Best Summer Festivals near Fort Meade

There’s just something about bright summer days that beckon you outside to enjoy the quintessential scents of the season, fresh-cut grass and outdoor grills. Where you can hear the crack of a baseball bat and the roar of a crowd. Or watch with delight as colorful hot air balloons take flight into brilliant blue skies and fireworks glitter against starry nights.

If you’re at Ft. Meade, get ready to celebrate all the way to Labor Day with these fantastic summer festivals!

May

Passport D.C., Washington, D.C. (May 1 – 31)

Take a month-long journey around the world without stepping foot on a plane when you enjoy Passport DC. From Embassy tours held May 4th, an Asian Street Festival May 18th, and more – Passport DC offers 31 days of events from 70 embassies!

Preakness Balloon Festival, Howard County Fairgrounds, MD (May 10 – 12)

Watch the summer sky burst into color as hot air balloons take flight for the Preakness Balloon Festival. If you’re feeling adventurous – you can even take a ride.

Preakness Stakes, Baltimore (May 16 – 18)

It’s off to the races when you visit the Preakness Stakes at the Pimlico Race Course. The Preakness is one of three pivotal races that comprise the Triple Crown (the other two are the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes).

Memorial Day and Weekend Events

  • National Memorial Day Concert, Washington, D.C. (May 26)
  • National Memorial Day Parade, Washington, D.C. (May 27)
  • Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally, routes through D.C. area (May 26)
  • Special performances: Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles MLB stadiums (throughout Memorial Day weekend)

June

DC JazzFest, Washington, D.C. (June 14 – 16)

Enjoy one of the most popular music events of the summer at the DC JazzFest. Now celebrating 15 years – guests will be treated to music from some of the genre’s top performers.

Barbecue Battles!

  • 13th Annual Beltway BBQ Showdown, Upper Marlboro, MD (June 19) – Enjoy grilling demonstrations, BBQ sauce competitions, music – and some of the best BBQ in the country at the Beltway BBQ Showdown.
  • Giant National Barbecue Battle, Washington, D.C. (June 22 – 23) – There’s no shortage of summer barbecues in June, as pitmasters from all 50 states converge on Pennsylvania Avenue, along with 30 bands performing across three stages.
  • Fun fact: Both the Beltway Showdown and National Barbecue Battle are nationally sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society – allowing the Grand Champion winners of each battle to attend the “World Series” of BBQ – the ‘American Royal’, in Kansas City that September.

Chesapeake Crab, Wine & Beer Festival, Baltimore (June 22)

Enjoy summer in true Maryland style, with over 30 beers, wines and spirits, and of course lots and lots of crabs! Over 30,000 if you’re counting.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Washington, D.C. (June 29 – 30)

The National Mall transforms into a completely new world as the Smithsonian Folklife Festival comes to life. Enjoy a variety of international cultures, craft exhibits, cooking demos and more. This year’s theme focuses on the power of music.

July

4th of July Celebrations

If there is a crown jewel of summer, it’s Independence Day – and you won’t need to go far to find some of the nation’s best 4th of July celebrations.

  • National Mall, Washington, D.C.
  • Downtown Annapolis
  • Inner Harbor, Baltimore
  • USS Independence, Deck Party, Baltimore (tickets required)

Cirque du Soleil:  “Corteo”, Baltimore (July 3 – 7)

Wow yourself with Vegas-style entertainment and see the world-renowned acrobatic feats of Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Farms arena. “Corteo” has been performed across four continents, and it’s coming to Maryland!

Brews at the Zoo! National Zoo, Washington, D.C. (July 18)

“Drink beer, save wildlife,” – when you get your tickets for D.C.’s best beer festival. Enjoy unlimited beer tastings from over 70 breweries, in addition to food trucks, games, prizes and more. Proceeds benefit the zoo’s Conservation Biology Institute.

Artscape, Baltimore (July 19 – 21)

The streets come alive with art and music at Artscape, Baltimore – America’s largest free arts festival! Enjoy music, amazing food – and more!

August

Summer Fairs

  • Howard County Fair, MD (Aug. 4 – 11)
  • Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, MD (Aug. 10 – 18)
  • Prince William County Fair, MD (Aug. 10 – 18)
  • Arlington County Fair, VA (Aug. 15 – 19)
  • Maryland State Fair, MD (Aug. 22 – Sept. 2)

Solomons Island Dragon Boat Races and Festival, MD (Aug. 16 – 17)

Head to the heart of the Chesapeake when you visit the Dragon Boat Festival held at Solomons Island. Originating from Chinese tradition, dragon boats pay decorative homage to their namesake. These boats sport both a dragon head and tail, along with colorful scales printed on the hull. Each boat also carries a drummer along with their rowing teams – and it’s quite a fun spectacle to watch paddlers furiously try to keep pace with the drums, as they race.

Comcast Xfinity Outdoor Film Festival, Bethesda, MD (Aug. 23 – 26)

Summer isn’t quite complete until you watch a movie outside, under a warm, starry sky. For four nights, the Strathmore Campus in Bethesda will be showing top blockbusters beginning at dusk. Come early, snag a spot on the lawn and enjoy pre-show activities. 

Labor Day Events (Aug. 30 – Sept. 2)

National Hard Crab Derby (Aug. 26 – Sept. 1)

Enjoy a fun, quirky festival celebrating all things crab at this near-weeklong event. With crab races, carnival rides, crab-picking and of course, the Miss Crustacean Pageant – you’re guaranteed to have a good time!

National Book Festival – Washington, D.C. (Aug. 31)

Beat the heat and enjoy a world of books at the 19th Library of Congress Book Festival. Enjoy author and illustrator discussion panels from some of the country’s top literary voices.

Labor Day Weekend Skipjack Races at Deal Island, and Island Fest (Aug. 31- Sept. 2)

Celebrate the last weekend of summer on the water and watch the skipjack races at Deal Island. Fun fact:  With their hallmark crisp white sails, the skipjack is the official state boat of Maryland.

Annapolis First Sunday Arts Festival and Parade (Sept. 1)

Celebrate the best of both worlds with a Labor Day parade and festival in downtown Annapolis. Together, over 100 local and regional artists offer live music, street performances, crafts, food and more.

Labor Day Concert National Symphony Orchestra, U.S. Capitol – Washington, D.C. (Sept. 2)

Pack a final summer picnic and stretch out on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, as the National Symphony Orchestra delights music fans with a free concert.

September

Maryland Seafood Festival, Annapolis (Sept 7 – 8)

Did you know, months that end with “er” are the true start of the seafood season on the East Coast? Well, Maryland sure does – and every year they celebrate with some of the best seafood the Chesapeake Bay has to offer at Sandy Point State Park.

From boardwalks and beaches, books and cook-outs, baseball games to boat races, jazz in the garden to streets full of art, there’s a summer of fun ready to explore near Ft. Meade!

Written by: Kristi Adams

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