So, there's this horse race on Saturday that's apparently a big deal (especially if a horse named Always Dreaming wins it, as that will lead to talk of a possible "Triple Crown" and allow horse racing to grip the nation's sports consciousness for the next few weeks). But outside the race (which is scheduled to start around 6:45 p.m.), there's some serious partying going on — InfieldFest for the masses (including music from Sam Hunt and Zedd and others, plus the unlimited beer of the MUG Club), the calmer Grandstand and other venues for the rest of us. We're told this is Maryland's biggest annual spring event (show up, and you'll be one of about 125,000), which is pretty impressive. Sounds like there's a lot of fun to be had. The Infield opens at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the day's racing set to begin at 10:30 a.m. at Pimlico Race Course, 5201 Park Heights Ave. $100-$110 for the infield, $40-$385 and up for elsewhere (some seats require the purchase of a two-day package that includes Friday's Black Eyed Susan Stakes). preakness.com.
An event as important as the Preakness requires more than just one day of celebrating. To wit: the Preakness Celebration Balloon Festival brings high-flying (and gorgeously photogenic) hot-air balloons to the Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road in West Friendship, 2 p.m.-9 p.m. Thursday, 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, 6 a.m.-9 a.m. Saturday, Free (ballooningusa.com/preakness); Thursday's Crab Derby Festival at Lexington Market, 400 W. Lexington St., will include food, live music and (of course) racing crustaceans, competing for the coveted Faidley/Devine Cup, 5 p.m.-8 p.m., $5, free for kids 16 and under (crabderby.org); Saturday's Preakness Under the Stars at the LB Skybar at the Lord Baltimore Hotel, 20 W. Baltimore St., offers cocktails, dinner and desserts, plus a cash prize for the best hat (men) and best couture (women), 4 p.m.-7 p.m., $75 (baltimore.org/events/preakness-under-stars).
Jonny Lang, The Mavericks, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Samantha Fish, Robert Randolph and the Family band, all singin' the blues. 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Saturday and next Sunday at Sandy Point State Park, just west of the Chesapeake Bay bridge off U.S. Route 50 in Annapolis. $62-$80 per day, $112 for both days. bayblues.org.
A couple's tempestuous relationship plays out against the backdrop of 1920s Harlem in this world-premiere stage adaptation of Toni Morrison's 1992 novel. In previews beginning with an 8 p.m. performance Friday, then officially opens May 26 and runs through June 25 at Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St. $20-$64. centerstage.org.
Movies & Music: 'E.T. the Extraterrestrial'
Steven Spielberg's beloved 1982 movie about an alien who desperately wants to go home, accompanied by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performing John Williams' Oscar-winning score live. 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3 p.m. next Sunday at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. $16.50-$99. (Also 8 p.m. Thursday at the Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane in North Bethesda, $17.50-$99.) bsomusic.org.
Wine in the Woods
Wine (from 22 wineries), food (from 25 eateries) and Bacchus, the living gold statue. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday in Symphony Woods Park, 5950 Symphony Woods Road in Columbia. $25-$40 (free for kids under 3). wineinthewoods.com.
Baltimore Podcast Festival
Ten area podcasts, including "Buzzed in Baltimore," "Dissecting the '80s" and "CoPlay Media," will be broadcasting live from Single Carrot Theatre, 2600 N. Howard St. (7 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday), and The Windup Space, 12 W. North Ave. (5 p.m.-8 p.m. Saturday). Free. facebook.com/BmorePodFest.
A staple of the old Marble Bar, where their reggae-rock must have made them stick out substantially from the normal punk-rock crowd, celebrate the release of their first CD, "All Good Things." 6 p.m. Saturday at the Cabaret at Germano's, 300 S. High St. $10. germanospiattini.com.
"Drunk on a Plane," "Somewhere on a Beach," "Am I the Only One," etc., live. Also on the bill: Cole Swindell and Jon Pardi. 7 p.m. Friday at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. $46-$219. merriweathermusic.com.
Visit some of Baltimore's oldest and most historic homes. The perfect gift for a history- or architecture-loving mom. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. today, beginning at the Lucretia B. Fisher Visitor Center, 1724 Thames St. $25. preservationsociety.com.