It's time for Baltimoreans to tuck away their winter clothes and welcome the warm weather, and there's no better way to celebrate the change of season than attending a local festival.
May 1-2 in Mount Vernon
For more than 90 years, Baltimore has been celebrating all things flowers. Perennials, annuals, potted plants, hanging plants -- you'll find it all at Flower Mart. And a few other things, too -- including art work, jewelry, clothing and pottery. Stroll the floral-scented streets of Mount Vernon and visit the rows of booths. Or check out performances by musicians, dancers, comedians and more. Flower Mart also has a few unique competitions, like the Superstar and Crazy Caps contests.
Maypole dances, puppet shows and face painting are just a few of the activities planned for kids. And don't forget to grab a lemon stick, a Flower Mart favorite.
>Also see: Flower Mart photos
Maryland Film Festival
May 7-10 at Charles Theatre, MICA Brown Center and UB Student Center
Admission: $8 and up; All-access passes: $175 if purchased by May 6, $250 after May 6
Cinematic adventures, special effects and undiscovered talent bring filmmakers and movie buffs to Baltimore for the 11th annual Maryland Film Festival. The festival is not a competition; it's a celebration of films and the movie-making process.
See screenings of documentaries and feature films, or check out panel discussions with filmmakers. This year's screenings include "Alexander the Last," "Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo," "Blind Loves," "Make-Out With Violence," "Garbage Dreams" and more.
May 12-16 at venues throughout Baltimore
Admission to race: $25 and up
A Maryland tradition, Preakness is more than just a horse race. The celebration kicks off a few days before the race with MECU's Pee Wee Preakness on May 12 at 11 a.m. Bring your kids to Federal Hill Park, and watch the little ones race on hippity hops. Another event for the kiddies, the Preakness Frog Hop at War Memorial Plaza, is May 13 at noon.
Head to Lexington Market May 14 for the Preakness Crab Derby where local celebrities race crabs.
On May 15 at 8:30 p.m., the Inner Harbor will be packed as illuminated floats, giant balloons and marching bands celebrate at the Preakness Celebration Parade of Lights.
For the main event, join thousands of onlookers at the 134th Preakness Stakes on May 16 at Pimlico Race Course. This year, there's an official infield party, The 2009 Preakness InfieldFest presented by Bud Light, and you're going to have to buy your booze at the event. InfieldFest features live music by ZZ Top, Buckcherry and Charm City Devils.
Preakness isn't all about the party. Be a part of racing history as jockeys sprint their horses in the middle leg of the Triple Crown. John Kastner, a 45-year-old Baltimore native, has attended Preakness for the past 27 years. "It's that little bit of my childhood that keeps me coming back each year," Kastner said.
>Also see: Preakness events
Sowebohemian Arts and Music Festival
May 24 at Hollins Market
Go bohemian this summer. With eclectic street art and live performances, Hollins Market serves as a creative playground during the family-friendly Sowebohemian Festival. As you stroll the streets of Southwest Baltimore, you can check out local bands, munch on some funnel cake and, of course, see plenty of works by local artists. Or get the whole family in on the artsy fun by participating in interactive arts and crafts activities.
Capital Jazz Fest
June 5-7 at Merriweather Post Pavilion
Admission: $36.50-$87.50; VIP packages go up to $400
Jazz tunes will be blowing through the trees in Columbia's Symphony Woods for three days this summer. Contemporary jazz artists perform on two stages during the outdoor music festival. Catch the performances from the lawn, as you hang with friends, munch on good eats or enjoy a cold beer. If you want a more personal experience, get close to the action by purchasing pavilion seats. This year's headliner is Natalie Cole.
June 6 at Fort Armistead Park
Admission: $55, VIP tickets: $139
A festival unlike any other, Starscape is an overnight party. The event starts at 2 p.m., and the music (and partying) doesn't stop until 6 a.m. In addition to five stages of ongoing music, Starscape includes plenty of food, a graffiti wall, an art gallery and full bars until 2 a.m. This year's scheduled performers include The Disco Biscuits, Chromeo, BassNectar, Biodiesel and more.
June 13-14 in Hampden
It celebrates the very essence of Bawlmer and brings you back to the days of beehive hairdos, cat's-eye glasses, spandex pants and leopard print. HonFest pays tribute to Baltimore's neighborhoods and the people that put the charm in Charm City.
