Knights and princesses and fairies, oh my. It’s almost time for the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s annual fairy tale festival (April 11-12, 2015), a celebration of childhood favorites across a network of Baltimore city’s library branches. And we had the chance to catch up with Jessica Brown, the library’s Children’s Services Coordinator, to get the skinny on this year’s festivities.

“It’s a traditional festival with lots of different things to see, touch, and experience,” Jessica explains. “And then there’s programming too, where you can sit down and enjoy something special. There’s a little bit of everything.”

There certainly is a little bit of everything at the 13th annual affair, between the 2-day extravaganza at the Central Library, as well as events at various branches throughout the rest of the month. For the main event, the library’s central hall is transformed into a fantastical wonderland draped in purple with plenty of regal touches. Pint-sized royalty can arrive in their favorite dress-up gear or choose a special outfit from the selection of majestic garb available in the gazebo’s dress-up corner. There’s a face painter on hand to complete the magical transformation. Then it’s time to climb up into the stately royal throne to pose for pictures. This year’s photographer will be printing photos on-demand so you can bring home a keepsake picture. Actually, you may want to bring a bag to bring home the many treasures you’ll collect. In addition to the photos, kids will have the chance to make some pretty cool crafts, including crowns, wands, and dragons, of course, because what’s a good fairy tale without a hint of danger?

Many of the library’s partners will be in attendance to spread the love of fairy tales, including the Maryland Zoo and the National Aquarium. And, as usual, educators from the neighboring Walters Art Museum have something special in store for the festival’s littlest attendees. “The Walters does a different early learning area every year—this year it’s the science of fairy tales. We’ll be breaking down some well-known fairy tales with a STEM twist,” explains Jessica.

Intrigued? We are, too.

The library has thought about the unique needs for every age group. For the littlest visitors between birth and five, there’s a special section with activities and fun geared toward little hands and interests. And never fear if your wee ones have outgrown their dress-up days—the whole family can enjoy Fractured Fairytales on Saturday at noon with Janice the Griot, a talented storyteller of traditional African, African American, and multicultural tales.

The fun spills over into Sunday with a princess ball at 1:00 p.m. complete with live music, dancing, and a visit from a royal prince and princess. Have a Cinderella fan? Kids can have the chance to try on the glass slipper without the threat of the evil stepmother and wicked stepsisters breathing down their necks.

So, it seems the only thing missing is the knight’s trusty steed. Never fear. The Enoch Pratt Free Library even has some pretty magical animals in the line-up, too. While there may not be any horses galloping through the main hall (though we wouldn’t put this past the library team to add to the authenticity), special canine guests from Therapy Pets Unlimited will be part of the royal court on Saturday, eager to hear a story from young readers.

Don’t worry about missing out on all of the fun if you can’t make the central library’s Fairy Tale Extravaganza. There is magic sprinkled throughout the city as all of the library’s branches offer supporting programs for their local communities and schools to enjoy. Six branches host their own scaled-down versions of the fairy tale ball designed for preschoolers and their families, complete with dress-up, crafts, storytelling, and, of course, snacks. And to account for the unique schedules of school-aged kids and working parents, you can find balls on weekday mornings, weekends, and even an early evening event.

Pick up a copy of the Fairy Tale Festival Gazette at any library branch for all of the details or check the website for a schedule of events.


(cool) tip: If you’re planning to head to the central library’s weekend events, remember that parking downtown is free on Sunday, so you can enjoy the events without spending any cash at all — even without the aid of a magic wand!