Handpicked Events for July 28-31, 2011

Last week’s newsletter was all about escaping the heat, but this week we bring you 10 ways to embrace the sun and the freedom that summer offers. From fairs to festivals to Sunday morning drives, this week’s events are what summer is all about. Whether you’re eating lobster at Rat’s Restaurant or a corn dog at the hot air balloon festival, summer gives us the chance to get outside with family and friends and get lost in all that this area has to offer.

Courtesy of flickr user a4gpa

Thursday

Sustainable Jazz Ensemble
This is the second assembly of Palmer Square’s Lunchtime Concerts on the Green Series. This week, Princeton’s own Sustainable Jazz Ensemble will take the stage to perform some of their original compositions. SJE is a local trio of musicians who describe their jazz as “composed using only local, organic ingredients, natural chord progressions and solar-powered imaginations.” So grab a sandwich at Olive’s, iced coffee from Small World (I recommend their sweet summer special “The Nola”) and some ice cream from The Bent Spoon and spend a lovely lunch hour on the green on Palmer Square. 12-2 pm. Free. For more information on SJE see their website HERE.

It’s About Time: Summer Party
For a townie, it’s easy to forget about the great programs offered by Princeton University when there aren’t hundreds of students milling around. This party, however, is worth a trip onto campus. Join the Princeton University Art Museum for an evening of wine, music, and hors d’oeuvres as they celebrate the openings of their latest shows. The three new exhibits explore time, transformation, and memory in several mediums. 6-9 pm. More information HERE.

Localpalooza
It seems like almost every month there is some new brand of sustenance that we have to buy or else the world will end. Organic, gluten-free, whole grain- it’s hard to keep track. However, one great rule of thumb is that it is always best to buy local. And luckily, in the Garden State that’s relatively easy. Come see what the buzz is about at Whole Foods Market’s Localpalooza. The celebration features local artists, conservation groups, musicians, and entrepreneurs. Even if you’re just there to do your shopping you’ll get a great view of some great things happening in the Princeton area. 5-8 pm. More information HERE. 

Friday 

Hot Air Balloon Festival
There is something indescribably magical about hot air balloons. Go experience this magic for yourselves at the Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Readington. The gates open at 1 pm for a classic festival with amusement park rides, food, magic shows, music, and of course flying. Along with hot air balloons there are also sky diving and wing suit demonstrations. You can even purchase a balloon ride. Full schedule, ticketing information, and more HERE.

Rat’s Restaurant Clam Bake
Who says you need to go all the way to the shore for great seafood? Rat’s Restaurant at the beautiful Grounds for Sculpture is hosting its annual clam bake this Friday and we promise you’ll practically feel the sea breeze blowing on your face. Surfer music and cold beer set the mood for this classic surf and turf buffet featuring lobster, clams, shrimp, mussels, chicken, sausages, and classic side dishes. $42 for adults, $21 for children under 12. Several seatings throughout the evening. Call (609) 584-7800 for reservations. Menu and more information HERE. 

Saturday 

Nocturnal Insect Safari
The Stony Brook Millstone Watershed has a ton of fantastic educational programs and guided walks for all ages, not to mention miles of gorgeous trails. One program this week looked especially cool: the nocturnal insect safari. Kids and adults ages 6 and up will use a variety of techniques to collect and study nocturnal insects including traps, baiting, and using light to distract the insects. $8 for members, $12 for non-members. 8 pm-10 pm. Call 609-737-7592 for registration. More information HERE. 

Mercer County 4-H Fair
While Jersey is of course the Garden State, our farming roots are lost on many suburban Princetonians. Howell Living History Farm preserves these historic practices with many programs throughout the year and continues these farming traditions by hosting the Mercer County 4-H fair. The fair includes animal shows, country dances, horse drawn hayrides, archery lessons, craft demonstrations, and dozens of other activities. Parking and admission are both free but a donation of dry or canned goods to support Rutgers Against Hunger is suggested. 10 am-8 pm. More information and a full schedule of events HERE.

Sunday

Toys for young and old in New Hope, PA
The annual New Hope Auto Show isn’t for a few more weeks, but this weekend they are hosting a road rally to tide you auto-enthusiasts over. Bring your favorite vehicle, a navigator, and $20 to New Hope-Solebury High School at 9 am to receive the clues for your scavenger hunt. Enjoy a lovely drive through area along the river and if you’re one of the first three to finish you get a trophy and a lap through the winners circle. Registration is required and there are only a few spots left so hurry! Registration and more information HERE.

After your drive, be sure to stop by the Summer Fever Toy Show at Eagle Fire Company Hall. The show features 80 tables of collectible and antique toys dating back over a century. Rain or shine. $5, children under 12 are free. More information HERE.

Compiled for PrincetonScoop by Grace Rosen