Free Stuff in the Free State
The best things in Maryland are free this summer, from fairs and festivals to museums and movies.
Baltimore, MD (May 30) – Take in a classic film outdoors or enjoy a summer concert. Head to an arts celebration or visit a historical re-enactment. The opportunities for residents and visitors to experience everything Maryland has to offer—and all for free—this summer are seemingly endless.
“Maryland comes alive during the summer months with regular, free happenings including city festivals, art shows and sporting events,” says Margot Amelia, executive director, Maryland Office of Tourism. “It’s not only free events. Many attractions including the world-famous Walters Art Museum offer free admission year-round, proving that there will always be a way to enjoy the state reasonably, no matter when you choose to visit."
In addition to events and attractions, many of the state’s national parks offer free admission year-round as well. These include the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument on the Eastern Shore and the Monocacy National Battlefield, which is commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War this July 5-11 with re-enactments, demonstrations, guest speakers and musical performances. And during this Star-Spangled Summer, six Maryland communities are hosting multi-day free festivals commemorating their links to the Star-Spangled Banner during the Chesapeake Campaign.
Here are a few other free-admission events in Maryland’s five regions this summer:
Start the summer in Cumberland, Md., at Allegany County’s Heritage Days Festival 2014. On the weekend of June 14, join the community for a celebration including gallery openings, Art Bus activities for kids, musical entertainment, and delicious food.
Climb into the cockpit of historic airplanes at the Hagerstown Aviation Museum Open Airplane Afternoon. Watch airport activity close-up on June 15 as planes take off and land. Explore aircraft built in Hagerstown and learn more about flight with displays and films available for view.
Peruse more than 40 local artists selling original artwork and projects including pottery, paintings, jewelry, photography and crafts at the annual Art in the Park July 12-13 at the Deep Creek Lake State park. Enjoy food stations and kids activities, and don’t miss the Deep Creek Discovery Center for hands-on information about the lake and surrounding area.
Appreciate the arts at the annual Frederick Festival of the Arts held in Carroll Creek Linear Park. With more than 100 artists, live music, food, and a children’s area including boat rides, this year’s three-day festival June 6-8 will be a hit for the family.
Spend an evening under the stars while watching a movie on the Potomac River. Bring your lawn chairs, a blanket, and some yummy snacks to watch a family-friendly film, including The Princess Diaries, Willy Wonka and Hook. Each Sunday through September, movies will begin 20 minutes after sunset on the Plaza in National Harbor, Md.
On June 8, head to the Takoma Park JazzFest, a free street festival in Old Town Takoma "Celebrating Women in Jazz". The Festival features a variety of regional and national women-led performances on two stages. More than 75 craft and festival food vendors will also be in attendance.
Take your family to Rockville Town Square for live animal and science stage shows, including Reptiles Alive! (June 11), Mad Science (June 18), and Mutts Gone Nuts (June 25) to combine education and fun.
“Welcome to Bawlmer, Hon.” Celebrate all things Baltimore at the annual HonFest. Live entertainment, a cornucopia of street food, arts & crafts vendors and women of all ages strolling “The Avenue” with their beehive hair styles, leopard prints and horn-rimmed eyeglasses create a uniquely Baltimore landscape at this June 14 festival.
The Maryland Traditions Folklife Festival returns for its fourth year on June 14 at the Creative Alliance in Baltimore, featuring musical performances by jazz, doo-wop, dance and drum, gospel and Irish bands, as well as art making, crafts and demonstrations.
On the first Sunday of every month May-October noon to 5 p.m., Annapolis is the place to be for its annual First Sundays Arts Festival. Shop from 100 local and regional artists and crafters; listen to live music and see street performances.
Step back in time on July 19-20 for two days of special events commemorating Civil War history and tradition including artillery drills and re-enactments. The events will take place on the grounds of the Union Mills Homestead, an 18th-century home, now museum, in Westminster, Md. The Homestead served as the actual encampment sites for both Union and Confederate forces before and after the decisive battle of Gettysburg.
