Balticon, 40: Maryland Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention, May 25-28, Marriott Hunt Valley Inn, (410) 563-2737, www.balticon.org. We refuse to make fun of this festival because there is going to be an invasion of, like, one billion geeks and we don't want them to beat us up. So here you go. This year your festival features guests of honor, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Joe Bergeron, Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff, Michael R. Mennenga, and Evo Terra. Holy shit, this thing runs 24 hours a day. Okay guys, have fun.
Sowebohemian Arts and Music Festival, May 27, Hollins Market, 1100 Hollins St., (410) 244-8368, www.soweboarts.org, free. For 22 years, Sowebo has "bathed the bullseye of our community" with art and music, and it is the "Never Say Die Spirit" that keeps this festival alive. This year they want to celebrate the inner artist in all of us, with projects for everyone to get their hands on. Dibs on the graffiti tunnel.
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, www.charlesvillage.net. Charles is so smoking hot right now. We have two Starbucks, and a Cold Stone Creamery is on the way. But it's important to remember what really matters, like a sense of community. So let's gather together and eat some food, look at each other's art, and watch a parade.
HonFest, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. June 9, Noon-6 p.m. June 10, on the Avenue (36th Street in Hampden), (410) 243-6800, www.honfest.net. Buy your Aquanet now, cause there ain't gonna be any left after this fest, hon. Even the kids are wearing beehives, it's crazy, they would probably giggle if they knew what they were called. For one day only, the Avenue is one long strip of games, greasy food, shopping, and contests. All the businesses have their doors open with sales and loud, local bands are kicking it. All the while you're just strolling down the lane sipping on your beer. It's nice.
Baltimore Pride 2007, June 17-18, Mount Vernon and Druid Hill, (410) 837-5445, www.baltimorepride.org. Shut up, it's Mary-making time again. Gay heeeeey day! You love it, gorgeous. Charles Street is the catwalk for the season's must-have fag. Get it in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Discrimination is so last century.
Federal Hill Main Street Jazz and Blues Festival, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. June 10, South Charles Street between West and Hamburg and East Cross streets on both sides of the market, (410) 727-4500, www.historicfederalhill.org, Free. Cool sounds in the hot sun. All the neighbors are out to play and show off how well they get along throwing a party together. Don't be jelly, join `em. Bring your hard-earned cash to support hard working artists. And don't dare get a babysitter; if they hear through the grapevine how cool the Little Ones Lane was, they will probably throw a fit.
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, www.artscape.org, free. This festival possibly sums up Baltimore in a nutshell. You've got the good-fun food, loads of local artists, running into everyone you know, and those mist tents-with the bad-garbage everywhere, sweaty walking, hauling your shit around all day, and a rat's heyday. But it's cheap, and you can't deny how much you love it.
Festies in Other Parts of Maryland
Tea Party Festival, May 25-28, Chestertown, (410) 778-0416, www.chestertownteaparty.com. When's the last time you threw a good tea party? Why let the kids and teddy bears have all the fun. Besides, crumpets rock and the taste of a nice black tea with honey and milk is lovely.
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, www.blues-fest.org. How can they call it blues when it makes you feel so damn happy? Enjoy a nice picnic while 19 different artists let it all out.
Frederick Arts Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. June 2, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. June 3, East Street and Carroll Creek Linear Park, (301) 694-9632, www.frederickarts.org, $5-$10. Someone once said don't buy a piece of art unless you really love it. But bollocks. There's lots of good reasons to buy art. Maybe the artist was really nice or maybe you were drunk on outdoor-festival food.
Bowiefest, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. June 2, Allen Pond Park, 3330 Northview Drive, Bowie, (301) 809-3078, www.cityofbowie.org. Carnival rides, storytelling, a gymnastics show, a blues band, a reptile exhibit, square dancing, baton twirling, and so on. And no, we're sorry David Bowie is not making an appearance.
Cypress Festival, June 14-16, Cypress Park, Pocomoke City, (410) 957-1919, www.pocomoke.com. Hokey fun times with Firefighter's Olympics, plastic ducky derby, and carnival rides; get your belly ready for goodies dusty with Old Bay.
