Attendees of Artscape 2019 watch a musical performance. Photo by Tedd Henn.

Editor’s note (4/5/2022): Organizers announced Monday that Artscape will not return in 2022 after all. What Baltimoreans will see this year is a “preview” of the 2023 version, not the event itself.

After a two-year hiatus, Baltimore’s Artscape festival is coming back in 2022.

But instead of taking place in July, it will shift to September.

“We’re taking more time to collaborate on a bold new vision for America’s largest free art festival,” said an online posting from the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, the quasi-public agency that produces the festival.

“Over the next few months, we’ll work with local creators, brands and organizations across the city to design an inclusive, forward-thinking event – guaranteed to make Baltimore proud. It’s a big effort, and we want to do it right, so we’re taking more time.”

The sprawling outdoor festival, which draws up to 350,000 people, traditionally takes place over one weekend in the middle of July and covers a large swath of midtown, from Mount Vernon to Station North and west to the Maryland Institute College of Art campus and land around The Lyric and the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Planners chose July in large part because that’s when MICA was on its summer break and its auditoriums and galleries were available for events.

The full-blown festival did not occur in 2020 and 2021 due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. BOPA mounted a virtual version in 2020, including an artists’ market and online events and tributes to previous festivals, but there was no in-person gathering.

BOPA’s teaser announcement did not say which weekend in September the festival will be held or exactly where it will take place. Organizers have said they need a lead time of four to six months to line up vendors and performers and make other arrangements, so the announcement was a signal to prospective participants that planning has begun.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott on Sunday declined to say exactly when Artscape will be back, but he said it won’t be the only festival making a return.

“We want all of our festivals to come back this year,” he said during an appearance at the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM). “Not just Artscape, but we’re going to have Afram. We want to bring all of those things back, to get us back to some normalcy in the city.”

“There’ll be coming announcements about all the dates for all the festivals,” Scott said. “We’re not going to kick it off until we’re ready to go. We’re bringing them back. We want to be bigger and better.”

Here are a few other spring festivals that are coming back after COVID:

Organizers of the annual Flower Mart at Mount Vernon Place have announced that its 2022 dates are April 29 and 30, with the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy as the producer.

The Maryland Film Festival will be back as an in-person event at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Parkway Theatre from April 27 to May 1, according to its website. Local writer and filmmaker John Waters will host the screening of a film he chooses on April 29.

WTMD’s First Thursday Festival series returns on May 5 from 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Canton Waterfront Park, 3001 Boston Street. Music starts at 5:30 p.m.

AVAM’s Kinetic Sculpture Race will be back in person on May 7 and its Flicks From the Hill series will follow.

HonFest will be back in Hampden on June 11 to 12 and will stretch for four or five blocks, according to chair Judy Templeton. Organizers are looking for contestants for Baltimore’s Best Hon (“ageless beauty with lotsa attitude”) and Best Honette (ages 7-14). “Speaking Balmerese is a plus!”

Ed Gunts is a local freelance writer and the former architecture critic for The Baltimore Sun.

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