Start Your Holiday Shopping at Maryland’s Arts & Entertainment Districts

24 state-designated A&E Districts provide creative opportunities to buy local


Connie Yingling,
Leslie Troy,


BALTIMORE (November 16, 2015) – Discover exceptional theater, visual arts, music, dining and shopping this holiday season. Maryland’s designated Arts & Entertainment (A&E) Districts offer opportunities to experience the state’s unique culture and creativity year-round, and during the holiday gift-giving season, they deliver experiential gifts that will be remembered for years to come.

“The Arts & Entertainment Districts in Maryland offer a feast for the senses, where visitors can find outstanding restaurants, charming boutiques, incredible art galleries, concerts and more,” said Liz Fitzsimmons, executive director, Maryland Office of Tourism. “Across the state, these 24 locations provide an opportunity to experience the unique culture and creativity within Maryland, especially around the holiday season.”

The two most recent additions to the A&E District list are Chestertown on the Eastern Shore and Grantsville in Western Maryland. With multiple art galleries and music festivals, these two towns are home to talent, creativity and innovation. MASSONIART in Chestertown features frequent exhibits from local and visiting artists, and the Spruce Forest Artisan Village is the crowning jewel of Grantsville, playing host to many artisan studios and offering visitors a peek into the creative process.

Below you’ll find unique shopping opportunities throughout the state in each of Maryland’s A&E Districts:

Western Maryland

Nestled in the heart of Hagerstown, visit the Washington County Arts Council Gallery for unique and local artists and artisans, who sell jewelry, pottery, painting, textiles and photography. Known for its rich history, metropolitan markets and high quality of life, the Frostburg A&E District encourages the continuation of traditional music such as bluegrass, folk and country as part of the Root Music Series. Explore history while shopping in the Cumberland A&E District. Home to a growing number of enterprising artists and a variety of retail and specialty stores, it also serves as a connection point between the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath.

Central Maryland

Baltimore City is home to three A&E Districts: Bromo Tower, Highlandtown and Station North. With winter around the corner, there’s no better time to purchase tickets to a live performance or learn to make your own holiday gifts. See a musical at the legendary Hippodrome Theatre, located down the street from the iconic Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower, which has been transformed into studio space for artists, allowing the public to view their work. In Highlandtown, take classes for sewing, weaving, embroidery, needlepoint, knitting and crochet. Wander around Station North to see 33 open walls sites featuring compelling murals and installations. 

Enjoy the power of arts every day at the Annapolis A&E District, with year-round classes, performances, exhibits, tours and workshops. Head to the Bel Air A&E District to indulge in a vibrant community of art enthusiasts, with visual and performing arts, historic sites and galleries in the midst of places to shop and dine. Visit the Arts by the Bay Gallery in Havre De Grace, showcasing the work of regional artisans from sculpture to painting, photography and jewelry, all available for purchase.

Capital Region

Live music, theater, independent films and major blockbusters, dance and so much more can be found in five A&E Districts, just a short distance from our nation’s capital: Bethesda, Silver Spring, Wheaton, Gateway and Frederick. Be inspired and see works of local artists during the Bethesda Art Walk, held on the second Friday of every month. Treat the family to a film series, premiere or festival at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center. Purchase musical gear or instruments at Wheaton’s family-owned Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center, the largest independent music store in the country. Add yoga classes or dance lessons to your gift list from Joe’s Movement Emporium in the Gateway Arts District. Shop along Frederick’s walkable retail area, filled with independently owned shops for home furnishings, fashion, toys and antiques.

Southern Region

Stop by the Fuzzy Farmers Market in the Leonardtown A&E District to find handmade and homegrown products from local sheep, goat, alpaca and rabbit farmers, as well fiber artists.  Items include shawls, scarves, hats and mitts, as well as rugs, runners, bags and baskets. Indulge yourself with handmade goat’s milk soap and unique jewelry or fill your home with locally made blankets and baskets, kitchen towels and textiles.

Eastern Shore

Embrace local artists, authors and singer/songwriters in Elkton. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a holiday dessert at Peace of Cake in Historic Stevensville. Browse through Denton’s community art gallery, The Foundry, where more than 40 local artists and artisans display and sell their work, including notecards, prints and other gift items made from timber salvaged from the building (circa 1850). Discover artisan treasures such as original paintings to hand-thrown pottery to one-of-a-kind jewelry to hand-woven baskets at Cambridge’s well-hidden jewel of a store, Studioworks.

Step inside The Sassy Girl Boutique in Snow Hill to find the perfect holiday decorations, from handmade stenciled pillows to starfish sparkle trees. Find antiques, collectibles, produce, and more at Salisbury’s “Park n’ Flea” weekly flea market. Create your own glass-blown ornament at Jeffrey Auxer Designs Blown Glass Gallery & Studio, located in Berlin, or pick out the perfect small gift, hanging wall platter, centerpiece bowl, pendent light or chandelier from their studio gallery.

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 Commerce. Visitors to the state spent more than $16.4 billion on travel-related expenses in 2014. The Maryland tourism industry also generated $2.2 billion in state and local taxes, and provided 140,288 jobs for Maryland residents.

About Maryland Arts & Entertainment Districts

Administered by the Maryland Department of Commerce through the Maryland State Arts Council, the program develops and promotes community involvement, tourism and revitalization through tax-related incentives that attract artists, arts organizations and other creative enterprises to the area. In 2014, 22 A&E Districts collectively supported 6,000 new jobs and generated $39 million in state and local tax revenue.