Antique Classic Boat Festival, June 15-17, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Mill Street, St. Michaels, (410) 645-2916, www.bcmm.org, $11, museum members free. Don't be a salty dog just because you don't own a boat. You can still appreciate celebrating other people's. Maybe if you smile nice, you can watch someone's Cornelia Marie while they take a lunch break.
Art of the Deals, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. June 16, Centreville, (410) 758-2520, donations accepted. Possibly the biggest yard sale ever. Good thing there's food to keep you energized, drinks to keep you hydrated, and music to help you keep a steady pace-you gotta a lot of rainbow to slide to get to that pot o' gold.
Maritime Heritage Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 16, Historic St. Mary's City, www.stmaryscity.org, $3.50-$7.50. Pirates are making their comeback. Get ready for `em with a festival of everything from the sea.
Baltimore-Washington JAZZFest, 7-11 p.m. June 16, 5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, www.baltowashjazzfest.org, $65 includes buffet. A moment of silence for the home of jazz, New Orleans. Now pig out and dance it off.
Kent Island Fireman's Carnival, 6-11 p.m. July 22, Kent Island Fire Department, Stevensville, (410) 643-5454, www.kivfd.org. You almost want to see something catch on fire, to see these men at work. Since that's not likely here, the next runner up is a parade cruising by and some fireworks. Shucks.
Caroline Summerfest, 5-10 p.m. Aug. 17, 2-10 p.m. Aug. 18, downtown Denton, (410) 479-2050, www.carolinesummerfest.com, free. Catch the riverboat before it passes you by and plan on staying late enough for the fireworks on Saturday night.
Maryland Renaissance Festival, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. weekends Aug. 25-Oct. 21, 1821 Crownsville Road, Annapolis, (800) 296-7304, www.rennfest.com, $8-$17. You just can't deny it, there's something sexy about black ribbons, white tights, and long black braids. Hey, if you don't agree then we won't see you there. Or you can just say you really love meat on a stick.
Day Trip Fests
Capital Pride, June 1-10, Washington, (202) 797-3510, www.capitalpride.org, free. Rainbow bright: 200,000 people can't be wrong. Hopefully one day we will continue to fight this fight-we mean without the AIDS part-simply because it is so damn fun.
Hampton Blackbeard Festival, June 2-3, Hampton Waterfront, Hampton Va., (757) 727-1570, www.blackbeardfestival.com, free. Make every Jack Sparrow-loving kid's dream come true with this weekend festival featuring pirate this and booty that. If they get to tired too salivate, make `em walk the plank for how poorly they did in the spitting contest.
Alexandria Red Cross Waterfront Festival, June 7-8, Oronoco Bay Park, Union and Madison streets, Alexandria, Va., (703) 539-8300, www.waterfrontfestival.org, $5-$10. Everything is better on the water: The air, the food, music, the arts and crafts. It gets even better when it's for a good cause, in this case, the American Red Cross.
Pleasantville Covered Bridge Festival, 8 a.m. June 8-9, Route 73 and Covered Bridge Road, Pleasantville, Pa., (610) 689-5818, www.pleasantvilleinn.com. Ever get tired of city life? All that traffic and noise, dirty air, and rude people. Yes, we know it all too well. Try a little road trip out to Pleasantville-sounds nice, doesn't it? Hob nob with good old-fashioned county folk, buy their tried and true produce, and dance with their young sons and daughters. There's going to be live entertainment, carnival rides, crafts, wagon rides, flea markets, and a fish rodeo. What in the rootin tootin is that?
DanceAfrica D.C., June 9-10, Dance Place, 3225 8th St. NE, Washington, (202) 269-1600, www.danceplace.org, $13 per class, indoor performances $7-$25, marketplace and outdoor performances free. It's all in the hips. Shake the juice out of them and you're halfway there. If you're not really the moving-your-body-all-around type, grab a drum and make some beats. If you are having a good time, it don't matter at `tall. When you can't move anymore, there's an African marketplace and lots of yummy foods to try.
