Marylanders know Howard County for its unique blend of old and new, rural and urban, and nothing illustrates this more than the annual festivals and events the county hosts. You can test your endurance in the Columbia Triathlon in the spring, feast on corn dogs and root beer at the county fair every summer, and enjoy the early fall foliage and a fine chenin blanc at the Grand Prix Equestrian Show. For a cross section of all the county has to offer, mark your calendars now for these top 10 county events. For more events, visit www.explorehoward.com.
March 26: Celebration of the Arts Gala fundraiser for the Howard County Arts Council, starts at 6 p.m. at Howard Community College’s Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, in Columbia. Silent auction, HOWIE Awards, edibles. The audience will pick a grand winner among 10 finalists in Rising Stars/Emerging Artists contest. Tickets are $50 and $100. 410-313-ARTS or www.hocoarts.org
May 21-22: Wine in the Woods Enjoy live music, food and samples of nearly 40 Maryland wineries. Sponsored by Howard County Department of Recreation & Parks. Symphony Woods in Columbia. Noon-6 p.m. Tickets $25 in advance or $30 at the gate for wine-tasters; $10 in advance or $15 at the gate for designated drivers. 410-313-7275 or www.wineinthewoods.com
May 22: Columbia Triathlon 1.5K Swim/41K Bike/10K Run involving 2,400 athletes. 6:40 a.m. at Centennial Park, Ellicott City. 410-964-1246 or www.tricolumbia.org
June 10-25: Columbia Festival of the Arts A two-week celebration with national and local artists at various venues. Paid concerts, free family shows, kids’ activities. www.columbiafestival.com
June-September: Lakefront Summer Festival Movies, concerts and dance instruction all on the Kittamaqundi lakefront. Presented by Columbia Association. 410-715-3161 or lakefrontfestival.com
July 4: Independence Day fireworks at Lake Kittamaqundi in Columbia at dusk.
Aug. 6-13: Howard County Fair Rides, household arts, animals, horse shows, food, demonstrations, entertainment and more. West Friendship. 410-442-1022
Sept. 24: Howard Community College Grand Prix World-class competitors and equestrian demonstrations at Marama Farm, Clarksville. Gates open 9:30 a.m. Proceeds benefit HCC’s endowments and scholarships. 410-772-4450 or www.hccgrandprix.com
September-October: Decorators Showhouse Featuring 20 decorators and landscapers at a historic home in the county. Sponsored by Historic Ellicott City Inc. 410-461-6908
Late November to early January: Symphony of Lights Columbia’s Symphony Woods is lit with 70 larger-than-life displays; a fundraiser for Howard County General Hospital. 410-740-7666