We Got the Beat: Baltimore Music Festivals for Every Fan
Whether you want to headbang to heavy metal, party hard to EDM or shout the lyrics to the latest pop hits, Baltimore has a music festival to match your listening vibe.
Given how vibrant our arts and culture scene is, it’s no surprise that Baltimore also hosts an exciting and diverse music festival lineup. Whether you listen to rap, electronic, soul or something more niche like bedroom pop or psychedelic funk, music lovers can see and hear it all here. Plus, many of our most iconic festivals are free to attend, so all you have to do is put on your dancing shoes and prepare to have a good time. Mark your calendars for these can’t-miss music festivals, and be sure to visit some of our favorite music venues while you’re here.
Celebrate Baltimore’s rich African American heritage at AFRAM. The free two-day festival, held over Juneteenth weekend, welcomes 100,000 people annually to the city’s famous Druid Hill Park to partake in food, fashion, art, kid-friendly activities and live music from national and regional favorites. Recent headliners include Ne-Yo, El DeBarge, Ty Dolla $ign, The Isley Brothers and Tamar Braxton.
A contender for Best Cultural Festival in the 2020 USA Today 10 Best Readers’ Choice travel awards, Artscape is the nation’s largest free outdoor arts festival. Featuring interactive visual arts exhibits, musical performances, poetry workshops and street dance, Artscape is also a culinary showcase for Baltimore’s top food vendors. No matter what draws you, there’s plenty of fun for the whole family. After a pausing during the pandemic, Artscape is set to return September 2023 with an expanded footprint encompassing Station North Arts & Entertainment and Mount Vernon.
Baltimore Jazz Festival
Baltimore has always been a jazz capital, having produced legends Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Eubie Blake and more. The Baltimore Jazz Festival celebrates and builds on that legacy by bringing together some of the best performers from around the world, plus local school talent. The ticketed two-day summer event takes place in the bucolic Wyman Park in north Baltimore.
Charm City Bluegrass Festival
Ease into spring with the Charm City Bluegrass Festival, an annual two-day family-friendly celebration of the city’s folk, Americana, bluegrass and acoustic artists. Previously held at Druid Hill Park, the event has since moved to Union Craft Brewing in Hampden, so you can also enjoy local beers while you tap your feet to the soulful music.
Charm City Live
Designed as a sendoff to summer, Charm City Live is a free, family-friendly outdoor music & arts festival that takes place in downtown Baltimore across from the Inner Harbor. The first Charm City Live in 2022 brought Rebecca Black and Jon B to Baltimore, and H.E.R will headline the 2023 concert. In addition to performances, the festival also includes an interactive kid’s zone, a row of food trucks and vendor stalls.
Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival
This free July 4th festival was founded six years ago as a place for residents of Cherry Hill, a culturally and economically diverse neighborhood along the Patapsco River, to congregate and celebrate their community’s artistic legacy. Performers represent a wide range of genres from soul and gospel to reggae, salsa and more, and activities include historic reenactments, fashion shows and the presentation of honorees related to that year’s festival theme. The festival is free, but attendees are encouraged to donate to the Cherry Hill Arts & Music Waterfront Festival Relief Fund to support educational supplies and opportunities for youth and their families.
Fell’s Point Fun Festival
This five-decade-old festival began as a fundraiser to protect the neighborhood from development and preserve its historic integrity. It’s now one of the city’s largest community celebrations. Across six blocks in Fell’s Point, explore tasty bites from local vendors, craft cocktails and beers, one-of-a-kind products from area artisans and energetic live music performances—all with a spectacular view of the harbor. To view a full list of performers and vendors and purchase tickets, see the Fell’s Point Fun Festival’s website.
Hell in the Harbor Festival
A newcomer to Baltimore’s music festival scene, Hell in the Harbor sees the Inner Harbor Market Place corridor transform into a heavy metal block party featuring 30+ bands from across the genre, like metal icons Cannibal Corpse, Napalm Death, High On Fire, Pig Destroyer and many more. An open air main stage serves as the heart of the festival, with local vendors, carnival games and more lining the streets surrounding it. The event is ticketed, and single and two-day passes are available.
High Zero Festival
Experimentation and unpredictability define the High Zero Festival, in which famous musicians team up with lesser-known artists to collaborate live on stage in an exciting improvised jam session. Workshops, street performances and recording sessions round out the multi-day itinerary sure to inspire any music lover. The event is run by the High Zero Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for experimental culture through musical events like the aforementioned festival, the Red Room Concert series and the Worlds in Collusion concert marathon.
Love Groove Festival
Local musician and producer John Tyler, who has worked with Visit Baltimore and the Orioles, formed the Love Groove Festival when he was still in high school to give burgeoning artists an opportunity to showcase their work and connect with other creatives. Since then, the festival has showcased more than 200 young artists across mediums, from music to visual and performing arts. The multi-day event takes place at Baltimore Center Stage, an organization on a mission to make theater as accessible as possible to people of all socioeconomic statuses.
For more than two decades, hardcore metal heads have flocked to Baltimore for a two-day feast of extreme, underground heavy music. Rejecting musical conventions and trends, Maryland Deathfest features death metal, grindcore, doom, thrash, hardcore, black metal and experimental bands from all around the world at three separate venues—Power Plant Live, Rams Head Live and Baltimore Soundstage. The festival is on hiatus for 2023, but has plans to return to Baltimore in 2024.
Three days of pulsating music and nonstop dancing describe the Moonrise Festival, one of the country’s biggest and best EDM bashes. In addition to dazzling strobe lights and pyrotechnic shows, this summer festival, held at Pimlico Race Course, promises the best electronic, house and dubstep artists across three stages. Past Moonrise performers include Alan Walker, Two Friends, Zeds Dead, AC Slater and Don Diablo.
Preakness Live! combines the exhilarating atmosphere of the Preakness Stakes, the second event in the horse race for the Triple Crown, with a top-notch lineup of musicians to create a one-of-a-kind festival experience. Thousands of fans pack Pimlico Race Course for a full day of food, drinks and live music by nationally renowned acts of all genres such as the Chainsmokers, Bruno Mars and Post Malone.
Summer Days Festival
What better way to spend a summer day in Baltimore than with a fun festival along our gorgeous waterfront? The new Summer Days Festival, presented by Live Nation, provides the opportunity to do just that. The inaugural event takes place in late June at Pier Six Pavilion, a storied venue on the Patapsco River that is famous for bringing rock artists and fun festivals to the Inner Harbor. This year’s Summer Days Festival will feature performances from R&B stars Lucky Daye and Muni Long, plus Joyce-Wrice and Baltimore rapper John Wells. Purchase general and VIP tickets here.