Antiques in the Valley, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. June 15, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. June 16, Oley Valley High School, 17 Jefferson St., Oley Pa., (610) 987-3312, $8. Does your pad look a little too IKEA? You start with one table and before you know it your friends are calling you out. Here's your chance to nab one of a kind pieces. Sixty of the most respected antique dealers will be showcasing their finest 18th and 19th century furnishings and accessories. And the really lovely part is the proceeds will provide scholarships to worthy Oley Valley high school students.
Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival, June 16, 343 Campground Road Harpers Ferry, W. Va., (304) 535-6895, www.harpersferryoutdoorfestival.org. It's all good, for the good that is-proceeds go toward conservation groups. See you there, cause we are dying to know what a "kayak rodeo" is all about.
Dupont Clifford Brown Jazz Festival, June 17-23, various venues around Wilmington, Del., (302) 576-3095, www.cliffordbrownjazzfest.com, most shows free. Happy birthday Clifford Brown. Thank you for making it feel like everybody's day when we celebrate you and your music. This year we got you a present. Wanna hint? It's a historic landmark.
Solar Flair, 5-8 p.m. June 21, N. 2nd and Washington streets, Reading, Pa. (610) 736-3900, www.riverplacepa.com. Celebrate Summer Solstice, or for all you people who shave, that's the first official day of summer. Take a 1.8-mile walk with other festive folks, stopping at all the hot art spots in downtown Reading. The final stop is Reading Public Museum on the West Side, where walkers will enjoy free admission. Just follow the balloons.
D.C. Caribbean Carnival, June 23-24, Washington, www.dccaribbeancarnival.com, free. Your cup runneth over with fun. Call it a day-o. Day-ay-ay-ay-o. Daylight comes and you don't want to go home.
Antiques and Collectors Extravaganza, 8 or 10 a.m.-5 p.m. June 28-30, Noble St., Kutztown, (877) 385-0104, www.renningers.com. Yeah sure, you can buy people's junk on eBay these days, but the true art of antiquing will never die. Most antique dealers have a passion for what they do and love to talk about their merchandise. So get the low down on that piece you want, that way you can re-tell it at your next cocktail party.
Kutztown Folk Festival, June 30-July 8, Kutztown Fairgrounds, Kutztown, Pa., (888) 674-6136, www.kutztownfestival.com, $11, children under 12 free. Affordable family fun in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, with 200 folk artists, six stages of entertainment, and 2,000 quilts. Don't forget to wait 30 minutes before riding the horse-driven carousel after eating a waffle, a pretzel, smoked meat, ox roast, ice cream with fresh strawberries, or a funnel cake.
Summer in the City Beach Night, 5-9 p.m. July 20, Downtown Hamburg, Pa., (610) 562-3106, www.hamburgpa.org, free. Careful not to spill your yummy blue Hawaiian drink with umbrellas in it when you're running around to participate in all the numerous beachy activities: hula hooping, the limbo, pig roast, and a hot-as-hell wing-eating contest, all this while shaking your rump to island beats. Yeah, mon. Don't forget to wear the ugliest Hawaiian shirt you can find and tune up your air guitar-you'll find out why when you get there.
Appalachian String Band Music Festival, Aug. 1-5, Camp Washington-Carver, Clifftop, W. Va., (304) 558-0220, www.wvculture.org/stringband, day rates $15-$20, festival pass $40-$85. Nothing like a good old mountain string band to bring out the tie-dying fool in you.
Greater Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival, weekends Aug. 25-Sept. 30, 112 Renaissance Lane, West Newton, Pa., (724) 872-1670, www.pgh-renfest.com, $3.95-$14.95. Chain mail is sexy, jousting exciting, turkey legs are totally Atkins, and a dried flower wreath makes every ladies' locks look a little Shakespearean. Free parking but leave your pets at home-they might mistake an armored leg for tree trunk.
812 Park Ave.
Baltimore, MD 21201