Summer is here, and there’s no shortage of outdoor events to enjoy. Our staff put together a list of 25 favorites that will take you to the races, send you to Frederick for a microbrew or dispatch you to the bay with a paddleboard. Add flowers, a pair of grizzly twins or bagpipes, and this promises to be an unforgettable few months. Read on to discover what awaits you outside.
Get ready for the 143rd Preakness, the second jewel of the Triple Crown. The event is steeped in tradition, held at Pimlico Race Course and named for the underdog, or underhorse in this case, that won the first race. Back then, it was called the Run for the Black-Eyed Susans. Now the Black-Eyed Susan is the official drink of the Preakness. So, get your extra cash, grab an aptly named beverage and watch Thoroughbred racing history. May 19 at Pimlico Race Course. Ticket prices vary. preakness.com — SELAH MAYA ZIGHELBOIM
HOLD YOUR HORSES
If you’ve got post-Preakness letdown, now’s the time to check out steeplechase racing. The Potomac Hunt Races provides the perfect chance to watch this Irish-in-origin distance race in which competitors and their steeds jump fences and other obstacles. While you’re there, check out the car display, mounted police demonstrations, a Kid Zone and vendor village. May 20 at Kiplinger Estate. $40 or $250. potomachuntraces.com — S.M.Z.
If you’ve never been to Brew at the Zoo, add it to your calendar this year. In addition to being one of the city’s biggest beer festivals, it’s a great way to support wildlife conservation. And, OK, you get to hang out with some of the most famous fauna around. Willow the giraffe? Nova and Nita, the grizzly twins? Consider them your new drinking pals. If that’s not enough, you can take home a commemorative sampling glass. May 26-27 at the Waterfowl Lake in the Maryland Zoo. $25-$75. marylandzoo.org/event/bbt-presents-brew-zoo — S.M.Z.
Flock to the 2018 Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival to celebrate sheep and wool in all ways imaginable, including spinning demonstrations, a sheep photo contest and shepherd workshops. While you’re there, you can catch some shepherd music, buy a sheep (or just their fleece) and taste some lamb-based dishes. This festival offers fun for the whole family. May 5-6 at the Howard County Fairgrounds. $5. sheepandwool.org— S.M.Z.
Catch sight of some warblers, orioles, tanagers and more at The Patterson Park Audubon Center’s Spring Baltimore Birding Weekend. Find out for yourself how many feathered friends make a stop at our beloved city park as part of their migration pattern. Then join an afternoon “Tally Rally” at one the city’s breweries to compare notes with other birders. May 18-20. baltimorebirding.com— S.M.Z.
Spring into the season at the FlowerMart Festival. While this is the perfect day to wear a bloom-filled chapeau, the festival, contrary to its name, offers so much more than flowers. Last year’s FlowerMart included a dog show, a dance competition, live music, local crafts and more. Of course, if you want to stick to theme, be sure to enter the festival’s hat contest. May 4-5 at Mount Vernon. Free. flowermartmd.org — S.M.Z.
Ask any gardener and she’ll tell you that by Mother’s Day, the weather should be right for planting. For 40 years, St. Paul’s Flower Fair in Cambridge has readied yards for that deadline with its early May market. Shoppers can find flowers, bedding plants and more for their backyard paradise. And festivalgoers won’t go hungry — the fair also sells crab cakes and oyster sandwiches. Let’s head to the shore. May 3-4, 205 Maryland Ave., Cambridge. Free. stpaulscambridge.com — JESSICA GREGG
ONCE AND FLORAL
Just thinking about the 2018 Maryland Lavender Festival makes us feel relaxed. Among the fragrant purple fields, enjoy artisan vendors, live music and educational seminars and demonstrations. While you’re there, you can also grab a bottle of beer, a glass of wine or samplings of handcrafted spirits including award-winning lavender gin. For the Instagram-inclined, this event offers prime pic opportunities. June 16-17 at Springfield Manor Winery, Distillery, & Brewery. $15-$20. springfieldmanor.com/lavender-fields.html — S.M.Z.
