Gogol Bordello in Madrid. Photo by Carlos Delgado, via Wikimedia Commons.

Baltimore’s ambitiously huge, free arts festival returns next month with an eclectic array of performers in the musical lineup, including a renowned family soul band, a legendary Latin percussionist and a wild and well-loved gypsy punk group.

The Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts today announced singer-drummer Sheila E. will headline Friday night, while Gogol Bordello will play Saturday night and Robert Randolph & The Family Band on Sunday night. All will perform on the festival’s main stage at 1400 W. Mt. Royal Avenue.

Two other stages — the Johns Hopkins University Station North Stage and the Morgan State University Sound Off Live! Festival Stage — will showcase other artists, including local and regional ones that won performance slots through BOPA’s Sound Off Live! Competition. (A full list of those artists will be available here.) Additionally, the festival will have street performers in assorted areas, theater, jazz and opera shows at the Theatre Project and The Brown Center and classical and organ music at Corpus Christi Church.

The Lyric will add a grand dance performance component, hosting Che Malambo of Argentina on Saturday and Sunday, and the Parkway Theatre will offer free feature and short films all three days.

BOPA titled this year’s Artscape festival — the 36th one on record — “Camp Artscape: Adventure Awaits,” incorporating a theme of camping and the great outdoors into the country’s largest free annual outdoor arts festival. Outdoorsy attractions will include a camp-inspired teen area from the agency’s Youth Arts Council “to promote conversation and friendship,” and the Charles Street Camp Site, which will have Adirondack chairs and camping-inspired food.

The five main installations around the festival will also include own camping flavors, according to a release from BOPA:

  • “Let’s Build a Big Campfire!” located at Pearlstone Park, will have a 20-foot sculpture of a campfire built with steel and logs, along with a marshmallow and skewer.
  • “Camp Ready,” at the 1300 block of Charles Street between Mt. Royal Avenue and Preston Street, will teach “preparedness and solutions to the everyday problems of survival.”
  • “Barter Boat Trading Post,” at Charles Street by Penn Station, will have “a floating inventory of trinkets, postcards, and souvenirs.”
  • The more abstract “Who’s Watching,” also by Penn Station, will offer a look at surveillance “through an immersive, interactive interplay” that lets people watch each other from viewing domes.
  • “Dance Camp,” at 1704 N. Charles Street, will let festival-goers dance it out and watch professionals in action with workshops, performances, nightly events and competitions.

The food this year is all local. Vendors include Black Dirt Farm Collective, Ejji Ramen, The Local Fry, CREPE, Dizzy Cow Pizzeria, The Local Oyster, Connie’s Chicken & Waffles, Prigel Family Creamery and others.

The beer lineup is all Maryland for this first time, with brews from Flying Dog, Heavy Seas, Union Craft Brewing and The Brewer’s Art.

BOPA has brought back other attractions from past years, including the videogame-centric Gamescape at the University of Baltimore, and the Artists’ Market along W. Mt. Royal Avenue and the Artist-Run Art Fair on N. Charles Street.

For kids, the festival will offer Kidscape, with the astronomy-camp fusion of “Camp NASA: The Universe Awaits,” at Pearlstone Park. Adults, meanwhile, can partake in late night festivities at Artscape: After Hours, from 9-11 p.m. each night.

A more complete itinerary for this year’s programming is available here. The festival will run from Friday, July 21, through Sunday, July 23.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...