Artscape, noon-10 p.m. July 21-22, noon-8 p.m. July 23, Mount Royal Avenue between Lanvale and Cathedral streets, (410) 396-4575, website, free. The largest arts festival in the Mid-Atlantic marks off a quarter-century of being awesome. Art in all forms, from visual to musical to performance to culinary to literary to inflatable “tube dancer” fans (we think those are the floppy nylon creatures waggling outside car dealerships; if so, that’s genius).
Balticon 40: Maryland Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, May 26-29, Marriott Hunt Valley Inn, (410) 563-2737, website. It’s kinda easy to make fun of science-fiction fans individually. But for one weekend—300 continuous hours—dressing up like a Jedi and speaking in Klingon becomes the norm. SF/F junkies from all over join forces for an around-the-clock blitz of workshops, exhibits, costumes, parties, movies, awards, dance, magic, anime, and more.
Baltimore Pride 2006, June 17-18, Mount Vernon and Druid Hill, (410) 837-5445, website. Get proud and loud at Baltimore’s gayest celebration of same-sexiness, with a parade down Charles Street, a block party, and a festival at Druid Hill Park with all the festival accoutrements of food, music, drinks, and fun.
Charles Village Festival, 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. June 3, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. June 4, Wyman Park Dell, 29th and Charles streets, website. We got excited to see the 1K Fun Run on the schedule, until we remembered that it’s only for kids 12 and under. Fine, then, we can handle the 5K, after which we’ll grab a funnel cake and catch the parade. Garden tours, crafts, drinks, and live music too.
Federal Hill Main Street Jazz and Blues Festival, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. June 19, South Charles Street between West and Hamburg and East Cross streets on both sides of the market, (410)727-4500, website, $3. Live music, surrounded by edibles, potables, jewelry, art, and antiques. And since under 12 get in for free, roll the stroller down Little Ones Lane for fun kids’ stuff.
HonFest, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. June 10, on The Avenue (36th St. in Hampden), (410) 243-6800, website. It’s a safe bet that the Hons of yesteryear, smoking on their stoops, refilling coffee cups, planting gardens of plastic statuary, had no idea they’d become symbols of Baltimore. But they’d sure enjoy this party thrown in their honor, with music, art, food, and a Glamour Lounge to transform regular hair into a glorious beehive.
Sowebohemian Arts and Music Festival, May 28, Hollins Market, 1100 Hollins St., (410) 244-8368, website, free. Your 21st b-day probably involved too many Tuaca shots and hugging a toilet. Sowebo’s fest does it right, celebrating its 21st with tons of music, arts and crafts vendors, kids’ activities, an art show, and international food.
Fests in Other Parts of Maryland
Antique Classic Boat Festival, June 16-18, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Mill St., St. Michaels, (410) 645-2916, website, $11, museum members free. After visiting the more than 100 antique and classic watercraft, watching boat-building demonstrations, filling your belly with seafood and your car trunk with nautical goodies, you’ll be ready to sail the high seas like an old salt.
Art of the Deals, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. June 17, Centreville, (410) 758-2520, donations accepted. A town-wide extravaganza of yard and sidewalk sales, with food, music, and entertainment to keep you motivated while you dig through old crap in search of treasure.
Baltimore-Washington JAZZFest, 7-11 p.m. June 17, 5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, website, $65 includes buffet. Columbia gets to be New Orleans for a night, as musicians like Steve Guyger, Whit Williams, and Charles “Rahmat” Woods play into the evening.
Bowiefest, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. June 3, Allen Pond Park, 3330 Northview Drive, Bowie, (301) 809-3078, website. Leave your knives and Ziggy Stardust albums at home, you big silly, this celebration of all things Bowie means carnival rides, storytelling, a gymnastics show, a blues band, a reptile exhibit, square dancing, baton twirling, and so on.
Caroline Summerfest, 5-10 p.m. Aug. 18, 2-10 p.m. Aug. 19, downtown Denton, (410) 479-2050, website, free. Hitch a ride on the River Boat, peruse the selection of fine arts, then let the kids stay up a little later to watch the fireworks display.
CBS Daytime Superstar Weekend ‘06, June 10-11, Paramount’s Kings Dominion, Doswell, Va., (804) 876-5000, website, free with admission. Two days of non-stop Guiding Light and As the World Turns action, with autograph signings, Q&As, a variety show, and a chance for audience members to act out scenes with their favorite cheesy actor. Too bad it’s not a Days of Our Lives weekend, because that’s the only soap that matters.