If you have yet to photograph yourself and your besties backlit by a halo of sunflowers, you have missed a major cultural moment blooming around you. All is not lost; another summer is here, and with it, another crop of yellow beauties to frame your photos. Two great sunflower fields to get a snapshot are the Maryland Agriculture Resource Council in Cockeysville and White Hall’s Clear Meadow Farm. Get that phone charged and get ready to smile. MARC, 1114 Shawan Road. marylandagriculture.org; Clear Meadow Farm, 3114 Troyer Road. clearmeadowfarm.com — J.G.
The Department of Recreation & Parks might not scream romance, but that’s only because you have yet to participate in their Full Moon Paddle. A guided boat adventure on the Patapsco River, glittering under the light of a full moon, might change your mind. Join an island celebration with snacks and glow sticks. Everything is provided. This event will only be cancelled in the event of rain or bad weather, but not for clouds. May 21 at Middle Branch Park. $50; $30 if bring own boat. bcrp.baltimorecity.gov/events/full-moon-paddle — S.M.Z.
WHALE OF A TIME
Paddle craft enthusiasts of all ages and expertise levels are invited to participate in the Bay Bridge Paddle. Whether you prefer to command a stand-up paddleboard, kayak or something else, you are welcome to join in on this thrilling race through Chesapeake Bay waters. Race participants will receive a T-shirt, carb-loaded breakfast to get them going and lunch afterward. There will also be the opportunity to win more than $7,000 in prizes and cash. June 2 at Sandy Point State Park. $60-$110. abceventsinc.com/bay-bridge-paddle — S.M.Z.
What do serious Ravens fans do in the off season? They flock to the beach, naturally, meeting other football fans for the Ravens Beach Bash held in Ocean City. Here’s your chance to break out that purple bathing suit, enjoy Ravens-themed drinks and meet players as well as cheerleaders. There are two-night and three-night options for this fanfest and daily schedules are forthcoming. May 31-June 2 at Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel. baltimoreravens.com — J.G.
SEAFOOD ON THE GO
If you’ve long suspected you have mad crab picking skills, here’s the chance you have been waiting for. The St. Mary’s County Crab Festival doesn’t just offer a fine menu of steamed crabs, soft crabs, crab cakes, crab soup and more at its annual celebration of all things crustacean—festivalgoers have the chance to put their fingers to the test in a picking contest. Live music, classic cars and a pet-welcoming atmosphere round out this road trip destination. June 9 at St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds. $5. Kids under 11 are free. visitstmarysmd.com — J.G.
Get a beach jam going to the sounds of Mad Planet and misspent youth, two of the bands at this summer’s Bands in the Sand. Arrive by car or boat to this party on the water’s edge that benefits the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s efforts to protect and defend the bay. More than $1.3 million has been raised from this event over the past 10 years. June 9 at Philip Merrill Environmental Center. $175+ cbf.org/events/bands-in-the-sand — S.M.Z.
Make an artful start to the summer with Columbia Festival of the Arts. This two-week festival kicks off by bringing 50 visual artists to LakeFest on June 15-17 along with bands like Chopteeth Afrofunk, Los Gaiteros de Sanguashington, the U.S. Navy Band Cruisers, the Bullbuckers, Nelly’s Echo and The Sidleys. Throughout the following two weeks, there will be film, theater, art and music events for all ages. June 14-30 at various locations. Ticket prices vary. columbiafestival.org — S.M.Z.
The concert venue is iconic Baltimore: Patterson Park’s Hampstead Hill, right by the Pagoda. The event itself has become synonymous with city summers. Since 2002, Friends of Patterson Park have hosted their Music in the Park series, promising great sounds, sunsets and sometimes even a little salsa in the grass. Artists scheduled as of press time include rock band Fractal Cat and roots jazz group Bumper Jacksons. June 10-Aug. 12. Free. pattersonpark.com — J.G.
