After a frigid week that brought ice and snow to much of the state, it sure doesn't feel like springtime is upon us.
Instead of chirping birds, the sounds of ice scrapers and plows filled the air, especially in the northern part of Delaware.
But as temperatures rise this weekend, spring is ready to officially show itself on Monday, giving hope to winter haters and those who wrestle with seasonal affective disorder.
As has become tradition, the new, warmer season will also be ushered in by freebies to help get you in a spring state of mind.
Rita's Italian Ice will offer a free water ice at all locations from noon to 9 p.m. on Monday and participating Dairy Queen ice cream shops will give away a free small vanilla cone to each customer throughout the day.
But spring is about more than just your sweet tooth. It's when we get back outside, plunge back into the festival scene and check out new restaurants, especially at the beach.
We've collected nine other reasons besides free sweets for Delawareans to look forward to spring. Some are old standbys like the 39th annual Point-to-Point and others are brand new options, like the planned Memorial Day weekend opening of the still-under-construction Big Chill Beach Club at the Indian River Inlet.
So get those shorts and sundresses out from the back of your closet and think warm thoughts. Spring is here and that snow on the ground will be gone soon enough.
April 21: Constitution Yards Beer Garden re-opening, 308 Justison St., Wilmington. constitutionyards.com.
After a successful debut last summer after facing some initial pushback from nearby residents, the Riverfront beer garden returns next month. The first kegs will be tapped on the weekend of April 21-23 before re-opening April 28 on a seven-day-a-week schedule. Connecticut-based Imian Partners, operators of the 20,000-square-foot beer garden for the nonprofit Riverfront Development Corp., are adding two additional sand pits, as well as wood decking throughout the main beer garden area. A new overhead cabling system is also being added to support more substantial shade sails. Constitution Yards will now throw monthly themed parties, such as a Dogfish Head tap takeover May 18, which will include an appearance by Dogfish founder Sam Calagione and a Firefly Music Festival ticket giveaway. Expect a return of craft beers and barbecue fare, although with more vegetable-themed alternatives to the meat-heavy BBQ offerings. Games like corn hole, bocce, life-size Jenga and Wiffle Ball will return with new badminton nets complete with illuminated shuttlecocks for nighttime play.
April 22,R2Hop2 Beer and Music Festival, Fordham & Dominion Brewing Co., 1284 McD Drive, Dover. fordhamanddominion.com. After a wet one last year, the beer gods owe the Fordham & Dominion Brewing Co. faithful a sunny day for the sixth annual R2Hop2 Beer and Music Festival. The event, which will run from noon to 5 p.m., will feature four musical acts: Delaware-based blues four-piece Barrelhouse, Maryland rock band Loose Ties, Pittsburgh pop rockers Lovebettie and beatboxing looper Nate McCormick, a Havre de Grace, Maryland-based one-man band. The festival, held in the brewery's backyard, will offer more than 10 of their beers on draft, along with tastings from Marydel's Harvest Ridge Winery and Smyrna-based Painted Stave Distilling. There will also be a photo booth, kids' area, face painting and keg tossing competition, along with food vendors and dozens of local artisans selling their wares. Tickets are $30-$50 for drinkers and $20 for designated drivers. It's free for kids under the age of 16.
May 7: Point-to-Point, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, 5105 Kennett Pike, Winterthur. winterthur.org. What's new this year at the 39th annual Point-to-Point? Well, the Dogfish Head hospitality tent is gone after a five-year run and has been replaced by a new private tent co-sponsored by Wilmington restaurant Kid Shelleen's and Tito's Handmade Vodka. Demand was so high that all the tickets ($100) for the Kid Shelleen's and Tito's Outpost on the rail sold out in less than a month. The promise of a Texas Hill Country barbecue with gourmet tacos, along with Tito's American Mules and Bloody Marys, seems to have almost caused a stampede. But there is one way to still win tickets to the tent. A Point-to-Point-themed happy hour at Kid Shelleen's on Wednesday, April 19, from 5 to 7 p.m. will offer $5 raffle tickets to win access to the sold-out tent. Montana Wildaxe's Tony Cappella and Kurt Houff will perform with stand-out Wilmington guitarist Brad Newsom. And food and drink specials scheduled for the tent at Winterthur will be on the menu at Kid's. Also new this year for Point-to-Point: an online ticketing system that incorporates drone footage, allowing patrons to choose their tailgate spots via an interactive map.
May 20:Bromberg's Big Noise Music Festival, Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park, 815 Justison St., Wilmington. bignoisefestival.com.
