The Launch: September Highlights

Our six musts from this month's calendar of events.

Akimbo Dance & Movement Art Festival
Sept. 12. Station North Arts District. 1-6 p.m. Free. This September, Station North will be overrun with a band of artists, but they won’t be wielding paper or paintbrushes. Instead, they’ll be dancing and performing as part of this fourth annual arts festival celebrating creative diversity in Baltimore and beyond. For one afternoon, wander the neighborhood and see performances by 17 city and regional dance companies—including the Baltimore Dance Project, Masala Soul Project, and Full Circle Dance Company—at indoor and outdoor venues like Station North Chicken Box, The Windup Space, and Ynot Lot.

Diana Ross
Sept. 13. Pier Six Pavilion, 731 Eastern Ave. 6 p.m. $40-100. 410-783-4189. Diana Ross is the O.D.—the original diva—first making her mark as the lead singer of The Supremes some 50 years ago. Her copious love songs and enduring pop hits—“Stop! In The Name of Love,” “Where Did Our Love Go,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “I’m Coming Out”—have cemented her legacy as a fearless female force to be reckoned with. This month, catch her in the Inner Harbor for one unforgettable night.

Baltimore Book Festival
Sept. 25-27. Baltimore Inner Harbor. Fri.-Sun. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Free. 410-752-8632. Now in its 20th year, the Baltimore Book Festival is bigger and better than ever. Over three days, across multiple stages, hundreds of writers will be in attendance for readings, signings, workshops, and discussions. Hear locals Laura Lippman, D. Watkins, and Wes Moore, plus dozens of booksellers, cooking demos, kids projects, and live music.

Kinky Boots
Sept. 29-Oct. 4. Hippodrome Theatre, 12 N. Eutaw St. Tues.-Fri. 8 p.m., Sat. 2 & 8 p.m., Sun. 1 & 6:30 p.m. $47.50-131. 410-837-7400. In 2013, three decades after the release of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” 1980s pop icon Cyndi Lauper made her Broadway composer debut with Kinky Boots. The smash-hit musical about bright red stilettos shattered box-office records with its warm-hearted, colorful cast and universal tale about overcoming hard times and stereotypes through spirit and strength. Its anthem says it all: “Just be who you want to be. Celebrate your life triumphantly.”

Sept. 19. W. 36th St. 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Free.
Hampdenfest is all the free, street-festival fun of HonFest, but without the flamingos and frills. Instead, it’s just simple summertime pleasures—good beer, good music, and good friends. The Avenue will stir with a bevy of Baltimore talent, like indie-pop rockers Raindeer, post-punkers PLRLS, and this year’s headliner, Bosley. Toilet Race pot-peddlers will barrel down Chestnut Avenue, karaoke stars will compete in Hampden Idol, and onlookers will dangle out of colorful row-home windows.

Baltimore Seafood Festival
Sept. 19. Canton Waterfront Park, 3001 Boston St. 12-7 p.m. Free-$100. As summer nears its end, celebrate the bay’s best at the city’s second annual seafood festival. Dig into Chesapeake cuisine from local eateries like Captain James, Jimmy’s Seafood, and The Local Oyster, and wash it all down with cocktails, wine, and beer. Feel the breeze off the Canton waterfront and groove to funky tunes by the 8 Ohms and Unity Reggae bands.

[Image credits from top: Hank Wang; Pier Six Pavilion; Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts; Matthew Murphy; Russ Bradshaw; Shutterstock.]