Cypress Festival, 6-10 p.m. June 15, 6-11 p.m. June 16, 2-11 p.m. June 17, Cypress Park, Pocomoke City, (410) 957-1919, website. Old-timey family fun in a cute waterside town, with homemade Eastern Shore vittles (likely heavy on the oysters and Old Bay), carnival rides, an antique car and truck show, a Duck Derby (buy a plastic ducky and race him), bingo, and Firefighters’ Olympics. Just like grandma used to make.
Frederick Arts Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. June 3, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. June 4, East Street and Carroll Creek Linear Park, (301) 694-9632, website, $5-$10. It’s time to pull down your Bob Marley poster and get yourself real art. Buy some future Old Masters, bedeck yourself with hand-made jewelry, accessorize with ceramics and woodcrafts, or just come for the extensive array of food.
Kent Island Fireman’s Carnival, 6-11 p.m. July 23-29, Kent Island Fire Department, Stevensville, (410) 643-5454, website. Wholesome family fun with a parade, fair food, fireworks, rides, and hunky firemen.
Maritime Heritage Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 17, Historic St. Mary’s City, website, $3.50-$7.50. Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of Brass Monkey. Maryland’s first capital city celebrates boats, beaches, fishies, sailors, maybe some grog, and definitely some sea shanties.
Maryland Renaissance Festival, weekends 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 26-Oct. 22, 1821 Crownsville Road, Annapolis, (800) 296-7304, website, $8-$17. Don’t think for one second that you’re too cool for the RennFest. What’s not to like about swordfights, a juggler on a unicycle, mead, axe-throwing contests, food-on-a-stick, elephant rides, jousting, and breasts smashed up to the chin? Clip on a rattail and join the Rennies.
Music and Arts Festival, 10 a.m.-midnight July 8, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. July 9, Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center St., Westminster, (410) 857-2771, website, ticket prices vary. Marc Steiner emcees two days and four stages with, y’know, music and arts, and special guest Richie Havens. Tasty foods, too.
6th Annual Senior Line Dance Expo, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., July 13, Queen Anne’s County High School, Centreville, (410) 758-0848, $6. Those cowboy boots you regret buying are still fully in vogue at a line-dance expo, so pull ‘em on, dust off the hat, and roll down to the QAC to break out your “Achy Breaky Heart” moves. Watch expert dancers as they perform shag, skits, and “hand dancing,” all of which sounds kinda pornographic, then learn it yourself at a workshop.
Summer Quilt Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., July 7-8, Spruce Forest Artisan Village, 177 Casselman Road, Grantsville, (301) 895-3332, website, free. Counterintuitive, yes, to shop for blankets in summer, but you shouldn’t pass up the chance to get a quilt handmade by artisans living in cabins the Allegheny Mountains. Learn to make your own at a workshop or just watch a demonstration.
Tea Party Festival, May 26-29, Chestertown, (410) 778-0416, website. Make sure those smug Brits know who’s boss of the New World. Colonial-type merrymaking, with theater, music, dancing, food, storytelling, reenactments, skipjacks, and loads of programs especially for little ladies and gents.
Western Maryland Blues Fest, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. June 1, University Plaza, 4:30-9:30 p.m. June 2, noon-9:30 p.m. June 3, Central Lot, noon-5 p.m. June 4, City Park Bandshell, Hagerstown, (301) 739-8577, ext. 116, website. Nothing like listening to the blues to put you in a good mood. Eighteen bands play nonstop on two stages, and workshops, lectures, and a picnic on the last day.
Day Trip Fests
Alexandria Red Cross Waterfront Festival, June 17-18, Oronoco Bay Park, Union and Madison streets, Alexandria, Va., (703) 539-8300, website, $5-$10. Tall ships and international foods served up on the water, along with lots of crafts-everything from jewelry to kids’ clothes to tiles.
Appalachian String Band Music Festival, Aug. 2-6, Camp Washington-Carver, Clifftop, W. Va., (304) 558-0220, website, day rates $15-$20, festival pass $40-$85. Not every mountain string band festival offers a yoga class every day. This one does, though, along with plenty of music, dance workshops, camping, and family activities like seed-beading, basket-making, tie-dying, and bingo.
Capital Pride, June 2-11, Washington, (202) 797-3510, website, free. It’s about more than just sexual orientation, as D.C. Pride’s theme is “Many Communities, All Proud.” A street festival 200,000 strong, an interfaith service, a glorious parade, and the Mr. Capital Pride Leather Contest all live happily together on this year’s schedule.