ONE PARTICULAR HARBOR
If the backdrop to music is as important as the sound itself, another event to check out is the Tides & Tunes Summer Concert Series in Annapolis on Thursday nights. Bands from folk to rock take a stage set against the Chesapeake Bay. Food and spirits are sold at the concerts. June 14-Aug. 16 at Annapolis Maritime Museum and Park. Free, donations accepted. amaritime.org — J.G.
It must be summer: MECU Concert Pavilion (formerly Pier Six) is once again filling the Inner Harbor with the sound of music — toe-tapping, break-out-a-move music from a lineup that includes the Steve Miller Band with Peter Frampton, Khalid, Barenaked Ladies and more. Get outdoors and get on your groove. Once winter returns, you will be glad for the memories of these music-filled summer nights. June 2-Aug. 25 at MECU Pavilion, Inner Harbor. $32+ livenation.com — J.G.
FAIR THEE WELL
We can’t promise any Jamie Frasier sightings, but we can say you will enjoy a full day of Scottish and Celtic culture at the Fair Hill Scottish Games — from the opening ceremonies to the final hurrah with Celtic music favorites, The Brigadoons. If you’re the competitive type, show your mettle in athletics, dancing, fiddling, piping and drumming. Or stick around for the sheep dog trials, learn about your Scottish clan history or watch the Sheep to Shawl event. At the marketplace, you can also partake in some Scottish food, artisanal crafts and more. May 19 at Fair Hill Race Track. Ticket prices vary. fairhillscottishgames.org — S.M.Z.
ALL WALKS OF LIFE
Established as a village for textile mill workers and their families in the early 19th century, Oella once housed one of the most extensive cotton factories in the U.S. Take a walk back into the past and these stories on the Oella History Hike. Wear shoes that will stay comfortable during all 3.5 miles of this history lesson. Be sure to bring water, too. May 26 at Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum. Free. visitmaryland.org/event/oella-history-hike — S.M.Z.
Save island travel for those bleak winter days. This month, heed the call of the steel drums and head to Linganore’s Caribbean Wine Festival for a laid-back weekend of wine tasting and reggae music. It’s the perfect way to set your summer vibe. May 26-27 at Linganore Wincellars. $20-25. linganorewines.com — J.G.
Weekend planning just got a lot easier with Boordy’s Summer Evening Concerts, held each Saturday throughout the summer. Each week brings a new band, including fan favorites like Mood Swings or The Groove Train. Pack a picnic or sample offerings from The Corner Pantry and Prigel Family Creamery. Concertgoers can taste up to six wines for the ticket price. Dancing under the stars is free. June 2-Sept. 1 at Boordy Vineyards. $20. boordy.com — J.G.
GRAB A MUG!
Baltimore has a lot of great beer festivals, but summer’s here and it’s time for a road trip. The Maryland Craft Beer Festival in Frederick’s pedestrian-friendly downtown is the perfect destination. The one-day event promises 40+ breweries with more than 180 unique beers to try. Live music and proximity to local boutiques and restaurants round out the day. May 12 at Carroll Creek Park, Frederick. $40-55; $15 for designated drivers. mdcraftbeerfestival.com — J.G.
BY THE GLASS
Planners swear this event has been aged to perfection; the 26th Annual Wine in the Woods certainly has longevity and popularity to back the claim. Now the largest wine festival in Maryland, it is a frequent recipient of various “best festival” honors. The weekend includes samplings, of course, but also a chance to improve your wine knowledge, purchase arts and crafts, enjoy menu items from local restaurants and take in some local music. May 19-20 at Symphony Woods in Columbia. $27-44.wineinthewoods.com — J.G.
OK, sure, the Washington Nationals have our former catcher. But the Baltimore Orioles have a better stadium, a third baseman who’s appeared on STYLE’s cover and the best closer in the business. We’re not biased, we’re just getting ready for the Battle of the Beltways. The Nats head to Charm City May 28-30 (look for a special Memorial Day giveaway on Monday), and the Orioles travel to D.C.
June 19-21. $15+. orioles.com — J.G.