Every city has a tree lighting around Christmastime, but how many can boast an entire festival of decorated trees or a giant lit-up monument to the country's first president? The festivals and events throughout the year are a reflection of the city's fabric. Sure, there are plenty of events celebrating a particular culture (German, Caribbean, Italian, Russian, and so on), but there are just as many that show Baltimore's embrace of the bold and eccentric, from a large, moveable art race (Kinetic Sculpture Race) to improvised and experimental music (High Zero). Put it all together in one giant pot and you get something as crazy and diverse as Artscape. No matter when you're in town, you're bound to find something unique.
Sept. 6-7, ukranianfestival.net
Kiev comes to Patterson Park for a weekend of folk dance performances, Ukrainian food, a beer garden, music, and more.
Sept. 20, hampdenfest.blogspot.com
Consider this a street festival with an edge. Few neighborhood celebrations combine street vendors and funnel cakes with toilet races and some of the city's best underground bands.
High Zero Festival
Sept. 15-21, highzero.org
The festival brings together some of the best experimental musicians from Baltimore and around the globe. See performers play everything from guitar to "objects."
Baltimore Book Festival
Sept. 26-28, baltimorebookfestival.com
This year finds the festival moving from tony Mount Vernon to the waterfront of the Inner Harbor. In addition to author talks, readings, and autograph signings with local and national writers, attendees can enjoy cooking demonstrations and live music.
Fells Point Fun Festival
Oct. 3-5, fellspointfest.com
Head to the historic waterfront neighborhood of 18th-century rowhomes and cobblestone streets for a weekend that includes hundreds of vendors and four stages of entertainment.
Baltimore Beer Week
Oct. 10-19, baltimorebeerweek.com
In recent years the city's brewing scene has surged, with plenty of new labels setting up shop in the city limits. Bars all across the city celebrate the craft-beer boom with tastings, specials, and more.
Oct. 17-19, russfest.org
The Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church invites you to enjoy borscht, traditional music, dancing, and more.
Baltimore Open Studio Tour
Oct. 11-12, promotionandarts.org
One hundred or so artists from across the city open up their studios to visitors, who can view works on display and pose questions about the artistic process.
Festival of Trees
Nov. 28-Dec. 2, festival-of-trees.org
The holiday season kicks off with hundreds of decorated Christmas trees, with proceeds supporting the Talbot Hospice Foundation.
Miracle on 34th Street
In one of the most well-known holiday traditions in Baltimore, the 700 block of 34th Street in Hampden is decked out with bright lights, lawn ornaments, and so much more.
A Monumental Occasion
Early December, promotionandarts.org
Each year the Washington Monument, in the heart of the city's Mount Vernon neighborhood, is lit like a big Christmas tree. The lighting ceremony includes musical performances and a fireworks display.
Mayor's Christmas Parade
Dec. 8, mayorschristmasparade.com
Festive floats, performers, local celebrities, and the Jolly Old Elf himself cruise through the Hampden neighborhood, bringing plenty of holiday cheer.
Baltimore's New Year's Eve Spectacular
Dec. 31, promotionandarts.org
Ring in the new year at the Inner Harbor with musical performances and a big fireworks display high above the city skyline.
Martin Luther King Jr. Parade
Jan. 19, promotionandarts.org
Baltimore celebrates the legacy of the pioneering civil-rights activist with a parade featuring marching bands, cheerleaders, civic organizations, and floats.
Max's Belgian Beer Fest
Feb. 14, maxs.com
Max's Taphouse specializes in a lot of things—among them: a deep list of Belgian beers. For this annual festival, they provide more than 200 different types for attendees to enjoy.
City Paper invites some of the best restaurants and bars in the city to offer samples of some of their signature dishes and cocktails. Head to the dance floor between visiting booths.
St. Patrick Parade
March 16, irishparade.net
For everybody who either celebrates Irish heritage or adopts it for a few days, the annual parade features bagpipe players, dancers, and floats. And there's even a 5K race before that.
City Paper Brew Fest
We bring together brewers from all around the region and set them up in one place, allowing attendees to sample brews and enjoy live music.
April 17-19, fellspointmainstreet.org/privateerfestival.htm
This festival has a little something for the pirate in everyone. Enjoy live music, food, games, ship tours, a grog garden, and much more.
Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race
May 2, kineticbaltimore.com
Watch as contestants race their large, human-powered moving machines through an obstacle course that spans most of the waterfront area.
May 1-2, flowermart.org
Just in time to plant a garden for the spring, gardeners and growers showcase flowers and other plants. There's also local craft vendors, food, and live music.
Maryland Film Festival
Local and national filmmakers showcase their latest works over the course of five days. The hardest part for attendees is figuring out the right schedule.
Sowebo Arts and Music Festival
May 25, soweboarts.org/festival.html
The Southwest Baltimore community brings together an eclectic mix of live music and artist displays in one of the great neighborhood block parties.
St. Nicholas Greek Folk Festival
June 5-8, greekfolkfestival.org
Baltimore has a deeply rooted Greek community on the city's east side, and that community celebrates its heritage with traditional music, dancing, and of course terrific Greek cuisine.
Early June, honfest.net
A nod to the working-class women of Baltimore yesteryear, Hons of all stripes rock beehive hairdos, cat's eye glasses, spandex pants, and all manners of '60s kitsch. In addition to that, enjoy talent competitions, live music, food, and vendors.
Baltimore Pride Festival
People from all across the city take part in this celebration of Baltimore's LGBT residents. Events include a parade, high-heel race, and concert. And plenty of area bars and clubs throw killer parties in conjunction with the weekend-long event.
Much of the area north of Fells Point, a popular neighborhood on the east side, has thrived with Latino culture in recent years. The city's Latino residents and people from all across town come together for dancing, performances, an award ceremony, and more.
African American Festival
As a majority black city, Baltimore has a rich history and tradition of African-American culture, which is celebrated with a huge festival featuring big-name music acts, plenty of art, and much more.
Ports of America Chesapeake Fourth of July Celebration
July 4, promotionandarts.org
It wouldn't be much of a Fourth of July without fireworks, right? Head down to the Inner Harbor for live music and a dazzling fireworks display.
Baltimore/Washington One Caribbean Carnival Festival
Performers from both Baltimore and D.C. take part in a parade that winds up at Lake Clifton Park for a festival celebrating Caribbean culture.
"America's largest free arts festival," as Artscape calls itself, draws thousands of visitors for a weekend of music, film screenings, and art displays of all media. There's plenty of funnel cake and other carnival food, too.
Maryland German Festival
Why wait until October? Get your fill of German food and delicious beer in the middle of the summer. You'll also get a portion of Bavarian art and performance.
Polka! Well, it's that and so much more, including Polish beer, kielbasa, crafts, vendors, and cultural displays.
Aug. 8-10, otakon.com
It may only have three more years left in town, but Otakon is practically a Baltimore tradition, bringing colorful costumes to the streets. The premier event for anime, manga, and other forms of East Asian culture features a maid cafe, karaoke, concerts, and much more.
St. Gabriel Festival
Baltimore's old-world Italian enclave already has some of the best eateries in town. They up their offerings with a street festival that includes bocce, wines, carnival rides, live music, and games.
Maryland State Fair
Late August, marylandstatefair.com
Even though it's in the heart of the suburbs, the Maryland State Fair brings the best in rural living, including award-winning livestock and agriculture. There's also plenty of carnival rides, fried foods, live music, races, exhibitors, and more.