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2021 Mayfaire by-the-Lake presented by the Polk Museum of Art – a Family-Friendly Lakeland Tradition

Mayfaire by the Lake Art Show Lakeland Florida

If we were to make a list of “Lakeland Traditions,” the annual Mayfaire by-the-Lake presented by the Polk Museum of Art, would be at the top of the list! This outdoor art festival in Lakeland, FL started in 1971, and is one of the premier art festivals in Florida. It is held on Mother’s Day Weekend each year and is family-friendly and fun for all ages.

The 2021 Mayfaire by-the-Lake will be held on Saturday, May 8 and Sunday, May 9 from 9am-4pm along the shores of Lake Morton. The event is FREE to attend, with plenty of food, drinks, merchandise, and artwork available to purchase.

Whether you visit to browse for artwork, entertain the kids at the Children’s Art Tent, watch the performances on the front lawn of the Library, partake in the variety of food and beverage vendors, or just be part of a wonderful community event that is perfect for all ages, Mayfaire by-the-Lake has something for everyone!

Mayfaire By the Lake

Tips for Attending Mayfaire with Children

Know before you go:

  • If you can, plan to go early while it is still cool!
  • There is no set amount of time to spend at Mayfaire, you’ll stroll at your leisure. There are more than 150 booths, so we typically stay at least 2 hours to be able to see them all.
  • Slather on the sunscreen – you can find shade on the front lawn of the library, and in a select few places along the lake, but much of the event is outside in the sun.
  • Wear comfy clothes and walking shoes – you will be outside, walking on dirt, grass, and concrete.
  • As with any event that draws a crowd, be sure your kids know your cell number or have it written/pinned on them somewhere. Take a photo of what they are wearing in case you get separated and need to ask security for help. Be sure they know who to ask for help in case they get separated. {I speak from experience, this happened to us one year when we each thought our 8-year-old was with the other parent}

Things to Take with You:

  • Stroller or wagon – the art booths cover over half of Lake Morton. If you wouldn’t go to a theme park without a stroller, don’t go to Mayfaire without one either. (My personal mantra is hot kids=whiny kids + no stroller=NO FUN!) Plus a stroller or wagon makes it easy to store/carry any new artwork you might purchase!
  • Backpack – backpacks are always the best way to carry gear when you need your hands free to keep track of the kiddos
  • Outside Food & Drink is allowed – be sure you either bring water with you or plan to buy some. There are also PLENTY of great food and drink vendors along the lake.

Things to Leave at Home:

  • Pets – while there isn’t a ban on pets, it’s hot and crowded during certain points of the day, making it a bit hard to navigate unless your pet is extremely well behaved and heat tolerant.
  • Bicycles, hoverboards, skates, golf carts, skateboards – again, none of these work well with the art-browsing crowd.

Where to Park at Mayfaire:

Parking for Mayfaire can be found in a variety of locations near Lake Morton. A designated parking lot is available at Florida Southern College on the corner of Johnson and Frank Lloyd Wright Way. A free shuttle will run between that parking lot and the festival. Other locations we have found parking in previous years include the lot between the Lakeland Chamber and Florida Citrus Mutual (off Lime St.), and at First United Methodist Church for a small donation. (Note that if you attend on Sunday, FUMC’s parking lot will be used for Church until after 12pm.) Click here for parking and shuttle information.

Getting Around at Mayfaire:

 To see all of Mayfaire requires you to walk a little more than halfway around Lake Morton, just over 1/2 a mile. Booths will be spaced further apart for 2021 so it will likely be a longer walk – it is right at 1 mile around the entire lake. We enjoy seeing the nesting swans and birds as we walk.

MayFerrys will not be available in 2021. We typically walk the full lake to look for nesting swans and birds on the west side, but you can also utilize the MayFerrys, free shuttles that run around Lake Morton and to the Museum during the festival.

Mayfaire COVID-19 Precautions:

During Mayfaire weekend, the Museum, staff, and volunteers will be taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of visitors and art enthusiasts as they enjoy the festival. Visitors can expect hand sanitizing and washing stations to be available, and all visitors, artists, and staff will be strongly recommended to wear masks within the boundaries of Mayfaire, including around Lake Morton, and required to wear masks when visiting the Museum. In addition, artists’ tents will each be placed six feet apart, spreading farther around the perimeter of Lake Morton to encourage social distancing.

Mayfaire Activities for Kids

Children’s Art Tent and Kids Zone

If you attend Mayfaire with kids, be sure to check out the Hands-on Children’s Art Tents. This year there will be Children’s tents in multiple locations around the lake. This part of Mayfaire includes several FREE art activities designed for participation by children of all abilities. There is also children’s artwork on display, and it is AMAZING to see the talent of our young local artists. Learn more.

