2023 Harford Plein Air Festival

July 1 - November 20


Now in its 9th year, the Harford Plein Air Festival attracts painters from across the U.S. looking for new scenes to paint in hopes of winning over $10,000 in prizes and sales commissions.  Harford County offers colonial and contemporary architecture, railroad bridges and covered bridges, quiet fishing streams and boulder strewn waterfalls, bucolic farm scenes and bustling small-town streets.  In 2022, our 30 juried artists came from as far away as Florida and Ohio.  Look through the online gallery below to see the possibilities.

We are the friendliest plein air Festival around!  We encourage juried artists to produce their best work by allowing them to work at their own pace, from July 1 to September 14, verifying their work by submitting gps- and time-stamped photos or with traditional pre-stamped canvases.  We sponsor group paint outs at Ladew Gardens and a group dinner on the waterfront in Havre de Grace preceding an evening of painting.

The Maryland Center for the Arts is part of a vibrant arts community in northeast Maryland.  We actively encourage the public to learn about and participate in the painting process through an online blog called "Works-in-Progress" that displays photos and comments submitted by artists as they work, by voting for their favorite paintings at the Gallery Opening and Quick Draw events and by painting in the Community and Student divisions in the Quick Draw Competition, a timed, two-hour painting event in downtown Bel Air on Saturday morning, September 16.

Our free "Gallery Opening and Awards Ceremony" at the Bel Air Armory on Friday, September 15, with food, drinks, and entertainment, is the Grand Kick-Off to the 16-day "Arts Across Harford" celebration of local music, dance, and the literary arts, as well as multiple visual arts. 


NEW this year:  We're partnering with the Bel Air Festival of the Arts, which draws 20,000 plus visitors on Sunday, Sept. 17, at Shamrock Park, one block from the Bel Air Armory.

NEW this year:  The Harford Artists' Association will exhibit 30 Festival paintings in their Gallery behind the Bel Air Armory.

Cultural events programming of the Maryland Center for the Arts is supported by grants from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSASC), the Harford County Cultural Arts Board with funds from the MSAC, and by a grant from Harford County's Office of Economic Development.

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