Arts District

Baltimore Book Festival Kicks Off 20 Years This Weekend

Organizers have added 30 stands for booklovers in the Inner Harbor.

To celebrate its 20th birthday this weekend, the Baltimore Book Festival is going big.

Organizers have added 30 stands for booklovers to peruse, and two new stages will feature national authors and panel discussions, as well as writers who specialize in health, fitness, and nutrition.

All in all, 275 authors—Sen. John McCain, our own Laura Lippman, Bill Clegg and Steve Sheinkin, who were both long-listed for the National Book Award this year are a few—will be on hand for readings and signings. And there are countless workshops, panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, and children’s activities to entertain readers of all ages.

“We’ve just taken everything to the next level,” says Kathy Hornig, festivals director for the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts. “And being down at the harbor has given us a chance to grow.”

This is the second year that the Inner Harbor has hosted the festival, which drew 100,000 people in 2014, and formerly took place in Mt. Vernon. But in December, BOPA officials announced the Inner Harbor was its new home.

Organizers have also put an emphasis on local food this year, so come prepared for Indian curries from Indigma, sweets from Otterbein Bakery, and tasty meats from Smokin’ Joes BBQ. Also, be advised that Comic Con at the Baltimore Convention Center is also this weekend, so the harbor will be teeming with reading lovers of all a different sort, as well.

We asked Hornig to pick a few of her must-see events. (Click here to view the schedule of events, which kick off Friday.)

1. Baltimore: A Path Forward

Saturday, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

A panel discussion concerning Charm City’s diverse communities, and what it takes to unify a city. Features local writer D. Watkins and anti-racism activist Tim Wise, author of Dear White America.

2. Issa Rae

Sunday, 1-2 p.m.

Best known for her web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” this Maryland-born writer and actress is also developing a comedy for HBO.

3. Food for Thought stage

How could you go wrong with an opportunity to sample delicious dishes prepared by celebrity chefs and cookbook authors? Maryland favorites Bryan Voltaggio and John Shields will be there. There’s even a bourbon tasting on Sunday.