Mayfaire Childrens+Art+Tent

Live Entertainment on the Front Lawn of the Library

Local musicians, dance companies, and VSA of Florida perform on stage on the shady front lawn of Lakeland Public Library throughout the weekend. THIS IS A GREAT PLACE TO FIND SOME SHADE AND ENJOY A SHOW! See the schedule.

TIP Will Forever Music is a local favorite with fun music for kids, look for him on the schedule.

Browsing the Art Booths

Mayfaire by-the-Lake always has an incredible variety of artwork and hand-crafted items. Visit the website to see the 2021 Artist Gallery.

Some of my boys’ favorite booths are photos and paintings of wild animals. We love finding unique artwork to look at together and figure out how the artist created it. Think about what your children’s interests are and keep an eye out for artwork and creations that will grab their attention – I’ve seen artwork and photos of dancers, the beach, animals, Lakeland landmarks, jewelry, flowers, colorful fish, metal robot sculptures – the list goes on and on.

Everyone can find artwork to admire at Lakeland’s art festival, even the kiddos!! If you really want to make it memorable, give the kids a little bit of money to spend and let them pick out a piece of artwork to display in their own room. There are plenty of art prints and small items to be found for $15-30.

Mayfaire 2021 Image
R.L. Alexander, ‘Procession of the Swan Queen,’ Oil on panel, 2021 Mayfaire by-the-Lake Featured Image

Volunteer Opportunities

Each year, dozens of volunteers help make the success of Mayfaire possible. They have a variety of opportunities for all, no matter your skill set.

Learn more and sign up at mayfairebythelake.org (look for the Volunteer button).

Saturday Night Party & Mayfaire 5k

The 2021 Lakeland Runners Club MIDFLORIDA Mayfaire 5k begins at 7pm at Lake Mirror on Saturday, May 8, 2021. For more information about the race, contact the Lakeland Runners Club.

Look for the Mayfaire Saturday Night event to return in 2022. “For the health and safety of all of our festival visitors and our community, Mayfaire Saturday Night has been cancelled for 2021. We look forward to celebrating the festival together at the Frances Langford Promenade at Lake Mirror Park in 2022.” – Mayfaire website

After the Mayfaire art booths close down for the day at 4pm on Saturday, the party moves over 2 blocks to the Lake Mirror Promenade. Beginning at 5:30pm, bring your lawn chairs or blankets for a free party on the shores of Lake Mirror, including live music, inflatables, food, and FIREWORKS! There will be a variety of FOOD TRUCKS lined up along Lake Mirror for your culinary enjoyment.

Mayfaire by the Lake Art Show Lakeland

More about the Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College

The Polk Museum of Art, founded in 1966, is the largest and the only nationally accredited visual arts organization in Polk County and has been a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum since 2010. Some interesting facts about the museum:

  • It offers SUMMER CAMP PROGRAMS for ages 7-13 – learn more on their website
  • The Museum’s permanent collection has grown to over 2,500 works of art, including works by Rembrandt van Rijn, Andy Warhol, Faith Ringgold, Pablo Picasso, Miriam Shapiro, James Rosenquist, Barbara Kruger, Marc Chagall, Damien Hirst, Hung Liu and others.
  • It serves roughly 35,000 students per year both at the Museum and in locations throughout Polk County. This includes every fifth-grade student in Polk County Schools.
  • Approximately 140,000 visitors come to the Museum annually to learn through works of art from across time and place. Their partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and other museums makes it possible for citizens in our region to experience the world.

Did you know that Museum admission is FREE every single day? It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 3pm (Closed on Sunday and Monday). The Museum is currently requesting that visitors register in advance and schedule a time to visit (registration only takes 30 seconds).

Even though admission is free daily, the Museum offers an Annual Family/Household Membership beginning at only $80/year. It is fully tax-deductible AND supports the work of the Museum, AND gets you the AWESOME reciprocal benefits listed below:

  • Savings on art classes, workshops, camps, and at-home art activities for all ages, including After School Art and Art (Un)Boxed
  • Free ArtLab and one Art Appreciation Class
  • Free admission to Bok Tower Gardens
  • Free admission to MOSI during February and July
  • Free admission to Florida Holocaust Museum
  • Reciprocity to 60 Smithsonian Affiliates, including museums in Tampa and Orlando.
  • 50% off general admission to The Florida Aquarium and Clearwater Marine Aquarium

**Offers subject to change. Check the Membership website for current reciprocal offers and other discounts.**

Click here to learn more about membership and join today!

Spring Activities Guide

Check out our full Spring Activities Guide for more things to do in Lakeland, Polk County, and Central Florida from January – May.

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