Three days of fun add up to one fantastic weekend at St. Mary’s County’s Raiders & Invaders War of 1812 events. From June 6-8, events including circus arts, hands-on kids’ activities and games, performances, exhibits, beverage tastings, and historic site visits will take place in Leonardtown and throughout St. Mary’s County. Don't miss the British Invasion Tribute concert with songs by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Cream, The Who and more.
Bring the family to ArtsFest 2014, celebrating all things art in Charles County on June 7. The event includes music, drama, and dance. Food and merchandise are also available for purchase.
From serious classical composition to light classics and jazz, St. Mary’s City kicks off its annual River Concert Series June 20 at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Bring your own picnic or purchase food from various vendors. Concerts start at 7 p.m.
Honor the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the U.S. on June 21 with Juneteenth 2014. With a 5K, jazz music, dancing and drumming, children’s games and food, this will be the eleventh time Juneteenth has been celebrated in Lexington Park’s Freedom Park.
On June 21-22, Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum will honor life in 1812 with a two-day spectacular event featuring battle re-enactments, music, dance, food and more. On Saturday, there will be a Star-Spangled Banner display and the evening ends with fireworks.
Find hidden treasure on June 7 at the Geocache Bash in Salisbury, Md. The Geocache Dash and Bash is a geo-trail that includes some of the ‘hidden treasures’ of Wicomico County. In addition to land locations, two boat-only caches will be featured so that participants can also experience Wicomico waterways. Free kayaks will be provided to participants too.
Savor delicious chicken cooked up in a giant frying pan at the 65th Delmarva Chicken Festival on June 20-21 at Queen Anne’s County 4-H Park. With carnival rides, a farmer’s market, live musical entertainment, and a petting zoo, the family-friendly event will celebrate its last year promoting the region’s poultry industry.
Compete against your family in weekly Family Beach Olympics in Ocean City, Md. Beginning June 24, bring your family each Tuesday to the 27th Street Beach to compete in events including sand castle contests, tug-of-war, relay games and more. Every Sunday beginning June 1-Aug. 31, visitors can grab a blanket and head to the beach for OC Beach Lights, a free family laser light light show at North Division Street. The entire family will enjoy free Movies on the Beach at the Carousel this summer. Every Wednesday from June 4 through Aug. 27, catch your favorite flicks for free right on the beach. If you’re in town for the 4th of July, then enjoy a free concert and the spectacular fireworks display over the beach at N. Division Street.
See the action at the Dew Tour Beach Championships, a professional action sports tour involving BMX, skateboarding and surfing. From June 26-29, 100 of the world’s best athletes will compete for prize money, trophies, and a Dew Tour title. Held in Ocean City, Md., the event is broadcast live on NBC and is free to the public.
Dig in to Maryland’s famous steamed crabs, crab cakes, fried clams and BBQ fare at the Tilghman Island Summer Seafood Festival on June 28. Held at the Tilghman Volunteer Fire Dept and adjacent Kronsburg Park on Main Street from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the festival also includes live music and hard crab races in the park.
Join the community of Rising Sun, Md., for their annual Sunfest festival on June 7. The festival kicks off with a parade at 9 a.m. and will include a car show, music, a rock-climbing wall, mechanical bull, and a puppet show for the little ones.
Calling all buccaneers and landlubbers! Come by land or sea to Rock Hall for the 7th Annual Pirates and Wenches Fantasy Weekend on Aug. 8-10. Guests will enjoy a decorated dingy contest, Caribbean-style beach party, live pirate encampment, entertainment, kid’s games and crafts. Pirate costumes are encouraged at every event.
Downtown Denton celebrates the end of summer with Caroline Summerfest, a free family entertainment festival featuring three stages of regional and local entertainment, a Friday pedestrian parade, Saturday fireworks show, performers, gaming and food vendors. 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. Visitors to the state spent more than $14.9 billion on travel-related expenses in 2012. During 2012, the Maryland tourism industry also generated $2 billion in state and local taxes, and provided more than 135,000 jobs for Maryland residents.