BALTIMORE — Artscape returns to Baltimore this weekend, transforming several blocks of midtown into the largest, free arts festival in the country for the 38th year.
Often one of the warmer weekends of the year, this year’s Artscape coincides with a brutal heatwave that has spiked temperatures to feel as hot as 110 degrees and pushed the city into an extended Code Red Extreme Heat Emergency. It’s a near 180 pivot from the cold, rainy Artscape of 2018. Festival goers will also need to navigate some travel issues, as several streets downtown remain closed and Light Rail service is interrupted.
With these challenges in mind, festival organizers are highlighting some of Artscape’s indoor activities that may provide needed relief from the heat and expose patrons to aspects of the art experience they might overlook in other years. Festival goers are also encouraged to explore alternative transit options or to give themselves plenty of time to drive and find a spot in a local garage so they can enjoy Artscape after a hopefully less stressful commute.
Indoor activities at Artscape include:
- Gamescape at 1915 Maryland Ave. is open Friday–Sunday
- Teenscape at Motor House is open Friday–Sunday
- Film at Artscape at Parkway Theatre is open Friday–Sunday for limited hours
- High Zero’s Worlds In Collusion at University of Baltimore’s Student Center is open Saturday only
- Modell Lyric is open with performances on Saturday
- LOL@Artscape at The BIG Theatre at 1727 N. Charles St. is open Friday and Saturday from 7–11pm
For those who stay outside but need a splash of relief, they can find cooling stations throughout the festival at:
- Baltimore City Fire Department Misting Station on Maryland Avenue at Mt. Royal Avenue
- MDOT MTA Cooling bus at Mt. Royal Avenue between Charles and St. Paul streets
- MDOT MTA Cooling Bus at Preston Street near Kidscape
- Misting Tent at the Artscape Main Stage
- Misting Tent at Charles and Lanvale streets
But before cooling off is a concern, the first issue is getting there.
Portions of Howard and Pratt Streets remain closed as the city tries to repair a sinkhole caused by a water main break, and much of Charles Street and Mt. Royal Avenue in midtown are also closed as they house the festival. The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Transit Administration is encouraging festival goers to utilize public transit, particularly the bus.
The CityLink Gold, Green, Lime, Silver, and Yellow routes all run to Artscape, as does the LocalLink 51, 53, 54, and 94. SubwayLink also can connect travelers who utilize the State Center/Culture Center Metro station.
The sinkhole downtown has also affected Light RailLink service, but it remains an option for some patrons, particularly those coming in from communities to the north. The current issues along Howard Street have suspended Light Rail service between the city’s Camden Station and North Avenue Station. A bus bridge is provided to connect riders to stops between the two, so festival goers heading north can still ride the Light Rail to the Camden Station and then take the bus. Those coming in from the north can take the Light Rail to either the North Avenue Station and walk a few blocks down, or go to the Mt. Royal/MICA stop found in Artscape’s grounds. The MTA will alternate service to the stops, meaning trains will switch back and forth between finishing their rides at North Avenue or at the Mt. Royal stops. Transit Ambassadors will be around to help confused travelers.
“We love obviously being in the middle of the Light Rail because it is such a great way to get to Artscape, but we don't want this year's interruption to discourage people from coming out,” said Baltimore Office of Promotions and the Arts Festivals Director Kathy Hornig.. “The Metro is still up and running that's just a block off campus. You can park in one of our many garages in midtown. We also have a bike parking zone for folks who want to bike to the festival.”
More information about Artscape can be found at the festival’s website. For those looking to find more information or share their own photos and stories from the festivities can do so using the hashtag #Artscape2019.