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Could a work of art lure you to Baltimore? What if it were on wheels, and people raced it through the streets?

That's a race in Charm City not to be missed. And let's not forget about the Preakness, the Maryland Film Festival, and Balticon ...

This is the Baltimore we waited all winter to re-discover. The only chill in the air involves hops and barley.

Most of the 24 million tourists last year arrived in a car -- train car or rubber-meets-the-road car, said Tom Noonan, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore. One of the favored destinations? Restaurants.

Who doesn't love food?

The Gathering, April 24 (ongoing)

Power Point Live! (near Inner Harbor)

Food trucks descend on Baltimore just about every week through September, all gathered in one place with the finest of four-wheel gourmet food. Greek on the Street (consider the falafels), Grr Che (sounds like grilled cheese, tastes even better), the Jolly Pig (pork, my friends), and a whole bunch more start serving at 5 p.m.

Baltimore Farmers' Market and Bazaar, opens 7 a.m. Sundays

Holliday and Saratoga streets, below the Jones Fall Expressway

The market is where you find the fresh fruits and vegetables, pastries, meats, and prepared foods. The bazaar is where all the stuff is -- unique crafts and collectibles, like rugs and pottery. Often, musicians perform during the market hours.

On stage and film

M3 Rock Festival, May 1-2

Merriweather Post Pavilion

More than 15 bands will travel all the way from the '80s and '90s to deliver a two-day metal music festival. If you haven't heard of Queensryche, Kix, Quiet Riot, or Bad Seed Rising, this would be a total immersion experience. Most of these bands have lost and replaced band members through the years, but the songs survived. If metal is too heavy, country star Kenny Chesney takes the stage May 27.

Charm City Comedy Festival, April 29-May 3

Zissimos Bar and Gallery 788

It's been said that life is better when you're laughing, so grab a drink and pull up a chair because laughter is on the menu for this five-day comedy festival. Improv, sketches and standup fill the days and evenings with humorists in every form - couples, troupes, music, Spanish novella - and from places near and far. Want to learn the art form? Classes are being held throughout the five days.

Maryland Film Festival, May 6-10

Various venues

Buy your tickets now for the most popular event at the festival: Friday night (May 8) with the infamous Baltimore director John Waters. He picks a favorite film for the audience and takes questions after. "It almost always sells out," said Melina Georgi. Georgi is coordinator of the filmmakers' conference, outreach and tent village, a piece of the festival (free and open to the public) to see filmmaker panel discussions and some screenings. About 25,000 film fans converge on the city's theaters for about 50 feature film screenings and 12 short-film programs from throughout the world. By 2017, the festival will have a central home, the Parkway Theater, a movie "palace" built in 1915 that has stood empty since 1978, said Jed Dietz, director of the film festival.

All in the family

JHU Spring Fair, April 24-26

Johns Hopkins' Homewood Campus

The students of Johns Hopkins University pull this three-day event together. For the kids, there's music, a magician, a petting zoo, carnival rides, games and contests. For Mom and Dad, there's a beer garden and a pie and wing eating contest (consider hitting the beer garden AFTER the eating contest).

FlowerMart, May 1-2

Mt. Vernon

Stroll the parks of Baltimore's Mt. Vernon from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. during FlowerMart. It's a green thumb paradise of flowers, seeds, hanging baskets, herbs, and vegetable plants. Save time to see the musical and dance performances and to shop all the unique gift booths as well.

Kinetic Sculpture Race, May 2

800 Key Highway (American Visionary Art Museum)

In California, where this race originated, people race for three days. In Baltimore, it's one day and nearly 40 "amphibious, human works of art," competing not to win and not to lose. "It's so John Waters-esque," Noonan said. "If you finish first, you don't win. If you finish last, you don't win." In fact, the award is calculated by "Mysterious Mathematical Means." The race starts (and is run by) the American Visionary Art Museum at 10 a.m. It's a Le Mans'-style start. "The vehicles and pit crew have to run down Federal Hill as a start," said Nick Prevas, AVAM's director of communications. Then, they have to go through obstacles on land, mud, through parks, and, of course, a dip in the water. Arrive prior to the 10 a.m. start, and you can see the sculptures before they're muddy and wet. The top of Federal Hill is a great view for the start and ending of the race.

Adult affairs

Literary Walking Tours, third Saturday of the month

Baltimore City

The transformation of Baltimore through literary reformers is told on Literary Walking Tours through Baltimore's brownstone mansions and cultural institutions. Visit the neighborhood where scholars, authors, journalists and social reformers debated ideas and opened literary avenues, according to the Maryland Humanities Council.

The Preakness, May 16

Pimlico Race Course

We're suggesting this as an event geared toward adults, but the 3-year-olds star in this race. Three-year-old colts, geldings and fillies, that is, racing in the 140th installment. Eating is part of the adventure. The Terrace Dining Room has a view of the race and fine dining on the menu; the Hall of Fame Room offers buffet-style dining; and the Sports Palace offers multi-screen viewing but still has crabcakes and steak on the menu. Armin van Buuren and Childish Gambino headline the Infield Fest.

Balticon 49, May 22-25

Hunt Valley Inn

Memorial Day weekend brings anime, costuming, skeptical thinking and the rest of the science fiction themes that rule the con events. Workshops, parties and readings will draw adults (and actually some teens) for the Maryland version of this fanatical event.

Also check out

Maryland wineries every Pa. resident should visit

Fans weigh in: Best places to eat before an Orioles game in Baltimore

Yes, Toto coming to Pier Six Pavilion

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