Howard County's 19 most anticipated events for 2019

Jim Schulze of Woodbine holds the rope for his mule Jenny as she clears the bar in the Coon Mule Jump competition during opening day of the 2018 Howard County Fair. This year's fair runs Aug. 3-10 at the Howard County Fairgrounds.
Jim Schulze of Woodbine holds the rope for his mule Jenny as she clears the bar in the Coon Mule Jump competition during opening day of the 2018 Howard County Fair. This year's fair runs Aug. 3-10 at the Howard County Fairgrounds. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Do you ever find yourself saying you have nowhere to go or nothing to do? Not this year.

Whether you like the arts or something more active, Howard County will host a year full of events that are sure to get you out of the house.



Daffodil Day

On April 6, flex those green thumbs with a day of horticultural presentations by master gardeners at Whipps Garden Cemetery (3651 St. John's Lane, Ellicott City). The one-acre, 19th-century cemetery welcomes spring with dazzling displays of daffodils, bluebells and other blooms, while the garden’s stewards sell potted plants to support its upkeep. 410-274-7795 or whippsgardencemetery.org/daffadils.htm


Ellicott City SpringFest

With three stages featuring more than 25 musical acts, the music alone is a draw to the April 27 festival on historic Ellicott City’s Main Street. The craft beer gardens, the wine, food and kids’ area with free arts and crafts are added bonuses. Noon to 8 p.m. visitoldellicottcity.com/springfest


Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

May 4 and 5 at the Howard County Fairgrounds (2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship) are packed with activities ranging from art competitions and displays, to a lamb cook-off and the Sheep-to-Shawl contest, where teams shear a sheep, spin the fleece and weave it into a shawl. 410-531-3647 or sheepandwool.org

Whether you are always on the go or just looking to kick back and relax, you’ll find an activity that fits your interests — from hiking and biking to bird-watching and golf.

Preakness Celebration Hot Air Balloon Festival

Watch 20 hot air balloons float through the sky during the free family-friendly event on May 10 and 11 at the Howard County Fairgrounds (2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship). The festival, which offers specialty crafts and food vendors, has been going strong since 1973. preaknessballoonfestival.com

Wine in the Woods

The wine-centric weekend regularly attracts more than 25,000 people, close to 30 wineries and an equal number of food vendors. In addition to all the grapey goodness on May 18 and 19 at Symphony Woods (10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia), there are wine education seminars to help you master your appreciation. wineinthewoods.com


Capital Jazz Fest

With around 30 artists that have included the likes of Charlie Wilson and Faith Evans, Capital Jazz Fest has become a must-attend event for music fans in the region. Although the 27th annual festival on June 7 through 9 has not announced its lineup, guests at Merriweather Post Pavilion (10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia) can expect big names. 877-619-2929 or capitaljazz.com/fest

Columbia Festival of the Arts

For the past 31 years, this festival has highlighted music, art, food and film for entertaining family-friendly activities spread across two weeks (June 14 through 30 this year). Additional ticketed events at Columbia’s Rouse, Smith, and Monteabaro theaters will be announced soon. 410-715-3044 or columbiafestival.org


Columbia Lakefest

From June 14 through 16, the Downtown Columbia Lakefront will host more than 50 visual artists from the East Coast. In addition to family movies, dance lessons and food vendors, the event features a beer festival with a Manor Hill summer ale brewed especially for the festival. 410-715-3044 or columbiafestival.org

One area Howard County can certainly boast about is its vibrant arts scene, with an abundance of choices that include theater, music and dance companies, as well as free outdoor concerts at downtown Columbia’s Lakefront on Lake Kittamaqundi, Centennial Park and Columbia’s village centers.

Lakefront Summer Festival

This free entertainment series kicks off on June 17 with movies at dusk on Mondays and Fridays through Aug. 26, and then on Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 7 at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront. Evening concerts are held on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 17. Lunchtime concerts are held on Wednesdays from June 26-July 31. Sunday afternoon concerts are held Sept. 8-29. columbiaassociation.org/lakefrontfestival


Fourth of July Festival and Fireworks

The live band starts at 7 p.m. and continues up until the main event — a 20-minute choreographed fireworks display. 410-313-1668 or howardcountymd.gov/rap

Paint It! Ellicott City

During this outdoor paint-out June 27 through July 1, artists take to the sidewalks of historic Ellicott City. Selected artwork will be displayed at the Howard County Welcome Center, and almost all the art featured during the event will be available for sale. hocoarts.org


Howard County Fair

About 100,000 people are expected to attend the county fair, which runs Aug. 3 through 10 and features food, music, rides, animals and other entertainment at the Howard County Fairgrounds (2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship). Howardcountyfair.org

Hootie & The Blowfish

The American rock band will perform, along with Barenaked Ladies, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 8 at Merriweather Post Pavilion (10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia). Tickets ($35-$129.50) online only. merriweathermusic.com


Korean Festival of Maryland

For the past 42 years, the Korean Festival of Maryland has given attendees a glimpse into the culture and contributions of the Korean community. Enjoy authentic food, dancing, entertainment and games on Sept. 21 at Howard County Fairgrounds (2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship). 410-772-5393 or koreanmd.org/en

More than 2,000 people voted in Howard Magazine’s Best Restaurants readers’ poll, selecting their favorites in 45 categories.

Columbia BikeAbout

The route for the group bike ride on Sept. 28 has yet to be announced, but the annual event typically attracts about 400 people who gather for some fresh air and exercise on Columbia’s network of pathways. columbiaassociation.org/bikeabout


Hops and Harvest Festival

Attendees of the festival for all things beer are encouraged to bring picnic blankets, lawn chairs and good vibes. The event boasts more than 30 Maryland breweries, wineries and distilleries on Oct. 5 at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront. hopsandharvestfest.com

Dog Day

Bring your favorite four-legged friend to the Columbia DogPark (5901 Rivendell Lane, Columbia) for a day of treats, contests and other canine-centric activities. The event, this year on Oct. 12, regularly attracts hundreds of participants. ColumbiaAssociation.org/events


Maryland Alpaca and Fleece Festival

Sure there are a slew of the four-legged species from South America, but the event on Nov. 9 and 10 is much more than that. Clothing designers and crafters flock to the Howard County Fairgrounds (2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship) to stock up on their winter projects by purchasing yarns and fibers of alpaca, wool, mohair and angora rabbit. marylandalpacas.org

Symphony of Lights

More than 100 stationary and animated holiday light displays in Symphony Woods (10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia) attract more than 130,000 drive-through visitors each year. And funds from the event — which kicks off in mid-November and runs through the holidays (dates to be determined) — go to Howard County General Hospital. hcgh.org/symphonyoflights

Clarksville neighborhood column

Recommended on Baltimore Sun