Speaking of sold-out VIP tickets -- all VIP passes for the return of Bromberg's Big Noise Music Festival are gone. But if you still want the fancy people passes, there is a way. Each Friday, organizers randomly choose a general admission ticket-buyer ($44) and upgrade them to VIP status. So the earlier you buy your tickets, the more chances you have to win. This year's outdoor show features performances by Wilmington multi-instrumentalist David Bromberg and his Big Band, blues rockers Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dr. John and the Nite Trippers, New Orleans' Anders Osborne, Americana duo Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams and San Francisco-based roots pop act Front Country. The festival weekend got a little bigger earlier this month when it was announced that Campbell and Williams were added as the opening act for folk singer John Gorka at Arden's Gild Hall the night before, May 19. They are even offering a ticket deal that gets you into both the Gild Hall and the festival. Milton-based Dogfish Head is the official beer of the festival and Smyrna's Painted Stave Distilling is the official spirits company.
May 20:"Video Games Live" with members of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, The Grand, 818 N. Market St., Wilmington. thegrandwilmington.org.
Think of it as "Bugs Bunny on Broadway" for this generation. More than 25 years after the Warner Brothers Symphony Orchestra went on the road showing old "Looney Tunes" episodes while performing the music live, a similar concept for the video game generation is coming to Wilmington. Created, produced and hosted by video game composer and musician Tommy Tallarico, the Delaware Symphony Orchestra will perform the music of fan favorite video games paired with video footage and a synchronized light show. Tickets are $52-$64 with VIP tickets ($154-$162) also available for the hardcore gamers out there.
May 25:World Cafe Live at the Queen's farewell show, World Cafe Live at the Queen, 500 N. Market St., Wilmington. worldcafelive.com.
It's a concert unlike any other for a Wilmington music venue unlike any the city has seen. On its last night as operators of the Queen Theater, World Cafe Live and its founder Hal Real will host a free marathon six-hour concert stacked with local talent. No tickets are needed. The doors will be open to all starting at 6 p.m. for a show featuring David Bromberg, Montana Wildaxe, Joe Trainor, Nik Everett, The Snap, the Sin City Band, Shytown, The Headies, Vinyl Shockley, Kategory 5, The Cameltones and Brian LaPann. And since they move out the next day, organizers promise "ultra low drink prices all night long." Not included in that promise: an excuse for not being at work the next day. The new operators of the Queen have not yet been announced, but it will remain a music venue, according to Queen officials.
May 26,Big Chill Beach Club opening, 27099 Del. 1, near Bethany Beach. bigchillbeachclub.com.
A tentative opening date of Memorial Day weekend has been revealed by the owners of the new oceanside Big Chill Beach Club at the Indian River Inlet. Think of it as a companion for the nearby bayside Hammerheads Dockside, the bar and music spot that opened in 2013. Like Hammerheads, a spin-off of the Dewey Beach bar and restaurant of the same name, Big Chill Beach Club is a spin-off of the popular Big Chill Surf Cantina next to the Liquid Board Shop on Del. 1 near Rehoboth Beach. While owners are still finalizing a menu as construction continues, they plan on serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. It will feature a 200-seat rooftop deck that sits oceanfront where the Indian River Inlet and Atlantic Ocean meet on the south side of Delaware Seashore State Park. The deck allows for 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean, Indian River Inlet and Indian River Bay, organizers say. The new beach hangout, which will feature an oyster bar, fire pit and game area, plans to stay open until October each year.
June 1: Old Dominion opens Hudson Fields, 30045 Eagle Crest Rd., near Milton. hudsonfields.com.
After the collapse of the 2105 Delaware Junction Country Music Festival, the owners of the Bottle & Cork are attempting once again to expand since the Cork has become too small to house all the music they want to offer. The new 4,000-person Hudson Field near Milton will host country band Old Dominion for its inaugural show. All of the $35 "party pit" seats and $50 reserved seating VIP tickets have already sold out, leaving only $25 general admission passes available to see the "Break Up with Him" band. (Brandon Lay and The Morrison Brothers are also on the bill.) A second show was announced earlier this month. California reggae act Dirty Heads, which played Firefly Music Festival in 2015, will be teamed up with Grammy-nominated, Virginia-based reggae band SOJA, which features Seaford native Trevor Young on lead guitar. The Green and RDGLDGRN will open. Tickets for that show are $35-$149 with "party pit" and VIP options still available.
June 15-18: Firefly Music Festival, The Woodlands, Dover. fireflyfestival.com.
With the first day of summer coming June 21, Firefly will help Delaware's wildest music fans make the most out of the final days of spring. While exact set times have not yet been announced, organizers have recently revealed which date each act is performing. And it solved one of the festival's biggest mysteries: With five headliners for the first time, how would they be slotted? The answer is The Weeknd, Bob Dylan and Chance the Rapper will all perform Saturday with Twenty One Pilots closing Friday night and Muse doing the honors on Sunday. Perhaps the biggest recent news from the Firefly camp is that single day general admission ($79-$109) and single day VIP passes ($249) are available and on sale now for music fans not willing to commit to all four days of the immersive camping festival. Four-day passes for the fest, which draws about 90,000 annually, are also on sale now for $299-$2,499.