A town with one or two annual arts and culture events could be expected to boast … Maplewood has over a dozen. These events are more than just a sign of our creative wealth, they’re a huge source of pride.
MLK Silent Peace March - January
Every year, on the Friday morning before Martin Luther King Day weekend, the students of Maplewood Middle School march out of school and through Maplewood Village carrying signs they have created themselves, inspired by Dr. King’s messages of equality and peace. Maplewood’s shopkeepers and residents come out by the hundreds to watch and support this tribute, which is all the more moving because it involves many hundreds of middle-school children unified around an agreement to be silent (!) in honor of Dr. King and what he stands for.
Soma Film Festival - March
This four-day film festival at SOPAC features independent short films, feature documentaries and narrative films. It also includes a local filmmakers program, a kids- and family-oriented program, panel discussions, and events for industry professionals.
Maplewood Ideas Festival - March
Sponsored by the Maplewood Library, this cultural festival features “authors, architects, innovators, artists, and visionaries” of both local and national renown, doing presentations, showings and panel discussions about new, trending or simply fascinating ideas. All events happen at one of the library's two branches and are free and open to the public.
Likely Stories - March
Maplewood/South Orange’s annual short story celebration features nationally-recognized actors who live in the local vicinity, performing live readings of exhilarating short stories. Sponsored by the Adult School of Maplewood/South Orange, this series was originally inspired by Isaiah Sheffer’s Selected Shorts at Symphony Space in Manhattan, but has since become a local institution.
MayFest - May
Maplewood’s largest annual street fair happens along Springfield Avenue and features local businesses, artists, and retail and craft vendors. Sponsored by the Springfield Avenue Partnership, this family-friendly event includes many activities for kids (pony rides, petting zoo, face painting and more) and a wide variety of street food. Four stages along the Avenue feature live music by local bands and performances by Springfield Ave dance and self-defense studios.
XRootsFest - June
The South Orange/Maplewood Community Coalition on Race presents the annual XRootsFest (pronounced CROSS-Roots-Fest), the one of the region's most diverse and interactive multicultural festivals. Musicians, dancers, storytellers, merchants, and food vendors rooted in the cultures of four continents celebrate the diverse roots of our community.
Girls Night Out - June
Maplewood Village is a women's world on this annual fun night of shopping, dining, sipping, music, promotions and more, sponsored by the Maplewood Village Alliance.
Artist Studio Tour - June
The annual Studio Tour, held on a Sunday in early June, is a tribute to the excellence and diversity of art and culture that flourishes in our towns. Venues for the self-guided tour include studio spaces, galleries, and civic spaces; artists are in attendance to discuss their work. Stop along the way to hear local bands performing all day long at The Woodland.
North Jersey Pride Festival - June
On the second Sunday in June each year, this annual family-friendly event brings together thousands of LBGTQ and straight allies from across the state to celebrate diversity and promote equality. Live music, merchant vendors, a food court with local eateries participating, and a “Rainbow Kids Zone” make this a day that combines family fun with a strong message of empathy and inclusion.
MAPSO Book Festival - June
The annual Maplewood—South Orange (MAPSO) Book Festival brings together both local and out-of-town readers and authors in celebration of the joy and diversity of the written word. Over the course of two days, informative author panels highlight the major artistic, social and political issues of the day, while a vibrant and fun-filled children’s area allow younger readers to discover the importance and delight of books—and meet many of their favorite authors!
Visit the website for more information
Maplewood's Fourth of July
Maplewood’s fabulous July Fourth celebration harks back to long-revered traditions, even as it adds contemporary touches. Starting with the sound of cannon booms at 8 AM, the day includes kids’ relay races, a bike parade, a car show, a pet show, and a full-tent circus in Memorial Park, along with all-day live music and a food court. A special feature of our Fourth is the always-brilliant public art installation in the park, which is conceived afresh each year by the 1978 Maplewood Arts Center and which the entire community participates in creating. The evening fireworks are always spectacular!
Maplewoodstock - July
If you weren’t there in ’68, don’t worry. Maplewoodstock will take you back: the vibe of this no-holds-barred two-day festival on the second weekend of July every year is all about peace, love and community. Now in its 13th straight year, Maplewoodstock has morphed from a beloved town event to a regional destination, with hundreds of food and craft vendors, dozens of featured artists and bands, and headliners including the Wailers and Norah Jones. But it still belongs to Maplewood: sponsors and longtime planners are local, as are many vendors, artists and musicians.
Concerts at the Gazebo - July/August
This free outdoor concert series on Friday nights take splace at the charming Springfield Avenue Gazebo, in the small park next to the Hilton Branch Library. Lineups for these family-friendly concerts feature a wide mix of rock, reggae, R&B, and blues, with some of the metropolitan area’s finest performers. Bring a blanket and listen or dance under the stars.
Maplewood Porchfest - September
Porchfest is a festival like no other. Local bands and performers will play on porches - and front stoops and driveways and yards - at houses on a route around the neighborhood while families walk by and enjoy the entertainment. Enjoy this fun and free event every year in Maplewood's Hilton neighborhood on Labor Day Sunday, rain date Monday, from 1-5pm.
Art Walk & Music Fest - September
Held on the last Sunday of the month, this annual event in Maplewood Village (rated New Jersey’s #1 Downtown by New Jersey Monthly magazine) features a juried fine arts show that includes professional artists, photographers and craft artisans displaying and selling their work. Local bands can be heard on every street corner.
Health and Harvest Fest - October
This annual celebration of fall on Springfield Avenue is an all-community fair, with live music, retail and craft vendors, health and wellness displays, and tables where local organizations share information about what’s happening in town. For kids, there’s pumpkin painting, a bounce house, pony rides, face painting, glitter tattoos, and crafts. Produced by the Springfield Avenue Partnership and Maplewood Loves Wellness. Phone 973-763-6011. Email.
Maplewood Green Day - October
Environmental awareness is fundamental in Maplewood, and the Maplewood Green Team's annual Green Day brings just that to the community, with a full day of sustainability demonstrations, organic and locally grown food, live bands, and environmentally conscious games and activities for children.
Diwali Fest NJ - October
Diwali is a festival of lights and one of the most widely celebrated South Asian holidays. Free and open to the entire community, Diwali Fest NJ is curated to offer a distinctive and authentic experience of South Asia that reflects the tremendous artistic and cultural diversity of the region.
Holiday Bizarre Bazaar - December
The Woodland, Maplewood’s beautiful Georgian Revival-style cultural center in the heart of town, is the scene of this pop-up indoor marketplace, where dozens of local artists and crafters vend their wares on a Sunday at the height of gift-giving season. Produced by Studio B, it is a family-friendly event, with snacks from local eateries also for sale, along with a visit from a hug-dispensing Abominable Snowman.
Dickens Village & Holiday Festivities - December
Every December, Maplewood Village takes on an extra dimension of old-fashioned quaintness as Dickens Village arises suddenly and magically in Ricalton Square, complete with Scrooge’s counting house, Tiny Tim’s family house, and other fabled domiciles of A Christmas Carol. Throughout the month, this is the setting for numerous and eclectic holiday festivities, including carol-singing concerts, menorah-lighting ceremonies, opportunities to catch horse-and-buggy rides up and down the avenue, and (Maplewood likes its definition of “holiday” to be nice and loose) a petting zoo.