Published: September 4, 2013
From Fourth of July celebrations in the high heat of summer to tree-lighting ceremonies in the chill of December, Baltimore is a city for all seasons. And lest you have a dull weekend, City Paper has compiled a soup-to-nuts agenda of all that’s happening around town. Don’t worry, we’ve covered a wide variety of interests and obsessions: From readers (Baltimore Book Festival) and films buffs (Maryland Film Festival) to otakus (Otakon) and privateers (Privateer Festival), Baltimore plays host to all kinds of fanatics. And although art lovers probably already know about Artscape, the country’s largest free arts festival, the city is also home to the Transmodern Festival and the High Zero Festival. If you’re looking to get in touch with your roots, this cosmopolitan city has something for you (German Festival, Polish Festival, African American Festival, LatinoFest, etc.). Now the question isn’t whether or not there’s something to do this weekend, but what to do this weekend.
Sept. 7-8, ukrainianfestival.net
For one full weekend in September, Patterson Park becomes a miniature Ukraine, complete with multiple folk-dance ensembles, traditional foods, a beer garden, and professional Ukrainian musicians.
Sept. 14, hampdenfest.blogspot.com
Already one of Baltimore’s more creative neighborhoods, Hampden’s lively festival brings the city’s edgiest artists, musicians, craftspeople, and merchants (plus toilet races) to the Avenue to celebrate neighborhood’s vibrant culture.
High Zero Festival
Sept. 16-22, highzero.org
Dedicated to bringing together improvisational and experimental musicians from around the world, High Zero Festival works to find new collaborations that will create radically unique sounds.
Baltimore Book Festival
Sept. 27-29, baltimorebookfestival.com
Baltimore’s favorite authors mingle with more nationally renowned writers to participate in book readings, discussions, and other literary festivities. Visitors can also enjoy live music and cooking demonstrations.
Free Fall Baltimore
During the month of October, the city’s museums, theaters, and galleries open their doors to the public for no cost for countless performances, lectures, concerts and exhibitions.
Fells Point Fun Festival
Oct. 4-6, fellspointfunfestival.com
Celebrate one of Baltimore’s most historic neighborhoods with live music, carnival rides, and hot food. Originally an effort to preserve an endangered Fells Point, the street festival is now a central event in this lively neighborhood.
Baltimore Beer Week
Oct. 18-27, baltimorebeerweek.com
When Philadelphia brewers began their own week celebrating beer culture, Baltimore quickly responded. With over 70 vendors serving up cold craft brews, from the likes of Heavy Seas and Flying Dog, we declare the week a winner.
Oct. 18-20, russfest.org
The Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church celebrates its 40th annual Russian Festival with borsch, blinis, and balalaikas. Enjoy fresh Russian cuisine, tea from an authentic samovar, and traditional folk music and dancing.
Baltimore Open Studio Tour
Oct. 19-20, promotionandarts.com
Local artists invite the city’s art fans into their studios for an up-close look at their craft and practice. Visitors are free to engage artists directly about the challenges of the creative process.
Festival of Trees
Nov. 29-Dec. 3, festival-of-trees.org
What better way to begin the Christmas season than a week-long festival celebrating the centerpiece of the holiday, the tree? Come see more than 600 beautifully decorated Christmas trees while also supporting Talbot Hospice Foundation.
Miracle on 34th Street
Each December, Hampden brings its own spin to the traditional colored lights and lawn ornaments of Christmas. Residents on the 700 block of 34th Street welcome yuletide visitors from worlds away to marvel at their extravagantly decorated homes.
A Monumental Occasion
Early December, bop.org
Ring in the holiday season in Mount Vernon this year. Baltimore’s Washington Monument is lit to the sound of the city’s most harmonious choirs and a dazzling fireworks display.
Mayor’s Christmas Parade
Dec. 8, mayorschristmasparade.com
Come see Baltimore kick off the Christmas season with festive floats, costumed performers, local celebrities, and, of course, Santa Claus himself.
Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular
Dec. 31, bop.org
Welcome in the new year in the Inner Harbor. Enjoy the last hours of 2013 with live music and entertainment before the city marks the new year with a spectacular fireworks display.
Martin Luther King Jr. Parade
Jan. 20, 2014, bop.org
The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the nation’s most treasured civil rights activist, is celebrated in Baltimore with marching bands, cheerleading squads, civic organizations, and colorful floats.
Max’s Belgian Beer Fest
February 2014, maxs.com
If anyone can make beer, it’s the Belgians. If anyone can serve it, it’s Max’s Taphouse, which celebrates the art of Belgian brewing with a weekend of more than 200 beers.
