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Nantucket Thanksgiving, What You Need to Know


Events & Traditions

J. Brent Tartamella
Nantucket Thanksgiving

As a lover of Nantucket, whenever the wheels touch down on the tarmac, or you walk off the ferry, you know your hours, days, weeks or even months are going to be filled with lifelong memories.  Nantucket is a magical place – everyone has a story, usually of family and friends, meeting their significant other, “back in the day” anecdotes or a few rabble-rousing stories.  As a year-round resident starting my 14th year, I am grateful to have many wonderful memories from this incredible community that I call home.  While we have many favorites, 4th of July or Figawi, for me, one of my favorite holidays on island is a Nantucket Thanksgiving!

What I love about Thanksgiving, and generally the special autumnal weekends that lead up to the holiday, is that it is a time when islanders connect as a larger community.  We gather at a less frenetic pace and spend time doing activities that are built around why we love Nantucket.  My perfect Nantucket Thanksgiving Day can be followed like a program and is guaranteed to create new, everlasting memories.

Nantucket Thanksgiving

Brent’s List of Nantucket Thanksgiving Events and Traditions

  • Wake up! Get going, brew that Nantucket Coffee Roasters java, drink that incredibly pure Nantucket water straight from the tap and enjoy 15 minutes of peace and quiet.
  • Check the weather, or just poke your head outside, but plan for the possibility of ever-changing Nantucket weather. Layer accordingly, especially if you plan on taking the Plunge! Many people wear costumes or silly hats when jumping in the cold waters at Children’s Beach.
  • Time to get the rest of the house up, be it family, friends or strangers that wandered in from the Box last night. (oh wait, those tales only happen during summer).
  • Grab your running gear or whatever makes you look like a runner (or in my case shuffler). The Nantucket Triathlon Club and the Nantucket Hotel host an awesome, energizing 5K around Brant Point and up to the Cliff.
    Nantucket Thanksgiving
    • Now, it’s time to reward yourself with a nice cool, heart-pounding, refreshing plunge where you are also doing good! Walk from the Nantucket Hotel to Children’s Beach and before you go get your wristband for the Annual Turkey Plunge, sneak a cup of that post-plunge hot chocolate. I know it’s not leading by example, but your body will thank you. Then, get in line, receive your band from the awesome volunteers who may think you are crazy. Get your t-shirt to prove you made the leap. It will keep you warm once your body is frozen solid.
    • Listen to “Tommy B” drop the mic, as my kids would say, and remind us all why we are there. This important fundraiser supports the Athenaeum and all of the programming that enriches the community. Get ready because you are about to plunge into 20-, 30-, and sometimes 40-degree water sans wetsuit.


  • Now you have options…it’s either breakfast at the “Flake” or Island Kitchen. You can skip this step and go straight to a warm shower, steam room, sauna or tub!
  • There are many take-out options to help you skip the lines at the supermarket and avoid cooking everything at home. Bartlett’s, Annye’s, and the Nantucket Fish & Meat Market will provide the entire meal or portions to ease the work of your kitchen brigade. While the chefs are making their magic, you can help by offering to take all the stragglers out. Read our 2019 blog “Nantucket Thanksgiving Dinner Take-out + Dine-in Options.”
  • If you haven’t tried your hand at scalloping, or “rake” as they say, tonight is the perfect time to bring some home for your guests. Read Judy’s informative blog on how to scallop. This tradition will be engrained in their taste buds as they revel in an appetizer of fresh sautéed Nantucket scallops. Or pick some up at Sayle’s; those suckers are just as good.


scalloping nantucketMore options for a fantastic Nantucket Thanksgiving

  • Take a ride out to Cisco to see if the @neoprenebanker, @sunnywooddesigns or @surfingtherock are crushing the waves. Did you know, on your way back you may also pass this incredibly hidden gem called Cisco Brewery!?!?  I heard their warm spiked cider is as delicious as those Downyflake donuts you enjoyed in the morning.  Cisco is always a crowd favorite and you can be helpful by bringing home some beverages for post-turkey libations. Nothing says you care like a bottle of their award-winning Notch Whiskey. For the overachievers, you can also offer to do the Bartlett’s Farm pick-ups since you’ll be close by!
  • If ’Sconset is more your speed, and you need to stretch your legs, the ’Sconset Cliff walk is a delight. It is easy for the little ones to do and allows everyone to blow off some steam!
  • However, for true Thanksgiving Day fanatics, nothing is more in honor of this day than a little family football game. You will find people throwing the pigskin at a field near you. Try the Boys and Girls Club, high school fields or Children’s Beach. 


But don’t be late! Get home and enjoy what this day is really about — friends, family, food and more football.  However you spend your Nantucket Thanksgiving, don’t forget the reason for the season. Open your doors to others, do something nice for strangers and show gratitude and appreciation for all those who grace your table. 

For more travel, lifestyle turkey day and real estate insights, please reach out.  On Thanksgiving Day, you know my schedule and where to find me as I enjoy my 4,745th  day on this sandbar.

Written By

J. Brent Tartamella

A New England native, with roots and a career in hospitality and private club management, Brent moved to Nantucket in 2004.