DanceAfrica D.C., June 5-11, Dance Place, 3225 8th St. NE, Washington, (202) 269-1600, website, $13 per class, indoor performances $7-$25, marketplace and outdoor performances free. Bang on your drum all day at the drum circle, learn some hot moves at dance classes, then watch the experts at afternoon and evening performances. The African-style market has art, food, clothing, and activities to keep you entertained.
D.C. Caribbean Carnival, June 24-25, Washington, website, free. Probably the furthest north you can experience Carnival—300,000 people, a huge parade, dancing, and fabulous masquerade costumes. Fill your cup and enjoy live music and scrumptious Caribbean snacks.
Dupont Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, June 4-11, various venues around Wilmington, Del., (302) 576-3095, website, most shows free. Though Brown, a trumpet prodigy, died 50 years ago, some of the country’s best jazz musicians still celebrate his birthday with a week of live shows. This year’s festivities include promising high schoolers, 17-time Grammy winners the Count Basie Orchestra, and New Orleans musicians raising money for hurricane relief.
Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival, weekends Aug. 13-Sept. 25, 112 Renaissance Lane, West Newton, Pa., (724) 872-1670, website, $3.95-$14.95. Renaissance fairs have the benefit of being in the 21st century, so we don’t just get turkey legs, we also get a cappuccino. Swordfights minus the carnage, gorgeously dressed lords and ladies sans the serfdom. Plus a Children’s Kingdom and themed weekends, including Celtic Heritage and Shakespearean.
Hampton Blackbeard Festival, June 3-4, Hampton Waterfront, Hampton Va., (757) 727-1570, website, free. Pirates roam the waters of the Chesapeake again. Blackbeard and his (elaborately costumed) crew of 50 sure can throw a rowdy party, with music, sea battles, skirmishes with militiamen, and grub. Kids will enjoy the spitting contest and a fun game called “Walk the Plank.”
Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival, June 17, 343 Campground Road Harpers Ferry, W. Va., (304) 535-6895, website. A down-river kayak race, followed by a kayak “rodeo” and festivities-music, food, an award banquet, and a silent auction. Proceeds go toward conservation groups.
Kutztown Festival, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. July 1-9, Kutztown Fairgrounds, Kutztown, Pa., (888) 674-6136, website, $11-$12, kids free, festival pass $20. Good old-fashioned country fun like only the genuinely old-fashioned Pennsylvania Dutch can provide. All the regular festival goods, plus an ox roast, hay mazes, storytelling, 200 traditional craftsmen, a quilt sale, and more-they’re promising “PA Dutch humor” and a hanging. Where else are you gonna experience that?
Nanticoke Riverfest, July 14-15, various locations around Seaford, Del., (302) 629-9173, website. Try not to be creeped out by the Little and Junior Miss Riverfest pageants—go for the live music, 5K race, “gong show,” sparkly motorcycles, treasure hunt, and a good-clean-fun Duck Derby.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival, June 30-July 4, July 7-11, the National Mall, 15th Street at Constitution Avenue NW, (202) 275-1150, website, free. The 40th annual Folklife gives you a three-for-one deal this year, celebrating three distinct communities: modern life and the culture of Alberta, Canada; Latino music in Chicago; and Native American basketry. Hundred of artists, musicians, cooks, and other various cultural experts will be on hand to fully immerse you in their respective traditions.
Vandalia Gathering, May 26-28, Cultural Center and State Capital Grounds, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. East, Charleston, W. Va., (304) 558-0220, website, free. Life in Appalachia, with traditional food, crafts, dance, and music—even non-mountain folk are encouraged to join in the jam sessions or the dance performances. And don’t miss the Liar’s Contest. Yeah, that’s the ticket, the Liar’s Contest.
Wapiti Summer Festival, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 5, Wapiti Retreat, 470 Wapiti Lane, North East, (410) 287-6928, website. This here’s your classic summer festival: live music, arts and crafts, food, and stuff to keep the kids entertained.
West Virginia State Fair, Aug. 11-20, State Fair Event Center, Lewisburg, W.Va., (304) 645-1090, website. Besides the livestock and fair food, country music fans can look forward to a lineup of serious stars: Big and Rich, Cowboy Troy, Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, and Trace Adkins. Fans of formula rock can look forward to Foreigner. Zing!
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201