March 2014, citypaper.com
For the 17th annual edition of City Paper’s popular Cosmic Cocktail party, guests are treated to food from local vendors, exciting mixed drinks, music, and dancing.
St. Patrick Parade
March 16, 2014, irishparade.net
Besides the marchers, bagpipe players, and Irish dancers, St. Patrick’s Day downtown also features a 5K race and brunch at the James Joyce Pub, if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket in advance.
City Paper Brew Fest
April 2014, citypaper.com
To accompany the city’s burgeoning beer scene, City Paper invites you to our Brew Fest to sample a variety of ales and lagers, including local craft brews and our favorite foreign imports.
April 2014, fellspointmainstreet.org/privateerday
For those of us who feel more at home wearing an eyepatch and a peg leg, Fells Point’s annual Privateer Festival is the place to be. Buccaneers of all ages are invited to this historic seaport for pirate-themed music and games.
Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race
May 3, 2014, kineticbaltimore.com
The American Visionary Art Museum hosts this eight-hour race of . . . well, whatever you can put together. These human-powered mobile works of art traverse land and sea in a truly bizarre and exciting competition.
Spring 2014, transmodernfestival.com
An exceptional event for experimental and avant-garde artists from around the country, the Transmodern Festival is a showcase of local and national artists who work beyond the boundaries of the traditional.
Flowermart at Mount Vernon
May 2014, flowermart.org
The city’s gardeners and growers get together in Mount Vernon to showcase every flower under the sun. Guests can also shop around for crafts from local vendors or enjoy live music.
Maryland Film Festival
May 2014, md-filmfest.com
Centered around the Charles Theatre, the five-day Maryland Film Festival features documentaries, comedies, thrillers, and dramas from local filmmakers and nationally renowned directors alike.
St. Nicholas Greek Folk Festival
Early June 2014, greekfolkfestival.org
This lively celebration of all things Greek is sure to please even the occasional gyro-eater. Visitors can enjoy traditional music, folk dances, and delicious Greek food.
Early June 2014, honfest.net
Now nationally recognized representatives of the city’s culture, Baltimore’s beehived, spandex-clad, leopard-printed hons descend on Hampden for a weekend of talent competitions, live music, and Natty Boh.
Mid-June 2014, baltimorepride.org
Come together with Baltimoreans of all kinds for an annual celebration of the city’s lively LGBT culture.
Late June 2014, latinofest.org
Enjoy lively Hispanic music and traditional cuisine in Patterson Park as Baltimore celebrates Latino heritage and culture. Awards are presented for notable individuals in the Latino community.
African American Festival
Mid-summer 2014, africanamericanfestival.net
This weekend in July is dedicated to awareness of African-American culture and to the celebration of the culture’s unique art, history, and music.
Ports America Chesapeake Fourth of July Celebration
July 4, 2014, bop.org
Head down to the Inner Harbor for a spectacular Independence Day celebration, complete with fireworks and live music.
Caribbean Carnival FestivalJuly 2014, dccarribeancarnival.org
Caribbean performers from the D.C. and Baltimore metro areas meet in Lake Clifton Park for a celebration of Caribbean culture.
July 2014, artscape.org
Billing itself as “America’s largest free arts festival,” Artscape attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year for a weekend of sculpture, photography, folk art, and much, much more. Live musical performances and film screenings are also featured.
Maryland German Festival
Late July 2014, md-germans.org
If you can’t wait for Oktoberfest to express your German heritage, head up to the Maryland State Fairgrounds for a weekend of traditional food, cold lager, and folk music.
Late July 2014, pcamaryland.org
Not to be bested by their German neighbors, Baltimore’s Poles convene on the Fairgrounds with polka music, lively traditional dancing, and delicious Polish food in celebration of a unique cultural heritage.
August 2014, otakon.com
Attracting more than 20,000 attendees each year, Otakon is one of the country’s premier events for fans of anime, manga, and all other forms of East Asian pop culture. (Unfortunately, the festival is slated to move to D.C. in 2017.)
August 2014, baltimorecity.gov/ifest
Baltimoreans of all ethnic backgrounds come together for an international celebration. Try exciting foods from around the world, watch traditional performance artists, and become a part of the global community.
St. Gabriel Festival
Mid-August 2014, littleitalymd.com
If you’re looking to play bocce, sample authentic Italian wines, and enjoy a cold gelato, then you’re in the right place, paesano. Besides, of course, the food (pasta, cannoli, porchetta, etc.), there are also carnival rides, live music, and games.
Maryland State Fair
Late August, marylandstatefair.com
If you’re looking to get away from it all without getting too far away from it all, the Maryland State Fair offers carnival rides, pig races, fried foods, and a rodeo. It’s as close to 4-H as the Light Rail will take you.
> Email Michael McGurk