Daffodil Festival: Nantucket’s Celebration of Spring

Today would have kicked-off Daffodil Weekend, a three-day affair in which summer and year-round residents come together for a celebration of the start of the season. It is when restaurants and shops open their doors and welcome thousands of visitors for a festive series of events, including the antique car parade and the notable ‘Sconset picnic at the end of the parade route, all while dressed in daffodil-themed attire. Each year the themes become more creative, and the picnics even more over-the-top. There are raw bars and extravagant spreads, with green and yellow as the signature colors. 

In the early 1970s, Jean MacAusland, a Nantucket summer resident and member of the Garden Club, envisioned a plethora of daffodils adding a pop of color to a dull spring landscape. Her vision sparked a movement, and in the fall of 1974, the first wave of plantings began; it was a community affair. Friends and families would gather along Milestone Road, and they would use burgee flags to mark where one planting stopped so that the next group could begin. The result would be the first daffodil show in the spring of 1975, where nearly 260 daffodils were on display to be judged on a myriad of categories. 

It was not until a few years later that antique car parade and tailgate picnic in ‘Sconset was born and became staples of what is now a weekend event. Without Jean’s vision, strategic planning, and general love of a party, who knows if the Daffodil Festival would be what it is today? In honor of Jean and her vision to plant millions of daffodils across the Island, this fall grab some bulbs and get planting, so next year we can enjoy an even brighter introduction to spring on Nantucket.