Annual Spring Event: The Running of the Herring


April 6, 2024

Looking for something to do in April? Then come experience the incredible phenomenon of the return of the herring to Plymouth! This annual event is a celebration of nature and a sure sign that spring is in full swing. Come to Plymouth to celebrate with the town and experience the Running of the Herring.

What Is the Running of the Herring?

Each April, the herring make a much-anticipated annual return to Plymouth via Town Brook, Plimoth Grist Mill, and Jenney Pond Park. As such, it’s become an annual tradition for the town to celebrate the arrival of spring with friends, family, fun, and fish.

Every spring tens of thousands of alewife herring set off from locations throughout the North Atlantic, from far afield. Contrary to what the festival name might imply, the herring don’t actually run, as they lack legs. Instead, they find Plymouth Harbor, swim past Mayflower II and into Town Brook, where they launch themselves two miles upstream against the current, passing the Grist Mill on their way to Billington Sea to spawn. 

You’ll be the one running as you rush to observe this amazing migration known as the herring run. While the fish are swimming, you can enjoy a day of family-friendly activities including herring counts, alewife art, games, live music and more! You can chat with local scientists, help contribute to ongoing herring research, and take a photo with Happy Fish! 

Discover Middleborough

2024 Running of the Herring

The Festival is usually held the third weekend in April. This year, Plymouth is holding the festival on Saturday, April 20 from 10 am – 3 pm. This festival is free and open to the public with food for purchase. Check Here for more information.

Also be sure to come to Plymouth on Friday, April 19 to kick off the festivities at Happy Hour with Happy Fish. From 5-8 pm at the Plymouth Center for the Arts, you can grab a drink and hors d’oeuvres, take photos with Happy Fish, chat with local scientists, and learn about the importance of the annual herring migration.

Other Events

Plymouth isn’t the only town that gets in on the fun. Nearby, Middleborough holds a multi-day annual Herring Run Festival of its own at Oliver Mill Park. In 2024 this Festival will be held on April 13-14 from 11 am to 4 pm. There will be merchant and food vendors, games, exhibits, demonstrations, music, a beer garden and, of course, lots of herring. This event is also free to the public.

April is a great time to visit Plymouth and the South Shore. However, if you’re looking for a real treat, plan to stop by during the annual Running of the Herring. It’s a grand time for all and offers a great opportunity to learn about nature and how it can bring the town together.