Thousands fill the streets of Hampden as the search for Baltimore's Best Hon continues through the weekend. Get your own beehive, compete in the Miss Hon pageant, or just people-watch and meander through Hampden's quaint shops and eateries.
>Also see: HonFest 2008 photos
Great Grapes! Wine, Art & Music Festival
June 13-14 at Oregon Ridge Park
Admission: Adults: $15-$22, Kids 12 and under: Free
It's a tiny fruit but deserves a big celebration. Maryland wineries -- including Boordy Vineyards Basignani -- share their juices and concoctions during this wine festival. Sample plenty of wines, watch cooking demonstrations and learn the art of wine tasting. There is also live entertainment and local art for sale. Families are welcome, and there are plenty of non-alcoholic activities for the kids, including pony rides and face painting.
Baltimore Pride 2009
June 20-21 in Mount Vernon and Druid Hill Park
Take pride in diversity by joining Maryland's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community for a weekend of fun events. On Saturday, the festivities kick off with a parade and block party in Mount Vernon. Then on Sunday, Druid Hill Park hosts the Pride Festival. Events include the crowning of the King and Queen of Pride, a high heel race and a date auction.
All Good Music Festival
July 9-12 in Masontown, W. Va.
Hippies unite. At its mountaintop location, the All Good Music Fest isn't just a concert; it's a four-day campout extravaganza. Unlike most music festivals where numerous bands play at the same time -- and you're forced to choose just one -- the acts at All Good don't overlap. Rough it for the weekend by camping with your family and friends, and jammin' out in the great outdoors. The long line-up includes Ben Harper & Relentless7, Bob Weir & RatDog, Les Claypool and more.
July 17-19 in Mount Vernon
This free public arts festival is a fave of Baltimore festival-goers. Artscape features exhibits, fashion shows, concerts, dance, theater, children's entertainers, food vendors and more than 150 craftspeople. The festivities are centered in Mount Vernon, but galleries across the city hold events to coincide with Artscape.
A highlight of the festival is the Art Car show, which showcases vehicles decorated with bizarre objects. You'll see cars adorned with everything from baby dolls and glitter to seashells. Terence Sullivan, a 21-year-old student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, plans to return to Artscape this year. "I see some unusual stuff at MICA everyday, but nothing compares to those art cars," Sullivan said.
>Also see: Photos of Artscape through the years
Maryland State Fair
Aug. 28-Sept. 7 at Maryland State Fairgrounds
Admission: Adults: $8, Seniors: $6, Kids 6-11: $3, Under 6: Free
A classic summer festival, the state fair is fun for all ages. There's popcorn, pony rides, livestock and live bands. Make crafts with your kids during the day or win a stuffed animal for your date at night. This huge carnival is the perfect way to say goodbye to summer vacations and hello to the new school year.
>Also see: Scenes from the fair
Maryland Renaissance Festival
Aug. 29-Oct. 25 in Crownsville
Admission: $7 and up
Chivalry isn't dead, but you may have to go to the Renaissance Festival for proof. Go back in time and wander streets resembling a 16th-century English village. With both festival-goers and workers in costume, it's easy to slip into character. Watch a jousting match, sip from a mug of ale or munch on a turkey leg as you enjoy the medieval atmosphere. Festival performers include sword swallowers, jugglers and magicians.
Sept. 24-27 in Ocean City, Md.
Admission: Free; Headliner concerts: $20-$50
Summer's always better at the beach, so Ocean City makes the perfect festival venue. Head to the Inlet for live music, food and games. Soak up the last of the warm weather, or get in the spirit of the coming fall season by taking a hayride or decorating a pumpkin. Headline entertainers include The Village People, Little Big Town and Rick Springfield.
Baltimore Book Festival
Sept. 25-27 at Mount Vernon Place
Every year, book lovers head to Mount Vernon Place to participate in book swaps, pick up inexpensive and rare reads, and meet with their favorite authors. This year's authors include Diahann Carroll, Buzz Aldrin, KRS-One, Ingrid Hoffman, Dale DeGroff, Lourdes Castro and Adam Ried.
Marissa Feldman, 13, from Towson, said the festival is a highlight of her summer. "It's a fun family tradition and we've been going every year since we were really little," Feldman said. Her sister, 10-year-old Anneliese Feldman, agrees. "I have a lot of fun visiting all the tents and browsing through books," she said.
Baltimoresun.com intern Lauren Veneziani updated this article.