BALTIMORE (July 18) – Watching movies on a big screen outdoors has become a summertime tradition in numerous communities across Maryland. The experience allows viewers to enjoy food, drink and good company in a variety of casual settings while seeing the stars under the stars.
“These movies offer visitors an evening of entertainment and a taste of local culture,” says Margot Amelia, executive director of the Maryland Office of Tourism. “In Bethesda, National Harbor and Baltimore’s Little Italy, for instance, visitors can see a free movie and have dinner – eat-in or carry-out – at one of the numerous restaurants located in each of those three areas. Another Baltimore venue for outdoor movies includes access to the American Visionary Art Museum.”
Here are a dozen locations in Maryland that have free, outdoor movies. In some instances, viewers can purchase food and drink on-site.
- Bethesda (Woodmont Triangle), Montgomery County – Located in Bethesda’s arts and entertainment district, outdoor movies run July 24-28. Downtown Bethesda has an abundance of restaurants, art galleries, and shops and boutiques.
- Bel Air (Shamrock Park), Harford County – This 11th annual series of family-fun movies – sponsored by Upper Chesapeake Health – screens on Friday evenings, July 27, and Aug. 3 and 17. Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m., movies at sunset. Free popcorn comes with the free admission.
- College Park Aviation Museum, Prince George’s County – A series of three movies will be shown outdoors: July 19, Aug. 16 and Sept. 20. Movies are a bonus with museum admission. The 27,000-square-foot museum is on the grounds of the world’s oldest, continuously operating airport – established in 1909 when Wilbur Wright offered flight instruction to the first U.S. military aviators.
- Easton, Talbot County – Cinema by Starlight, sponsored by the Avalon Foundation and Talbot County Arts Council, runs Friday evenings in July and August on the grassy knoll across from the parking lot for Easton Farmers Market. (No alcohol allowed.) In case of rain, movies screen in the Avalon Theatre at no charge.
- Ellicott City, Howard County – The Wine Bin, 8390 Main St. in the historic area, shows movies in its parking lot on Saturday nights through September. A wine tasting is available prior to each movie. Coolers of ice are available to chill wine and beer. Sales of popcorn and bottled water benefit Voices for Children of Howard County. Historic Ellicott City has an assortment of antiques and specialty shops, galleries, and eateries.
- Fell’s Point, Baltimore – Films on the Pier runs Wednesday evenings through Aug. 22 at Broadway Pier. Fell’s Point is a historic waterfront community east of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. During the War of 1812 era, it was a ship-building center. Today, Fell’s Point is known for its eateries, pubs and boutiques.
- Federal Hill, Baltimore – Flicks from the Hill, sponsored by the adjacent American Visionary Art Museum, is a series that runs Thursdays, through Aug. 19 at 9 p.m. On Flicks nights, visitors have free access to the museum, 5-9 p.m. The selection of films was inspired by AVAM’s current exhibit, All Things Round: Galaxies, Eyeballs & Kamra! Federal Hill is on the southern edge of the Inner Harbor.
- Little Italy, Baltimore – Cinema al Fresco, now in its 15th year, is a series of Italian-related films on Friday nights in July and August. The movies are projected on the outside wall of Ciao Bella (a restaurant at High and Stiles streets) from the third-floor window of a private home. Folding chairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Live music starts at 7 p.m. with free popcorn. Little Italy has nearly 30 eateries – some offer carry-out and movie-night specials.
- National Harbor, Prince George’s County – Located along the edge of the Potomac River, National Harbor presents free movies on the Plaza during the summer. Date-night films run on Fridays through Sept. 28; family-fun movies are on Sundays through Sept. 2. (Coolers and outside food are not permitted.) National Harbor has more than 30 eateries, 40 retailers and six hotels.
- Ocean City, Worcester County – Movies on the Beach runs Monday and Friday evenings through Aug. 10 at 27th St. Additional outdoor movies in Ocean City are screened at the Princess Royal hotel (91st St.), Thursdays through Aug. 20; and at the Carousel hotel (118th St.), Wednesdays through Aug. 29.
- Rockville (Mid-Pike Plaza), Montgomery County – The three-night Comcast Film Festival, Aug. 23-25, benefits NIH Children’s Charities through sponsorships and food sales. Prior to the free movies, musical groups perform. Food trucks are on-site.
- Rockville Town Square, Montgomery County – Movies on the Square runs Wednesday nights through Aug. 22. Food options are available from the array of eateries at the Square. (No coolers or outside food permitted.) Friday nights here feature free outdoor concerts.
About Maryland tourism
The Maryland Office of Tourism is an agency of the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts within the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. Recently reported visitor data shows that the state welcomed more than 32.2 million visitors in 2010. Those visitors spent nearly $13.1 billion on travel-related expenses – generating close to $1.9 billion in state and local taxes and providing 130,000 jobs to Maryland residents.