Every year, the fall season kicks off in Ocean City with SunFest, a free event featuring four days of live music, arts and crafts, gourmet foods and activities for children.
The 43rd annual festival, which runs from Sept. 21-24, has “something for everyone,” according to Jessica Waters, communications manager for the Town of Ocean City. About 150,000 to 180,000 people attend each year.
“If you love the fall, if you like being outside especially by the beach, if you like music and great food and crafts than this is really an event for you,” she said.
With nearly 300 vendors, including more than 180 artists, Waters said attendees can find unique one-of-a-kind gifts. Items for sale include jewelry, paintings, home goods, and handmade sweaters and hats. Eastern shore delicacies like crab cakes, crab soup, clam strips and shrimp baskets, are also a big draw.
“I do a lot of my Christmas shopping [at SunFest] to be quite honest,” she said.
Waters added that children will enjoy the inflatable bounce houses, hayrides on the beach and craft activities. Boardwalk shops, arcades and amusement parks are typically open as well.
“The off season in Ocean City, September in particular, is kind of like a hidden secret. It’s the locals’ favorite time of the year,” she said.
Another draw of SunFest is the full-line up of free, live entertainment. This year’s acts include Rising Sun Reggae; the 60s tribute band The Janglebachs; the classic and modern rock band Front Page News; and The British Invasion Experience, a group that tributes English rock bands like The Beatles, The Who and Led Zeppelin.
In conjunction with SunFest, The Kite Loft hosts an annual kite festival featuring a giant kite air show, competitions, demonstrations and more.
The Kite Loft owner Jay Knerr describes the event as a “fun and relaxing day at the beach.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 or 105, everybody can fly a kite,” he said.
The festival is held from 4th Street to 6th Street. For more information visit https://kiteloft.com, or call 410-289-7855.
SunFest is held in the Inlet Lot at the south end of the Ocean City boardwalk. The event will be held 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday. Thursday’s festivities include a 9:45 a.m. parade on the boardwalk and a 10 p.m. fireworks show. Parking is restricted on the festival grounds. Express shuttle service is also available at the Ocean City Convention Center on 40th Street, with free parking in the south lot. Shuttle fare $3 to ride all day, Additional park and ride locations are also located at the Public Safety Building on 65th Street, the municipal lot at 100th Street and Northside Park at 125th Street.
Call Ocean City Transportation at 410-723-1606 or visit the Public Works Transportation web page at https://oceancitymd.gov/oc/ to learn more.
For more information about the SunFest or to purchase tickets for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Christopher Cross visit www.ococean.com/sunfest.