This article was originally published on 7/3/17 and was updated 6/8/18 to reflect the 2018 season –ed.
You already know that vacations can break the bank. Luckily, the Town of Ocean City knows this too, and that’s why, in addition to the miles of free beach and boardwalk that are perfect for a summertime stroll, the city also offers a variety of free, fun and family-friendly activities throughout the season. It is possible to have a memorable trip without emptying your wallet – here are just 10 of the top free events, some hugely popular and others lesser-known, to take advantage of during your summer vacation.
And if you need any more ideas for free and fun things to do, well… we’ve got 100.
This year marks the 11th anniversary of the fantastical flight performances by the USAF Thunderbirds and other military aircraft, a show that gets bigger and bigger with each passing year. While spectators can purchase VIP tickets for a premium viewing spot, the planes can be seen from the Inlet to 17th street.
Throughout the week, weather permitting, the whole family is welcome to catch a flick by the ocean, Monday and Friday evenings on 27th street and and Wednesday evenings on 118th. All you need is a beach blanket and maybe some popcorn to enjoy a movie three nights out of the week, all summer long.
If your family and friends are athletically-inclined, or just competitively spirited, the Family Beach Olympics happen every Tuesday evening on 27th street. Take part in sand castle building contests, tug-o-war, relay races, or just come to cheer on your team while relaxing on the beach.
Firetrucks and floats will be parading from 15th to 32nd street at the annual Fireman’s Parade, and all families and future firefighters are welcome to join the crowd. The parade is part of Fireman’s Week, which begins the third weekend in June and runs through the following week.
ESA Summer Surf Series
Family Olympics are great, but ever thought about competing in the real Olympic games? This series of surfing competitions provides an avenue for amateur surfers to compete internationally and maybe even worldwide.
Arts Alive (Now Art X)
Every year, hundreds of artists set up shop in Northside Park, where visitors come to enjoy live music, beautiful nature and artwork and free activities for kids. This year, the weekend-long art festival is being reborn as “Art X,” which will take place in late August and include all the fun of Arts Alive, with a few new extras.
4th of July Concert and Fireworks
Whether you prefer to see the spectacle from Northside Park or N Division Street downtown, both locations will feature a live band before the fireworks are set off at 9:30 p.m. You knew this one would make the list – it’s an Ocean City tradition.
Every Thursday night from July to August, you can watch the sun set over the Isle of Wight Bay while listening to live music – just bring a chair and maybe a few bucks for a cold beer.
Head up to Northside Park to enjoy a free summer concert series, and bring a few bucks for ice cream, too! This family-friendly event hosts bands that play almost any genre from country to rock to tribute bands to oldies, a
nd happens every Sunday night in the summer from 7 to 9 p.m.
New this summer, from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day, colored lights illuminate the sand and sky every night, swaying to music from boardwalk speakers near N Division Street. You won’t want to miss this gorgeous, ambient beach scene.
Details and a full listing of the free events that Ocean City offers can be found here.