Don't Break the Bank - A Guide To Free Winter Events In Baltimore

Baltimore

Although the summer and fall events are winding down, Baltimore still offers an exciting array of activities and events throughout the city that won’t break the bank! For free events this winter, look through this guide and take advantage of all the offers.  

Museums and Art

Maryland Historical Society Museum is home to the original manuscript of the “Star Spangled Banner”. Admission is free on the first Thursday of every month! The Museum collection includes one of only three surviving Revolutionary War officer’s uniforms in the United States as well as the most significant collection of Maryland cultural artifacts.

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The Baltimore Museum of Art offers free general admission Wednesday through Sunday. The BMA boasts the largest collection of Henri Matisse’s work in the world. Currently on display is a touching collection of portraits of his daughter, Marguerite. And don’t forget to check out pieces by Morris Louis, An My Le, and Gerard Byrne.The BMA offers Free Family Sundays every weekend , an afternoon program filled with hands-on, interactive activities for the whole family.

The Maryland Institute College of Art has put forth a free exhibit, titled “The Painted Screens of Baltimore and Beyond”, displaying the vivid screen paintings on woven wire window and door screens that are considered unique contemporary folk art that can only be found in abundance in Baltimore.  The exhibit opens to public on December 13th and runs until March 16, 2014 at the Meyerhoff Gallery at The Fox Building at MICA.

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Located in Mount Vernon, a permanent collection at The Walters Art Museum is also completely free to the public. Currently, its internationally-renowned collection encompasses world art from pre-dynastic Egypt to 20th-century Europe. You can take one of their free guided tours at numerous times throughout the day or an audio tour at your leisure. Current special exhibitions include rare, incredibly detailed book bindings from the Gilded Age and painter Jacob Lawrence’s colorful narrative artwork, the Genesis series. Also, you don’t want to miss out on an intimate look at the conservators at work, intricately restoring art collections using their training in fine arts, art history, and chemistry. The Conservation Window is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 12:30 to 4 pm. The Walters Art Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday.

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Ever wanted to get a closer look at the stars? At the Maryland Science Center, Stargazing Fridays and Sungazing Saturdays are open to the public for free, weather permitting. Using the Science Center’s Alvan Clark & Sons 8” refracting telescope on the rooftop observatory, you can see the moon, stars, and safely explore the surface of the Sun.

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Memorials and Parks

At the Baltimore Inner Harbor, there is plenty to do without breaking the bank. From the street performers drawing in large crowds at the center of Inner Harbor to the vessels in the water, there is always something to observe and enjoy. Christmas time brings in the holiday lights and celebration events throughout the neighborhood. Starting November 23rd, you can check out the Santa’s Place Light Shows at the Harborplace Amphitheater and look for Santa, who will be available for pictures.

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Right across the water from the Inner Harbor is the historic Federal Hill Park. With a short climb, you can grab an incredible view of the Inner Harbor and Baltimore landscape. With close proximity to the Inner Harbor’s eateries and entertainment venues, Federal Hill Park offers a place to relax and take in the panoramic view of Baltimore. You can also learn about the Federal Hill’s role in history with its monuments and canons commemorating its use as a military base during the Civil War and more.

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Edgar Allen Poe’s Gravesite and Memorial provides a serene scene in the middle of Baltimore. Located in the Westminster Hall Cemetery, Poe’s grave at the back of the cemetery has a monument in honor of the author and poet. The gravesite is especially interesting to visit near his birthday (January 19th) as admirers leave tokens in memory of Edgar Allen Poe. Keep a lookout for a bottle of cognac and three roses on the grave on the eve of his birthday, a tradition dating back to 1949 by a mysterious visitor.

Washington Monument on Charles and Monument is the first architectural monument planned to honor our nation’s first president, George Washington. On the ground, there is a museum with information about Washington. You can climb the 228 steps to the top of the monument for only a dollar and gain a beautiful view of the city. Tours are currently closed for a $5 million dollar renovation and will be reopened for its bicentennial on the Fourth of July, 2015.

Special Events

The city of Baltimore will be ushering in the holiday season with special events throughout the month of December. At Harbor East on Thursday, December 5th, a month-long holiday arts exhibit will be revealed in storefronts, decorated by the finest artists around the region. There will be plenty to do for the whole family, as carolers, food, and even acrobats will fill the streets to ring in the start of Harbor East’s Window Wonderland.

At the Inner Harbor, Baltimore Parade of Lighted Boats will showcase the boats and vessels decked out in Christmas lights. The parade begins at the conclusion of  “Lighting of the Fells Point Olde Tyme Christmas Lighting Ceremony” at approximately 6:00-6:30 pm on December 7th, 2013. Broadway Pier in Fells Point or the Inner Harbor Promenade offer some of the best views of the parade. Dress appropriately for the weather as the whole parade ceremony lasts 1.5 to 2 hours and you won’t want to miss any of the boats!

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For another free Christmas lights display, make sure to check out the Hampden neighborhood during the month of December for the beloved annual tradition, Miracle on 34th Street. The residents on this block go all out to decorate their rowhouses with spectacular lights, inflatable snowglobes, musical trains, and more. Most nights, the lights are lit from dusk to 11 p.m. It’s best to park and walk to get a close look at elaborate decorations and themes of each house. Take in the Christmas lights and the holiday spirit around you as the residents of 34th street put on the show for the whole city.

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For the official city parade, check out the Baltimore Mayor’s Christmas Parade. Last year, over 25,000 people came out to see the floats, local TV and Radio personalities, over 100 Harley Davidson motorcycles, bands, and of course, Santa. This year’s 2.5 mile-long parade will be held on December 8th, 2013 at 1 PM in the Medfield-Hampden area.

Travel & Parking Panda

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Parking within Baltimore is no longer a hassle with Parking Panda. You can plan your trip, down to when and where you want to park! No more driving around blocks to find the closest parking near restaurants or museums - now you can get real time information on parking availability and cost, reserve the spot you want, and rest assured that the spot is guaranteed when you get to the location. Traveling in Baltimore is made easy with the free Charm City Circulator, which runs every 10 minutes from early morning to late night, every day. The shuttle runs four different routes, making it easy to travel between attractions, events, and neighborhoods.

For more information on events around Baltimore, pick up a copy of the Official Guide and the Visit Baltimore Restaurant Guide at the Baltimore Visitor Center.

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