NANTUCKET -- Bright bunches of daffodils in the grocery stores always seem the first harbinger of spring in New England, but it's not until the roadside daffs burst into bloom that Nantucket awakens from the slumber of winter.
Since 1974 the Nantucket Garden Club has planted the island in more than 3 million daffodil bulbs , which turn the "little gray lady of the sea" (as mariners used to call the island) into a sea of yellow, white, orange, and even pink blossoms from early April into mid-May.
Next weekend, hardy year-round islanders emerge from their hibernal cocoons to celebrate Daffodil Festival Weekend , Nantucket's de facto adieu to winter. On Saturday and Sunday, the Garden Club's "Daffodils at Sea" flower show is on display at the Egan Institute of Maritime Studies at the Coffin School (4 Winter St.).
The even bigger attraction is the Antique Car Parade on Saturday. One hundred daffodil-festooned vintage vehicles line up on Main Street around 9 a.m., and at noon they begin the slow roll to Siasconset , where, by tradition, viewers enjoy tailgate picnics on the lawns leading into the village. The annual Children's Parade of flower-bedecked bicycles and wagons also takes place Saturday morning, as does the judging and awarding of ribbons in the Daffy Hats Pageant.
Daffodil Festival Weekend, Nantucket, April 27-29. 508-228-0925. nantucketchamber.org. The Steamship Authority provides frequent ferry service from South Street Dock in Hyannis to Steamship Wharf in Nantucket, $30 round trip; 508-477-8600, steamshipauthority.com. Directions: Hyannis is about 80 miles or about 90 minutes from Boston. Take Interstate 93 south to Route 3 to the Sagamore Bridge. Follow Route 6 to Hyannis. PATRICIA HARRIS