When to Go to Frederick and Western Maryland

Most of Washington County's main historical attractions are busiest during the spring and summer months. The many special events found in the area happen sometime between May and December. Spring and fall offer milder temperatures and are ideal for taking in the sights—and in fall you get the added bonus of the colorful foliage.

At the Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination in early December (weather permitting), a sea of flickering luminaries—23,110 in all—glow in poignant tribute to Union and Confederate soldiers who were killed or wounded on September 17, 1862—the nation's single bloodiest day of battle. The annual event draws lines of cars up to two hours long, according to the National Park Service. 301/432–5124. www.nps.gov/anti/planyourvisit/luminary.htm.

On the first weekend in June, hundreds of fine artists and skilled craftspeople sell their wares to large crowds at the Frederick Festival of the Arts. Held along Carroll Creek Linear Park, the popular, two-day juried festival features theater groups, a film festival, children's performances, and more. The city's numerous galleries extend their hours, too. 301/662–4190. www.frederickarts.org.

When the forests of western Maryland turn rich shades of umber, it's time for October's Autumn Glory Festival. Held in quaint Oakland since 1967, the huge Garrett County event typically features an Appalachian-style fiddle and banjo competition, antiques and craft shows with everything from homemade quilts to stained-glass demonstrations, a parade, and an Oktoberfest-themed dinner. 301/387–4386. www.visitdeepcreek.com.

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