Anne Arundel County has no shortage of activities and attractions this year. Festivals aplenty celebrate film, music and even chocolate. Many of them also benefit local charities.
So, here’s a sampling — 19 things to do in 2019.
Jan. 24-26: Polar Bear Plunge
In a couple weeks hundreds of area police, firefighters, high school students and others will bare nearly all to take the Polar Beat Plunge, splashing into the chilly Chesapeake Bay at Sandy Point State Park. There are so many participants it takes three days for the groups of plungees to brave the frigid waters to raise money for the Special Olympics Maryland. 1100 E College Parkway, Annapolis. somd.convio.net or 410-242-1515.
March 10: St. Patrick’s Day Parade
St. Patrick’s Day Parade has grown by leaps and bounds since it kicked off just a few years ago. Scores of entries, floats, bands and even parading pooches stroll down West Street and Main Street to City Dock with hundreds of “Irish” cheering them on. Free. naptownevents.com.
March 21-24: Annapolis Film Festival
It’s all about the movies at the Annapolis Film Festival with scores of films, lectures, parties and more. The four-day affair is spread around the city at several venues as filmmakers and film fans gather to “Talk Movie to Me.” 107 Annapolis St. though venues are scattered at several locations. annapolisfilmfestival.com or 410-263-3444.
March 23: Oyster Roast and Sock Burning
The annual sock burning — a ritual for the boating set to celebrate the coming of spring by doffing their socks and tossing them on the fire at the Annapolis Maritime Museum — used to be a smaller affair. It then morphed into a larger party with music, food and your favorite beverages. $25-$85. 723 Second St., Annapolis. amaritime.org or 410-295-0104.
May 5-Nov. 3: First Sunday Festivals
The First Sunday Festivals also kick off in May and convert the first block of West Street, and more, into an open arts, crafts and music bazaar. The festival has grown to include the park in around the corner on Calvert Street. The fun runs through November on the first Sunday of the month. firstsundays.com.
May 17-24: U.S. Naval Academy Commissioning Week
There are several days packed with activities and ceremony during the U.S. Naval Academy Commissioning Week. Other than the celebration surrounding the Friday morning pomp and circumstance of the Class of 2019 graduation, area residents also flock to see, and hear, the Navy’s Blue Angels air show usually held on Wednesday. 121 Blake Road, Annapolis. usna.edu/commissioningweek.
Wednesdays, May 29 to Sept. 18: Dinner Under the Stars
Dinner Under the Stars is swiftly becoming one of the favorite events in the city of Annapolis, on Wednesday evenings from late May through mid-September when the first block of West Street is converted to an al-fresco dining experience. Several area restaurants set out tables on the street, and diners come to enjoy the music, ambiance, open air and good food and drink while visiting with friends old and new. dinnerunderthestars.org.
May 30-June 2: Annapolis Greek Festival
The annual celebration of the Greek culture deeply ingrained in the Annapolis area is held at Ss. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church on Riva Road. Many go for the Greek food and delicacies, but there is more to draw one to the festival — music and dancing, imported jewelry, craft vendors and a fun children’s area. And it’s free. 2747 Riva Road, Annapolis. annapolisgreekfestival.org or 410-573-2072.
June 22: Eastport-a-Rockin’
The annual bash features dozens of local bands and a good time held on 2nd Street around the Annapolis Maritime Museum grounds. 723 Second St., Annapolis. eastportarockin.com.
July 4: Independence Day
Independence Day kicks off with a parade in Shady Side and brand new U.S. citizens being sworn in at William Paca House in Annapolis. Later in the day, check out the Fourth of July Parade down West and Main streets, followed by fireworks over Spa Creek. annapolis.com.
July 13: Nextival
Nextival hits the Crownsville fairgrounds, with more bands, food trucks and camping. Many local bands play the festival but a handful of edgier up-and-coming bands from New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston took the stage last year. 1450 Generals Highway, Annapolis. nextival.com or 800-255-2071.
Aug. 2: Rotary Club of Annapolis Crab Feast
The annual Rotary Club of Annapolis Crab Feast at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium is billed as “biggest crab feast in the world,” featuring all the spicy hot crabs you can eat, plus corn, barbecue, watermelon and something to wash it down. Proceeds go to several charities in the area. 550 Taylor Ave., Annapolis. annapolisrotary.org.
Aug. 24-Oct. 20: Maryland Renaissance Festival
The Maryland Renaissance Festival brings fans to Revel Grove in Crownsville on weekends this fall. The festival’s theme is set in the early 1500s during the reign of Henry VIII, and visitors often don period garb to join in the fun, while others come for the jousting, magic, crafts, food and fun. 1821 Crownsville Road, Annapolis. 800-296-7304 or rennfest.com.
Sept. 7-8: Maryland Seafood Festival
The Maryland Seafood Festival brings thousands of folks eager to sample the bounty of the Chesapeake Bay at Sandy Point State Park. The festival, once run by the state, is now organized by ABCEvents and features all the tasty seafood, crab soup cook-offs, music, and family fun that is always did. 1100 E. College Parkway, Annapolis 410-353-9237 or abceventsinc.com.
Oct. 3-6 and 10-14: U.S. Boat Shows
October is all about the U.S. Boat Shows, where Annapolis’s City Dock and harbor are converted to one of the largest outdoor in-water boat shows in the country. Thousands flock to the city to kick the “tires” on the latest boats and accoutrements the industry has to offer. First up is the U.S. Powerboat Show on Oct. 3-6, followed the next week by the U.S. Sailboat Show Oct. 10-14. 410-268-8828 or annapolisboatshows.com.
Nov. 2: Slaughter Across the Water
The 22nd annual Slaughter Across the Water tug of war will pit competitors representing Annapolis on one side and teams pulling for Eastport, a.k.a. the Maritime Republic of Eastport, all tugging on a rope stretched across Spa Creek — or as MRE denizens call it, the Gulf of Eastport. Proceeds go to charity. themre.org/tugofwar.
Dec. 1: Chocolate Binge Festival
After the First Sunday Festivals wind down for the year, there is one more celebration on the first day of December. It’s all about chocolate. The Chocolate Binge Festival includes nearly 40 chocolatiers to add a sweet layer to the beginning of the holiday season. And paying the suggested $10 entry fee gets you a coupon for hot chocolate served up by the city police. The evening ends with the illumination of a festive canopy of lights ever West Street. annapolischocolatefestival.com.
Dec. 5, 12 and 19: Midnight Madness
The holiday season is marked by several events, but three nights of Midnight Madness bring holiday shoppers and revelers out and about the streets of Annapolis for last-minute shopping and holiday cheer. There are bands and choral groups performing songs of the season, and merchants keep their doors open until midnight, except for the third night, when things wind down at 11 p.m. downtownannapolispartnership.org.
Dec. 14: Eastport Yacht Club’s Lights Parade
The second Saturday in December, the Eastport Yacht Club’s Lights Parade is a sure sign of the holidays, as dozens of powerboats, sailboats and even a dinghy or two take to the waters of Annapolis Harbor and Spa Creek all lit up for the holidays. The boats vie for prizes and bragging rights as they slowly troll the harbor area under the gaze of thousands lining the way. eastportyc.org/lights-parade.