Howard County's most anticipated events of 2018

Five-year-old Ava Brendel, middle, of Woodbine enjoys her first midway ride at the 2017 Howard County Fair.
Five-year-old Ava Brendel, middle, of Woodbine enjoys her first midway ride at the 2017 Howard County Fair. (Alan White / For The 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.



Blossoms of Hope Cherrybration Days


The annual planting of Kwanzan cherry trees kicks off in March and culminates June 11 with the Power of the Purse, a vintage and gently used handbag sale, to raise money for cancer research. The festivities begin with a reception on March 28 at the Medical Pavilion at Howard County, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia. 443-538-0858 or blossomsofhope.org

Daffodil Day

On March 31, 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 21 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. 443 240-2060 or visitoldellicottcity.com/springfest

Special Olympics Inspiration Walk

The 17th annual walk on April 21 event raises almost two-thirds of Special Olympics Howard County’s operating budget, attracting several hundred people including notable athletes such as Baltimore Raven Michael Campanaro and Paralympic swimmer Cortney Jordan to Centennial Park in Ellicott City. 410-740-0500 or somdhc.org/inspiration-walk


Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

May 5 and 6 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

Howard County Cup Races

In their 74th year, the equestrian steeplechase races, which draw about 3,000 guests, will be accompanied by a Shetland pony dash on May 6 at Pleasant Prospect Farm, 4389 Jennings Chapel Road, Brookeville.howardcountycupraces.com

Preakness Celebration Hot Air Balloon Festival

Watch 20 hot air balloons float through the sky during the free family-friendly event from May 11 to 13 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 19 and 20 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 26th annual festival on June 1 through 3 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

From the time the readers’ poll launches in August to the issue’s delivery in December, businesses, nonprofits and readers alike are abuzz in anticipation of who might take home the coveted Best of Howard County title.

Columbia Festival of the Arts

For the past 30 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 15 to 17, 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

Lakefront Summer Festival

This free entertainment series kicks off on June 18 with movies on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays, plus lunchtime and evening concerts, at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront through Sept. 30. 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 July 5 to 9, 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 Restaurant Week

The bi-annual promotion usually attracts 30 restaurants from across the county that offer a $15 two-course lunch or a $45 four-course dinner. The summer rendition will take place July 23 through Aug. 6. hocorestaurantweeks.com

Vans Warped Tour

The rock music event on July 29 attracts top-tier acts to Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia. Enhance your experience with the 2018 Forever Warped Bundle, which comes with a slew of goodies including a ticket, customized pair of Vans, an enamel pin and a poster. vanswarpedtour.com




Howard County Fair

About 100,000 people are expected to attend the county fair, which runs Aug. 4 through 11 and features food, music, rides, animals and other entertainment at the Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship. howardcountyfair.org

Kenny Chesney

The country crooner known for his lively concerts will be one of the biggest solo acts coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion (10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia) this summer, with a concert on Aug. 22. merriweathermusic.com


Korean Festival of Maryland

For the past 41 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. 15 at the Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship. 410-772-5393 or koreanmd.org/en

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 Sept. 29 at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront. hopsandharvestfest.com

Columbia BikeAbout

The route for the group bike ride on Sept. 29 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


Dog Day Afternoon

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. In it’s 11th year, the event on Oct. 13 regularly attracts hundreds of participants. columbiaassociation.org/events/dogday-2018


Maryland Alpaca and Fleece Festival

Sure there are a slew of the four-legged species from South America, but the event on Nov. 10 and 11 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 visitors each year. And funds from the event — which kicks off Nov. 18 with a walk and 5K race on Nov. 18 — go to Howard County General Hospital. Drive-through Wednesdays through Sundays begin Nov. 21. hcgh.org/symphonyoflights

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