Perhaps more distinctive than our iconic State House Dome and intrinsic nautical history are our inspiring traditions, festivals, attractions, and quirks that make visiting Annapolis and Anne Arundel County even more charming and quintessentially unique than you can imagine! Let’s explore!
Every year on the first of May, our historic downtown is transformed with colorful arrangements of blossoms and blooms. Creatively crafted displays full of fresh-cut flowers are thoughtfully placed in front of businesses and historic homes as part of the annual May basket competition. This annual beautification of our city, sponsored by the Garden Club of Old Annapolis Towne, dates back to 1956.
Explore May Day in historic Annapolis!
St. John’s College- The third oldest college in the new world, i.e., the United States of America by today’s standards, is only a stone’s throw from the United States Naval Academy. Founded as King William’s School in 1696, only Harvard and William & Mary are older. Discover this school on your visit for engaging architecture, a storied history, and a world-class art museum. Fun Fact: Francis Scott Key, who penned The Star-Spangled Banner, is a famous alum.
St. John's College
This deli is an Annapolis institution that has been serving breakfast favorites, colossal sandwiches, and decadent 1-gallon milkshakes since 1965. Still, their steadfastness to the Pledge of Allegiance sets them apart and puts them on our list of unique local traditions. Beginning in 1989, the Pledge of Allegiance has been recited daily, Monday through Friday at 8:30 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. without fail. Stop in for breakfast and experience this old-school classic for yourself!
Chick & Ruth's Delly
The Blue Angels roar into the skies overhead every May as a precursor to the United States Naval Academy Graduation Ceremony, known as Commissioning Week. The air show has a full practice run on the Tuesday of Commissioning Week, and the final performance is on Wednesday, ahead of Friday’s graduation fly-over at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Hop on a charter boat to see the spectacle from the water, view it from the Annapolis Harbor, or head to Hospital Point at the Naval Academy and watch along the shores of the Severn River.
National Cryptologic Museum
Our Navy roots might get all the press; still, it may interest you to know that Anne Arundel County is home to the National Security Agency (NSA) and the U.S. Army Base of Fort George G. Meade. Adjacent to NSA is the National Cryptologic Museum, where you can explore ciphers, spy gadgets, and the stories of heroic and historic spy-catching documenting years of the cryptologic profession. Whether you're planning a private group tour or a visit with family and friends, it's definitely worth some reconnaissance.
National Cryptologic Museum
This is not a typo; the race is an arduous and cumbersome 0.05K (that’s just 0.03 miles). Although some of it is slightly uphill, it has been described as "the least challenging athletic event ever conceived" by Runner's World magazine. The race, prizes, festivities, and fun were the brainchild of the MRE. This local organization began due to a rift over the demolition of a bridge that connected downtown Annapolis with the Horn Point Peninsula (Eastport). Furry friends are welcome, and there is a top prize for the best pet and owner costume, so get planning!
Race in the MRE's 0.05K across the Spa Creek Bridge!
Another (MRE) tradition is known locally as The TUG. Yearly, on the first Saturday of November, a rope is run across the Annapolis Harbor between the two towns of Annapolis & Eastport. Teams line up on either side to compete for their hometown in an epic tug of war across the water. Locally known as the ‘Slaughter Across the Water,’ this yearly Act of War upon Maryland’s State Capital, turns into a great party with bands on both sides of the harbor, food trucks, and a toast to good, clean fun. To learn the roots and history of this civil unrest, scan the QR code.
The Annual TUG draws thousands for an epic showdown across the Annapolis Harbor
Even though the actual size of historic downtown Annapolis is only 8 square miles, we pack a lot of punch for the holidays, especially during Halloween. With approximately 4-6 giant pumpkins carefully placed around town weighing between 900 and 1400 pounds, visitors are invited to find them all and pose for a pumpkin selfie. On the weekend of Halloween, local artists transform these pumpkins into massive jack-o-lanterns, providing a delightful spectacle for all to enjoy.
Snap a selfie with every pumpkin in town!
Annapolis Oyster Roast & Sock Burning
After a frigid and snowy winter, a group of boating and sailing types decided to burn their socks as an homage to the warmer temps and the ability to opt for docksiders and flip-flops. Now, we celebrate this rite of passage on the spring equinox by bringing a pair of socks to burn in a bonfire at the Annapolis Maritime Museum while enjoying amazing local bands and partaking in delicious oysters prepared in various ways.
Annapolis Oyster Roast & Sock Burning
This enclave of historic waterfront cottages is a private community, but the secret is out on their annual pre-game show of Fourth of July Fireworks on July 3rd. Locals, charter boat companies, jet ski enthusiasts, and water sport enthusiasts make their way up the Severn River for a show on the water sponsored by the Sherwood Forest Community Club. This pre-game may be more fun than the main fireworks display on the Fourth of July. Come to both and decide for yourself!
Fireworks over the water are an Anne Arundel County tradition
Anne Arundel County has a tried-and-true tradition of being an excellent place for thrifting, antiquing, and vying for vintage wares. We even have an entire southern Anne Arundel County region dedicated to the art of the find! Along this looping stretch of rural byway, you will find quaint and chic vintage and antique stores winding through the bucolic countryside. Find items like old cannery and oyster cans, nautical treasures, vintage clothing, furniture, and housewares.
Drive the Vintage Loop an discover antique treasures in South County
The holly, wreaths, and bows that line historic buildings and storefronts, along with all the holiday lights, make Annapolis & Anne Arundel County a magical place during December. But one of our most unique traditions is a holiday concert unlike any other- a Tuba Concert. At St. Anne's Episcopal Church, the circular courtyard surrounding the circa 1865 sanctuary becomes a stage for a concert performed by instruments of the tuba family, including baritone horns and euphoniums. It’s a Tuba-palooza that can’t be missed!
Tuba Christmas at St. Anne's Parish