear. On Friday night, the Blake Rosso Band is at Fogtown Brewing in Ellsworth, and on the island, comedy venue Improv Acadia opens for the season in Bar Harbor. On Saturday, the Adam Ezra Group is at the Grand Theatre, Shirt Tail Kin (and food trucks) are at Fogtown Brewing, and there’s a huge benefit show for the Common Good Community Kitchen, featuring an array of Mt. Desert Island musicians, set for 5 to 10 p.m. at the Southwest Harbor Legion Hall. On Sunday, comedian Jay Mohr is at the Criterion Theatre in Bar Harbor.

This image released by Lucasfilm shows Joonas Suotamo, from left, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke and Alden Ehrenreich in a scene from “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” (Lucasfilm via AP)

For something a little more serene, Friday through Saturday brings the L.L. Bean Birding Festival, a series of free events for nature lovers, set for L.L. Bean HQ and other parts of the Freeport area; there’s a bat and owl prowl Friday night and birdwalks all day on Saturday. Also this weekend, it’s Maine Days at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, with free admission for all Maine residents on Saturday, Sunday and Monday — the tulips are in full bloom right now, so it’s a great time to go.

On screens, this weekend sees the opening of “Solo,” another Star Wars spinoff about young Han Solo, Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian; it’s in theaters everywhere. If you’re already blockbustered out after the Avengers-Deadpool-Star Wars trifecta, Bangor Mall Cinemas has the Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary “RBG” all week, as does Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville.

Emily Burnham

About Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native, UMaine graduate, proud Bangorian and a writer and editor for Bangor Metro Magazine, the Weekly and the Bangor Daily News, where she's worked since 2004. She reports on everything from local bands to local food to all the cool things going on in the Greater Bangor area. In her quest for stories, she's seen countless concerts and plays, been lobster fishing, interviewed celebrities, hung out with water buffalo and played in a ukulele orchestra. She's interested in everything that happens in Maine. Albums for review are accepted digitally only; please no CDs.