From Friday to Sunday, Baltimore will celebrate Artscape again this weekend.
If the past is any guide, more than a million visitors will trek to the Mount Royal Cultural Center area to participate in one of the biggest outdoor festivals in America, offering a mind-boggling variety of free music, artistic creations of every imaginable type, food and more food.
In fact there is so much food that nearby Mount Royal Tavern has mounted a counter "Foodscape" that features art work depicting eating!
For Baltimore area artists and crafts people Artscape offers a unique opportunity to exhibit. Some do so in formal exhibits inside the Maryland Institute buildings which will stay open three weeks past this weekend's festival.
Others display and sell their work at sidewalk stands. Then there is a group of artists and crafts people who are piggybacking on Artscape by having their tents on the parking lot of Corpus Christi Catholic Church.
When all this is added up, the result is a tour de force of creativity and vigor.
By the time the festival is over, its Bolton Hill neighbors are ready to take a collective sigh of relief, knowing that they will have a full 12 months to recover until next year.
For suburbanites who seldom venture into town, Artscape offers a splendid excuse to do so. The festival is full of surprises. And although the place is crowded, the atmosphere is pleasant.
If you are planning to go to Artscape, take the light rail -- which stops right in the middle of all the fun -- or Metro. Finding a parking space anywhere nearby is next to impossible.
Artscape's musical offerings -- ranging from rhythm and blues and jazz to bluegrass and classical -- are so rich that they are a veritable mini-course in music.
Tens of thousands of people are likely to mob the festival area to hear such name artists as Peabo Bryson, Patti Austin, Angela Bofill and Baltimore's own Ethel Ennis in free concerts.
Whether poetry or storytelling is your bag, or sculpture or painting, Artscape has something for everyone. The sight of thousands of people from all kinds of backgrounds enjoying themselves helps to instill some badly needed hope into the city. And the money they spend on food and souvenirs is a shot in the arm Baltimore can use.