Spring offering a basket blooming with party options

Black-tie gala, real hoedown fill out social calendar

Scene: clubs, bars, nightlife

April 01, 2004|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Hooray! April 1. We can finally believe that spring is really here. Feel like celebrating? Well, the spring party rush is about to begin, and chances are your favorite nonprofit is throwing some sort of fund-raiser. Whatever your description of fun is, you probably can find it at one party, at least, over the next three months.

Consider these categories and examples:

In the cultural black-tie arena, one springtime tradition continues at the Walters Art Museum, as its Women's Committee presents its 15th Annual Art Blooms April 16-18. Thirty garden clubs create delightful floral interpretations of certain pieces in a featured exhibit. This year, that exhibit is the Walters' collection of jewels. The highlight of the weekend is the black-tie party April 17: "Jewels of the Knight." In addition to feasting from a sumptuous buffet, enjoying an open bar and viewing the displays, you can also browse a Jewelry Fair, with jewelry for sale from a select group of designers. Tickets are $150. Call 410-547-9000, Ext. 305.

After months of renovation, the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University is inaugurating its glass-covered Grand Arcade, a restored grand entrance on Mount Vernon Place and new performance spaces and galleries with a weeklong celebration culminating in its Grand Celebration Evening April 24. Guests will enjoy a champagne reception, followed by a concert by pianist Leon Fleisher and the Peabody Symphony Orchestra. Then it's on to the big reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres, open bar, live chamber music and jazz. Tickets to the black-tie event are $125. Call 410-659-8100, Ext. 2.

This spring is particularly plentiful for food lovers. TurnAround Inc. throws its Steppin' Out shindig April 22 at the Wyndham Inner Harbor Hotel. This is one popular party. Every year, the ballroom is jammed with people and food stations from a passel of local chefs. This year, the theme is "Steppin' Out to Bawlmer, Hon!" Business/cocktail attire. Call 410-377-8111 to order your $60 ticket.

Another great eats treat is Meals On Wheels of Central Maryland's Culinary Extravaganza. About 25 local chefs whip up all sorts of spectacular dishes for guests to sample. This year, the party is set for April 27 at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel. Business attire. Call 410-558-0932, Ext. 3027 to reserve your $150 ticket.

And then there's nirvana for hardcore foodies -- sampling creations of a renowned visiting chef.

On April 19, Family Tree throws its 13th Annual Great Chefs' Dinner at the Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley. This year, three-time James Beard best chef nominee -- and owner of Equinox in Washington -- Todd Gray prepares a five-course sit-down dinner. Cocktail attire. Tickets are $250. Call 410-889-2300.

Food Network fans -- heads up. On April 23, celebrity chefs Jacques Pepin, Bobby Flay, Steven Raichlen, Bruce Aidells, Jose Andres and B-more's own Cindy Wolf compete in a pork tenderloin grilling contest at the Baltimore Museum of Industry in the Elegant Pig Picking: Chef's Grand Prix, sponsored by the International Association of Culinary Professionals Foundation. Have drinks and barbecue buffet at this once-in-a-lifetime hoedown. Business attire. Tickets are $100. Call 443-872-8686.

Sports fans, there are also some bashes up your alley, too, starting with An Evening at the Ring, April 8. This Save-A-Heart Foundation Inc. event starts with cocktails and a sit-down dinner at the Wyndham Inner Harbor Hotel, followed by six bouts of professional boxing. Obviously geared to the guys, added attractions include ring-card girls from Larry Flynt's Hustler Club and Penthouse Pet Courtney Taylor. Attire is business casual. Call 410-902-0048 to nab your $200 ticket.

On May 6, rub shoulders with Baltimore Raven Ray Lewis and some of his celebrity friends at the Ray Lewis Celebrity Auction. More than 600 guests are expected at Martin's West for the hoopla this year. You never know who will be there. Past celeb guests have included Spike Lee, Evander Holyfield and Tracey McBride. Open bar, heavy hors d'oeuvres and all sorts of celebrity items will be up for auction. Business casual attire. Tickets are $100. Call the Ray Lewis Foundation at 410-752-7400.

Movie fans don't want to miss the Maryland Film Festival and its plethora of parties. This year, the festival runs from May 6-9. Plans are being firmed up. But the festival always opens with a big screening Thursday night, followed by an opening-night party ($35). There are filmmaker parties scattered throughout the multi-day event (each included in a $10 individual screening ticket). And Sunday, a big final screening and closing-night party ($25) are planned. Oh, what the heck. Just shell out $250 for an all-access pass and go to everything! To check out the whats, wheres and whens, go to mdfilmfest.com.

Finally, we come to the "so much to do, so little time" type of parties. Several this spring fit that bill.

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